Thursday, April 12, 2018

What’s your logo design really saying about you?

The answer? More than you might realize.

Whether you manage a brand, represent a non-profit, are planning a startup or already own a business, your logo is one of the most valuable assets you have. An effective logo instantly connects your audience to your brand, serving as a visual shorthand for who you are and what you represent. Which is why it’s more important than ever to make sure your logo sends the right message and is a positive, accurate reflection of your brand promise.

To determine if your logo is assisting or impeding your mission and message, ask yourself the following six questions.

1. Is my logo sending the right message?

Let’s say, for example, you’ve identified your target audience as married males over 40 who are passionate about the outdoors and live in central Canada. Visual cues incorporated in your logo treatment—including font selection, color palette, shape, subject matter and more—can either attract that audience or repel it. Prospects should feel as if the logo is appealing directly to them. It should also be an accurate reflection of your brand and what you stand for. If those two aren’t both true, there is a disconnect and you might need to reconsider your positioning, your audience or your logo.

logo design on bottle

2. Will my logo “hold up” over time?

Unless you’re Coca-Cola and have a century of company history under your belt, your logo shouldn’t evoke the era in which it was designed. Today’s oh-so-hot design trend might work just fine for your current ad campaign, which is meant to run for a year, or even a quarter. But your logo must transcend the trend and not tie you to a particular time period. That cool style you loved in 2002 might scream “retro” to today’s consumer. A better, more versatile logo appears timeless and stands the test for multiple decades. It also saves you money by not periodically requiring costly updates of websites, printed materials, signage, apparel, etc.

3. Does my logo blend in, or stand out?

Unless you have an enormous advertising budget (hello, GEICO®) and can continually put your brand in front of millions of consumers every day, your logo needs to be distinctive, if you want your audience to recognize and remember it. An unusual shape, a custom font or a memorable combination of colors can help save you from the sea of sameness.

logo design on crate

4. Is my logo unique to me?

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can be a death sentence for your image. If your logo reminds people of another brand—especially a direct competitor—it may be more of a liability than an asset. Worse, you could be helping to build their business, not just your own. Conduct a visual audit of logos in your industry, to ensure you are distinctly positioned against the rest of the field. And don’t limit the study to your current market. Think bigger.

5. Is my logo trying too hard?

It’s true that your logo should encapsulate the essence of your business and its promise. But that doesn’t mean it needs to tell the whole story. It can’t, and it shouldn’t. Marketing offers myriad ways to communicate your story and develop your brand position. That’s not the logo’s job. Rather, when your logo consistently appears in conjunction with your brand messaging and imagery, over time it will take on that meaning—even when appearing alone. Which is how even the simplest of logos can eventually mean so much to their audience.

in n out burger logo design

6. Am I hurting my logo?

One of the most common mistakes in branding is inconsistent logo usage. It will take much longer for your logo to build brand equity if it looks different from one application or venue to the next. What may seem like a harmless “tweak” to make your logo look better on, say, a pen, a sweater or a banner, can cause real and measurable damage to your brand. Inconsistent treatment of your logo not only makes it harder for your audience to recognize the company it represents, it actually makes you look unprofessional and substandard. So, avoid or eliminate superfluous alternate treatments of your logo, and whenever possible, use the standard version.


If you have concerns about your logo and what it is saying about you, our team would be happy to help you optimize your current logo or design a whole new brand identity. Just contact VistaComm today for a free consultation!

 

Read Full Article Here: What’s your logo design really saying about you?


What’s your logo design really saying about you? posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Secret to Our Sauce

At VistaComm, we’ve grown a lot of businesses, measured a lot of metrics and pioneered a lot of initiatives. Not to mention, we’ve met a lot of neat people along the way. Some clients have come and gone, others have partnered with us for the long haul, but none have been taken for granted.

What’s the secret to our sauce, you might ask? While we could tell you it’s an undisclosed family recipe, the reality is it’s emblazed on the archway in our office: Engaged Associates. Delighted Customers. Growth. Honestly, this isn’t a statement we tout outside of our office much. But these are the pillars that drive our everyday interactions, and they translate to darn good business practices that are just as applicable to your customer relationships as they are ours. Here’s how these ingredients add zest to our client relationships:

We really love what we do. Really. Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” We have a cohesive team at VistaComm. Each person has been selected for not only their talents, but also their passion. And it shows in their work and in their contributions to the team. We recently surveyed them on the company benefits they most appreciate, and our team bonding activities—like quarterly office potlucks—were among the top. Having such strong synergy adds momentum to everything we do!

We believe in relationship-building. The launch/delivery/sale is not the last you’ll hear from us. Hours of strategizing, planning and conversation precedes the final delivery of a project, which is just the beginning of your relationship with VistaComm. Checking in with clients on a regular basis is the purpose of our client service team. Keeping tabs on website performance is a core function of our tech team. Our journalists curate stories daily. But most importantly, our clients know we’re only a mere phone call, email or visit away, ready to answer their questions or support them in their next endeavor.

We ask for feedback.  We always maintain an open line of communication with clients about how they feel we’ve served them. Are they getting the results they expect? Could we do something differently to better fit their workflow? Were they thrilled with the outcome of their project? All of these are important comments to draw upon and are a part of an ongoing conversation important to any working relationship.

We ask for referrals. Growth goes both ways. Not only do we expect our clients to experience growth in revenue, communication, customer loyalty and conversions, but we ask them to keep us in mind if they know of someone else who could benefit from these results. We want to grow and share our talents just like our clients. (Of course, we share some love in the form of a referral credit to express our appreciation!)

We love our clients!

If you’re looking for a marketing partner and like the values VistaComm is built upon, we’d love to talk! Give us a call today at 866-752-7707.

Contact us today

See More Here: The Secret to Our Sauce


The Secret to Our Sauce posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Now That’s an Irishman

Being Irish is fun—mostly because the Irish people are a lot of fun. There’s a lot of positivity in the Irish culture, which has a continuing influence on our American culture even today.

Our family originated in County Roscommon in the middle of Ireland. My great grandfather came to America after the potato famine in 1860 or so. Family history has it that my name in Ireland was O’Byrne but was changed to Byrne by my ancestor as he came through Ellis Island. The “O” was dropped to ‘de-Irish’ our name because, at that time, the significant Irish influx was not particularly welcome. The reason given for that attitude was pretty much what we hear today—the industrious Irish were taking jobs from others.

[caption id="attachment_3521" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Along the western shore of Ireland. Photo by Lynne Byrne.[/caption]

The Irish have both made and make so many significant contributions to our society. There’s something magic about the culture. If you haven’t noticed that in your neighborhood, it is worth a trip to Ireland to understand what I’m talking about.

I’ve visited Ireland five times, and my Scandinavian wife, Lynne, has been there even more often. She LOVES Ireland and especially the Irish people. It’s a destination of choice for her. Lynne is captivated by their generally good nature, humor, stories, music, art, ocean shores and their love of America and Americans—the whole package. And the beautiful, picturesque shining green grasses of their rural landscape are special, too.

[caption id="attachment_3523" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Left: Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Ireland. Right: Ireland cottage. Photos by Lynne Byrne.[/caption]

If you plan to visit Ireland, be prepared to be peppered with questions about America. They know a whole lot about us but are curious to know even more. Ireland and the Irish are wonderful friends of America...and Americans. I take great pride in my heritage and appreciate the opportunity to share its many cornerstones daily, right here in America.

Editor’s Note: VistaComm has been owned and operated by Bill Byrne for the past 21 years. His Irish spirit drives the ingenuity of our company and country. We celebrate those of Irish heritage a little extra today!

[caption id="attachment_3525" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Photo by Lynne Byrne.[/caption]

Source Here: Now That’s an Irishman


Now That’s an Irishman posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Impact of Tax Reform on Agriculture

At the end of 2017, President Trump signed into law the 2018 tax reform bill. The bill, which includes hundreds of structural changes to the tax code, has been supported by several agriculture industry representatives. This is because the bill will hopefully lower tax liabilities and simplify the process for tax management.

The bill offers four main benefits to farmers and ranchers.

1.  Tax relief for pass-through business income

According to Forbes1, one of the most significant changes under this new bill is the tax treatment of businesses. “The new law states that business income that passes through to an individual from a pass-through entity and­ income attributable to sole proprietorship will be taxed at individual tax rates less a deduction of up to 20% to bring the rate lower.”

National Cotton Council President/CEO Gary Adams commented, “As you know, many family farms are structured as pass-through entities, and we appreciate the provisions to specifically provide tax relief for these entities.”

The 2018 tax reform will allow farmers to take a 20% deduction off business income

This section of the new tax code, known as the Section 199A deduction, is already familiar to cooperative members. It replaced the Section 199 domestic production deduction and provides significant tax savings on grain sold to cooperatives. To qualify for the deduction, the farmer must sell to the co-op and be a patron of the co-op.  The Section 199A deduction allows the farmer to deduct 20% of the value of his grain sales to the co-op from his taxable income.

The new Section 199A deduction has already created controversy, as private or publically traded grain companies have rightly noted that this provision favors grain sold to a cooperative over sales to privates. For example, considering a farmer with $5 million in sales to a co-op and $4 million in expenses, the 20-percent deduction would be worth the entire $1 million in profit, leaving no taxable income.

But a farmer who isn't a co-op member would have to take the 20-percent deduction against the $1 million in earnings, leaving taxable income of $800,000—and a tax liability of $296,000.

Republican Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and John Hoeven of North Dakota, who helped write the co-op provisions in the tax bill, are now trying to revise the legislation to address the complaints.

2. Lowered individual tax rates

94 percent of farmers pay taxes as individuals and will benefit from lowered tax rates. Because 94% of farmers and ranchers pay taxes as individuals, the lower individual tax rates associated with the new tax bill will provide a benefit. “The lowering of individual tax rates will further help alleviate the tax burden on families,” stated Adams.

Pat Wolff, a tax specialist with the American Farm Bureau, noted that the bill also leaves intact some important tax tools for farmers. "The bill also maintains all of the important deductions and credits that farmers rely on. So, farmers have all the tools that they've always had to manage their businesses."

3. Estate tax exemption

Estate taxes, long opposed by many farm groups, can make it financially difficult for farmers to transition their operations to the next generation. The new tax bill doubles the estate tax exemption to $11 million per person, which should eliminate this concern for the vast majority of farmers and ranchers.

4. Expensing capital investments

The reformed tax code also allows businesses, like farms, to immediately write off the cost of new assets. Prime examples for the farmer would be new combines, tractors and other equipment.

One drawback—this provision has a five-year lifespan, at which point it will either expire or need to be re-enacted by Congress.

Temporary solutions

Like the capital expense provision, many of the new individual and small-business tax provisions are temporary. Ag advocacy groups, like the American Farm Bureau, are working to make these 2018 tax reforms permanent.


NOTE: VistaComm does not provide financial advice. We recommend you contact your tax professional with any questions you have concerning the new tax laws.

  1. What Tax Reform Means For Small Businesses & Pass Through Entities, Forbes

Article Source Here: The Impact of Tax Reform on Agriculture


The Impact of Tax Reform on Agriculture posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Zen and the Art of Merger Communication

It is the new normal in American business. Acquisitions, mergers and consolidations are a fact of corporate life. Whether you’re a startup or a Fortune 500 firm, the odds of experiencing one of these events are good and getting better. According to accounting giant Deloitte, “Corporate and private equity executives foresee an acceleration of merger and acquisition activity in 2018.”1

Whatever part you play in the transaction—acquirer or acquired, this is the time for great and clear communication. What are the essential dos and don’ts of merger messaging?

Here are our top 6.

company merger1. What’s your story?

Rather than a recitation of facts and bottom-line financial benefits, craft a story. Part history, part economics lesson and part vision-casting, your story should paint a picture. It should include what brought the parties involved to this place, the most pertinent and impactful numbers and, most importantly, some picture of the future. Everyone—and especially employees—wants you to answer this question: “What’s in it for me?”

Consider your stakeholders. Take the time to prepare a compelling story. Tell it well.

2. Have a plan

The communication plan needs to be formulated well in advance of the actual event—before there is even certainty that it will occur. Create a timeline for communication, with the understanding that there must be flexibility. Formulate an action plan that includes both parties in the transaction. Assign key roles and responsibilities.

Plan to utilize various communication styles and channels. Hold meetings, utilize your website, intranet and printed materials. The multi-channel approach will reach a high percentage of your stakeholders.

3. Equip your front line

Employees will seek information from people they trust and work with every day. As a part of your communication plan, make sure that your front-line managers are kept up to date with the latest information. Treat them as insiders and equip them so they are comfortable with what to say—and, also, what not to say.

4. Prepare for rumors

The news will get out. It almost always does. Determine how you will handle leaks, and who will be the point person. Consider preparing messaging and materials in advance to address rumors quickly when they surface.

5. Answer questions openly

One of the most effective ways to combat rumors is to be as honest and up-front as possible when questions come your way. Anticipate the questions you’re likely to field and create an FAQ. As questions are received from stakeholders, incorporate them into a Q&A document that can be regularly updated. When you receive questions that cannot yet be answered, give your audience a status report or a date when you will know more. Creating a master FAQ will also ensure that language is consistent across executives and managers.

6. Tell the story again . . . and again

Once the merger is official, the need for further communication is over, right? Wrong.

The proposed union may have been ratified, but the success of that union is far from guaranteed. In fact, the crucial blending of systems and culture is still ahead. Much must be accomplished to secure the benefits of this union for customers and employees. Talent and sales may be lost if you do not continue to talk about the progress, the challenges and the reasons for the merger.

Issue regular progress reports after effective date of the union. In these reports, highlight the headway you are making at unifying both systems and cultures. When a glitch occurs—and it will—apologize to both customers and employees. Thank them for their patience, and spell out the steps being taken to correct the problem.

Even after the vote is taken and all the official papers are signed, keep telling your customers and employees why you did what you did. Don’t assume they remember. This persistence in communication will give you the “honeymoon” you need to get your unified organization on an even keel and growing into the future.


If your business needs help communicating change or even initiating a communication plan, put VistaComm’s expertise to work. Call 844-453-9261 to begin the conversation. And remember, digital communication is immediate and effective, especially in merger situations.

Contact us today

  1. Deloitte, The state of the deal: M&A trends 2018, Deloitte.com, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/mergers-and-acquisitions/articles/ma-trends-report.html

Learn More Here: Zen and the Art of Merger Communication


Zen and the Art of Merger Communication posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Monday, January 8, 2018

Healthy Organizations Actually Solicit Input

Not long ago, many co-op directors and management groups would actually duck member input. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief if the final gavel fell at the annual members meeting without anyone rising to make a comment—especially a complaint. “No news is good news,” was the consensus. “We’re safe for another year.”

I ought to know. I’ve been employed as a member relations director for a local cooperative and I’ve worked in the field of co-op communications for over 40 years. But that’s not how it is anymore.

Co-ops are consolidating at a record pace. The healthy co-ops usually come out on top. These are the ones who regularly take an organizational check of their member-customers—and their employees. They ASK for comments, and they USE the information they get.

VistaComm is privileged to have several of these co-ops as clients.

The CEO of one client, a local agronomy and energy cooperative, regularly solicits customer input at the end of his newsletter article. “My door is always open,” he states.

This client not only maintains an open-door policy, but proactively solicits member input every 3-4 years. Their customer surveys ask telling questions like, “What do we do well?” and tough questions like, “What could we do better?” The co-op sticks its neck out by giving member-owners a voice and promising our “board and management will use the results of our member surveys to guide our decisions.” They’ve been asking for customer input to help direct the future course of the company for the past 12 years.

Not surprisingly, this medium-sized company has flourished among the giants, even in a tough ag economy, as it listened to its members’ advice to provide them exceptional service and innovation.

This company also regularly solicits input (also in the form of a survey) from its employees. Because VistaComm manages the survey assuring complete anonymity, this co-op has been able to get 100% of its employees to participate.

What about you? Could your organization use a health check?

VistaComm can help with:

  • Teasers, news articles and cover letters promoting your surveys
  • Design and administration of both print and electronic survey instruments
  • Third-party follow-up to assure maximum participation
  • Tabulation and cross correlation of results in an easy-to-use format

To find out how our services can help you gather the information you need to put your company “back in the pink” contact VistaComm today.

Source Here: Healthy Organizations Actually Solicit Input


Healthy Organizations Actually Solicit Input posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Acknowledging Your Customers for the Holidays

‘Tis the season to show your appreciation for those who make your business tick, the bread and butter of your profits. 2018 is on the horizon, and what an opportunity to share a small token in recognition of the year gone by. Read on for guidance in selecting the best notion for your customer list.

Determine your ‘love’ list

All this talk might have you wondering how to pay homage to such an important relationship, especially when there may be 1000s of customers to recognize. The first step is to determine how many you would like to thank. Is there a core set of customers who account for a majority of your business? If so, maybe it makes sense to create a more personal, physical gift—one that’s delivered. Is your customer list significantly more in number? Well, you’re in luck! Social media, email marketing and the online world make it easy to reach a broad audience. Consider current customers, prospects, sub-contractors and vendors.

Quantify your budget

Putting a price tag on appreciation can be the trickiest part of any gift-giving scenario—after all, these relationships are what make your world go ‘round. But alas, it must be done. Determine how much capital, and, most importantly, TIME you can afford to spend on this task. This will help make the final choice in this equation.

Find the best fit for your audience

YouTube Video: If you’re looking for an option with a very personal touch, custom messaging and easy distribution, a recorded message involving key players or the entire staff may be a good fit. This can be easily distributed to a large audience through social media and email marketing fairly economically. This content would also be very trackable.

Email: Depending on your budget and audience, this may take several different forms. A large audience may call for a templated emailed with some personalization fields. A custom email written by you might make more sense for a short email list. Either way, content options abound for this channel and can fit just about any budget and audience. Keep in mind, this messaging can carry through to your website!

Postcard or Holiday Card: Most offices receive oodles of holiday mail circulate around the building this time of year. It’s a classic that can be as unique, budget-friendly and personal as you care to make it. Consider integrating a unique feature. Confetti? Hand-written signatures? Interactive content?

Gift: This can take on SO MANY shapes and sizes. But my best advice—make it useful. Each year VistaComm conducts an employee photo contest that we then publish into a desktop calendar to share with our clients during the holiday season. It’s rewarding for our employees to share their talents in a new way, and to see their work on display when visiting clients! Alternatives might involve inviting them to your location for a free gift. Or, if you work B2B with an office anything like ours, food deliveries are always a hit!

Offer a Compelling Reward: This option walks a thin line between selling and thanking, but done properly, this can be a valued offer for both parties involved. Make sure the reward is worthy of your appreciation. Keep the reason for your offer in mind—it shouldn’t be given with the main intention of boosting sales and profits. But ultimately, your customer loves what your business offers, so they’ll be delighted to have additional access to these resources! Check out a few examples.

Host an Event: If your clientele is near, invite them in and show them a good time! This option may tend toward the pricier side, but no doubt can show the full breadth of your appreciation.

Donate to a charity: The heartfelt action of providing for those in need, especially during the holidays when those needs are most apparent, can be a rewarding gift for all involved in the giving gesture. Consider choosing a local charity, one that aligns with your business or a charity chosen by your customer. But no matter your choice, make sure to share the story of your giving. Maybe make this donation in the name of your customer for an extra personal touch.


It’s such a gift in itself to have a customer to show appreciation for. Don’t overlook these important relationships this holiday season. This is not a ‘selling’ opportunity, but rather a chance to strengthen your brand. Keeping your message pure and focused, void of marketing language now, can boost marketing efforts down the road. If you’re looking for more ideas or help in assembling the perfect appreciation, don’t delay—contact VistaComm today! After all, Christmas is less than 39 days away!

Contact us today

 

Read More Here: Acknowledging Your Customers for the Holidays


Acknowledging Your Customers for the Holidays posted first on http://vistacomm.blogspot.com/