Restaurant Round-Up: Eat Local in 417-Land

There are hundreds of restaurants in the Springfield-area, and competition is fierce. Our team at Longitude° knows all-too-well the struggles that restaurant owners face to stay in business and thrive – especially locally-owned restaurants.

As a restaurant branding and marketing agency, we do our best to maintain a pulse of the restaurant industry. This means that we make any and all excuses to try great food at great restaurants any chance we get. Plus, we love supporting local eateries as often as we can.

Sadly a large majority of people still opt to support large chain restaurants instead of local businesses. So, in an effort to help promote these incredible local eateries, we’ve put together a list of better local alternatives to the national chains.

Tater Tots

Next time you’re tempted to stop in and grab some tots from Sonic, think twice. Did you know that the recently opened Lucky Tiger not only has delicious sandwiches, but they’re always serving up the most mouth-watering tater tots this side of the Mississippi? Give this quirky and fun sandwich shop a try, and be sure to ask for the Kimchi Tots!

Lucky Tiger Sandwich Co. | Best Tots (and sandwiches)

Tacos

Why eat a bland, soggy taco from Taco Bell when you can stop into Team Taco just off of Cherry and Pickwick Street in the historic Rountree neighborhood. The taste of these tacos is second to none, and their ingredients are high-quality, unique, and the atmosphere is so fun and light. Definitely check them out. We recommend ordering the “B.A. Baracus” or the “Globetrotter.” Yo quiero Team Taco?

Team Taco | Best Tacos

Chicken Wings

Who doesn’t like some good wings every now and then? Buffalo Wild Wings may be a good place to watch a game and get cheap wings, but if you’re really looking for delicious and quality wings, look no further than Grad School. This small local restaurant serves up some of the best wings in the area. Try out the “House Hot Toddies”… your taste buds will thank you later.

Grad School | Best Chicken Wings

Gyros

We were shocked to find out that Arby’s served a “gyro,” but equally shocked to learn that people actually ate this when Greek Belly exists! This little restaurant located on Walnut St. in downtown Springfield has the perfect atmosphere to make you feel like you walked right into an authentic Greek restaurant in the heart of Greece. Try the Gyro Pita Wrap with Tzatziki – it’s our favorite!

Greek Belly | Best Gyros

Pancakes

Is IHOP still a thing? We get it, their pancakes are good at 1:00 AM in the morning when nothing else is open, but are they really that good? Next time you’re hungry for pancakes stop into Van Gogh’s Eeterie on Historic Commercial Street. They serve up the most perfect Dutch pancakes; making IHOP’s pancakes pale in comparison. Also, they serve breakfast all day, so if you’re craving breakfast for dinner they’ve got you covered.

Van Gogh’s Eeterie | Best Pancakes

Chicken Sandwich

Popeye’s and Chick-fi-la recently made headlines with their chicken sandwich feud. But to be quite honest, neither compares to a Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Hot Clucker’s. This “Nashville Style” hot chicken joint will leave you wanting more. They have four spiciness levels: The Nancy, 1 Cluck, 2 Clucks, and “Hot Mother Clucker.” Beware of “Hot Mother Clucker” unless you enjoy pain.

Hot Clucker’s | Best Chicken Sandwich

Cheeseburger

Don’t get us wrong, we like a Wendy’s burger every now and then, but it’s nowhere near the same level as a Black Sheep burger. These mouth-watering, flavorful, and juicy burgers will go down well with a boozy-shake and some salt-and-vinegar fries – our favorite. Not to mention, now with 3 locations in Springfield, it’s super convenient.

Black Sheep Burgers + Shakes | Best Burgers

  • Location: Three Locations: Chesterfield Village, East Sunshine, and Downtown off of Walnut Street.
  • Phone: (417) 319-5905
  • Website: https://www.blaaacksheep.com/

Breakfast Burrito

Thinking of stopping at McDonald’s for a breakfast burrito and coffee? Think again! Instead, you should make a quick detour to Kingdom Coffee for their breakfast burrito. You can get a bacon or potato burrito, and it comes with a side of salsa. This thing will seriously fill you up. And you might as well get one of the best cups of coffee in town while you’re there.

Kingdom Coffee | Best Breakfast Burritos (and coffee)

Support Local

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not a bad thing to visit a chain restaurant, but we hope that you consider supporting local businesses on a more regular basis. Not only are you supporting your neighbors, but you’re also likely to enjoy higher quality ingredients and better taste.

We hope this list was fun and informative. If you enjoyed this, drop us a line at info@longitudebranding.com. Thanks!

4 Ways to Experience Huge Growth for Your Business in 2019

“New year, new me.”

The new year is often a time for people to take a fresh approach to their life, habits, dreams, and ambitions. Whether you’ve joined a new gym or decided to quit a bad habit, chances are that you’ve made a resolution or two in your lifetime. Sometimes we fail at sticking to our resolutions, other times we succeed. Yet, as the new year approaches, the thought that you can start with a clean slate is exciting and can make even the biggest goals seem achievable.

When it comes to your business, you probably have goals for 2019. You probably want to start some new initiatives to improve your business, or maybe your goals are to stop doing certain things that are a waste of time, money, or energy. Whatever the case, our team wants you to succeed in your business. So here are 4 New Year’s resolutions you can make to improve your business in 2019.

1. Improve Your Strategy

“I resolve to stop playing the guessing game.”

When was the last time you decided to go on a long road trip, and that very same day you got in your car and started driving without anything packed, no map, no GPS, and no plan on where you’re driving? Chances are, you’ve never done that because that wouldn’t be very smart.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons why.

First, if you have no plan on where you want to go, why even go anywhere? You have no purpose to embark. Second, even if you did have a plan on where you wanted to go, you have no map or GPS to guide you there. You might get there eventually, but you’d probably take a lot of wrong turns and encounter a lot of roadblocks along the way. And third, if you did have an idea of where you were going, and a map to get you there, you still wouldn’t be prepared for the journey ahead.

If you have no plan on where you want to go, why even go anywhere? You have no purpose to embark.

It sounds crazy to think of someone going on a long journey without the right supplies, tools, maps, and plan needed for it to be a successful trip. Yet, we see this all the time and all-too-often this spells disaster for a business. If you only take away one thing from this article, take this point to heart—You need a strategy. Don’t play the guessing game. Pushing forward and “hustling and grinding” without a plan isn’t admirable, it’s silly.

2. Improve Your Competitive Positioning

“I resolve to stop copying the competition.”

When you own a company, you’re wearing a ton of hats. We get it. It’s difficult to know where you should be investing your time and money, and where you’ll get the most return on your investment. When you have been pulled in so many directions, feeling like you’re always putting out fires, and you don’t have a clear strategy it’s tempting to simply look at your most successful competitor and do exactly what they’re doing. However, this could cost your business big-time.

The purpose of a strong market position is centered around making your business stand out amongst the rest. Whether it’s a unique service you provide, a promise you make to your customers, or operational difference, you need something that communicates how you are not only different than the competition, but better than them. What’s your “special sauce”? What’s your “secret ingredient”? What are you “leading the industry in”? What’s something you can do that no one else can do?

When you have a strong market position, you’ll become a more clear choice above the rest. Customers will understand why you’re different and it makes their decision fall in your favor. If you only ever copy your competition, then you’ll likely make a lot of expensive mistakes and miss a lot of great opportunities. Without a strong market position, you get lost in a deep abyss of “the same.” People ignore you, and you end up scrounging for new customers each month and are forced to compete on price alone.

Without a strong market position, you get lost in a deep abyss of “the same.”

3. Improve Your Marketing Message

“I resolve to create a message that sticks.”

There are likely thousands and thousands of potential customers out there, actively searching for a service or product that you provide. The problem is that they’ve either never heard of you, or if they have heard of you, but your marketing message didn’t communicate that you were the answer they were looking for.

Maybe they were confused about what exactly you sell or the service you provide. They could have been misled to think you were too expensive and high-quality, or too cheap and low quality. Or worse, maybe their eyes just glazed over as they read your generic tagline that doesn’t really say much.

When you don’t have crystal clear message that is short and impactful, people won’t respond. You have only a few short seconds to communicate clearly with a potential customer, and if there is any ambiguity or misinformation they will ignore you and move on to the next option. Remember, you don’t have to necessarily be better than the competition, however, you certainly need to communicate better. Communication is the key to connection.

When you don’t have crystal clear message that is short and impactful, people won’t respond.

4. Improve Your Visual Identity

“I resolve to create the right perceptions.”

On the same token, not only should your words communicate well, but your visuals should as well. After all, as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The visuals surrounding your business are just as important in telling your brand story as your words are – maybe even more so.

Consider this, if a large burly man knocked on your door wearing a clown costume, and with a high-pitched voice introduced himself as “Dr. Wilson” said he was here to mow your yard, you’d be confused right? Yet, this is how a large number of businesses operate and manage their brand. Their imagery, visuals, photography, colors, and typefaces are all saying different things.

Investing in maintaining a high level of visual quality and consistency is one of the best investments you can make into your business. Maintaining this identity gives you a strong voice when words aren’t enough. When people are first introduced to your business, it’s usually part of your brand identity: your logo, signage, business card, shirt, vehicle, etc. You only get a few seconds to make a good first impression, and you won’t get that chance back.

Maintaining this identity gives you a strong voice when words aren’t enough

“I resolve to have the best year yet.”

If you resolve to make these four improvements to your company in 2019, then it could be the most successful year you’ve ever experienced. How do I know this? Many of our past clients have seen huge growth in their business after committing and investing to grow in these four areas. There is also plenty of research and studies which show there is a huge return on investment for having a brand strategy. It’s just smart business.

The team at Longitude° wishes you a very happy new year! We hope that 2019 will be a year of growth realized and goals reached. If you’d like any help along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@longitudebranding.com.

What’s the ROI of a Brand Strategy?

Business Minded vs. Brand Minded

Trying to convince certain business owners or executives to invest in a brand strategy can be a very tricky thing. In their mind, there’s never a right time and it’s rarely an important consideration. This is because to them, ROI isn’t clearly measurable. On top of that, most of their time is spent trying to solve complex business problems or putting out fires in their organization.

What these business owners may not understand, or may be too busy to hear, is that a well-built brand strategy could solve many of the problems they’re facing – often times before they even occur.

A well-built brand strategy could solve many of the problems they’re facing – often times before they even occur.

A brand strategy is a vital piece to any organization who wants to be competitive in the marketplace. Without it, you’ll likely face many problems and frustrations that you shouldn’t be facing. So why are some business owners and CEOs so apprehensive to make the investment?

Put yourself in the shoes of the average business owner or CEO. You have team members emailing or calling you every single day, vying for your attention, explaining to you what’s wrong, and bringing long lists of issues that they believe need to be improved. You have trouble finding support and talent you need for important positions and have trouble keeping the good talent you may already have. You’re burning through money – more cash is going out than coming in. Then you get a phone call from someone who asks, “Have you ever thought about a brand strategy to build a better emotional connection with your customers?”

You’ll say “no thanks” and hang up. It’s not only bad timing, you’re not even speaking the same language.

The problem is in the fact that when many business owners hear the words “brand” or “branding” they think coloring books, pretty colors, and painting classes with Bob Ross. CEOs and business owners are typically product driven, solution minded, or deeply focused on their operations. They want a mathematical equation to know that if they invest one dollar, they’ll receive two dollars in return. They don’t care to spend money on “unnecessary” things like a brand strategy to help their business grow.

Dollars and [Emotional] Sense

Many business owners or executives value cold hard numbers and metrics, not emotions and feelings. For them, if they don’t see a clear monetary value assigned to something, they’re not going to consider making an investment of time or money into it.

The average executive is more willing to consider a “business solution” versus a “brand solution.” The biggest failure in this thinking is the fact that these two solutions are, and always will be, tied together. You can’t separate the two. Your brand, your culture, your reputation, your core values, your market position – these are all foundational building blocks upon which a profitable business must be built. Without these clearly defined, your chances of seeing meaningful business growth are seriously stifled.

The biggest failure in this thinking is the fact that these two solutions [business and brand solutions] are, and always will be, tied together.

The ROI of Story

When an organization has a clearly defined strategy, and purposeful vision, it will make a direct impact on your bottom line. Your marketing efforts, sales, and advertising will all be improved. You can attempt to assign metrics to every investment you make and have spreadsheets for days, but without the right message, metrics don’t mean anything. Telling your team members or stakeholders that your mission is to generate X increased revenue within X amount of time isn’t casting a vision. It’s simply a goal. A vision must be something that everyone on your team understands and can buy into long-term.

A vision must be something that everyone on your team understands and can buy into long-term.

It should come as no surprise that finding and keeping talent is one of the most common challenges businesses face. The beautiful thing about a great brand strategy is that you’ll have a stronger brand story. When your employees are more engaged and understand this story, they’re going to be more engaged and perform better. When your team is engaged they will perform 147 percent better.

Your narrative will not only impact your employee engagement but will also have a big impact on the decision your customers make regarding doing business with you. When it comes to people deciding to buy from you, 72 percent of people make decisions based on a vision.

It’s clear that an investment into brand strategy can have huge returns, across multiple aspects of your business. Every real business wants to experience growth in some way. However, as you are growing are you truly increasing the value of the business you’re building? When you have a strong brand narrative and vision, this answer becomes easier to answer.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

In a study by McKinsey & Company, it was found that organizations with a clear story perform 20% better than those with a weak story and vision.

Additionally, powerful strategies will influence your plan of action for how consistent your voice, message, tone, and look is throughout various touchpoints with your audience. When companies are more intentional and consistent with their brand, they experience on average a 20% increased revenue versus those companies who are inconsistent.

If you’re still not convinced that you need a brand strategy, here are some other numbers that you should consider:

  • 91% of consumers said that they are more likely to buy from an authentic brand than from a dishonest brand. (AdWeek)
  • 82% of investors believe that brand strength and name recognition are becoming more important in guiding them in their investment decisions. (Reuters)
  • 64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand. (Harvard Business Review)
  • 48% of consumers expect a brand to really know them and be able to help them discover new products or services that match their needs. (Cube)
  • 77% of B2B marketing leaders say branding is critical to growth. (Circle Research)

So, next time you hear the words “brand strategy,” don’t think “pretty colors and painting class with Bob Ross” – think clearer decisions, better engagement, loyal customers, and more money in the bank.

How Leaders Can Find Work-Life Balance with a Powerful Brand

It’s an all-too-common problem for many solo entrepreneurs, business owners, and bootstrapped startups. It’s harming families and tearing apart marriages. It’s the cause of many sleepless nights and restless thoughts. People write books to help solve this problem and stores can’t keep them on the shelves. This problem isn’t age-specific, gender-specific, or restricted to a certain location or industry.

The problem? Work–life balance.

Finding a balance between your work and your life seems like chasing a carrot on a stick. It feels like an impossible goal, one that will never be reached. We live in a world where the first thing people ask when they meet is, “what do you do?” Our society has put so much emphasis on how “successful” you are or what your job title is. So, it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs are focusing more and more time on their business and less time being with their loved ones or enjoying other activities.

Sadly, a majority of the American workforce are dissatisfied with their work due to a lack of work-life balance.

What exactly is a Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is a concept related to how you allocate your time, energy, and mental focus into various parts of your life: work, family, health, personal growth, friendships, etc. Finding a healthy “balance” of all of these aspects to your life is thought to lead to a wholeness of life – meaning you have a better sense of belonging, purpose, and happiness.

For business owners specifically, this balance is extremely hard to find.

You likely wear many hats. As a business owner, you’re not only working one job, but you’re probably working the equivalent of two, three, or even more jobs. So finding this balance can seem nearly impossible.

Are you out of balance?

As business owners, how many times do we catch ourselves sitting at the dinner table with our family thinking of client deadlines, upcoming bills, troubles with employees, or where your next lead will come from?

If you can’t allow yourself to be present with your family or friends, you’re probably out of balance. If you feel too tired or mentally taxed to read a book simply for your enjoyment, you’re probably out of balance. If you’re constantly checking your email because you’re worried that you may have missed something or that an emergency may have occurred while you were away, you’re probably out of balance.

How Can I Find Balance?

There are some ways that we can make the work-life balance feel more manageable. However, don’t expect to be perfect in your efforts. Here are some ideas you can start trying:

  1. Prioritize Social Time with No Agenda. Spend time with your family and friends for no reason other than just enjoying time with them. Do your best not to talk about your business. Talk about life, hobbies, dreams, interests, sports, politics – anything but your work.
  2. Be Flexible with Your Schedule. Create your own definition of balance. Maybe balance for you is enjoying time in the morning alone while you read a book. Maybe it’s leaving your office early every Thursday afternoon to spend time with your kids. You own your business, you make the rules. Create your own schedule.
  3. Unplug and Relax. Be present with yourself and others. Turn off your phone. Leave your laptop at work. When you’re with others, or alone with yourself – be present. There’s a never-ending stream of emails, calendar invites, meetings, missed calls. Don’t worry, they’ll be waiting for you and you’ll have time to take care of everything later. As much as possible, keep those moments away from your business sacred.
  4. Work smart. In this day in age, there’s a buzzword floating around the world of business and entrepreneurship – hustle. Typically this word means to work hard all hours of the day and night with a relentless and never-ceasing drive to grind away in an effort to grow your business. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time for “hustle.” However, what’s better than working hard and working a lot? Working smart and being extremely effective.

This idea of working smart vs. working hard isn’t a new one and is extremely important as you are seeking a work-life balance that is sustainable. However, most business owners don’t feel like they have the tools or know-how to work smart. This is why a strategic foundation for your business is so important. A brand strategy will bring alignment throughout your business, and allow you to run your business in a smarter way.

5 Ways That a Brand Strategy Leads to Balance

1. Clearer Focus Will Require Less Mental Energy

A strategic foundation will narrow your focus so that you aren’t wasting time on things that don’t matter. You’ll have a better idea of why you do what you do, how you will accomplish it, and where you should be spending your time and energy. By doing this, you’ll free up your thoughts allowing you to be more present with your family and friends outside of your workplace. You’ll be more deliberate in your efforts, and begin to see how you can spend your time more wisely on a daily basis.

2. Spend Less Time & Energy Worrying About Decisions

When you have a clearly defined vision and values for your business, decision-making is simplified. Many decisions, big and small, become easier because you have defined guidelines in place. These guard-rails provided by a brand strategy will continually bring you back to your roots and ensure that you’re always aligned with your core values and always consistent. When decisions are easier, you aren’t as drained with the day-to-day of your business – giving you more mental energy to spend on things you enjoy outside of work.

When decisions are easier, you aren’t as drained with the day-to-day of your business

3. Empowered and Engaged Team

One of the best ways that a brand strategy will help you find a work-life balance is how it can help empower and engage your employees. Studies show that employees who are more engaged perform better, are more committed, and more loyal.

Although your brand is at the forefront of all your marketing efforts, it is also displayed throughout your team – from the receptionist answering phones to the service technician out in the field. Smart branding means that your team members will have a complete understanding and ability to confidently deliver on your brand promise. When your team members are engaged and empowered, this means they will often take on more responsibilities and be brand ambassadors for you.

This allows you to delegate with more confidence, freeing up more of your time to do other things you love.

4. Better Results from Marketing Agencies You Hire

The beauty of a properly built brand strategy is that it enhances everything that you’re currently doing. It’s likely that you’re doing some marketing; whether you’re doing it on your own or you’ve hired a marketing agency to do it for you. For most business owners, the reality is that they feel like their marketing efforts aren’t as effective as they could be. In fact, we recently did a survey and found that 100% of business owners feel that their marketing efforts aren’t effective.

A brand strategy will give you the confidence to know that you’re sending the right message, with the right look, and talking to the right people. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. When your marketing efforts are performing well and you’re seeing great results – it puts less stress on you outside of your work.

5. Customers Working for You, Brand Evangelists

What’s better than getting a new customer? Getting a new customer from a past customer referral.

When you are doing great work and have a great brand, people take notice. When you are relating to people on a human level, people will listen. Knowing your customers intimately is a vital step in the brand strategy process. When you truly know your customers, their desires, their fears, and their goals – then you’ll be better equipped to turn them into brand evangelists.

When you are relating to people on a human level, people will listen

Having a free workforce of past customers who gladly refer their friends, family, and colleagues to is a great feeling. This is one other way to make your business run stress-free and create a brand that you’re proud of.

It may seem impossible to find a work-life balance, but it’s worth the effort. However, I can assure you that not having a strategic brand will greatly hinder your efforts and set you back tremendously.

The only thing stopping you from building a more strategic brand is you. At Longitude°, we have developed a streamlined process that will help accelerate your growth and help you reach your vision for your business. Smart business leaders everywhere are loving BrandGPS, and you will too. Want to talk with a Brand Guide? Request a meeting today.

Your Personal Brand is Important

Why do you need a Personal Brand?

If someone asked you to quickly identify your unique contributions to your business, backed up with supporting evidence, would you be able to do that without batting an eye?

Most people can see the importance of branding in regards to their business. It’s obvious that creating a strong brand is vital to every business. A well-built brand strategy can give you a huge advantage over your competition. However, people often miss the mark when it comes to clearly identifying who they are, what their values are, what they stand for, and how they are uniquely skilled and equipped to help a business grow.

Personal branding may seem odd, uncomfortable, or even vain – but the practice of building a personal brand should not be overlooked by any entrepreneur, professional, or aspiring leader. If approached properly, the process of creating a personal brand can give you a calm confidence as you establish priorities in your life and career, and plan out the journey ahead.

Creating a personal brand can give you a calm confidence as you establish priorities in your life, and plan out the journey ahead.

The fact of the matter is, you’re going to have a personal brand – whether you’re in control of it or not. Your personal brand is shown in every blog post you write, every twitter post you share, and every email you send. If left unclear or undefined, people will make their own assumptions about who you are, why you do what you do, and what you represent.

However, if you can take control of your own personal brand you’re the one writing the story. You decide the narrative. You are the one with the pencil and paper – sharing only what you want your audience to see. Wouldn’t you rather be the one in the driver’s seat?

If that fact alone isn’t enough to convince you, here are some other benefits to expect when building a personal brand:

  • Establish your value outside of your current career or job title
  • Pinpoint how to present the best you
  • Appreciate your strengths and weaknesses
  • Create a following of others who share common values
  • Gain confidence
  • Show your value through your efforts
  • Clearly define your niche
  • Lay a foundation of credibility
  • Position yourself outside of the norm
  • Impart your values with clear messaging

How do you create a personal brand?

So you want to start creating a personal brand; where do you begin? Well for starters, you’ll need to set aside enough time in a distraction-free environment. Be committed, and ready to focus on diving deep into your own understanding of yourself. Turn off your phone. Put away the computer. All you need is a pencil and paper.

It’s worth noting that as you begin constructing your personal brand, you need to be sure that you’re being honest with yourself. You are the one that has to live up to your personal brand. If you aren’t honest with yourself, it’ll lead you to live a life that isn’t authentic, which will result in sending mixed signals to others. This forces you to live a phony life and does great harm to your brand.

You are the one that has to live up to your personal brand.

1. Writing Your Vision Statement

Ask these questions separately for work and personal:

  1. “At my core, what do I value most?”
  2. “What interests me the most and what am I most passionate about?”
  3. “Where does my motivation come from?”
  4. “What makes me the happiest?”

After you’ve written these answers down, next write out a personal vision statement. It should be concise, strong, and true. This will statement will only be seen by you and may change over time, so don’t spend too much time waxing eloquent.

Here is an example of a personal vision statement:

Personal:

“My personal vision… is that my life is one of intentional purpose – for myself and others. It’s important that I live a life of kindness, love, compassion, and concern for others. By listening to others, and serving others, I want to gain new insights, learn new things, and gain an understanding of different perspectives.”

Career:

“My vision for my career… is one of constant improvement and continual learning. I want others to feel confident around me and yet challenged to do better when they are with me. I want to work with people who share similar ambitions, and values. Most importantly, I want every person I interact with to feel like I’ve helped them in some way. I never want to be a dead end for anyone. I want to be thought of as thoughtful and wise.”

2. Planning How to Reach Your Goals

Now that we’ve defined who you are and what you value at your core, it’s time to define some goals and outline how you’re going to achieve those goals. These next steps will guide you through creating the goals, and then deciding what you need to do in order to reach those goals, what you should be focusing your energy and effort on, and who you should be surrounding yourself with.

To discover your goals, ask yourself these questions:

  1. “What do I need to achieve in my life/career?”
  2. “What do I want to achieve in my life/career?”
  3. “Being successful in the short-term, what does that look like to me?”
  4. “Being successful in the long-term, what does that look like to me?”

As you write these down, you may find that many of these goals may not be connected to wealth or status, but rather happiness and fulfillment. That’s a good sign. It means that you’re being authentic, and honest.

Now that you’ve listed out your goals, you need to determine how you will achieve them. So next ask:

  1. “What are my best strengths?”
  2. “What are my worst weaknesses?”
  3. “Why am I unique?”
  4. “What are certain characteristics or competencies that make me stand out?”
  5. “Who are the people that energize me, bring me joy, and challenge me to do better?”
  6. “Who are the people that drain me, stress me out, and bring only strife?”

After you’ve taken inventory of your skills, expectations, and abilities, now you can prioritize the various pieces and types of people that will help you reach your goals – and also understand who and/or what you should avoid that may hold you back from reaching these goals.

You may find it hard to answer honestly or feel strange about some of your answers. If so, you may think about asking a close family member, or friend to help you answer some of them in an honest way. Ask them to be brutally honest. If they are sugar-coating the answers, it will just further complicate the process, and lead you down the wrong path.

The Evolution of a Personal Brand

Creating your personal brand takes time, effort, and constant evolution. Your personal brand must evolve with you – through life changes, career changes, or changes in your ambitions.

Personal branding isn’t a one-time event. You don’t simply wake up one morning with a personal brand that is well-established and respected. Instead, it’s an ongoing task that takes commitment, tons of effort, and requires consistency. But, it’s the best way to tell your story and cultivate the reputation you want.

At the end of the day, curating your personal brand is a continuous journey of defining your mission and vision, and ensuring that your sights are aimed in the direction you want to go.

So start the journey.

What’s Next for Longitude°?

You can’t change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust the sails to always reach your destination.

Life is filled with many unexpected twists and turns; you never know what’s around the corner. And, as with any journey, along the way you meet many different types of people. Most are forgettable and don’t make any impact on your trajectory. However, others have a profound impact and challenge you to take a different path; a path less traveled.

When Dustin Myers and Jeremy Wells met in 2015, they couldn’t have anticipated how their journeys would collide.

Over the last 3 years, they have developed a friendship and camaraderie that’s hard to find. Continuing down their own separate paths, they began noticing that their paths were slowly merging. Before they knew it, they were driving on the same road. At that point, they realized that it only made sense to carpool.

Because of this, Dustin (Longitude°) and Jeremy (Wells Innovative) have decided to merge under one name, Longitude°.

Dustin and Jeremy believe that this merger will result in a exponential growth, new opportunities, and a greatly improve the value they provide to their clients.

 


Introducing:

 

Dustin Myers & Jeremy Wells, Partners at Longitude°

For nearly two decades Jeremy has worked alongside businesses and entrepreneurs of every shape and size, from virtually every industry. From Fortune 500 companies to small start-ups, he’s done it all. Over the years he’s developed a unique perspective about how branding can impact every aspect of a business.

As a Digital Marketing Professional, he saw how branding can be a game-changer for marketing efforts. As a User Experience Architect, he understood that your brand is more than just a logo or a tagline – it’s your customer’s perception of you, ever-changing with every touch point. As a Creative Director, he saw how damaging a poor brand identity can be for a business. As a Business Owner, he understands the challenges that come with building a brand and reputation you want.

With a drive for helping others succeed, a passion for building strong relationships, and a knack for effective communication, Jeremy will be a valuable addition and partner at Longitude°.

5 Tips for Developing A Winning Brand Strategy

When you think of your brand, think about your reputation. Your brand — who you are as a chef or restaurant — is how you’re perceived in the marketplace. You can be sure that there will be a perception of you, even if you don’t focus attention on it. Brand strategy is really just the game plan for guiding those perceptions. Whether you are a brand new establishment or one that has been around for decades, developing a strategy to guide your brand’s reputation will be invaluable.

People buy from brands they love and trust. Just as in personal relationships, we are drawn to people who are authentic, who share similar values, and who can improve our lives in some way.

Strong brands represent something larger than the products they sell.

In developing a strong brand, “what” you do as a business matters less than the “why” and the “who.” This is how you build authentic relationships and loyalty.

Why do you do what you do? Could everyone on your team articulate this? Do your customers know this? This is exactly what an effective brand strategy can help you achieve.

Now let’s look at five tips for developing an effective brand strategy. There may be many different ways to go about this, but concentrated workshops over a few days can be a very effective format.

1. Set the expectations.

You need to assess your current situation. How are you perceived now? What areas need to be improved on? What areas are going well and which ones need fine-tuning? Startups have the advantage of not having to overcome wrong perceptions. However, if you’ve been in business for a while, you have a much better grasp on the reality and you can be more accurate in your assessment. Before starting out, define the desired outcomes of your strategy work. Note the areas that need improvement so that you can have benchmarks to judge by later.

2. Assemble the right team.

The branding team should include a variety of positions. The owner will have different perceptions and insights from those in lower and middle positions. When dealing with perceptions, all are valid and will contribute towards the success of the effort. By having a diverse team it will also help to bring everyone on board with the mission and goals.

3. Define areas of opportunity.

Do you have well-defined brand values? You need to identify the characteristics and personality traits that guide you as a business. Being able to articulate those clearly will allow the entire business to work together toward the same goal. Do you know what sets you apart from your competitors? What is the one thing that you can offer that no one else can?

The strength of a brand is in its ability to differentiate.

Do you have a clear understanding of your target customer? Creating detailed customer personas will be extremely valuable to inform marketing decisions for placement, copywriting, and design.

4. Validate what you find.

You need to make sure you’re heading down the right path. Customer surveys can be a very effective method to align your goals with reality. Check your desired brand values against current perceptions.

Continue Reading on Foodable

 


 

Dustin Myers is a brand strategist and designer who has owned and operated Longitude° since 2010. He has had the privilege of consulting with brands all over the world, helping their businesses grow through clear communication. He lives in Springfield, MO with his wife Lauren and their three children.

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Rebranding VS Brand Refresh: Which One Should You Consider?

Post originally appeared on Foodable.TV

As we understand the importance of how your brand identity affects potential customers, you’re probably wondering if it’s time for an update. Let’s look at the difference in rebranding versus a brand refresh and consider if either is necessary for growing your brand.

What Is Rebranding?

Rebranding is a process of redesigning elements of the brand identity in order to realign your messaging and perception. This can include a new name, logo redesign, new colors, new messaging, and other core changes to the brand identity. Rebranding is not something that should be done often or with little care. However, when necessary, it can be a vital step in moving forward.

When Is Rebranding Needed?

Name change. A name change is a significant redirection in the life of a brand. If you are changing the name, there are probably strategic reasons for doing so. Redesigning the brand elements will be necessary in order to properly communicate the new direction and positioning.

Ownership change. Are there bad associations lingering from previous ownership or management? If so, a rebranding effort can be very effective in resetting expectations and perceptions. New ownership can bring a lot of new changes and improvements, and the public needs to know that things are different.

Repositioning. Has your restaurant changed its focus? We’ve seen the positioning of restaurants adapt and evolve through the years. If your brand design elements were intended to communicate something that no longer defines your focus, you may need to rebrand.

What Is a Brand Refresh?

A brand refresh is a process of updating the elements of the identity. This process is less drastic than rebranding. This is a visual update to better communicate your positioning and not a strategic change. A successful brand refresh will retain the elements that are working and update the areas that are not.

Continue Reading at Foodable.TV

How To Get The Most Value From Your Designer

As someone who’s been on both sides (designer & client), design projects can be really fun or really frustrating. One reason they can be frustrating is that aesthetics are subjective. Sometimes you can feel like you’re fighting against the other party in order to make your project look the way you want it to. Unfortunately, what looks good to two different people may be totally different.

“Design is the relationship of content and form.” – Paul Rand.

As a client, here are some tips that will help you get the most value from your designer:

1. Hire an expert you trust.

If you are going to commission a professional for your project, make sure that you like their past work. Every designer has different specialties and styles. Don’t hire a designer that you’re going to have to coerce into creating a style that you like. See if they have been able to solve similar problems for other clients. Can they explain the process and reasoning behind their decisions?

By doing some research, you can prevent situations where you’ve invested a lot of money and later realize that the designer isn’t going to be able to meet your objectives.

Some clients want to design vicariously through someone who knows how to use the tools. For these people, I recommend just learning the tools themselves or hiring a student with no experience. This will save money and frustration. When you hire a good designer, you are commissioning their expertise to solve your problems.

You don’t want your financial advisor to tell you what you want to hear. You are relying on them to use their expertise to help you. A good designer shouldn’t just strive to create something that looks good to you. They should strive to solve the problem in the best way they know how. You will get the most value from leaning on their expertise.

Attributes of a designer you can trust:

  • Has a portfolio that shows how they’ve effectively solved real-world problems.
  • Specializes in your industry or a particular style you would like.
  • Is not the cheapest. Like any professional service, you usually get the quality you pay for.
  • Works to understand the underlying goals of the project.

Okay, you’ve found a designer that you can trust. What’s next?

2. Start the project off right.

Give all of the direction up front. Don’t leave out any details. There have been times in the past when, as the designer, I didn’t get all of the necessary details. Sometimes because I didn’t ask the right questions and sometimes because the client had changed their mind midway through the project without telling me. It can be really frustrating and wasteful when your designer has spent weeks on a design concept only to find out that they were going off of inaccurate information. It won’t be possible to answer every question up front, so stay in touch throughout the process for anything that may arise.

  • Provide every piece of content they will need before getting started.
  • Share the style or direction you envision for the design. Creative solutions thrive within restraints.
  • Explain the specific business goals behind starting a design project.

3. Give the right kind of feedback.

On this point, some of the best advice I have seen came from Rob Williams from letsworkshop.com.

What to do:

  • DO feel free to go negative about things you don’t like. If you don’t tell us what you think isn’t working, we’ll show you the same thing again and again.
  • DO point out and go into as much detail as possible as to why you feel something is not working. More than anything, your reasoning is critical to solving the problem.
  • DO speak to your goals and priorities for the project.
  • DO tell us why we’re wrong about certain design and development decisions we’ve made. Part of the process is finding those holes.
  • DO limit the amount of people participating in the review cycle to as small as possible – for faster, more succinct feedback.

What not to do:

  • DON’T mock up designs or alterations to our designs or code in photoshop, word, or any other program. Doing so is counter-productive because we then must reverse engineer the whole thing to find out what you were trying to solve. This results in lost time, and budget.
  • DON’T prescribe solutions, because prescriptive feedback also needs to be unpacked, and reverse engineered to get to the real issue.

Bad → “Move the twitter button to the left”
Better → “We want more importance placed on the social media sharing tools.”

  • DON’T forget that you hired design experts and your job is to be the business expert.

 

Working with a designer on your project can and should be a fun and exciting process that leads to a great result. Following these ground rules will help your designer have the freedom needed to meet your objectives.

What lessons have you learned in working with a designer that others could benefit from?

Ready to Talk? Send a Message

Or just email us at info@longitudebranding.com