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Why upgrade ExpressionEngine to the latest version? (now EE6!)

Why upgrade ExpressionEngine to the latest version? (now EE6!)

Short answer? It pays to upgrade often.

Long answer…let’s dive into why it’s important to upgrade ExpressionEngine (EE).

But first, story time!

I have a client that had an EE1 site that was built somewhere around 2005 – those early days of EE. In internet, this website is a senior citizen. But it was chugging along just fine until the Fall of 2020 (what a year!) when their hosting company said the could no longer support a version of software (PHP) that EE1 needed to run.

So one day their site stopped working.

Frantic emails and calls later, I informed them of the hosting situation and after searching through their emails, they found multiple notifications from their hosting provider warning them of this change. They just didn’t know it would effect their site.

Thankfully, I managed to get their site back online temporarily while we made a plan to upgrade. But it was really temporary. We had about two weeks before it would die again.

We put together a plan to get them to EE2. This was the biggest hurdle and with a site that old with thousands of pages of content, it was going to be a big job. When EE2 came out, a little (big) thing happened where the entire piece of software was rewritten and a ton of add-ons were not converted to work with EE2. Add on to that, it’s not 10+ years since EE2 came out, so some of those converted add-ons were no longer available online anymore because the developers had moved on (thankfully I’m a bit of a digital hoarder and have a lot of old stuff stashed away on multiple external drives).

Long story short, there was a happy ending in that we were able to upgrade and their site is working great. Howeverif they had upgraded when EE2 came out, they would have saved a lot of money and a lot of stress and a lot of downtime. I’ll be telling this story to other clients for years to come.

expressionengine upgrade

So let’s dive into why you should upgrade, now!

Top 5 Reasons to Upgrade to ExpressionEngine 6

Better performance

That which we ignore is not optimal. And that goes for our websites.

An upgraded version of EE will give your site much better performance in the latest browsers. Chances are some of your templates will need to be updated to reflect either the removal of addons or resource-intensive code that has been replaced with core functionality. Both of which will increase the performance of your site.

And let’s not forget that Google loves a speedy site, so better performance can help you rank better as well.

Enhanced security

Using any old or outdated software poses risks to the security of the site. Especially software that is completely retired and not receiving any updates (security included and a biggie).

And security threats are not going away anytime soon and as they become more sophisticated, it leaves your site open to vulnerabilities.

On top of that, users (and google) are demanding a more secure web experience and the last thing you want is for your site to flagged as dangerous in search and/or have one of your users (or multiple) experience any sort of breach of their information (especially if you’re running a site with members or e-commerce).

Updated control panel

Some of the really old versions of EE were clunky. I still loved it but it wasn’t what we are now used to seeing on the web. The latest version (EE6) is completely redesigned and streamlined.

Why upgrade ExpressionEngine to the latest version? (now EE6!) 1

If you are on EE2 or EE1 (and I know some of you who are), as of EE3 the control panel is responsive, making editing on mobile so much easier. And we see an even bigger improvement in EE6.

Also as of EE4, there are a number of features that were only available previouly with add-ons and now they are part of the core system (hello split-screen preview, I’m looking at you!).

Go from EE2 to EE6

Previously, when upgrading ExpressionEngine, your site had to upgrade to each individual version.

That meant EE1 -> EE2 -> EE3 -> EE4 and so on. Now, if your site is on EE2 (or higher) you can skip ahead and go right to EE6!

Now, this might not seem like a big deal to you but for us, that means it will take much less time to upgrade sites and therefore we don’t have to charge nearly as much money or spend as much time doing upgrades. This means we can take on more of them and deliver them in less time, which is the kind of work I love to do.

GDPR privacy & consent made easy

If you don’t know what GDPR is, you can read more about it here.

Briefly, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is legislation that updated and unified data privacy laws across the European Union (EU) in 2018. The law protects Europeans with regards to the processing of their personal data, as well as laying down the rules relating to the free movement of personal data.

AND, even if your website is based in the US, it still matters.

Plus, it’s likely the US may implement something similar in the future.

Starting with EE5, built into the core of EE are consent and privacy tools that make implementing cookie consent, and GDPR compliance much easier. There’s an audit log to show consents that have been granted or withdrawn, as well as cookie management for those pesky cookie popups you see on almost every site now.

Cookie consents and GDPR arent going anywhere, so the sooner your site is in compliance the better and now EE makes that process much smoother.

Why upgrade ExpressionEngine to the latest version? (now EE6!) 2

When should you schedule that upgrade?

My recommendation would be sooner rather than later, especially if your site is still running EE1 or EE2 (and no shame for that here, we get it and we work with a lot of clients who are still using those versions).

At the end of the day, getting your site upgraded will save you money and stress. Like the story I started with, don’t wait. Save yourself the pain and loss of revenue by having a site that stops working one day because of a server update.

If you’re thinking about upgrading or have any questions about the process, email me or give me a call!

What is a brand strategy and how do you build one?

What is a brand strategy and how do you build one?

With a well-researched, in-depth brand strategy you’ll be able to reach the people you want to attract to your business and turn them into long-term loyal customers. 

Sound good? It is!

A brand strategy is like a roadmap for where you want to take your company – without one, you’re just shooting in the dark, hoping to attract customers. 

But what exactly is a brand strategy and how do you create one? Let’s take a look. 

What is a brand strategy?

A brand strategy is basically a long-term plan to develop a successful brand for your company, to achieve specific goals you set.

It includes these three main components:

  1. What your brand stands for
  2. The promise you make to your customers
  3. Your brand’s personality and how it’s conveyed in your marketing materials

There are more elements to a complete brand strategy, but getting these three basics right will help to set you up for success. 

Think of them like laying your foundation for building up a strong and reliable strategy for your company.

First up – tackling target market research

Researching your target market and understanding who your audience is will help you find them, grab their attention, and turn them into paying customers. 

One of the best ways to understand your target audience is to understand how they think, what they feel, and know what they want. So, how do you do that? Customer personas. 

What is a customer persona?

Customer personas are a detailed description of your ideal client. Like a personal profile They help you understand the motivations behind their buying decisions. This will help you know who you’re trying to connect with, and what makes them decide to buy. 

When you’re creating customer personas, there are a few questions to take into consideration:

  • What is their age? 
  • What is their gender? 
  • What is their educational background?
  • What is their occupation?
  • What industry do they work in?
  • Are they married?
  • Do they have kids? 
  • What’s a typical day like for them?
  • What challenges do they face?
  • Where do they get their information from?
  • Where do they prefer to shop?
  • What did they buy recently?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • How can you help them?

Know where to find your audience

Knowing where your audience hangs out online is everything. You can’t connect with future customers if you’re in the wrong place. 

There isn’t any point in fishing in a pond that has no fish in it, so don’t waste time or money advertising where your customers aren’t.

If you want to figure out where your audience is, ask them. Ask current clients where they get their info from. Send out a few surveys. Set up a focus group – do whatever you can to understand where your ideal clients are hanging out and why they choose to spend time there. 

Once you know all these answers – it’s time to start developing your brand strategy.

What do you need to develop a brand strategy?

There are a couple of things you’ll need to create to develop a solid brand strategy for your business:

  • Clear objectives
  • The right brand message

Let’s take a closer look at both of these brand development necessities.

Defining your brand’s objectives

Your brand’s objective is its purpose. It’s the reason your company exists, what it stands for – basically, why you bother doing what you do. 

If you don’t have brand objectives already, here are a few questions to think about: 

  • What problem does your brand solve?
  • How does your brand make your audience feel?
  • Do your clients trust you – and if they do trust you, why? 
  • What is the story behind your brand?
  • What’s the long-term goal for your company? (…we’re talking more than a paycheck here, go deeper – what’s your driving motivators?)

Once you’ve clearly defined your brand’s objectives, it’s time to start crafting your brand messaging to get that across to your audience. 

How to create the right brand message

Your story matters to your clients. It doesn’t matter what your industry is, your story will sell your services/products for you. Your brand messaging should tell them this story. Ultimately, you want to create a message that evokes emotion and inspires action in your clients. 

Why do we tell stories? Because a good story isn’t forgotten easily and the better your brand story is, the harder it will be for your audience to forget you. 

By creating your brand message around your company’s story, you’ll be able to attract your target audience – and they’ll form an emotional connection to you and your brand. 

What’s the big deal about an emotional connection between your customers and your company? Your audience will become loyal – and help spread the news about your company with their friends and family.

Creating brand guidelines

As soon as you understand your audience and have your messaging set, it’s time to think about how exactly you’re going to deliver that message. 

Start getting creative and think about your logo design, the fonts you’ll use, what colors best suit your business and what sort of tone of voice and imagery will work for what you’re trying to say. 

All these elements are key to creating a recognizable brand. 

Brands tend to evolve over time so it’s important that you set up some creative guidelines for your team. This will make sure that your branding will always match your story going forward. 

Now – with all that done, it’s time to start implementing your brand strategy!

Want help with your brand strategy? Get in touch with our team today.  

Logo Design: How to make your corporate logo look stunning

Logo Design: How to make your corporate logo look stunning

Logo Design: How to make your corporate logo look stunning 3
Photo by Roman Pohorecki from Pexels

Logos of any kind are important pieces of branding. But corporate logos carry the weight of a large company, which means they’ll be more fully utilized, more commonly seen, and more closely scrutinized for effectiveness.

Your corporate logo will either enhance your brand identity or detract from it.

How can you make sure that the logo will boost your company brand image? Let’s look at four ways to make your corporate logo design memorable and practical.

Highlight brand identity

Whether your business is large or small, identifying your brand personality is an important part of strategizing everything from packaging to marketing to outreach. That brand identity is what allows you to effectively reach out to your target audience.

Keeping that in mind, highlighting your brand identity within your logo design is a great way to harmonize your branding with your brand itself.

Of course, this means that different companies need different types of logo design. Let’s say you have a large tech-based corporation and want to project an image of trustworthiness, cutting-edge technology, and reliability. What type of corporate logo do you think would accurately reflect those key aspects?

  • A hand-drawn logo with a quirky, amateur feel
  • A generic logo that blends in with the competition
  • A unique logo that projects innovativeness and professionalism

On the other hand, other companies are founded on different personality traits. Your company may need to project approachability, demonstrate a sense of humor, or show that it is family-oriented. A quirky, mascot-based logo may be the best option for you. In other cases, hand-drawn and “homemade”-feeling logos are the most accurate reflection of the brand personality.

An important first step is to recognize the brand personality that you’re working with. Remember that the style of logo that you choose can heavily impact its effectiveness, depending on your business. A great way to ensure that you follow through on your brand identity in your branding is to have it all laid out on paper. Create a manifesto about your brand, describing what it would be like if it were a person, including traits, goals, and values. Then, as you create individual pieces of branding, ensure that they harmonize with that personality.

Utilize color psychology in your logo design

The psychology of color is another vital component of branding. But the tricky part is that we don’t all perceive color the same way, as has been demonstrated by “preferred color” surveys. Men may be more inclined to prefer blues, while women may be more drawn towards reds and greens. Color perception differs across ages, backgrounds, genders, nationalities, cultures, and even individual markets.

So it’s very important to know who your target audience is before you put your color palette in place.

In addition to that factor, it’s also vital to conduct market research and determine what color trends there are within your market, why certain colors are more popular than others, and what message they send. If that message coincides with your brand identity, then you should definitely consider using those trending colors — but there’s a caveat to that. As mentioned in the previous subheading, corporate logos need to guard against appearing too generic or looking too much like the competition. So don’t just jump on a bandwagon without maintaining uniqueness and clear messaging.

Choose dynamic typography based on your logo style

Corporate logos often fall under one of the typography-based logo styles, such as wordmark, lettermark, monogram, or combination mark.

  • Wordmark logos use the name of the brand as the logo itself.
  • Lettermark logos use a single letter, such as the initial letter of the brand name.
  • Monograms use all initial letters in a multi-word name.
  • Combination marks use letters or words in combination with a graphic.

Again, one of the main traits that should commonly be associated with a corporation is power. Due to this, consider a heavier font for your logo. You may also want to use one that includes serifs, as these tend to look more polished and professional.

Whichever type of logo you choose in your design, if the typographic content is the focus, it’s even more important that you make sure it is legible and easy to read. This will likely require some trial runs of different fonts, adjustments in kerning and spacing, and getting feedback on the user friendliness of the logo.

Keep in mind, also, that typography also has a psychology behind it, just like the psychology of color. Your choice of font sends a message about the brand, and certain fonts are perceived as inherently having certain “personality” traits. So sticking to a font that promotes the same message and values as your brand does is a great way to ensure that there is continuity and harmony between your branding and your corporation.

Ensure adaptability

Our final key to creating a stunning corporate logo centers on ensuring the adaptability of the logo. This little piece of branding is small but mighty — it’s going to go a lot of places and be seen by a lot of people. 

You might include your logo on corporate letterheads, on your website, on product packaging, in advertisements, in marketing and promotional material, on business cards, on pens, coffee cups, billboards, t-shirts… the possibilities are endless for a great logo.

With all of those possibilities, though, it’s clear that adaptability needs to be at the forefront of your design.

Expert designers recommend that you have at least a few different variations of your logo in your design stable. 

  • A black and white version
  • A single color-pop version
  • A simplified version
  • Horizontal
  • Vertical
  • If you use a combination mark, you’ll want to have one with and one without both elements

On top of that, make sure that your logo handles both stretching and compression well. Scalability is one of the qualities that should be emphasized during the design process.

A great corporate logo isn’t always easy to attain. Many designers leave some of the above considerations out of the process. But if you make sure to give due attention to each of the four points mentioned here, your corporate logo can come to life, and give your company effective representation.

Author Bio

Alice Scott is a passionate writer and blogger who specializes in topics related to digital branding, blogging, and online business. She loves having Churros with her cat Chubby and morning walks.

7 Essential Branding Tips for Your Pet Business

7 Essential Branding Tips for Your Pet Business

Building your brand can increase the value of your company to the point where your business is worth millions of dollars — based on name alone. Your pet business branding sessions might need some work. Are you lost, and looking for tips to build a name that will be known around the world?

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. There are plenty of people who want to design a pet company that is known by everyone in the neighborhood. We are going to dive in and explore how to come up with an excellent name for your business.

These tips are designed to help push you in the right direction and show you that it’s possible to come up with a one of a kind name that sells. Without further delay, let’s look at seven essential pet business branding tips that you can’t live without.

Consider Your Specialty

Every pet shop has a specialty. Some businesses specialize in grooming, other specialize in toys and accessories, and still, others focus on “daycare” type centers.

The first thing you have to take into consideration is what kind of company you plan on running. Ask yourself, “why will customers want to come to my store?” From that point, start considering your brand name.

Try to pick a name that reflects your specialty so potential customers will know exactly what to expect when they walk through your doors. You could try using a cute pun, or perhaps something more straightforward.

Missions & Value

Another great tip for your pet business branding is incorporate your missions and values into your name. You may have a subheading below your brand that describes your mission or goal.

For example, you could have something like: [Brand Name] “Where Happy Pups Are Our Priority.” A small subtitle can do wonders for your business.

The best thing you can do is focus on a message that displays what you want to do and what you offer to your customers and their pets.

Take Your Time

Remember, the success of “Google” didn’t happen overnight. Important brand names in today’s society took time to develop. The same principle should be applied to your brand name.

If you can’t think of a name right away, don’t fret! It may take some time for you to come up with a name that sticks. There is plenty of room for trial and error. Don’t feel pressured to come to a decision overnight.

Some people find it helpful to take notes and narrow down the options. If you use this model, it can help you hold on to ideas, so they don’t get “lost” if they slip your mind. You can use anything from old-fashioned pen and paper to a document on your computer or smartphone to brainstorm.

Think Outside the Box

The phrase “think outside the box” may seem generic at face value, but the message is undeniably useful. If you want to stand out from the crowd, your BRAND needs to be unique.

You should consider looking up some of your competitor’s brand names in the area and take note of them. Try to avoid using names that are even remotely close to theirs. Furthermore, avoid similar puns.

Using the power of the internet, you can globally search for pet shops to make sure that yours is unique. You want people to look at your name and associate it with your establishment and what you’re offering.

Promote Your Name

Once you have come up with a name, it’s important to “brand” yourself to the world. The internet is a great resource tool that can help promote your name and services.

Consider making social media pages for your business on Twitter and Facebook. From there, you can grow an audience of people near and far who may be interested in what you have to offer. The more popular your brand becomes online, the most customers that will come through your door.

If there are services at your place of business that is truly unique, you may find that there are folks willing to travel just to take advantage of what your services.

Furthermore, if you offer physical products such as shampoos, toys, and such you can sell online and ship products out via an online store. The internet offers a range of possibilities for your pet business branding mission.

Think About Your Customers

Every brand has a “target audience.” It would be in your best interest to think about the kind of people you want to come to your business and market towards them. There are ways that you can do this that is both practical, and comfortable.

If your target audience is young dog owners, you may want to do something clever like incorporate a bone into your brand name while making your logo look “hip” instead of classy and formal.

This tip can be explored by simple trial and error. Design a logo and ask people in your target audience what they think. From there, you can tweak and adjust your logo to make it catch the eyes of potential customers.

Hire Expert Branders

If you’ve exhausted your resources and still can’t come up with a name that you’re comfortable using, get in touch with expert brand creators! We can help you come up with a one-of-a-kind name that you will proudly flaunt.

The best part about hiring brand makers to help you is that it frees up time to help flesh out your business in other exciting ways. It will allow for time to stock your shelves, construct new shelving, talk with customers, and so much more.

Pet Business Branding — Simplified

Luckily, we have learned that there are plenty of valuable ways to come up with an impressive brand for your business. You don’t have to worry about stressing out anymore.

Use these tools to form the business of your dreams. Don’t feel restricted by existing companies. Go out there and make your own mark!

Are you looking for more excellent pet store tips and tricks? Check out our blog for more great articles!

5 Tips for Building a Commanding Online Identity

Whether you are a small or large business, you are probably looking to attract new customers and clients. Fortunately, the internet has made it easier than ever to successfully build and maintain a strong online presence. New tips and tricks are being discovered all of the time, so it is important to keep up with the latest trends. From corresponding directly with customers, to creating your own company blog, here are some useful tips on how to successfully build an online identity.

Create a website

If you are a small business that is just trying to get started, building a website is one of the most crucial components to your success. To make it easier for customers to find you, be sure to include your company’s name in your website’s domain name. This will also allow people to find your company quickly when they perform a web search.

Make sure your content helps your ideal customer. It should be less about you and more about them and how your produce or service can solve their pain/problem.

Connect with your audience

If you want to form a personal connection with your audience, reach out to them in a way that is friendly and accessible.

For example, you can ask visitors to share their thoughts and feelings through feedback or comments. When you ask for comments, feedback, or opinions, the visitors will feel as though you truly care about their specific needs and concerns. Be sure to personally respond to every comment you receive though. It’s not fun talking to a wall.

Another option is to create a lead magnet. This is something you offer to give them (free and valuable knowledge) in exchange for their email address. Then once you have their email address, you can continue to nurture and communicate with them, which builds trust over time, which turns into sales.

Use search engine marketing

For many modern companies, search engine optimization (SEO) is a fast-growing trend that can produce tremendous results. SEO is used for displaying companies as close to the top as possible when someone performs a search through a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo. The higher up your name appears, the more likely it is that someone will click on your company’s link first. This can lead to increased sales, as well as increased retention of customers for many businesses.

Create a blog

Blogs are a great way to stay in touch with your customers, while showing off your expertise and how you can help them. It also helps with search engine ranking. Google loves a site that is updated regularly and also provides users with relevant and helpful information.

Caveat: If you plan on blogging, see it through. There may be nothing worse than having a blog and it not having any fresh content.

Share your expertise

We are not suggesting you give your services away for free, however, there is something to be said about an expert who is willing to help others. First determine where your audience is hanging out online. Maybe it’s Facebook or Linkedin. Maybe they’re on an online industry forum or private Facebook group (if there isn’t one, create one yourself). Next you want to share your knowledge without asking for anything in return. Help first, help often. That builds credibility and trust, as well as visibility.

It takes time

There are many ways to effectively build and expand your online presence and they all take time. Unless you have hundreds or thousands of dollars to run digital marketing ads (which is great if you do), all marketing is going to take time. These are long game tactics for businesses that are in it for the long-haul. No shortcuts or quick fixes. Building trust and brand authority takes as long as it takes.

Time to Remodel: Out with the Old Website, In with the New

Time to Remodel: Out with the Old Website, In with the New

New And Improved Site

Modern society moves at a fast pace, and many business owners work hard to keep up. Although it may get overlooked, your website may be the difference between securing a client or customer, or unknowingly turning him away. When it pertains to business, a clean and updated website is more valuable than one that is dated and old. Before you begin to overhaul your website, take a few minutes to understand the perils of a dated website and how a new one can be beneficial.

Tackling a Dated Website

If your website is looking old and dated, it is probably time for a change – and fast. Your main issue may be that you do not have an easy way to update your website content, or adding new information might seem too time-consuming.

Fortunately, there are ways to get around these common problems while creating a modern and fresh website in the process. The first step is to figure out what your website needs in order to become a noteworthy part of your business once again. You may need to reach out to friends, family members, and loyal customers to get valuable input on how to improve your website.

Evaluate Content

For many business owners, one of the most valuable improvements that can be made to an old website is to closely examine the content of each page. In doing so, you will likely find that the content is generally dated and stale. Whether it is old news, dated information, or out-of-date media, such as pictures and videos (especially those that do not work), it is time for an overhaul. The good news is that cleaning up your website is relatively simple. To get started on your dated website, try out the following suggestions:

  • Replace dated content – any content that is out-of-date should be replaced with new and relevant copy. A good idea is to start looking at your news or calendar of events pages – if you have those. Add in something new for your customers.
  • Test your links – broken website links, even if it is just one or two, can signal to visitors that you do not have time, or do not wish to make an effort to keep your website in good working order. To resolve this problem, click through your links to make sure that they are all working. If you have media, such as videos or photos, now is the time to make sure that these items work as well.
  • Update your “about ” page – as time continues, so does your personal and professional life. Take a few minutes to look at your profile or “about” page, which may very well need updating. Customers and potential clients should have an updated resource where they can find out more information about you or your business.

When to Seek a Professional

Sometimes there’s too many obstacles in your way or your old website was built so that it wasn’t easy for you to update content. That’s when it’s time to seek a professional web design and development company.  You might not even need a complete redesign.

A good web design company will talk to you about the goals for your site and help you to determine the next best steps. That might include keeping the design, but implementing a Content Management System so you can keep on top of your content and updates. Or re-aligning your existing site so that you are putting your best foot forward by fine-tuning what you have so you can reach the best possible outcome.

There’s no one size fits all, which is a good thing because you’re business is as unique as you are.