8 Rookie Mistakes You Might Be Making With Buyer Personas

buyer-persona-mistakes

Creating buyer personas is an essential part of building a successful inbound marketing strategy. Buyer personas help you better understand your current and potential customers, what their pain points are, what information they need, and how you can position your offering to meet their needs.

Without documented buyer personas, essential inbound marketing tasks such as creating engaging content can be challenging. And since creating engaging content is a top challenge for marketers, there is good reason to invest the time and resources into researching and developing your buyer personas.

When it comes to putting together buyer personas, there is no one correct way to do it. There are, however, some simple mistakes you can avoid making during the process. Below are some of the most common mistakes people make -- and how to avoid making them yourself.

1) Too many personas.

Creating too many personas can be really tempting. You might think you’re doing yourself and your team a favour by defining a bunch of personas, but having too many can be harmful. Chances are, with many personas, there won't be a clear delineation between them all -- making it really hard for you to actually attract, engage, convert, and delight any of them.

So start with one core persona and build up from there. Once you start to analyse the data based on your most successful customers, you will start to see where one persona ends and another begins. There should be clear differentiators between each persona -- the whole idea of creating personas is to create an experience that resonates with each of them. This will lead you to having a far clearer picture of the persona your marketing should be targeting.

Pro tip: Be ruthless when creating your personas. If you don't have enough information on a particular persona, remove it. In fact, don't be afraid to add or remove personas over time -- this guide will help you understand how and when you should do so.

2) Not thinking about negative personas.

There are people who you won’t want to target -- they may not have budget, they may be students, or they may be far too expensive to acquire as a customer. To identify and understand these kinds of people, you need to create a negative (or exclusionary) buyer person. It may appear counterproductive to spend timing getting to know people who will never be your customers, but, it will save you and your team time and money in the long run, as you will not waste time marketing and selling to these people. 

Pro tip: One of the biggest challenges when creating buyer personas is knowing where to start your research. A great place to start for your negative personas is by interviewing a sample of customers who closed, but they had a very low average sale price. You could also speak with some customers with low customer satisfaction scores, which might be an indication they were never really a proper fit for your company. Our guide on creating negative personas will walk you through the whole process.

3) Thinking personas are only for Marketing.

This is one of the most common attitudes when creating personas. Creating personas is not one of those one-off exercises that your team does (and then promptly forgets about). Implement the persona across your entire funnel strategy and let everyone in the organisation know who they are dealing with, especially those in Sales and Services.

Pro tip: It's easy to see personas as something on a one-off item on your team's to-do list. If your entire company starts using your personas as soon as you have them created, you will develop good habits from the beginning. If you need inspiration on how to get started with them, we've put together this guide on ways to get use out of them. 

4) Thinking personas are an individual person.

Personas are generalisations of your ideal clients -- they are not specific real people. Rather than identifying the challenges, goals, desires and needs of only one individual (such as Tom who works as a marketing executive in the printing shop down the road), aim to gather a collective of characterisations about your ideal customer. 

This means, for example, that you can group multiple titles or job roles into one persona. At HubSpot, one of our primary personas is Marketing Mary, and we know that she typically is a Marketing Manager or a Director of Marketing. A real person can't be both -- but because Mary is a fictional representation, she could occupy either role. 

Pro tip: A great place to start is by grouping your personas based on individual goals, as we do with Marketing Mary. Check out this great example of a buyer persona from Visual Creatives. Note how it includes all the roles and responsibilities an agency owner/founder might have. Going into such detail can really help your content creation and strategy, as you will know what your audience's everyday challenges are. 

agency-owner-founder-1

5) Describing an aspirational persona.

Instead of identifying the type of person or business you are currently making money from, a common mistake is to describe the person you dream of making money from. Try to stay grounded and realistic, and describe the person you are currently serving the needs of. It’s fine to have a persona created that describes the person you want to target in the future, but keep it at a high level until you feel like you have the resources to reposition yourself to be more attractive to your ideal audience.

Pro tip: Rather than relying on internal opinions and beliefs to guide your personas, allow your personas to be data-driven. Dig into your CRM, look for trends, and survey your current or past customers. This will mean your personas are more factual and current. Use tools such as Survey Monkey to help you gather the data. Not sure what questions to ask? This guide will steer you in the right direction.

6) Basing your personas on old-school demographics.

Sure, demographic information is important to include, but it’s not the information that should differentiate your personas. Psychographic information is what makes your personas so powerful.

So, rather than defining your personas like “male, 30-45 years old, urban, mid-salary role,” think more about what the persona does, how their day looks, how they consume media, what challenges they face, and how they measure success -- and define your personas around this information. Allow this to define how and when you interact with your audience -- if it’s a mid-level business person based in London, for example, you may want to post mobile-friendly content between the hours of 7 and 8 a.m. local time for their morning commute. 

Pro tip: Prioritise understanding what your persona's typical day looks likes, and use that as the core of your document. Referring back to our example from Visual Creatives above, you can see how they've broken down the "Story" part of their persona, which accurately profiles persona challenges, desires, and daily life.

Persona-psychographics-1

7) Not knowing how to research your personas.

Not knowing how to practically research personas can be a barrier to creating buyer personas for many marketers. Many start with jotting down what they think their buyer personas should be, or relying on anecdotal input from their team. This results in a very one-sided view of a company's buyer personas, and it might not be that realistic. 

Pro tip: Thoroughly researching your buyer personas should include everything from speaking to your sales team to speaking with your current customers (long-term and new) to researching current marketing trends to diving into your analytics. You can also develop and add to your personas as time goes on -- they don't need to be "complete" from day one.

8) Thinking persona development is difficult.

Some people think persona development is a massive job, and they don’t see the benefit in investing time into creating them. At the end of the day, persona development really doesn’t take that long. You don’t need to go into great detail when you are starting off, and remember you can add to them later if you like.

As for not seeing the benefit in the time investment, remember that your personas are going to be a massive help to your content creation, SEO, and social media strategy. It will save you time in the long-run and ensure that you attract the right people to your business, helping you grow much faster and better than you would have otherwise.

Pro tip: Whether you're just getting started with personas or if you've already begun your research, try out our free new persona generator here. It will help you focus, simplify and streamline your persona development. 

free buyer persona generator

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How to Talk to Pretty Much Anyone About Pretty Much Anything

talk-to-anybody

Edith Wharton once said, “Ah, good conversation -- there’s nothing like it, is there? The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.”

Ms. Wharton had a way with words (written and otherwise), but she would likely be horrified to know that most of our daily conversations nowadays start with shorthand texts or three-line emails.

And yet, in spite of the proliferation of texting and emailing in modern conversations, you still have to know how to strike up a conversation to get a raise, build your network, ask someone out, or provide someone with feedback. It's as important now as it ever was to know how to break the ice, get to the point, make a connection, and frame a request.

But it's hard. That's why we put together this handy guide on talking to anyone about anything. We hope these tips help you navigate everything from cocktail parties to conference rooms with the greatest of ease.

Ask better questions to get better answers.

If you ask yes or no questions, you’ll get yes or no answers. Most of us are conditioned to ask and respond to the same questions at every cocktail party we attend -- so do everyone a favor and leave the “what do you do for work” as a first question at home.

Asking more interesting questions gets you undeniably better answers. So instead of probing on what someone does now (which typically leads to awkward humble bragging), ask what they wanted to be when they grew up, what their first concert was, what magazines they subscribe to, or which celebrity they’d want to invite over for dinner. Doing so relieves people of the boring back-and-forth of typical office party conversation and into far more interesting territory.

The same rule applies to business settings. I’ve never once hired someone who didn’t have solid questions for me about the market we compete in, the team he or she would be working on, and the company work environment. Whether you’re networking for your next career move, interviewing for a job, or meeting with a potential new vendor or partner, your goal should be to ask questions that can’t be answered with a quick Google search. I’ve included some examples below:

On Competition

Good: Who does your company compete with?

Better: I noticed that one of your competitors recently released X feature. How do you think that will change your competitive strategy moving forward?

Best: Many people view your competition as Y and Z, but I really think long-term that Company A could be a threat, given that you’re both converging toward the ecommerce space. How do you think about your long-term competitive strategy as it relates to Company A?

On a Specific Role

Good: What does this role entail?

Better: I know this role entails a significant amount of customer interaction. Can you tell me a little bit about how much of the expectation is around customer service versus upsells?

Best: I read on Glassdoor that people in this role are expected to deliver roughly 30% of all upsells. What is the training process like to deliver this, and how does your comp structure reward over-performance on that goal, if at all?

On Work Environment

Good: What’s it like to work here?

Better: Your company has recently doubled in size, and I’ve read a lot about your commitment to flexibility and autonomy. Has that changed at all over the last year?

Best: Recently, one of your tech leads wrote a blog about how engineers ship code during their first week on the job here. How does that same principle of autonomy apply on teams outside engineering?

Just as you wouldn’t show up at someone’s home for a party empty-handed, don’t show up to a networking event, meeting, social event, or dinner without some thoughtful questions for your counterparts. The best conversations start with better questions, so do your homework. Anyone can do a quick Google search; go a level deeper to inspire more thoughtful and engaging conversations.

Leave the weather outside.

It seems that regardless of context, the ultimate conversation-filler is to talk about the weather. On the surface, that seems fine ... but do you know anyone who actually enjoys talking about the weather other than Al Roker? Didn’t think so.

Weather is the fastest way to end a good dialogue, so leave the weather outside (regardless of how frightful it is) and work on other ways to fill awkward gaps in conversation. Unless you’re a meteorologist, the chances that you or anyone else has something truly interesting to say about the weather is extremely small.

To avoid weather talk, check out TheSkimm, your Twitter feed, or other news sources to find at least two topics more interesting to talk about than precipitation before you arrive at your next event.

Find yourself stuck in a vortex of weather-talk already? (Sadly, this is an all-too-common occurrence in New England this year.) To get out, switch gears to something more interesting by asking who in the group has a forthcoming vacation plan to escape the weather. Regardless of whether they are heading North, South, East, or West, talking about people’s vacations is infinitely more interesting than just talking about the forecast. Plus you might get some good travel recommendations out of it.

Want to change the subject altogether? Ask everyone in the group which website they visit first when they get up in the morning. Doing so reveals a lot about their personality without being overly revealing -- and whether it’s CNN, Reddit, TechCrunch, US Weekly, or ESPN.com, it helps you understand what your new friends are most passionate about without violating their privacy or confidence. That’s a heck of a lot more fun than playing group meteorologist.

Master the Bridget Jones introduction.

In Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones' Diary, the book’s heroine (Bridget) is a woefully poor conversationalist who makes a resolution to introduce people with thoughtful details. While she may not be a fountain of wisdom for dating advice, her counsel on introductions is extremely wise. Instead of thinking of introductions (of yourself or others) as transactions to be completed -- “Jill, meet Brad, Brad, meet Jill" -- think of them as conversation starters.

For example, my colleague Lia works on our product marketing team, and I could easily introduce her to someone else accordingly. But for people who don’t work at HubSpot or in marketing, that type of introduction doesn’t help spark a good conversation. Instead, I typically introduce Lia as having been to nineteen Justin Timberlake concerts in the past year. Doing so inspires reactions from JT fans and haters alike, and it also tees up Lia to tell stories about her travels -- a much more interesting topic than how long each person in the conversation has been at their respective companies.

In addition to the quality of your introductions, make it easy for new people to enter the conversation. If you don’t know someone by name, give them a chance to jump in based on the topic with something like, “We were just discussing the very serious topic of which restaurant in town has the best margaritas. Do you have a strong vote on the matter?” Making people feel included from the start makes everyone feel more at east, prevents awkward “should I or shouldn’t I” introductions, and ultimately makes it easy for people to come and go seamlessly.

Improv-ise.

Tina Fey’s book Bossypants outlines some cardinal rules of improvisational comedy, one of which is mastering the “yes, and” principle. Let me give you an example: Let's say your improv partner states a fact, like “the police are here." It’s your role as their improv partner to respond first by acknowledging the truth of what he or she is saying, and then by adding to it. Something like, “Yes, and who knew they’d bring tanks with them, too?”

Responses like this build the storyline for an improv audience -- and they have a similar impact on real-life conversations. So the next time someone says, “Did you see the movie Wild?”, don’t respond with a simple “yes." Follow the queen of comedy, Tina Fey, and offer up something else: “I sure did, and I liked it better than Into the Woods. Do you think Reese Witherspoon will get the Oscar?” Alternatively, if someone asks if you saw the Super Bowl, don’t just nod or shake your head. Give them some direction, either with an “I did, and as a Pats fan, I’ve never been so grateful the Hawks decided to throw. Can you believe it?” Or if the game wasn’t your thing, say, “Of course -- I already have my left shark costume for Halloween next year. What are you going to dress up as?" "Yes, and" is a formula for significantly better comedy and conversation, so do the math and plan accordingly.

Be warned, though: “Yes, and” can quickly become a vehicle to talk more about yourself -- but the trick is to do exactly the opposite. Listening is as important as talking, so instead of trying to “one-up” the people you’re chatting with, it forces you to think deliberately about adding value to the conversation and acknowledge their input. Furthermore, thinking about conversations as mini improv sessions also forces you to take more risks. Tina’s wisdom rings true here again: “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.”

This trope is as true of conversations as it is for other risks in your life: No matter how extroverted you are or how many people you know in a room, everyone still gets nervous in first-day-of-school situations, whether they are personally- or professionally-oriented. So instead of watching people pass and wishing you had spoken up, take a risk, pick a new improv partner, and practice your very best “yes, and” skills. The absolute worst that can happen is thirty seconds of awkward conversation (which, let's be honest, probably would've happened anyway).

Learn to be a play-caller.

In football, the coaches who call the plays are responsible for reading what’s happening in the game and then calling the best play possible for their team given the scenario. They have some set plays they know their players can execute on, and the team (and other coaches) look to them for exactly what to do when time is tight and the stakes are high.

The best conversationalists become de facto play-callers in conversations: They help bail people out of awkward situations; they know how to switch gears when the chatter takes a turn that is too serious or too personal; they include people in the conversation who may have otherwise been left out of the conversation.

The most important step in becoming a play-caller is recognizing that it’s not about talking more. In fact, if you’re an effective play caller, you might make someone else the star of the show. Instead, becoming a good play-caller means reading a situation well, listening actively, and knowing how to put the spotlight on others without putting them on the spot.

Not sure where to start? Try giving someone a genuine and thoughtful compliment. If you’re in someone’s home, don’t just say “I love your house.” Instead, choose a single item you really like and ask them to tell you the story behind it. This invites them to share more than just a polite “thanks so much” and often leads to a travel narrative or anecdote that others in the group can relate and add to.

Self-deprecating humor also works wonders in a play-calling setting. For example, I’ll often offer, “Has anyone else already completely botched their New Year’s resolution already? I know I have, and it’s only going to get worse tonight!” When people are uncomfortable, one-upsmanship has a funny way of working its way into the conversation -- so making fun of yourself makes everything significantly sillier and invites others into the conversation, instead of making them feel like they need to boast or promote themselves.

Focus on the positive.

If people wanted to join the debate team, they’d go back to high school. When cocktail parties turn into debates, the only "winners" are the bartenders-- because everyone just drinks heavily and goes home earlier. So even if you’re stuck talking to the world’s biggest party pooper, try to find the silver lining. Then everyone will feel more at ease.

This is not to say you need to agree with jerks for the sake of polite conversation. If someone offers a rude version of a differing political opinion in a professional setting, I’ll typically try to change the subject by saying, “Given that debate's been going on for decades, it doesn’t seem like one we’ll reconcile tonight, so let’s focus on a more pressing issue in front of us: where we locate more of those appetizers they had on our way in.”

Even more tragic than overly politicized conversations are those that put people on the spot. For example, let's say you’re in a group networking setting and someone remarks, “Gosh, you’re still single? I had no idea," or makes an off-putting remark about someone’s appearance, health, or awkward family situation. As a general rule, make it your goal to have everyone leave a conversation you’re in happier or more relaxed than they were when it started.

If someone is put on the spot, take an active role in helping them out: Change the subject, crack a joke at your own expense, or offer them a compliment that changes the course of the conversation. That kind of karma comes back to you in spades.

Don't try to ask all things of all people.

Let’s face it: It's hard to ask for a job, for money for your startup, or for advice to help accelerate your career. But in order to avert the awkwardness and potential rejection of a one-on-one email or conversation, far too many people try to be all things to all people -- asking dozens of people for input, advice, or opportunity. You’re far better off investing time and energy up front to identify a small group of people, investors, or companies where there is mutual potential value and follow with a thoughtful ask and conversation.

Arlyn Davich, the founder of New York-based startup PayPerks, notes, “The best kind of investors are those whose expertise you value more than their money. Once you’ve identified who those people are, be specific as to what they are uniquely qualified to help you with.” So instead of asking your entire LinkedIn network for job advice, or everyone you’ve ever met to invest in your business, identify a small cadre of people who can truly impact your decision or influence your success in your industry.

Don’t beat around the bush if you have a clear, concise ask for someone. Just make sure you find an appropriate setting to introduce yourself. (Mid-meal with their family doesn’t count, nor does when they are on a conference call). Provide a brief introduction of your background or company, and clarify where you think they can most help and why. Be polite, avoid presumption, and be prompt in your follow-up -- should they agree to help you out. Above all else, make it easy for others to help you. If they agree to chat, then travel to them, show up on time, and be absurdly and ridiculously prepared when you go.

I had a friend in college who loved to kick off group conversations by asking how much a polar bear weighed. After some quizzical looks (and the odd guess or too, usually from an engineer or scientist), he would deliver the punch line (“enough to break the ice”) just in time for some awkward laughs and to get a conversation started. While his joke was horribly cheesy (and occasionally bombed), it’s proof that everyone is a little awkward and uncomfortable in conversations with people they don’t know.

All right, folks. The next time you’re entering a networking event, showing up for your first day at a new job, arriving at an interview, or attending a housewarming party, you can arrive armed with the tips above. Here's another important insight from another woman I greatly admire: Amy Poehler once said, “There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.”

So take a risk, strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know, and ask an unconventional question. The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work and you end up talking about the weather -- and that was likely going to happen anyway.

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Why Twitter faves #NetNeutrality

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to act on a “net neutrality” proposal that will put vital consumer and competitive protections back on the books to ensure an open Internet and continue U.S. leadership in Internet policymaking.

Safeguarding the historic open architecture of the Internet and the ability for all users to “innovate without permission” is critical to American economic aspirations and our nation’s global competitiveness. These rules also have important implications for freedom of expression.

Empowering “lesser” or historically less powerful voices to express themselves and be heard globally is at the core of Twitter’s DNA. Under net neutrality principles, consumers decide which lawful content, applications, and services they want to create, access or share with others. Currently, the Internet provides an almost frictionless experience for an individual to communicate with the world, and it also provides the lowest barrier to competitive entry for businesses the world has ever seen. It serves as a great equalizer in the access to information and in reaching a global audience. If you have an opinion or a new innovative web-based service, you don’t have to get permission to share it with the world at large.

This is the heart of Twitter.

This openness promotes free and fair competition and fosters ongoing investment and innovation. We need clear, enforceable, legally sustainable rules to ensure that the Internet remains open and continues to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. This is the heart of Twitter. Without such net neutrality principles in place, some of today’s most successful and widely-known Internet companies might never have come into existence.

Through The Internet Association, Twitter has joined other leading Internet companies to urge the FCC to promulgate common sense net neutrality rules. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed securing the legal foundation for these rules in Title II of the Communications Act (along with other statutory authority). We strongly support ensuring that such rules include prohibitions against blocking or throttling of sites and services as well as the paid prioritization of some traffic over others. These rules should govern Internet service whether users are at their desk at home or on their smartphone across town.

In moving forward, the FCC is also wisely avoiding unnecessary and overly burdensome regulation. The Commission is embracing the same kind of “light touch” regulatory approach that the Congress and the Commission has pursued with respect to wireless services since the 1990s. We’re also pleased that in recent weeks on Capitol Hill, we’ve seen a return to bipartisan support for net neutrality rules. We welcome the discussion of possible statutory rules that could codify these principles.

The continuation of this wildly successful Internet policy approach is vital.

Smart Internet policies in the U.S., including net neutrality principles, have spawned innovation, investment, and job creation – a “virtuous circle” of innovation driving user adoption, leading to network investment, leading to inevitable continued innovation. This in turn has enabled the worldwide connectivity of millions of users as well as businesses and nonprofits large and small. The continuation of this wildly successful Internet policy approach is vital. In this way the U.S. provides global leadership – critical because many countries look to the U.S. for guidance around Internet policymaking.

Twitter and its millions of users are counting on Washington to reaffirm net neutrality rules for their obvious and myriad benefits to the Internet ecosystem, to the economy, and to freedom of expression. For all these reasons, we strongly support the FCC taking action.

Gap, Starbucks, Vodafone & Airbnb: 4 Important Lessons From Famous Rebrands

brand-1

If you've ever been part of a company or worked on a product that's undergone a rebrand, you know how absolutely crazy it can be.

From establishing goals, to iterating on designs, to actually implementing your branding changes on your website and across all of your marketing channels, it’s a lot of work.

I was part of a rebrand at a startup a few years back. The company at the time was shifting direction and targeting a different audience, so a rebrand made sense. We had to come up with a new name, new logo, new colors … new everything!

Needless to say, there were a lot of brainstorms, a lot of late nights, and a lot of general craziness right up until we flipped the switch on the new branding.

If you are thinking about rebranding a company, product, service, etc., you’ll be walking down a road that many businesses have walked down before. To help you stay on track, I’ve put together four lessons from four famous rebrands. Some of them were successful. Others, not so much. 

Let’s dive in!

1) Don’t mess with a sure thing.

And by “sure thing,” I mean a brand identity that can be easily recognized and recalled by millions (if not billions). 

gap_logoFor clothing retailer the Gap, this identity was -- and continues to be -- inexorably linked to a dark blue square with three capital letters inside.

But in October of 2010, the powers that be at Gap decided to “modernize” the brand. The new logo they unveiled kept the iconic blue square, which had been part of Gap’s brand identity since 1986, but they made it tiny and put it behind the “p”.

gap_rebrand_logoThe other notable difference was the text. The original logo used a tall, narrow font. All caps. Meanwhile, the new logo used a bolder font, and only capitalized the “G”.

Now, I’m sure the folks at Gap had the best intentions when they executed this rebrand. But the end result was, unfortunately, ill received.

In a contemporary article about the rebrand, Author/writer Abe Sauer noted that the new logo looked "like it cost $17 from an old Microsoft Word clipart gallery."

Yikes.

The article also points out how Gap didn’t really announce the rebrand. No press release. No, “Hey, check out our new look!"

One morning, the new logo was just up on their homepage.

gab_rebrand_new_homepage

And then, a week after the new logo appeared, *poof* -- it was gone. Like a vaporous specter disappearing into the mists of a haunted graveyard. Or like a penny disappearing into the front pocket of a pair of skinny jeans.

The president of the Gap even apologized for the whole debacle, noting, "We are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community.”

It was the online community, after all, that publicly bemoaned the new logo, ultimately causing Gap to switch back. (Mashable has a nice write-up on the social media backlash here.)

Today, I’d say Gap’s branding is back on track. They’re finding new ways to modernize the logo without it changing it completely. On their current homepage, for example, they use transparent lettering in the logo so background images can show through.

current_gap_website

2) K.I.S.S.

The Starbucks rebrand of 2011 was so subtle and -- arguably -- so well executed, that you probably didn’t even notice it.

On the logo front, the big change was removing the big green ring, which also meant ditching the “Starbucks Coffee” text and the star icons. Of course, Starbucks kept their iconic green, using it as the new background color for the siren figure. (FYI, that’s who that lady is supposed to be -- a siren.)

starbucks_logo
According to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, "The goal was not only to refresh the mark but to free the Siren from the ring, allowing her to be treated more artistically.” 

The 2011 rebrand also included a new, responsive website design.

starbucks-rebrands

When it was all said and done, the Starbucks rebrand didn’t damage or dilute the Starbucks brand. There was no public outcry or social media backlash.

Why not?

Starbucks kept it simple. They didn’t try to reinvent the wheel with their rebrand. Instead, they took what they already had and found a way to refresh it. 

With the new logo, Starbucks kept their brand colors and key iconography (the siren) in tact, and simply stripped away the superfluous information and design elements (i.e., the text and the stars). Ultimately, they made the logo much simpler.

3) Make your mark.

While it’s not a well-known name in the U.S., Vodafone is the third-largest mobile telecommunications company in the world. (For comparison, Verizon Wireless and AT&T -- the two largest mobile providers in the U.S. -- only clock in at numbers 19 and 20 on that list, respectively.)

vodafone-rebrandThe London-based telecom giant is no stranger to rebrands. In 1997, they completely reimagined their logo, scrapping everything from the previous version with the exception of the color.

Vodafone’s new logo took the shape of a SIM card, and introduced the single quote or “speech mark” as their signature icon. They even managed to incorporate the new icon -- twice -- into the Vodafone text. (They’re “hidden” inside of the two o’s.)

In 2006, Vodafone rebranded once more, eliminating the SIM card background and the in-text icons from their previous logo. The speech mark also got a design makeover, with some gradient work added to make it feel a little more dimensional.

From a web design perspective, however, the 2006 rebrand didn’t mean much. Initially, Vodafone simply swapped in the new logo for the old one.

vodafone-rebrand-web-design

In 2013, Vodafone underwent a “soft’ rebrand, eliminating the text from its logo and using the stylized speech mark as its primary mark. This was also accompanied by a website redesign, which gave Vodafone’s site a much more modern feel.

Today, the site’s design is only slightly different from that 2013 design, the main difference being that there’s now a big red shape protruding from Vodafone’s logo (see below).

vodafone-rebrand-web-design-2

When we look back at the evolution of Vodafone’s brand, we can see what they were striving for: a single mark that could represent them. 

In 2006, they made progress in that direction by 1) eliminating the SIM card element of their logo design, and 2) simplifying the text in their name. In 2013, they were ready to ditch their name from their logo entirely, and they now let their iconic speech mark do all the talking.

4) Don’t leave room for interpretation.

airbnb-logo-redesignLet me clarify that: Don’t leave too much room for interpretation. Abstract logos, after all, can be cool and -- more importantly -- they can be effective at representing your brand. (Just think about Nike’s swoosh, one of the most recognizable logos in the world. I mean, what the heck is a “swoosh”? They made it up.)

Now, on to the example at hand: Airbnb.

In 2014, Airbnb unveiled a new logo, which included a new mark that they dubbed the “Bélo."

The Bélo, according to Airbnb, stands for four different things: people, places, love, and the letter “A.” They even created a video to show you how those four elements combine to form the Bélo.

airbnb-belo-logo

Unfortunately, at the time of the rebrand, the general public wasn’t really interested in how the Bélo was conceived; they were more interested in what it looked like. And many people though it looked kinda inappropriate. Some folks also found a resemblance between Airbnb’s new branding and some pop culture icons (including E.T. and Family Guy’s Peter Griffin).

airbnb-ET-peter-griffin

Now, if you’re of the opinion that “all press is good press,” then Airbnb completely, totally, unequivocally nailed their rebrand. They got a TON of press out of the situation, and heck, I’m even writing about it now, a year later.

Even so, there’s a valuable lesson to be learned here: When creating or updating your logo, make sure you’re aware of how it could be interpreted.

It’s easy to get “lost” in a design, and to see what you want to see. Getting a fresh perspective -- from someone who hasn’t been working directly on the rebrand -- can help ensure that potentially offensive/silly/disturbing elements don’t accidentally make their way into your logo design.

So there you have it! Four rebranding tips from four actual rebrands. Have any other tips you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments section below.

Need some inspiration for your next rebrand? Check out our recently updated flipbook, 50 Examples of Brilliant Homepage Designs.

download 50 examples of brilliant homepage design

How the #Oscars unfolded on Twitter

Tonight, the stars shone brightly in Hollywood for the 87th Academy Awards (@TheAcademy). And as a vast array of actors and makers celebrated their year of filmmaking, the rest of the world celebrated alongside them on Twitter.

The show was filled with moments of laughter, triumph and reflection as host Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH), top performers and A-list talent took the stage. Here are the memorable moments that drove the largest spikes in conversation, measured in Tweets per minute (TPM):

  1. @LadyGaga performs, is joined by Julie Andrews
  2. Alejandro Iñárritu wins Best Picture for “Birdman”
  3. @PattyArquette’s acceptance speech for winning Best Supporting Actress

Throughout the evening, film fans turned to Twitter to convey their passions and share real-time reactions. The most Tweeted-about nominees/performers were:

  1. @LadyGaga
  2. @PattyArquette
  3. @JohnLegend

While performances and fashion always garner attention during Oscar night, at the end of the day it’s still about the movies. Here are the films that got the most mentions on Twitter:

  1. Birdman
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Boyhood

As the celebration and around the Dolby Theater buzzed with anticipation, surprise and triumph, so did we all. Here’s an embeddable heat map showing how the #Oscars conversation unfolded across the world:

Click image to explore interactive animated map

A Twitter GIF Mirror in the Architectural Digest Greenroom went where the cameras could not, gathering exclusive moments with the A-list:



Lastly, the night wouldn’t be complete without the behind-the-scenes action and candor from the celebrities themselves — both “seat-Tweeters” (those who Tweet from their seat in the audience) and “couch commentators” (those at home). Here’s a selection of their take on the evening:

10 Overused Words to Remove From Your LinkedIn Profile

stand_out-1

This post originally appeared on the Sales section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

Whether you're looking for a job, attempting to establish your thought leadership, or widening your circle of connections to include influencers or potential clients, your LinkedIn profile is a key component of your personal brand. Before a call, meeting, or any other type of professional networking, people will usually stop by the LinkedIn profile of the individual they're meeting -- so it'd better be interesting, complete, and above all, memorable.

But how can a potential employer or client remember you if your summary sounds just like everyone else's? LinkedIn recently released its annual list of the most overused words on the social networking site, and I'm guessing everyone has at least one of these on their profile. (I know I do.)

Here are the top 10 global buzzwords, in order of their overuse:

  1. Motivated
  2. Passionate
  3. Creative
  4. Driven
  5. Extensive experience
  6. Responsible
  7. Strategic
  8. Track record
  9. Organizational
  10. Expert

It's probably not terrible to have one of two of these lurking on your page. But if you've included all 10? Time for a rewrite.

Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn's director of corporate communications, recommends avoiding these words altogether by providing illustrative examples. For instance, instead of claiming to be "motivated," describe the long hours you put in trying to get a new project off the ground. Rather than slapping the word "creative" on your headline, post your work on your profile, and list any awards celebrating your inventive work.

However, in certain instances, a simple synonym is all you need. Here are some suggestions to portray the same meaning in a not so tired way.

  1. Motivated - ambitious, determined, compelled
  2. Passionate - ardent, impassioned, zealous
  3. Creative - inventive, original, cunning
  4. Driven - intent, persistent, tenacious
  5. Extensive experience - seasoned, accomplished, proven
  6. Responsible - conscientious, accountable, reliable
  7. Strategic - significant, consequential, high-priority
  8. Track record - history, background, credentials
  9. Organizational - administrative, managerial, authoritative
  10. Expert - authority, pro, professional

Is this list inspiring you to launch a major profile overhaul? Check out this infographic for section-by-section guidance. With a fresh and unique profile, it'll be much easier to become an expert (oops, I mean authority) in your industry.

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