The Inside Story

“Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside.”

Whoever originated that maxim probably wasn’t thinking about branding, but he or she could have been. While many spiritual practices have a version of this statement at their very heart, the lesson is relevant to any company wanting to establish an authentic, sustainable brand in an overcrowded market.

In her book, “What Great Brands Do,” author Denise Lee Yohn details seven key principles that are implemented by the world’s most successful brands. She tackles the first and most important of the seven in the books’s first chapter, “Great Brands Start Inside,”.

Research tells us that staffers at most businesses think of branding as the purview of the marketing department, but successful companies know that a powerful, authentic brand is rooted in the DNA, the very culture of the company.

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True Colors

Color. As a graphic designer, I am inspired by color on a daily basis. It’s a key element in everything we deliver. We look at color trends to keep our work and our clients’ messages current, hip, and relatable. Of course, we also consider the kinds of classic colors that tend to communicate tradition and/or stability.

Color plays an integral part in the integration of design, triggering emotions and creating perceptions around a brand. A prime example would be the blue in IBM’s iconic logo. The color has become so closely associated with the computer giant (aka “The Big Blue”), that other businesses and financial institutions have adopted the same shade for its association with IBM-like innovation and longevity.

An essential resource for color and color trends is Pantone, an industry-wide, color-matching system for designers and manufacturers. The Pantone swatch book on my desk is one of my most frequently used tools.

Every year during Fashion Week, Pantone releases a “Color Report,” which selects 10 trending colors, with one color selected as “color of the year.” This year, we were tickled to hear, the chosen color is “Greenery,” a Pantone-perfect match for the Cronin Creative logo color. We’re trending! Who knew?

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Building Brands

As a design and branding agency, we get a close-up view of today’s cluttered marketplace, and the fierce, ongoing competition for the attention of an overly saturated consumer. Nowhere is this more visible than in Nashville’s exploding housing construction market.

Apartment complexes are springing up like weeds, and new housing developments continue to fan out across the ‘burbs in every direction. In this, the very definition of a hyper-competitive market, we see the power of branding, and the downside of not branding, in stark relief.

Historically, the real estate/development community has been slow to come around to the importance of branding, but that has changed as the market has heated up. Working on two recent branding projects – one a large apartment community and the other a cutting-edge neighborhood development – we got an in-depth look at the Nashville market, and witnessed the impact strategic branding can have on the appeal and the success of a particular property.

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Rules Of Engagement

It’s often said that “people buy from people,” and here in the digital age that old adage seems truer and more important than ever. In building any business or brand, it really does come down to people. It’s easier than ever to get glued to your desk, head down in the work, communicating via text or email. But it’s important to remember – while social media can be good; real, live, social interaction is always better.

If you’re shy about networking, or if you think that your work “speaks for itself,” you might want to think again. Your work doesn’t speak for itself. You have to go out there and speak for it – with confidence and clarity.

As a well-established branding and design studio, quality referrals account for very close to 100% of our business. With all the marketing we undertake to promote our company (including this blog), in-person networking remains one of the most reliable ways to grow the kinds of referrals and relationships that can sustain a business.

New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley would agree. In a 2015 profile in Fortune magazine, he gives much of the credit for his quick rise through the financial ranks – on his way to becoming NYSE President by the age of 40 – to the power of effective networking.

“I owe every job I’ve ever had to networking,” Farley says. “Networking is crucial to succeeding as an individual, thrive in your industry, and have fun in your career.”

In that same article, Farley offers a few tips on how to make networking work for you and your business. Here they are.

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Everybody’s Talking At Me

If you pay a visit to the Cronin Creative website (and we hope you do!) you’ll notice that the first step listed in our process is “Listen.” We make a point of approaching each and every project with our mouths closed and our ears open. It’s the essential first step in absorbing and understanding the needs of the client.

There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of ink devoted to the lost art of listening. Ironically, most people are too busy talking to consider this important lesson.

Tune into any cable news network on any given night and you’re likely to see as many as six talking heads, stacked, like a Game Show Network rerun of “Hollywood Squares,” jabbering away on one issue or another. What’s striking about these group “interviews” is that every one of those pundits seems concerned only with getting their particular point across. They’re way too busy talking, interrupting, or formulating their next response to actually hear what’s being said.

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