Meaningful Marketing: if you’re not focussing on Likes, what are you focussing on?

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Social media marketing can be a double-edged sword. We know that ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers’ are important to our brands, but as an end goal they can leave us feeling flat! There’s something shiny and seductive about the validation you get in social media, but as you know, these metrics alone are not equivalent to a meaningful, successful marketing strategy.

As a heart-centred business, looking good online is one thing, being of service for your customers is another. Like me, you’ve probably noticed when your ego lusts for likes, and how this differs from the satisfaction of genuine connection with your people. Research has confirmed that the desire to be liked on social media is a universal phenomenon. The likes we get on social media temporarily satisfy the human need for love and belonging, in a distorted way.

So where’s the sweet the spot?

How do you manage your own personal balance between being ‘out there’ in business and practicing a strategy that fulfils you with integrity?

While I’m figuring out what works for Amora Creative, I’ve seen the same pattern happening with clients. Some weeks we feel extroverted and bubbly. We love connecting with people online, posting our hearts out and enjoying all the positives of networking. Then there are times when we need to go deep within our process, and social media becomes a major distraction, stopping us from working towards our meaningful business goals.

During those introverted weeks, there are practical tools for planning and scheduling posts, helping you to be consistent and present for your customers. But I’m not talking about the logistics of a consistent social media strategy. I’m talking about the level of satisfaction you take away from your interaction with our social media culture.

How do you navigate the challenges of a culture that values productivity and busyness (#hustlehard #getshitdone #beboss), and at the same time encourages us to be vulnerable, and prioritise self-care? While you’re at it, where does community and helping others fit in?

Pondering these questions helped me discover where I need to focus to stay in my own rhythm for this modern dance –

1) Know your body

It’s incredible how much we can learn about our ideal communications strategy by paying attention to our physical and emotional bodies before making any decisions with our minds.

Are you, for this particular day/week/season, feeling that communication comes easily? Are you feeling empowered, strong, open, confident? Let that shine through in your marketing content – it’s the time to be bold.

In contrast, when you’re in a more introspective phase and need a breather, take notice and respect that. I promise you won’t be missing out on anything. When we learn to work with that internal clock rather than simply ignoring it, everything becomes a lot easier to manage.

When you respect your personal rhythm, your work becomes more genuine and truth comes through. Truth is where engaging communication stems from.

Ladies, Claire Baker has an awesome e-book about feminine cycles and how each week of the month can impact your energy levels and tone your interactions with the inner and outer worlds. It’s a quite fascinating insight and I recommend having a read!

2) Make it beautiful!

Beauty is es-sen-tial. When I discovered why Beauty was one of my top values I took a sigh of relief: “of course it is!”. When I see beauty (or lack of beauty) around me, that’s when I know my choices in life are in or out of tune.

Taste is subjective, but our need for beauty is universal. You might relate to it by another name: order, art, gorgeous design, lusciousness, joy. Although it emerges from forms and aesthetics, beauty evokes more than what the eyes can see. Beauty pleases the brain, creating clarity and fulfilling unconscious desires. What is beautiful has the power to transcend the mind and touch the soul, and that’s why beauty is a fundamental part of heart-centred work.

So whenever you’re putting together a piece of content for your business, ask yourself how you can make it more beautiful. And then more beautiful again. (Consider what you can remove, and leave the beauty of what’s necessary).

Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue wrote:

“Beauty is not an extra luxury, an accidental experience that we happen to have if we’re lucky. Beauty dwells at the heart of life”.

4) The S equation

This is something I’ve recently started to unpack: Self-expression + Service = Soul Work

Being of service is one of the main reasons you are in business, right? I don’t mean grandiose, Madre Teresa type of service. But every business exists to offer something of value to a specific group of people – your offering should be making the lives of your people better, whatever that looks like for them.

Now add to this premise the context of Western culture in 2017. For better or for worse, we are no longer satisfied with the life our parents and grandparents had. This generation is here to self-express, we want to stay passionate, we want to harness our creative talents, we want to make a good living by doing what we love – and there’s nothing more fulfilling than being able to do that, especially if we can also be of service in the process.

Service is the antidote to narcissism in the culture of mediatic self-expression.

In my experience, if we intentionally combine Service + Self-Expression we will be doing Soul Work. Big or small – if you’re expressing yourself and improving the lives of others, you are feeding your soul, and when the soul is nourished… well, we have even more to give and to receive. What a cool little cycle.

So what’s your S equation looking like? And what’s your beauty guideline, are you beautifying your brand’s content?

I’d love to hear about your experience balancing heart-centred work with social media culture. Leave a comment below!

Carolina x

Contemporary Marketing and Conscious Business

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Times are changing. If you’re still open to optimism despite what’s going on in the corridors of power, you know we’re changing for the better. A new consciousness is rising and business (particularly led by women) play a huge part in our contemporary social environment.

As a marketing and brand professional, I look back to industry practices of the 90s and early 2000s and feel relieved and optimistic about how far we have evolved.

The new consciousness we see rising brings through a new economy for the 21st century, one that is shaped by a much more conscious generation of businesses and consumers. Generally speaking, we’ve never cared more deeply about the values we are endorsing with each purchase.

We want to know where our foods and goods come from; how human and/or natural resources are being managed in manufacturing processes; we demand transparency and responsibility from banks and big corporations... So business has started to respond.

In contemporary meaningful marketing veils begin to dissolve and values-based resonance is the only attribute that will keep brands alive for the next generations.

I love that I can be a part of it, helping heart-centred business find their tone within the transition. As entrepreneurs, we’ve moved away from persuasion and convincing, and we’ve embodied marketing that is about alignment and resonance.

But it’s important to remember that this shift is a reflection of privilege. We still have a long way to go before conscious business becomes the norm globally.

The work we have ahead of us is about bridging business and social change, to ensure this evolution is inclusive for all, and not just a privileged few.

Carolina x

Post creative block musings. What to do when you get stuck.

Creative-Musings

1) Stop trying so hard

Whatever you are creating has a life and soul of its own.

The content of your new website/e-book/app needs a few days just “being” before you come back for editing (and more editing)… Respect timing, and things will align in rhythm. Just like the seasons do.

Our best work is not necessarily the most revised, polished, perfected work. Our best work is organic, kind of magical, and in flow.

2) Search for inspiration elsewhere

This is beyond taking a trip to the art gallery or reading a new author for different insight. It’s a more challenging exercise of trying to express your ideas through a foreign medium.

If you write, try recording audios; if you draw, try clay; if you’re overly logical, experiment with intuition. And in general, if you think too much, try to meditate. This last one is the best advice I’ve ever taken on board.

Now suck at it.

Allow it to be rough, or surprise yourself by having fun. Cringe about it or love it. Whatever experience you have at this point is exactly what needs to be released for you to get un-stuck.

Using a method you don’t claim to be an expert at will give you permission to make mistakes and let go of expectations. Less pressure will liberate good ideas, which you can then develop using your familiar skills set.

3) Notice what’s happening

This touches back on the best advice I’ve ever taken on board. Be mindful while you work through your blockages.

Getting stuck is usually a sign that there’s something new wanting to be expressed. It’s a good opportunity to ask yourself: Am I doing what I’m meant to be doing? Am I following my heart or am I too caught up in anticipating the outcome?

We grow when we are uncomfortable as we’re literally stretching our limits. It’s the same with exercise and fitness, and it’s like that with purposeful work. Discomfort is good, so try to stay with it before you reach to your phone, to another coffee, etc and notice what’s happening.

4) Move

If we feel stuck, life is calling for movement, quite literally. Walk, dance, play with the dog, ride your bike, move the furniture, rearrange your desk.

Then create.

Rinse, repeat.

Our gift is perfectly packaged somewhere in our devoted hearts and incredible brains. It wants to be expressed, but it’s going to feel yuck before it’s yum.

Carolina x 

Online marketing trap: when community becomes commodity

Maybe it was the after-holidays blues, or perhaps that thirst for sunshine that hits after Winter.

For whatever reason, a few weeks ago I got bitter. Frustrated, uninspired, unmotivated, I started questioning what I wanted to do, what direction to head in, and how I could invite more meaningful practices into my life.

In other words, I spent time in the underworld. That dark, creative place we all go to from time to time – I know you know it.

Seeking wisdom around the web, I found myself reading philosophy articles, and listening to authors who are not afraid to talk about being human.

Clicking here and there, I landed on a part of the Internet that I really like. A more honest one. Ironically, at the bottom of one of those honest articles, some magical algorithm planted an advertisement for me. A very well known and respected woman in the marketing industry was promoting her online course:

“How to get anything you want. You’ve got what it takes to change your life”.

On a different day I would have ignored the ad, but that banner provoked me.

Someone who influences millions is saying that each of us has what it takes to get anything we want?

Selling the idea that we can have anything we want is surreal. Implying that each individual has what it takes to “make it” is naïve – even offensive if you dare to look outside the privilege bubble.

Context matters. Where you live, where you were born, the political and economic scenario around you, all of that is relevant. If you have young kids, or someone in your family who is ill…

No matter how much I believe in myself, reality is, I can’t have "anything" I want.

Don’t get me wrong – I do believe that we can achieve much more than we think we can, that we are stronger and more resilient than we can possibly imagine, and that positivity and determination is a wonderful framework from which to look at our lives. Choosing courage over safety and love over fear is an exercise I try to practice most days.

But that ad made me realise that there’s a subtle yet significant dissonance in a message that deeply impacts our culture. Successful people are saying that failure is optional, and achievement is a product. Just sign up and get a free sample straight to your inbox.

Hundreds of thousands of people are clicking. We’re desperate.

We all want to master the “five easy steps” that will take us to… whatever we think we need.

What’s your elevator pitch? How many subscribers do you have?

And that’s when words like ”identity” and “community” become commodities.

Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman said in a recent interview to El Pais:

“The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren’t created, and you either have one or you don’t. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you.”

I don’t ever want to believe the illusion that I can build a network that I own. Or that the quality of my work is connected with metrics that will become obsolete in a few years time. I want to be part of a community that is mine as much as I am theirs. I want to trust and be trusted, not follow and be followed.

So I suggest we reconsider the message in that ad:

“How to get anything you want. You’ve got what it takes to change your life”.

“How to leverage the talents and gifts you have. You are enough”.

Carolina x

Attract and connect: who do you really want to be working with?

Attracrtandconnect

This week I've been working on the brand of a health & nutrition coach who’s a delight to work with. She’s not only lovely and easy to deal with, but I also believe and admire the work she’s doing.

As I reflected on how lucky we’ve been to find each other, I noticed  that it’s not only her. Every client I'm currently working with is a great fit for Amora Creative. It’s not luck, it’s the result of intentional branding and heart-centred marketing.

How can you make this happen for your business?

You hone in on your brand positioning before you get to marketing or design. This means identifying your market niche, and focusing on what you want to become known for.

Working on a clear brand position means you are shaping a message that intentionally attracts dream clients for your business, while staying faithful to your heart's work.

What is a dream client?

One of my favourite definitions of a “dream client” says that in order to be considered dreamy, a client needs to fulfill three criteria:

1) You heart them (only work with people you like)

The genius graphic designer Milton Glaser – creator of the iconic I heart NY logo – said:  

“I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground.”

I couldn’t agree more. Professionalism is a given. Liking the people you work with will not only make your everyday more enjoyable and fun, but will show in the quality of your work. Creativity and inspiration flourish in a positive environment where you and the client have a genuine connection.

2) They pay you well (because heart doesn't mean profit)

For a client to be dreamy they must appreciate and value your work, which means paying your price without hesitation.

One of the hardest thing to do as a service-based business is to price your expertise because there are so many factors to consider: your experience; the industry you’re in; supply and demand; your personal desires and financial goals.

Being realistic and self-motivated is key, and once you’ve set the financial value of your work, don’t hesitate to ask for it. Your dream client will pay your full price.

3) The win-win rule (you help them grow and they help you grow too)

In my view, for a project to be really dreamy it has to be somewhat challenging for your level of expertise. I wish to learn something new in every job I take on – either something simple like a new tech skill, or a deeper learning that will help you grow personally and professionally.

Obviously the same goes the other way: your expertise should not only solve your client’s problem. The service and overall experience you provide should give them more than they expect. My clients want branding they love, but also gain valuable insight that help them unveil the best nuances of their work. So beyond branding, it’s about communicating with clarity the gifts and beliefs that drive them to what they do.

So how does your client list stack up? Dreamy? Or are you facing some hurdles attracting just the right clients? What do you think is holding you back?

Let me know in the comments below.

Carolina x

How to market yourself when you run a heart-centred business

Free-Spirit

At a networking event the other night I found myself chatting to a group of entrepreneurs who were quite different to the people I usually talk business with.

They were three men who ran technology innovation start-ups. Their ideas were interesting and disruptive, with complex finer points I could hardly comprehend.

When it was my turn to speak about my business, I gave my usual ‘elevator pitch’. They all looked curious and questioned me further, so I spoke more boldly about what I stand for...

“I believe marketing has to feel right.”

Their curious faces became intrigued, and I continued.

“The entrepreneurial journey is such a personal one. There are a lot of emotions invested in the process of believing in your dreams and turning them into a business. It’s not just about making it and selling no matter what. I believe that anything you do when you’re marketing such a personal endeavour has to come from the heart. Otherwise it won’t work.”

Three seconds later I lost one of them to the salmon sandwiches. The other looked like he thought my speech was cute.

But there was one out of the three tech guys who got me. We nodded like we were part of a heart-centred business club. We exchanged cards and have been emailing interesting articles and related links since then.

Own what you believe in

A few months ago I probably would have tweaked my speech to suit the audience. I would have said what I thought they wanted to hear. But then I would have broadened my network with people who are not necessarily my crowd. So what’s the point?

That’s exactly what marketing from the heart means. It’s not about getting too personal or emotional about your story. It’s about honouring what you believe in and making a stand about it, even in an environment where you’re not particularly comfortable, and salmon sandwiches are competing for your audience’s attention.

One thing I’ve learned in my 13 years in marketing is this – if you try to be something for everyone, you end up being nothing to nobody.

The more you own your thing (no matter how alien that thing may be to some people) the more passionate you become about it. And the more you communicate your passion, the more you’ll attract people who want that exact thing, from you.

Do you find it hard to clearly articulate your message to your audience? What industry are you in? Use the comment section below or drop me a note. I’d love to help!

Carolina x

Four lessons from an entrepreneur’s experience at an ashram, to practice yoga, meditation and fight burnout

I suppose it’s weird to wake up one day, casually google “ashrams in Indonesia” and 30 minutes later, have plane tickets and a room booked at a spiritual refuge you’ve never heard of before.

That’s what happened last summer and it was the best impromptu decision I’ve ever made.

As a gen-Y entrepreneur, giving ‘everything I’ve got’ 24/7 was part of the startup mindset I was in when I launched my business in 2013. Taking time off for myself and saying no to unattractive projects felt self-indulgent, and a luxury I didn’t think I could afford.

But after the most difficult time of my life, when my dear dad passed away unexpectedly on the other side of globe, I had no option but to stop. Life as I knew it started to crumble, and trying to be a powerhouse business woman became extremely hard.

Overwhelmed and exhausted, I set myself new questions on a personal search for balance:

How could I nourish my mind, body and spirit as I face intense grief? How could I be gentle but still show up with passion in my recently launched business?

On this hard but necessary quest I discovered that...

Lesson #1 – Balance is not something you find. It’s something you create.

Back in my corporate cubicle days, I had a quote on my little wall that said "Remember to breathe". At the time, I thought of that quote as a peaceful translation to soldier on, there’s life after 5pm.

Now, nearly three years into my business doing what I love everyday, when I think about “Remember to breathe”, I think about surrender. Releasing stress, fear, anxiety, pain… everything we all go through in our busy modern lives – and letting go, one breath at a time.

Letting go? Much easier said than done.

When I first arrived at the ashram I was greeted by softly-spoken people who emanated peace through their eyes (I’m sure you get the picture). My urban energy felt out of place in that environment.

I was directed to my bedroom which was not much bigger than the old corporate cubicle, and my immediate plan was to catch the next bus back to civilisation!

The room was moldy, the mattress uncomfortable, the heat ridiculous, and the amount of wild-life quite disturbing. Also there was no sign of a shower, just a sink with cold running water and a bucket.

There's no doubt that with one single click you can find a variety of retreats that offer resort style rooms, with spas and piña coladas by the pool. But this was an ashram and although I welcome a bit of luxury every now and then, that wasn’t the purpose of this trip.

The ashram is located in a beautiful property between the ocean and a lake, with cows grazing, kids running around and elder Balinese women in their pretty sarongs, gathering outside, preparing food for the guests.

Alone and frustrated, I walked down a pier that extended like a finger into the ocean. Even amongst the beautiful and quite poetic landscape, my only thoughts were: “What the f* am I doing here?”.

Standing on that pier I cried what felt like more than a drop in the ocean. I thought about dad, about the unfairness of life, about my family back in Brazil and the amount of hard work I wasn’t putting into my business back in Australia.

After the tears dried and the sun started to set, the answer came to me in the form of a big breaking wave that splashed truth on my face: “You came here to surrender”.

How could a perfectionist entrepreneur surrender, in a world where in order to be successful you’ve got be giving 100% all the time?

Lesson #2 – Your 100% capacity varies from time to time.

The routine at the retreat involved meditating at sunrise, practicing yoga twice a day, meditating more, eating small vegetarian meals and going to bed at sunset. No internet of course. Lights off at 7pm.

After the third night things started to feel easier. I had adapted to the giant geckos and spiders that I shared the room with. I’d washed the moldy mosquito net and managed to fix an old fan, both vital elements to surviving the fierce Indonesian summer.

On day four I woke up with my heart full. Those cold bucket showers were more enjoyable than I would ever anticipate! I felt light and nourished by the whole foods cooked by the happy Balinese ladies who live in the ashram. My yoga practice had deepened and by day five I was meditating easily, smiling all the time and savouring each hour of my day.

View from the top of Mount Batur, an active volcano in Bali, 2014.

View from the top of Mount Batur, an active volcano in Bali, 2014.

Lesson #3 – Sustainable joy comes from simplicity, not luxury.

Of course the pain of grief didn’t go away. I don’t think anyone ever ‘gets over’ the loss of a parent. But during those days – when I finally surrendered – I was reminded of a very natural state of being that is available to everyone, something so simple that makes us feel so full.

As a result, I felt strongly connected with dad and instead of lost and angry, I felt privileged. I had 30 years of life with him, how lucky was I to have been raised by a man like my dad Carlos? How lucky was I to live in a country filled with opportunities, where a woman can independently run her own business, do whatever pleases her and be fully supported by her husband, friends and community?

Awareness of your blessings can take you a long way.

Those two weeks in Bali taught me the importance of creating space and taking time out. And it doesn't have to be sought after only in the face of tragedy or major crises. I realised that for my business to grow and flourish, I have to take care of myself first.

Lesson #4 – Healthy mind and body = healthy business.

The reason I’m sharing this story is because I know many fellow entrepreneurs face burnout and sometimes guilt around taking time off. We tend to think that in order to be successful we need to be present for our business at all times, forgetting that in the process we may be absent for ourselves and those we care about. We forget that life is what happens in the process, that it is the road that counts and not the destination. And in this country, at this day and age, we have the option to take the scenic route...

Yoga and meditation retreats are obviously not for everyone, finding whatever it is that works for you is the key. I’m always interested in discovering new strategies for a balanced life, and I try to stay open to whatever they may be. I have a client who takes a long weekend off every six weeks (all dates are marked in advance on her calendar), and there’s a famous NYC based designer who every seven years, takes a full sabbatical year to travel and recharge.

How about you? I’d love to hear about your experiences in your own search for balance. Please get in touch!

Carolina x

Marketing on a budget: how to find useful and stylish creative resources for small businesses

Creative-Resources

Whether it’s in a newspaper or in your Facebook feed, we’ve all experienced the power of the right image and the right words used at the right time. A nicely curated content strategy will strengthen your brand and allow you to tell meaningful stories.

If you run a growing small business, investing in your brand is one of the best things you can do. But it’s not always easy – especially if a robust marketing budget is not exactly your reality.

As a marketing specialist and designer working primarily with small businesses and not-for-profits, I know that in the beginning of the business journey there are some calculated compromises every entrepreneur needs to make.

However, compromising doesn’t have to mean giving up your style and standing for a less-than-professional look and feel.

There are many awesome creative resources available on the web for free, and with my inside tips and a bit of time, you can find those life-saving solutions that will help you strengthen your brand and keep you on budget.

So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you some of my favourite free creative resources I’ve discovered over the years, which I hope you will enjoy exploring as much as I have.

Let’s start with photography

(keep reading for a list of my favourite free image galleries!)

The images you choose to represent your brand tell your clients (and potential clients) a lot about who you are and what you value as a business. When it comes to authentically representing your brand, no stock photo can replace your own professional and original photos. However, if you spend some time finding and curating the right stock images, they can do a great job communicating your message effectively.

Stock galleries are notoriously cheesy (here are a few classics to give you a laugh), and traditional stock photos can send a message that is out of touch with contemporary social values (try searching for ‘business woman’ or ‘working mother’ and be prepared for an avalanche of cringeworthy stereotypes).

Recently, however, with the increasing number of creative entrepreneurs starting their own businesses, and the growth and availability of open access content, the quality and affordability of images has dramatically improved.

So forget Google Images and read my 5 tips for how you can start building your brand’s image gallery for free.

Move away from the cliches

When searching for stock photos, it’s best to go for a more abstract and unexpected shot than to pick a too obvious representation of your topic. For example, if you need an image that represents healthy eating, instead of using the photo of a boring salad, try searching for less obvious keywords, such as fresh organic produce.

healthy-eating

Avoid the clinical look

Every image conveys some type of emotion. If an image looks cold, that is the emotion your audience will feel, consciously or not. Look closely at all elements of an image, from its composition (how the elements in an image are arranged) to the lighting. Also, choose images that have a slightly more rustic and spontaneous look, as these send a more approachable and warm message to your audience.

Make sure your images are high quality

Nothing says amatuer more than pixelated images on your website or marketing collateral. When selecting your brand’s imagery, make sure to check the specs, such as a the size and resolution of an image, and ensure they’re appropriate for the platform you intend to use them on. For example, for print materials such as flyers and brochures, your image should be no less than 2MB and 300 dpi, whereas for digital, you should keep your image sizes small (72 dpi) so they load quicker on the web.

Aim for visual cohesion

One of the most important rules in branding is: be consistent! When it comes to photos, it’s important to be selective and choose images that have a similar style to your brand. For example, a dominant colour palette, harmonious lighting and mood, and if you’re editing the photos yourself, try to stick to the same filters and features.

Stock-Images

Bookmark your favourites and subscribe to their newsletters

One of the best things you can do to improve your luck when looking for quality open source images is to follow your favourite sites, and when you find an image you love, save it. You can never have too many quality images.

To help you on your way, here are a few of my favourite image galleries to follow.

Most these sites offer high quality and stylish photos that you can commercially use for free, which is the perfect way to make your marketing budget dollars go further.

  • Pexels has great free stock photos gathered from around the web in one place.
  • Death to the Stock Photo features beautiful new images every month for free, or for US$15 per month you can get access to their exclusive image packs.
  • Pixabay is home to a large gallery of image, and while not everything looks great, it is definitely worth a search, so be creative with your keywords.
  • Getrefe stars nice abstract and artistic images which are great for backgrounds.
  • Stocksy unfortunately doesn’t offer images for free, but for as little as US$5 (depending on image size) you can buy beautiful, more contemporary shots; it’s perfect for start-ups.

Happy exploring and don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter for more useful inside tips!

Carolina x

What is a big-hearted business?

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Earlier this year I went to Berlin to attend TYPO Talks, an incredible international design conference. During the three days of the event, I saw renowned designers, artists and entrepreneurs from all over the world speak to thousands of eager listeners about their experiences of “making it” and being at the top of their creative game.

Among my favourite speakers was Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka Swissmiss. As a designer by trade, and prolific entrepreneur who is officially ‘clientless’ (she only works on her personal side projects), Tina is behind impressive projects like CreativeMornings and one of the first-ever co-working spaces called Studiomates, which is based in Brooklyn, New York. Swissmiss is definitely my idea of über.

During her talk, Swissmiss shared some of her personal truths for life and business, and from her uplifting list, something stood out to me.

“Start from the heart.”

She elaborates: “Use transparency, empathy and thoughtfulness at the start of every business decision.”

As a marketing professional and corporate renegade, that’s something I’ve been reflecting on for a while. How can we overcome skepticism and encourage a heart-centred mentality in mainstream businesses?

We know the world needs leaders and investors who believe in an inclusive and socially responsible economy to address the world’s toughest challenges. So when will “doing business with heart, meaning and purpose” transcend the not-for-profit arena and become norm in corporate boardrooms?

Purpose beyond profit doesn't mean purpose instead of profit.

It’s no surprise that the goal of advertising is to create an emotional bond between a brand and an audience. As humans, we want to constantly be reminded that we belong and that we’re connected. Big corporations with multi-million dollar marketing budgets have been using this strategy for a long time.

But there’s a difference between manipulating your emotional bond with the audience, and operating from a genuine place of transparency, empathy and thoughtfulness.

One is about attention, the other is about connection. Economist and author Umair Haque has a wonderful article published at the Harvard Business Review about why your digital strategy shouldn’t be about attention.

Caring about the impact your products and services make in your community – from suppliers to consumers and the environment – is the first step. If you do care, translating this into to your communications strategy is simpler than you think.

Think about how you could revise your brand message using a big-hearted approach. How would you answer the following questions:

Why do you do what you do? Who do you do it for? How are you able to make a positive impact?

I’d love to know, feel free to post your comments below!

Carolina x

Branding - why is it important anyway?

Branding

In the era of entrepreneurship, “following your passion”, and doing things “like a boss”, there’s an overwhelming amount of information out there when it comes to launching and building a business.

Take branding for example, which is one of the things new business owners and entrepreneurs tend to look into at the early stages of their endeavours. There are hundreds of valid definitions for the word branding, and it can be complicated to filter what is genuinely helpful when designing your own strategy.

If you try Google, you’ll see that branding can be described as simply as “the identity of a business”. Or for those who enjoy getting deeper, branding can be seen as something more profound like “a business’ self-development process”.

Instead of trying to define what is clearly a diverse and subjective topic, I thought I’d focus on the reasons why I think branding is important, and why I believe branding is the number one foundation for any successful marketing strategy.

It sets you apart from your competition

Let’s start with the most obvious reason: a brand is a mark. From choosing an appropriate name, to designing a logo and picking a signature colour palette, a brand will give your business a visual identity. A set of tangible attributes that makes your business recognisable by an audience, and visually discernible from your competitors.

It communicates what your business stands for

A brand is much more than a cool logo and pretty types. A brand is a narrative - made of images and words - that conveys what you stand for to those who want to hear it. Think of your brand as the vehicle through which your core message gets distributed. For example, when you first open the packaging of an Apple product, you’re not simply interacting with a smooth white box, you’re being introduced to key concepts that remain relevant during all stages of your experience with the brand. Things like intuitive usability, cool and innovative, sexy design…

It attracts like-minded people (Your vibe attracts your tribe).

This has to be one my favourites because not everyone sees it at first. Your brand is the most evident doorway for your ideal customers to come through and find what you have to offer. Have you heard the expression “trying to be everything to everybody means you end up being nothing to nobody”. It makes sense, right? Owning your quirks, staying aligned with your values at all times, and being unapologetic about how you do your thing is the most authentic form of marketing. The people who appreciate those quirks and believe in those same values are much more likely to find you (and stay around you) if you make a clear stand. And yes, that means you will alienate the people who don’t particularly love what you’re doing, but that’s also a good thing because they’re not the kind of customers you want around your business anyway. Let them go and give more space to who’s important.

It indicates consistency (consistency = trust)

Consumers want to buy from brands they know and trust. Having a voice and aesthetic that is consistent throughout all your promotional platforms (what we call brand touchpoints) is an important step to becoming known by an audience that recognises and appreciates your brand even before they do business with you. Consistency sets a reliable dynamic between accountability and familiarity, which are important parts of building deeper connection and trust.

Brand board with the logo, stamp, colour palette, typography and overall look & feel.

Brand board with the logo, stamp, colour palette, typography and overall look & feel.

It conveys quality and professionalism

We all love the convenience of the internet and I don’t deny that these days an app can do in seconds what a human might take years to learn. But to achieve quality, and ultimately excellence, there’s an element of artistry and creative intelligence that can’t be beaten. Refined designs that are thought out with purpose and strategic vision, will translate into a look and feel that customers associate with professionalism, credibility, and essentially the idea that you care about them. In a world where one single click can bring up an array of competitors, the quality of your branding is a reflection of how committed and dedicated you are to your craft.

So, do you already have a brand that brings you all of the benefits above? Where do you think there’s room for improvement in your branding strategy and what are you already doing well?

Feel free to use the comments section below as I’d love to know where you’re at!

If you want to learn more about how I can help you make the most of your brand, shoot me an email at hello@amoracreative.com - I’d love to chat!

Carolina x