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Branding Your Business: When to Splurge and When to Skimp

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Branding Your Business: When to Splurge and When to Skimp

As exhilarating as starting a small business can be, it is by no means an easy task to accomplish. Business owners have to find just the right balance between affordability and quality yet try to save as much money as possible while doing it. To make matters worse, a large number of businesses make the mistake of neglecting their branding efforts and focus solely on marketing products and services they offer.

However, branding holds a much larger importance that they would imagine and while investing in order to make a profit does sound like a reasonable idea, we often see small business owners skimping on the necessities and overspending on the frivolous. Which begs the question, when is it best to splurge and what exactly should you skimp out on? But before we commit to answering that question, let’s go over the main differences between branding and marketing.

When you opt for a Guest post or a Sponsored post it becomes the responsibility of the agency to promote.

Branding vs. marketing

Branding and marketing might sound quite similar to the average consumers and inexperienced marketers who often use the two terms interchangeably, but seasoned business owners and marketing experts know the roles each of the two plays in developing a successful business.

While one is a noun and the other is a verb, it’s far from being the only difference between the two.

Namely, branding helps build your company’s identity and develop credibility with the consumers. It is used to ensure customer loyalty, improve brand recognition and establish a unique and powerful presence in the target market that attracts potential customers and retains the loyal ones.

Essentially, branding is used to create an image behind the products and services that not only coincides with the target audience’s need for said products and services but is also better than what the competition has to offer.

Marketing, on the other hand, refers to a series of activities used to promote a brand, as well as the products and services it offers. It’s not about building brand recognition, but rather using it to drive traffic, increase sales and improve your bottom line.

Now that we know the difference between the two corresponding terms, let’s go through different aspects of developing a business and seeing which ones require limiting your expenses and which demand to loosen up the coin bag.

When to splurge?

Anything related to brand creation and development should be splurged on. This includes creating a logo, finding the right color scheme and font type and developing a brand voice. First impressions are everything, so make sure your brand is fully developed before your pour your hard-earned cash into marketing. If you’re unsure on how your brand is perceived by your target audience, then don’t hesitate to perform a brand analysis. It is one of the most essential splurges to consider early on and will provide you with the information necessary to further improve your brand, carve out new markets and capture market shares from the competition.

A company website is another facet of developing a brand and is a digital representation of your brand image that carries your specific brand message. This is not something to be handled by a simple freelancer. In fact, finding a decent digital agency that knows how to handle a developing company can be very tricky, as you need a reliable partner capable of long-term commitment. This is why it may be best to consult cumulative websites that provide lists featuring some of the best digital agencies you can find online and find the one that will be the best fit for your startup.

Creating content that is both engaging and unique can be rather expensive but is it exactly what will keep your audience coming back to your website and becoming loyal customers. Don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more in order to engage your audience. Hire a writer or invest in content writing tools. Once your content is created and your website is fully developed, it’s time to start splurging on content marketing, social media, and PPC campaigns.

Lastly, whatever you do, do not skimp out of financial and legal services. They are necessary to protect your business in the long run and it’s far better to locate a professional service provider who has experience running a business than it is to rely on your family bookkeeper.

Where to skimp?

As crazy as it sounds, it’s perfectly understandable to skimp out on the business plan. There’s no point in creating a five-year plan when the industry is literally changing by the minute. Granted, you should have a solid understanding of how your business should be run, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a large part of your budget on developing plans for the future you’re uncertain will play out the way you imagined.

Skimp out on raising money from venture capitalists and other types of investors. Ambition is good, but the reason is better. Create a company that won’t require millions and millions of dollars just to get it off the ground. Start small and build your way up. The same can be said with website investments. Stick to the core functionality and focus on having a fast and stable website.

If your web page takes too much time to load, the average visitor will quickly abandon it and turn to your competitors. This can wreak havoc on your brand image, so it’s perfectly understandable to skimp out on any unnecessary features. Furthermore, talk to your designer or design agency about packaged services. Why spend all your money on individual task when you can easily bundle them together and get a far better price.

A post which is inserted as a guest post or a sponsored post always adds value by increasing its reach.

Conclusion

These are just some of the most pressing examples of when to tighten your entrepreneurial belt and when to let it loose and increase your spending. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to engage your target audience and provide it with value. That alone is more than enough to develop credibility and reinforce your brand in the eyes of your customers. Once you got that covered, then and only then should you start considering your marketing options.

Business

Huawei 2020 revenue ticks up despite U.S. sanctions, chairman says

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Huawei 2020 revenue ticks up despite U.S. sanctions, chairman says 1

By Josh Horwitz

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies saw slight revenue and profit growth in 2020, in line with its expectations, its rotating chairman said on Tuesday, even as Washington toughened sanctions against the Chinese telecom equipment maker.

The company was put on an export blacklist by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2019 and barred from accessing critical technology of U.S. origin, affecting its ability to design its own chips and source components from outside vendors.

Huawei has repeatedly denied it poses a security risk.

“Huawei was confronted with some extraordinary difficulties last year,” rotating Chairman Ken Hu said at industry event Mobile World Congress Shanghai in the Chinese business hub.

“Operations were relatively stable and in line with our guidance, registering slight growth in revenue and profit.”

This month, founder and Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei said he hoped the Biden administration would “harbour an open policy” towards U.S. firms doing business with Huawei in his first comments to the media in about a year.

China has spent more than 260 billion yuan ($40.27 billion) building its 5G network, an official of the Ministry of Information and Information Technology said on Tuesday.

On Monday, Huawei unveiled its new 5G Mate X2 foldable phone, which makes use of its proprietary Kirin processor.

However, with the cheapest model starting at 17,999 yuan ($2,788), the phone is not positioned to challenge players in the mainstream market.

Huawei set up 50,000 base stations in Indonesia, Hu said, adding that it planned to build 2,000 base stations in remote regions of Ghana.

The company is expected to post full-year results in March, a spokesman said. (This story corrects paragraph 10 to drop reference to 5G)

(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Writing by David Kirton; Editing by Kim Coghill and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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Business

Employee ownership – resilience in a time of uncertainty

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Five things investors and listed companies need to know about the common ownership debate and why it matters

By Stephen Greenwood, Owner of Valloop

White House economist Jared Bernstein is a major advocate for employee ownership, in which employees buy the company they work for. In a recent study, he notes the model’s various benefits, such as how it both improves job quality as well as increasing workers’ wealth and productivity.

As a long-time adviser to President Biden, it’s highly likely Bernstein will be pushing the US Government to encourage more private businesses to transition to employee ownership. Given today’s financial uncertainty, now would seem an opportune time for businesses everywhere to consider the concept, not only for the economic and emotional stability and resilience it can offer to their employees, but also for the positive impact it can have on their bottom line and wider society. In the study, Bernstein references Federal Reserve data which showed that over half of corporate stock was held by the wealthiest one percent of households – conversely, the bottom 50 percent hold just 1 percent of the value of corporate entities. Bernstein emphasises the role employee ownership can play in redressing this imbalance: “ESOPs (Employee shared ownership plans) transfer capital ownership to wage earners, directly reducing extremely high levels of wealth concentration, and ESOP firms appear to have less internal wage dispersion”.

Wide-ranging benefits

As a form of business buy-out, employee ownership offers owners the chance to sell their company or retire but, rather than see their legacy subsumed by a competitor or PLC, it allows them to see it remain a going concern, simultaneously protecting a loyal workforce and the business’ wider community. At Valloop, we take an ethical approach to buy-outs by providing the financial instruments required for SME employees across Europe to buy their businesses via its intelligent buy-out (IBO) frameworks, creating employee co-owned companies driving value and change through greater social inclusion. This ensures a strong financial performance for investors in a way that also benefits society. In the past five years we have seen compound annual growth of more than 15%*.

The benefits of employee ownership have been proven. Underpinned by the simple idea that no business can thrive without its people, an employee ownership structure gives everyone involved a common goal – that of commercial success. Knowing they have a stake in the business, employees feel directly involved in a company’s success and that they will be rewarded for it. Indeed, research shows that the approach leads to a happier workforce: a greater involvement in the decision-making and future direction of a company results in a greater sense of satisfaction and wellbeing.

Its benefits spread beyond a company’s employees too. Companies in which employees have a stake often tend to remain rooted in the community, for example. Not only does this help protect jobs, but it can also give the company a competitive advantage, encouraging local business opportunities, and maintaining legacy company-supplier relationships. What’s more, it’s likely that employees will spend their greater take-home pay within their local communities and transition those who are classed as in-work poverty towards greater financial independence.

Essentially, the community inclusion enabled by employee-owned companies can create better performing businesses while, at the same time, transforming the fabric of society. And in the current climate, this inclusion has never been needed more.

This begs the question of why aren’t there more employee-owned businesses? Arguably, the reason there aren’t more is because the financial products have not existed to enable buyouts like this that benefit all stakeholders – investors, owners and employees. Valloop does that and has democratised access to its Private Markets Fund with the £100k point of entry for investors. By opening the market in this way, employee ownership can be brought into the mainstream.

For greater resilience

Stephen Greenwood

Stephen Greenwood

According to the Employee Ownership Association, “employee-owned businesses achieve higher productivity and greater levels of innovation and are more resilient to economic turbulence.”

By acting in the long-term interest of its workforce, an employee-owned business will tend not to deliver short-term benefits for a select few stakeholders. It will typically enjoy a significantly healthier – and, importantly, stable – bottom line. And, with better informed, more engaged, and more trusting employees, it will be highly resilient to economic changes.

Of course, the impact of COVID-19 means the country is undergoing a level of economic turbulence not seen since the Second World War. With almost one in five UK businesses either temporarily or permanently ceasing to trade by the end of 2020, the need for business resilience has never been more critical – and not just for the businesses themselves.

While a company’s resilience will come from the ability of its employees and processes to adapt to change, a mix of different business types will help make a community more resilient to economic shock, and the assurance of job and financial security will enable workers to better weather the storm. As Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the Employee Ownership Association explains, now is the time to consider employee ownership: “The Valloop solution launches at a time when the interest in employee ownership is rocketing across the UK SME sector as business owners and their management teams seek alternative ways to secure the future of their businesses. The long-term resilience of businesses and regions is increasingly more relevant as the UK builds back from the pandemic and innovations such as Valloop are very much welcomed by the Employee Ownership Association as a way of ensuring more businesses and their employees are able to experience the benefits of employee ownership, whilst contributing to a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

This need for resilience is echoed in the US. According to Stephanie Silverman, President and CEO of the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America (ESCA), “as hardworking Americans grapple with staggering economic uncertainty driven by the pandemic, we hope more policymakers in Washington will… encourage private companies to become [employee]-owned, giving more Americans the chance to have financial stability and giving more companies the opportunity to see productivity gains as well.”

For the good of society

The concept of employee ownership is nothing new. The John Lewis Partnership, for example, has been at least partially owned by its employees for over 100 years. It’s the largest of over 370 such businesses in the country which, together, deliver 4 percent of UK GDP each year.

But it has become more relevant in the time of COVID. It matters to society. Not only does it offer owners an alternative to selling to a competitor or overseas buyer but, by creating democratic ownership of a company for all of its employees, it protects jobs, and by keeping the business and its productivity in the region, it protects communities.

Given the wide-ranging benefits of employee-owned companies, the title of Bernstein’s study is apt in this current period of economic uncertainty – “Why aren’t there more?”. The simple answer is that there were not liquidity investors, until now…

* past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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Business

Hyundai Motor to recall Kona EV and other electric vehicles in South Korea

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Hyundai Motor to recall Kona EV and other electric vehicles in South Korea 2

SEOUL (Reuters) – Hyundai Motor Co will recall 26,699 electric vehicles including Kona EVs in South Korea due to potential fire risks, South Korea’s transport ministry said on Wednesday.

The recall will replace the vehicles’ battery systems and applies to 25,083 Kona EVs, starting March 29, the ministry said in a statement.

It is Hyundai’s second recall for the Kona, its best-selling electric vehicle and follows a decision by South Korean authorities this year to launch a probe into whether the previous recall was adequate. The first recall occurred in October after a series of fires but in January one of the recalled vehicles caught fire.

The Kona EV uses batteries manufactured by LG Chem Ltd’s wholly owned battery division LG Energy Solution.

(Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Joyce Lee; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Edwina Gibbs)

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