Build consumer trust with strategic brand development

Build consumer trust with strategic brand development

Build Consumer Trust with Strategic Brand Development


81% of consumers need to trust a brand before they buy from it. Let that sink in. That’s four out of five opportunities walking away if they simply don’t trust you – that means your differentiation, quality, pricing, service and so much not only need to hit the mark but also need to be communicated in a way that does so.

This is the world of brand, friends. It’s where your reputation trumps all. But good news: there is a path to success here and we like to call it strategic brand development. Two things to note, though. First, it is a forever commitment and second, it’s not easy.

Do you have trust issues with your brand?

We’ve established the trust criteria for consumers to purchase. But what about when they are already a customer? Reports cite that only 31% of consumers actually trust the brands they use. This matters greatly because it leaves a huge vulnerability for another brand to take your place and we stand by the fact that it is cheaper to keep customers than to attract new ones. So where are some areas you can look to see if you have trust issues?

Consistent messaging

It is easy to have messaging evolve over time and it is easy for it to get splintered and diluted over time. This can happen even if there are only a few people who are hands-on if careful attention is not paid. As messaging appears in highly visible places online, make sure what is being communicated with stakeholders in business conversations, customers in support calls, and your intended audience at tradeshows is also in line. Inconsistency can lose consumers before you even know their potential interest. Are you consistent more often than not? Give yourself a pat on the back! While this is an anecdotal measurement, it’s an important one as a leading indicator.

Online sentiment and net promoter scores (NPS)

To get more quantified in how things are going, evaluate your brands online sentiment and NPS. Both of these measurements do take a process to get going but they will give you a steady pulse in a measurable way on opinion, which is an indicator of trust. Additionally, while they both are measures of opinion and thus grouped here, they are different in many ways and one should not replace the other.

Conversion rates

Looking at conversion rates will hone in more on the lead generation and sales development aspect of trust. There was enough trust to potentially share an email address but is there enough trust for a phone call? A demo? What are the comments coming out of those conversations? This assessment can yield quantitative and qualitative insights that can be cross-referenced with the previous two types of activities suggested.

Customer attrition

Seeing customers go for preventable reasons makes us sad. It’s terrible for a brand and should not by any means be ignored or hidden from the team. These are opportunities to find out where the weak areas are in the brand and address them immediately. Not only with fixes but with proactive measures with other customers. No matter where in the customer journey attrition is happening, it indicates that there is a break in expectations and reality. It could be how the product works, how pricing compares to value, or even the amount of attention they wanted versus are receiving. It could be a communications and/or operational issue but both will break trust if not addressed.

A brand strategy that can make it through tough times

While trust isn’t built overnight, doing it right and maintaining it over the long term might help it from not being broken overnight. True story. We had a client that took their brand trust to heart for decades. The leadership knew what the company stood for and the employees were clear on how to operationalize it. Customers could feel it; exchanges were familial and NPS was incredibly high.

Then one day the inevitable came for a tech company and an incident disrupted service. The team immediately jumped on it but, in short, it was a multiple day disruption and a big deal to customers. Throughout the incident, leadership clearly and calmly communicated with customers, taking ownership of the situation in full.

Thanks not only to the professionalism and transparency in the moment but the years of investing in building the brand, customers literally reached out to say thank you and that trust wasn’t broken. Not a single customer left because of the incident. An absolutely priceless reward.

Two areas to research to support your brand development

It’s possible to appeal to the 81% of consumers that need to have trust before purchasing. It’s imperative to build the number of current customers that have trust above 31%. This can absolutely be done with a strategic brand strategy.

To get started today, take an inventory of the data points you have available to you. Are there processes you need to get in place to have better visibility on quantitative information? Secondly, survey your customer-facing teams to learn the themes they are hearing in conversations.

What do consumers and customers love about the brand?

What are they surprised by?

What aren’t they asking about?

And what bothers them?

A simple tally of recurring comments will give you a starting point for more research. Once these things are identified, you can revisit your marketing and branding fundamentals and see where updates are made. And, of course, work with your operations teams to ensure items are being addressed on their end(s) because they are a vital part of a healthy, trustworthy brand!

Targeted strategy. Unleashed creativity.

Whether you need to work on brand development or you realize you need to reset the entire brand strategy, you are not on your own. We’d love to hear from you about what you have learned in your preliminary assessment as we can help you get to the next step with additional analysis, facilitation, a partner in your strategy, and even implementation. Contact us today by phone or email.

If you are ready to discuss what rebranding could look like for your business, we would be happy to offer you a free consultation.  You can learn what the project could look like, how long it will take, and what research will be done.

Your cool logo is just the tip of your brand development iceberg

Your cool logo is just the tip of your brand development iceberg

Your Cool Logo Is Just The Tip of Your Brand Development Iceberg

Are we going to dive into a comparison with icebergs? Yes, we are. While you see the analogy used to describe many situations of depth, the same applies to brand development. The brand’s logo, the identity, and the flashy video; are fun and immediately gratifying. But if they don’t have the depth – the big, less-seen part of a brand development iceberg – they don’t have the staying power.

Here is an example for consideration before going further. Imagine your brand identity projects you as modern and friendly. Yet when your customers ask for help, they are met with curt responses and directed to an archaic self-help section. That creates a huge gap in the customer’s expectations and experiences. Not only does it wear down trust, but it starts to reveal what the company really offers in terms of service and product quality. Your brand development is incomplete; it’s superficial.

Marketing doesn’t “own” customer service or product design and engineering. We get it. But marketing very much does have a vested interest in how these are going because marketing has to champion the health of the brand. Demand a full iceberg! And collaborate cross-departmentally to get there.

A brand logo is the tip of the iceberg

If you speak branding and marketing, you’ll know that a logo is not the only thing that comprises identity. Many visuals collectively do. So that we’re on the same page, let’s go over it briefly. Identify all the things that craft a visual in a customer’s mind. That could be logos, color palettes, styling, and key phrases. All these things can be used in combination on many different marketing channels such as a website, social media, and one-pagers.

Why does identity matter? Without it (and its repeated use) a customer can’t identify the company easily. Identity certainly has its place! And, without a doubt, it takes continued work. It has to be clear, credible, consistent, and competitive without fail…and without overpromising what the customer will get or trust will waver. No matter the buying decision trends of the day, trust is an important ingredient you don’t want to take for granted. Further, brand identity doesn’t comprise all that needs to be part of brand development.

Customers care less about a brand logo and more about quality

According to the 2022 CMO Survey, 36% of survey participants indicated that product quality and service were top-ranking concerns of their customers. This was a shift from the years that we were under pandemic stresses when people were deciding more on trust. As the world has reopened, customers do want the best product quality and service. How does your brand reflect that? Certainly not in a brand logo alone.

We have seen organizations with a modernized brand logo and consistent external messaging that got their stakeholders excited. From the outside, it seemed like the brand was ready to take off; the team couldn’t imagine anyone not wanting to work with them. What was not easily seen was the business being done behind doors that violated the brand promise. Spoiler alert, the brand is what people say when you aren’t in the room. People were not saying good things and ultimately a sense of distrust among stakeholders formed. This could have been prevented if the brand were operationalized; if the brand promise and values were part of every team member’s actions.

Fortunately, there are also examples of when operationalizing a brand was prioritized over identity. In this case, our client was in a position where they could change little about appearance but wanted to change everything about transparency and connecting with their audience. Through public relations campaigns, informative content consistently communicated, and not hiding when times were tough, the organization became known for their quality. They were also successful in reaching their goal, which was to increase community engagement and education in measurable ways.

Operationalize your brand development and take charge of your iceberg

Not long ago we were able to help a client with making sure the tip of their iceberg matched everything they had below the surface. They had value, quality, and service in place and just needed the visuals to convey that to their customers.

The important clarification here is that the client had the most important elements in place. We believe any company moving forward with visual work and marketing without a strong base would risk financial implications not only in wasted marketing spend but also over the long term. The identity must be aligned with the strategy direction. And the positioning, reputation, and business performance must be telling a supporting story in real-time. That’s true and dynamic brand development.

Consider what goes into your iceberg today. Think about your strategic direction, positioning, reputation, performance, and more. If you turn your iceberg upside down and create a funnel, does it align with how you identify yourself externally? If yes, is there something you are ready to modernize? If not, what gaps need to be promptly addressed through thoughtful brand development?

Targeted Strategy. Unleashed Creativity.

When the highly visual materials get published, it gets people pumped up. Keeping the brand operationalized less so because it’s behind the scenes, and so it can end up getting less and less attention. We get it, and we can be your sounding board on what gaps in brand development you might be experiencing. We can even aid in additional analysis, facilitation, a partner in your strategy, and even implementation to make your brand iceberg the coolest possible. Contact us today by phone or email, and we’ll do our best to chill on the puns.

If you are ready to discuss what rebranding could look like for your business, we would be happy to offer you a free consultation.  You can learn what the project could look like, how long it will take, and what research will be done.

Typical marketing mistakes business owners make

Typical marketing mistakes business owners make

Typical Marketing Mistakes Business Owners Make

You’re not using your marketing and branding fundamentals to save  you time and headaches

Regardless of having a small, tight-knit team or a large, extended team, it can get to a point where it feels like opinions are bringing marketing and branding work to a halt. This might look like conflicting feedback, endless rounds of revisions, or diluted messaging. With some fundamentals in place, your next marketing campaign can roll out smoothly with quicker buy-in, more confidence, and clearer results.

Marketing and branding fundamentals are your best friends

Think of it as mise en place, which is French for “putting in place” in the context of preparing to cook. It’s no fun getting halfway through a recipe just to find out you don’t have an ingredient on hand. Nor is it fun to get mid-way through a campaign just to start hitting a wall. According to a project management stat, 70% of projects fail. Ouch! But we know you can vastly improve those odds with the following fundamentals in place.

Audience description and personas

Know who you are marketing to and know them well. Make sure the team at large knows them! It should be no surprise to anyone what’s important to them, how they talk, and what their decision-making habits are. You’ll take a load of mystery out of your work with this piece.

Product/service description and differentiator

What you are selling should clearly solve a problem for your audience and it should be communicated clearly, concisely, and consistently. Have set language for this and you won’t lead anyone astray.

Brand guide

Never argue about a font, tone, or style again. Lock in it to a brand guideline and you’ll find that the boundaries you set will actually give you a bit of freedom (and a lot less explaining over and over).

Key performance indicators (KPI)

Know what your team is working toward and the progress each month. Do not let this fall to the side or be left a mystery. You’ll only ever know if your marketing and branding efforts are working if you have KPIs. And, further, you’ll best prioritize your incoming requests if you know how they will or will not help you hit set KPIs.

Brand strategy and marketing roadmap

Remember that a brand is built every day with every action. Ensure that you are supporting a healthy brand from the marketing point of view with a roadmap that shows channels, themes, and activities.

Content calendar

On a more granular level, be able to present and socialize the content calendar. Content shouldn’t be developed or published in a vacuum. Capture the voice of your organization (after all, it is the bloodline of your brand!), promote your knowledge, and give value to your audience. Last but not least, know and track your KPIs because if you are not tracking, it’s not getting you to your goals. If you have a content calendar before you have the above items in place, you’re not going to be effective with your efforts.

Creative brief

Secure the concept and messaging of your marketing campaign with stakeholders before digging with a creative brief. You’ll get consensus on the goal and objectives, budget, timeline, evaluation metrics and, of course, the creative approach. This should be part of the project’s process every time. No only is it helpful to have going in, but it also serves as a place to record outcomes and have a great record for you to refer back to.

Seamless marketing campaigns, one after another

When you have your marketing and branding fundamentals in place, you’ll find that the framework you work within will eliminate hours of unnecessary work with each marketing campaign that you do. You’ll switch your focus to creating consistency in getting the word out and doing so in a memorable, effective way. You’ll get the collaboration of co-workers more easily. You’ll onboard new teammates with a shorter learning curve. Your budget will thank you.

We watched a client go through this process over the course of a year. The tipping point was producing a sales video that never got used. It was an unfortunate use of time and resources (though very clever!) because when it came down to it, the marketing team did not have alignment with the product team on descriptions and differentiators. That left the video setting up customers with the wrong expectations. The mistake was not repeated, however, as the teams settled on product messaging together. Then when the project of sales sheets came around several months later, the development was done with confidence and efficiency.

As you can see, the reward for the effort of getting fundamentals in place is great, but you may be asking how to get those things in place while still managing the day-to-day. They certainly don’t come together easily.

Outsourced marketing isn’t the answer to good fundamentals

The first thing to do is take a few hours and honestly inventory what you have. Think about how well it is working for you and don’t hesitate to get feedback from others that tend to chime in on your work. How should you decipher your notes? We like to say “if it’s not a ‘heck yes’ it’s a no.” If it hasn’t been working for you now, pausing one day to look at it isn’t going to change anything.

Secondly, you’ll need to have an honest conversation around how to fill in the gaps when it comes to marketing fundamentals. You will need to have more than just yourself on board. Be prepared to advocate for constructive feedback, a change in priorities to open up time to work on the fundamental pieces, or the budget to bring in help to get them done while you continue managing the day to day. One thing is to be sure, getting the fundamental pieces right cannot be done without input regardless of who builds them. Consider this as you are building a timeline to get them in place.

Maybe you were caught off guard when we said outsourced marketing isn’t the answer to good fundamentals. We stand by that. Having good input, strategy, and decisions is the answer. Outsourced marketing help cannot make decisions on behalf of you and your leadership team in this area. But we can be your trusted, thinking partners in the process.

Targeted strategy. Unleashed creativity.

Don’t waste any more hours, budget, or creative energy. We’d love to hear about what fundamentals you think are missing or not serving you. And if you have them but aren’t sure you are using them as intended, we can talk about that, too. Contact us today by phone or email.

Are you ready to work with a marketing agency? Part 2

Are you ready to work with a marketing agency? Part 2

Are You Ready to Work with a Marketing Agency? (Part 2)

When you are ready to work with a marketing agency, it’s important to find a partner who is looking out for your best interests. By working with an agency that focuses on strategy and has experience working with companies on a long-term basis, you can start to see results from your marketing. What makes this a better option than hiring another employee?


Hiring and retaining are difficult in today’s market. Working with an agency gives you consistency in your marketing efforts when employees come and go.


Pay for what you need. Instead of hiring another employee, you can keep your current department intact while accessing a team of specialists that just work on what you need.


Creative geniuses bring depth. Agency teams need to deliver great work as efficiently as possible, and they do it every day for multiple organizations. Plus, they likely work in several industries and have a more diverse portfolio of work than a single employee.


Creative geniuses bring expertise. Marketing is changing regularly, so it’s extremely difficult to find a single employee that has the expertise and up-to-date best practices in all areas. Many marketing agencies ensure their employees are engaged in continued education so they can bring their clients the best service.


An outside perspective. Many times, companies get tunnel vision and only focus on what they like or what they think. Strategic marketing agencies can bring a fresh set of eyes to your challenges. An agency should be audience-focused, and by bringing that perspective to you can help you identify where you might be going wrong.


Capacity for creativity. Your employees are limited to 40 hours per week. When you add in meetings, planning, important conversations, and day-to-day urgencies, it can be difficult for them to deliver necessary creative deliverables when needed. Agencies can solve this capacity problem and often do it for less than adding a new employee.


Transition risk-reduction. It should be easy to hire – or fire- your marketing agency. If you choose well, your marketing agency should never hold your website or accounts captive, handcuff you to their services, or withhold knowledge of your technology.

Effective agencies help bridge the gap for you.

If it’s the right time to start looking for a marketing agency to partner with, here are some things to look for:

  • Will you have an account manager that is trained in brand and marketing strategy?
  • Can you meet the people you will work with before you sign a contract?
  • What kinds of inputs will the agency need from us to do their best work?
  • Do we have someone with the capacity to work closely with the agency and provide timely feedback?
  • Do they have experience working with clients monthly and what kind of things are they delivering?

Working with the right agency can be a game changer for your company.

Here are some ways our clients describe the impact of their relationship with an agency:

A creative partner
“I have been in Marketing and Graphic Design for over 25 years, and it is hard to find the right agency that “checks off all the boxes” of what you need. They have “checked off all the boxes” for us and if there is something that might not be their specialty, they help guide us in the right direction. With the uncertainty of today’s world, it is such a comfort to know that I have a very creative team that will always be there for us!”
–Pam Mills, Marketing Manager | Uckele Health & Nutrition

Lightening the load
“Hands down, having Hoyden handle our marketing has been the best business decision we’ve made on this project. To the ease of communication with their team, their writing skills, design work and creativity they take care of everything for us. Working with them has taken a huge burden off my shoulders and allows me to focus on the business more.”
–Laura Wanke, General Manager | Chaloner & Co.

A goal-centered approach
“They are always looking out for us and our goals–they take care of the things we need and adapt to what we want to accomplish. We’re looking forward to our continued partnership which has already proven to be extremely successful!”
–Joe Brookstein, Owner | The Hardscape Exchange

Keeping you focused
“They all are easy to work with and they’re very timely. They help us stay on schedule and have made it very easy for us to focus on what we need to. They run with execution and I can’t imagine what more anyone would want or expect from a marketing team.”
–Eric Blackhurst, VP of Sales and Marketing | Planewave Instruments

Thoughtful and purposeful strategies
“I needed a marketing team that understood my audience, primarily C-suite and investors, and how to best interact with them. Their down-to-earth, insightful approach gave me confidence and has helped me go from almost no marketing to a solid, thoughtful, and appropriately scaled plan. It has helped me efficiently and effectively add value to current and prospective clients.”
–Katrina Johnson |  KCJ Consulting

Ad mockups for pets and humans

interested in learning more?

It’s easy to schedule a discovery call with us to see if we might be the right solution to your branding or marketing challenges. We promise we’ll steer you in the right direction and do our best to help you find the perfect solution for your unique situation.

Are you ready to work with a marketing agency? Part 1

Are you ready to work with a marketing agency? Part 1

Are You Ready to Work with a Marketing Agency? (Part 1)

When a company is growing, the needs of the marketing department change. So how do you know if you are ready to work with a marketing agency?

Startup stage

When a company is preparing for launch, it may decide to hire an agency on a project basis to develop its brand identity (logo and brand guidelines), design a website, or create marketing materials. Working with an agency at this point is likely to be a stretch for the startup’s budget, but it can also help boost initial perceptions of the brand and influence awareness.

Growth stage

The company now employs about 50 people and has grown by word-of-mouth and by the seat of its pants. The company’s branding is likely inconsistent, with a different look for the website, tradeshow booth, and marketing materials. There is inconsistent messaging, and the employees aren’t excited about the brand. Most companies at this stage have someone assigned to marketing as part of their role, but it’s not their main focus. They may outsource projects (social media, digital advertising, etc.) but likely are working with multiple vendors and still struggling with finding the right strategy.


The company has at least one to two full-time people that are dedicated to marketing. Now, the challenges circle around aligning the sales and marketing team with the company’s goals. Consistency in brand messaging and style becomes more important and the team may struggle to keep up with all the marketing needs of the organization. They are having a hard time adding more staff to the department or keeping their current staff. It’s getting harder to manage all the vendors they are outsourcing to so they will start to look for a fully integrated marketing agency to partner with instead.

What are your company’s red flags?

There are key marketing activities that are not being addressed.
For instance, your social media has been painfully neglected, your website looks like it was built in 1992, and your sales materials were designed in Publisher.  

The employee assigned to marketing doesn’t have time to work on the deliverables.
It’s frustrating for everyone when employees don’t have time to work on the projects that will move the company forward. Additionally, they may not have the expertise needed to effectively complete the project. In today’s world, marketing requires a very diverse skill set and it’s just not possible for one person to know all the nuances of website development, graphic design, social media strategy, SEO, video, photography, writing, digital ads, UX/UI, and AI. They need a partner agency that can support them in their role.

There is regular, repeatable work to be done.
Certain marketing activities such as blogging, social media, or digital ads are ideal for outsourcing to an agency. These activities are often the first to be set aside when a company gets busy, but consistency in these areas is crucial for the long-term success of an organization. These are also the most logical to outsource monthly and with the best ability to monitor progress thanks to lots of available data.

There is a lack of strategy or direction.
Often an outside perspective and a strategy can be the motivator for change in a company. Why? Because sometimes it takes someone that knows little about the company to ask the right questions. Strategy work reveals the true challenges and opportunities so you can align the marketing efforts with the business goals. By partnering with an agency that has strategic processes, it can bring fresh perspectives that elevate the marketing efforts and positively influence the long-term success of the company. 

When you find the right marketing agency, they should be your partner who is looking out for your best interests. They aren’t trying to replace you or take your job. They aren’t trying to sell you something they think you need…they are asking good questions to uncover what you really need. Ready to learn more?

7 Signs You Need A Strategic Marketing Consultant

7 Signs You Need A Strategic Marketing Consultant

7 Signs You Need A Strategic Marketing Consultant

When starting your own business, you tend to wear all the hats for a while. If your business was a TV show, the opening credits would look something like this:

  • CEO, starring you
  • Human Resources, starring you
  • Finance, starring you
  • Marketing, starring you

However, there comes a point in time when you’ll need to bring some guest stars to your show. Outside help will help bring your company to the next level, especially around marketing strategy.

But when is the best time to bring in marketing support? We broke down the top 7 signs you need a marketing strategy consultant to help get you started.


You’re stuck in the mud

When a business becomes stagnant, it may be time to call in a marketing pro. Sure, whatever you’ve done for marketing in the past may have worked for you. You might have even seen steady growth in sales based on doing things the way you always have. But what happens when your growth hits a plateau? You may have a great group of regular clients or customers but still are finding it hard to reach even more people.

A marketing strategy expert can help you advance your business and find a way to reach a whole new group of people.


You’re tapped out of ideas

When you first launch your business, you are full of enthusiasm and excitement, and you have a plethora of ideas for how to get your message out into the world. But once you’ve been open for a few years, some of those ideas may become stale. Or new trends emerge that you don’t know how to tap into in a way that works best for your business.

A marketing strategy expert will be able to view your business with a fresh set of eyes and find a way to bring their unique perspective to your potential customers.

There’s just no time

Running a business is more than a full-time job. It often takes up most of your waking hours. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the everyday tasks of making things work and keeping your customers happy. But, doing things like social media and marketing is often put on hold, even if you know that it’s very important.

An organization that neglects its PR and marketing will see very little growth, if any. A marketing strategy specialist is the best way to delegate a very important part of your operations while you can focus on the tasks you do best. It’s a win-win decision.

Less marketing experience, more problems

You may have someone on your team who can make you a nice-looking website or social media account, but that is no match for having someone in your corner with extensive marketing experience to bring your business to the next level.

A marketing expert will help you figure out:

  • How people see your business
  • Why people chose you
  • Why some people did not choose you
  • What the latest marketing trends are
  • What marketing trends no longer work
  • Where you might be able to find new clients
  • What your competitors and others in your industry are doing

Most importantly, a marketing strategy consultant will help you build the best plan catered to your business.

You’ve tried all the things

When a business opens, it’s easy to throw your marketing strategy in hopes of drawing in as many potential customers as possible. Many create social media accounts on every platform, place advertising in several venues, and try several different things on their website. You do get business from these efforts, but which ones are working? Which ones aren’t?

A marketing strategy specialist will help you narrow down your plan so that you are investing your time and money in a way that will bring in the most business.

Marketing is an afterthought

Look, we’ve all been to those Facebook pages or Twitter feeds of businesses that haven’t posted in months, even years. Or worse yet, websites with events or blog posts from five years ago. These kinds of things beg the question in our customers – is this business even open? Do they have time to provide me with the kind of service that I need?

Outdated content looks unprofessional. With someone on your team who makes sure you have fresh and evergreen content; this will not happen. Your marketing strategy specialist will make sure your customers know exactly what to expect from you when they check out your online presence.

You need the money!

It may sound strange to say that spending money to hire a marketing strategy specialist helps with your lack of budget for marketing but hear us out.

Here are some ways that it can help you save money in your pocketbook:

  • By outsourcing your marketing, you are paying for their specific service and don’t have to pay other fees that would come with having an in-house marketing team, such as full-time salary and benefits. With an outsourced marketing team, you negotiate by hours or project, which makes it much easier to work into your budget.
  • A marketing strategy specialist will help you target the best strategies that will get you the most bang for your buck. You won’t be throwing money at advertising that does not work.
  • The endgame of every marketing professional is to bring you more business. And more business means more money in your pocket. Sometimes, even though your budget may be tight, you can’t afford to not invest in your marketing.

Are any of these signs listed above speaking to you? If so, it’s time to take the next step in making your business successful and hire a marketing strategy specialist. They will not only bring in more customers but help you take your company’s brand to a whole new level.

Luckily, we can assist with this! Our team of experienced marketing and brand strategy specialists is here to help grow your business and maximize your success.