Questions to ask yourself when developing a brand story

Introduction: developing a brand story is crucial for website design

Where did you come from, what are you doing now, and where are you going? Developing a brand story that speaks to your vision and what sets you apart from your competition is an important factor of good website structure. You need to figure out how to best relay all the important information for an online audience that typically has a 15 second attention span per webpage. Yeah, tricky. The best way to ensure you have a solid brand identity is by narrowing your field and asking yourself the pointed questions below.

How does a great company story online help you become a major player in your industry? Here is How to establish yourself as an industry leader through your website. 

Question 1: What distinguishes my goals from my vision?

First, let’s understand the difference between a company ‘goal’ and company ‘vision’. Goals are most often concrete steps your company will take in the next few years to achieve attainable milestones. These goals should be aligned with the interests of your company, your investors, and all others involved. A vision, however, is usually more abstract. Visions are something you hope to achieve in the future, and can be a bit more far-reaching. A vision often includes the way you see your company impacting the future and what it’s place in the world will be. When developing a brand story, make sure to separate your concrete five year goals from your aspirations for the distant future.

Question 2: How would I explain my product/service in one sentence?

Every company needs to be able to explain their main service in an ‘elevator pitch’. If it takes more than a few sentences to explain your ‘About Us’, it’s going to be very difficult to have a clear and straightforward content strategy on your website. It can be difficult to be concise, so start by writing everything that’s important and then drastically cut back until you have two clear sentences.

Question 3: What is one thing I offer that none of my competitors do?

Nothing kills a company’s website more than getting lost in the crowd. When developing a brand story, you should first do research on all your competitors. What elements are they pitching heavily on their websites? How do they structure their most important information? Did you develop your company because you saw something was lacking in your industry? What was that one thing? Find what you do that’s unique, even if it’s something small like extending your hours of operation to accommodate both east and west coast markets. Highlight those unique aspects on your website. You can also learn from the masters and read 6 lessons from famous companies on creating a killer brand. 

Question 4: What are three highlights about my company that investors would be interested in?

If question 3 was about researching your competitors, this question is about getting into the mind of your potential investors. What elements are important to investors of your industry, and how many of those boxes do you tick? If you’re a mining company, how many in-production projects do you have vs. exploration? Are any of your sites 100% owned? No one understands the assets of your industry like you. If you are newer and have yet to make any major strides, what are some concrete ways you’ve been moving towards your goals? Sometimes even showing determination and highlighting a strong plan for the future is enough to hook an investor.

Question 5: How have I failed?

This is a big one in developing your brand story, even if it’s kept as an internal question (we don’t mean you should be plastering your failures all over your website). What were some of the major setbacks in developing your company? Are they issues that could arise again? And most importantly, if a bit cheesy, what have you learned from your failures and how will you grow? Often analyzing your past failures will help you build more targeted goals.

Question 6: Why am I here?

The last question is the one abstract one of the bunch and might even include a bit of soul searching. But really, ask yourself: why are you here? What makes you work towards your company goals and vision every day? What is it about your company that you believe in? Get personal in thinking, because it’s most likely the reasons you love your company that will resonate the most with your audience. Web audiences are smart, and can tell when a company’s vision is ghostwritten or crafted from a template. Allow your audience to see the human side of your company and why you’re more than just a bunch of people in a building.


Conclusion: now get everyone on board

Developing a brand story means nothing if only a few people in your company understand what you’re all doing there. Every single person who works for you should understand as well. If you’re developing a brand story, make sure everyone else also knows the company’s goals and why they give up their time each day to be working with you. A common goal makes for a hard working and well-oiled machine. Happy researching and happy brand developing!


7 reasons why companies hire website agencies

Introduction: Do I need to hire a website agency?

There are different routes you can take once you’ve decided that you want a new website or want to revitalize your old one. With companies like Wixx, Weebly, and WordPress (why all the ‘w’s? we wonder) offering you the build-it-yourself platform, it’s a valid point to wonder why companies hire website agencies. This week’s blog breaks down common reasons companies seek out an agency to help with their digital marketing needs. If you want more specific advice on what you need to be asking an agency once you talk to them, download The Complete Checklist for Hiring a Website Agency. 


7 reasons why companies hire website agencies

1. Agencies are often one-stop shops

Many companies, especially publicly traded ones, go into a website redesign project imagining that new colours and crisper images are the only thing holding them back from better website traffic and more email signups. What usually ends up being the case, however, is that upon researching further the company realizes that what they’re really looking for is help with their entire digital marketing strategy. Beyond just a website redesign, this can include content strategy, social media support, opportunities for mobile optimization, as well as looking at the latest digital trends. A reason why companies hire website agencies is because they feel comfortable knowing one group can take care of their digital presence.



7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

2. Personalized support

While the DIY website builders have help lines and support pages, there’s thousands of people at once, from individuals to larger companies, who are learning how to use their service. Many companies choose to hire agencies for the personal touch of a client/vendor relationship. If we’re talking public companies, the space of website compliance and mandatory releases and filings can be tricky for anyone to understand. It’s helpful to know there are people standing by who do this for a living and are able to give personalized suggestions and assistance.



7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

3. Continued website maintenance

This is especially true for publicly traded companies, who are mandated to keep the public updated on their activities, and who publish news releases and company information frequently. Purchasing a monthly support package from an agency ensures that your website stays updated with all the information you need. Also, with the digital world evolving at the speed of light, your website may not be up to standards in a year from now, or might not render well on a new device that comes on the market. Website agencies are on top of the latest updates and trends, so will make sure your website is at the highest possible standard.




7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

4. Safety and security

DIY website builders like WordPress are open source, meaning that the code of their website is accessible to anyone who wants to look through it. The sheer multitude of people with open access to the WordPress process inevitably also makes it an easier platform to hack into. Companies with sensitive information who want to make security of files a top priority often look to website agencies for their website project. Website agency servers are more secure, especially if they have build their own content management system (CMS) to create and update content.



7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies5. Design originality

Another reason why companies hire website agencies is for the in-depth approach many agencies take to learn about their client and their goals with a new website project. The DIY website builders implement click and drag systems, and anyone can buy a design they like the best. Companies seek out website agencies when they have specific targets in mind, or want their website design to be 100% original to their story. Most agencies have some sort of ‘discovery meeting’ or learning session before they begin design to get to know their client’s style.



7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

6. Expertise in the industry

We recommend that companies looking to hire a website agency should look for agencies with expertise within their sector. A company in the natural resources industry will have different website goals and a different content strategy than a retail company. Website agencies are often available for content strategy consultation, and can guide companies through the types of content their target market will want to see first.



7 reasons why companies hire digital agencies

7. Websites get stale

If we can get away with this one without the cheesy music starting to play: a website is a living thing. Once a site’s finished, it doesn’t just sit there, looking perfect, forever and ever. In a few years, after the iPhone 64 has been released, your website probably won’t look so hot if it hasn’t been updated with the latest design trends. A reason why companies hire website agencies is because they don’t have the time to be thinking about how their website looks, especially on all the different devices out there. Website agencies are on top of the trends and latest updates (it’s our job). They think about this part and let you know if something needs to change so you don’t have to worry.


Conclusion: Think twice before you drag-and-drop

We hope this gave you a brief overview of some of the main challenges our clients face when they come to us for a website redesign. Though DIY website builders are a lot cheaper to build, factors like safety, constant maintenance, and keeping the site fresh for years to come are why companies hire website agencies to do the job. Think about the most important goals for your company and decide from there.



The best public company homepage designs

Introduction: Homepage is where the heart is

Your website homepage is your first impression. Like all first impressions, you get about five seconds to make a good one. Many think that in order to have the best public company homepage, it’s all about the design work. A beautiful design is great to have, but more importantly than just looking good is creating a portal of information that efficiently leads investors to the crucial pages of your website. For more information, check out these 11 must-have elements on any homepage design.


What is the main goal of your homepage?

We love the ‘storefront window’ analogy because it illustrates the importance of both the homepage and all the website information within. Stores decorate their windows to entice customers and place their shiniest merchandise in the front. What is the main objective of that window, however? It’s not to be the prettiest window on the block. It’s to get customers inside, and to make a sale.


As a public company, you should be thinking the same way about the homepage of your website redesign. Though having a visually compelling and interactive front page will certainly help, the most important function of a homepage is to serve as a gateway to the most important information on your website. Pages, for instance, where investor information like presentations and forms to request more information can be accessed. It’s crucial as a public company to remember that when it comes to your homepage, there should be a balance between the coolest design and easy access to information.

Best public company homepage examples

Here are some shining examples we’ve found of public company homepages that include that perfect balance of useful information and visual appeal.

Cisco Systems – ‘Quick Tasks’ bar

Cisco’s homepage features a secondary navigation bar offering quick links to the most frequently visited pages of their website.

best public company homepage designs Cisco

Eguana Technologies – Signup space on the homepage

Eguana Tech’s longer homepage offers quick blurbs about the most important pages of their website, with easy access buttons after each paragraph. The top of their homepage also offers an email sign-up function, so those wishing to keep informed don’t have to navigate to the contact page to enter their information.

best public company homepage designs Eguana Tech

Shopify – Benefits and ‘free trial’ button

Shopify knows their most important goal is getting customers started with a free trial, so the big pink button is the first thing someone sees when landing on their homepage. If customers need a little more convincing, however, beneath the main banner offers the reasons why Shopify is the best location for an online store.
Shopify homepage free trial button

Newmont Mining – Straightforward navigation

Sometimes with a homepage, there’s more than one main course of action you want viewers to take right away. With Newmont Mining’s homepage, an easy-to-navigate square layout promotes the most important information: their latest news, their blog posts, their fourth quarter results, and a featured video. The straightforward design makes choosing easy.

best public company homepage designs Newmont

Conclusion: Do what works for you

If you produce tons of great thought leadership content, maybe a goal of yours should be to funnel visitors to your blog section. If you just released your quarterly results, you should publish the document front and centre on your homepage banner to make investors’ jobs easier. As we’ve said before, it’s all about accessibility and a great user experience. Each example above works well because the public companies knew their strengths and their goals and aligned the two.

11 must-have elements for your homepage design

Blender Client Spotlight: an interview with NOVAGOLD


Our favourite part about what we do is the awesome client relationships we develop and the great people we get to work with each day. Full of insight, good stories, and interesting tidbits about the investor relations world and beyond, our clients are always a great source of learning for us.

Mélanie Hennessey, the VP of Corporate Communications for NOVAGOLD and Erin O’Toole, NOVAGOLD’s investor relations analyst, are no exception. NOVAGOLD’s new website launched this September and has brought much success, including winning the CSSDesign Special Kudos Award. Fresh off the heels of their new website, we sat down with Mélanie and Erin to ask them more about their roles in investor relations, the changing IR world, and the influence of elements such as social media and the push for more CSR initiatives. We hope you enjoy the read!


NOVAGOLD interview


1.    Tell us about NOVAGOLD’s investor relations team. What does an average day in the NOVAGOLD IR world look like?

The one thing we can count on is that an average day does not exist in our world. Our days often require multitasking and a lot of prioritizing as we wear many hats. Being resourceful, flexible and adaptable to various situations is key to getting the job done effectively.


2.    NOVAGOLD’s newly redesigned website places emphasis on the ‘We Care’ section and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Why is it important to emphasize CSR when it comes to investor relations?

Being a good neighbor has been ingrained in NOVAGOLD’s corporate culture from the beginning. We called the section “We Care” because we see CSR as so much more than just obtaining a social license to operate. For us, it’s about making lasting connections and building collaborative relationships with our partners, investors, community residents, First Nation and Native Corporations, Board of Directors and other stakeholders.

Our projects are located in remote areas inhabited by communities largely dependent on subsistence living and traditional ways-of-life. It is our job to continuously enhance our knowledge of and ties to the people of the region and various stakeholders. This is what led to the production of our four-part Alaska Video Series.

NOVAGOLD interview

3.  NOVAGOLD is very active on Twitter and regularly tweets out news releases and conference call reminders. How has incorporating social media into your IR strategy helped your company?


Social media has been a daily part of NOVAGOLD’s communication strategy since 2010. By being an active participant in these outlets, our audience knows that the Company welcomes an open discussion. The key to keeping audiences engaged is being consistent, reliable and personal. Social media brings in a human element to a company’s brand which is far different than a prescriptive approach where a disclosure is meticulously vetted.

It is important to remember that whether or not a company is active in social media, all companies receive mentions and discussions between users that are posted for mass consumption. By closely monitoring these discussions, we can track the sentiment surrounding the stock, as well as address any rumors or misperceptions.

NOVAGOLD interview

4. What advice would you give other public companies who are looking to add digital elements such as live-tweeting and webcasts to their future investor relations initiatives?

Start small and don’t bite off more than you can chew. If your company has never used social media or any other digital elements, start with just one or two initiatives such as a Twitter account and a quarterly webcast.

Consistency also is key. Whether you plan to post once a day or three times a week, make sure you stick with it. Nothing looks worse than an abandoned profile. It is also important to set realistic goals and have a plan on how you will be monitoring your efforts. Through a bit of trial and error, you will be able to identify what works best for you and your company. what works for you.

And, don’t forget to have fun with it!

NOVAGOLD interview

5.    What are some key challenges you see investor relations teams facing in the next few years?

A main challenge for an IR professional is always knowing the audience and staying one step ahead in an environment where a company’s stakeholders can change rapidly when compared to market trends 5 years ago. Having a thorough understanding of your stakeholder base, both who they are and their needs, is crucial in developing an effective communications strategy.

Communication is a two-way street and we utilize many different channels to stay in touch with different stakeholders. The goal is to keep our brand fresh but consistent. Finding the right balance and flow of communication takes time but definitely pays off.

NOVAGOLD interview

6.    What excites you about where the investor relations profession is headed?

It is exciting that smart companies are recognizing the tremendous value-add of having a communications and IR strategy. Contrary to popular belief, marketing and communication efforts are measurable, and the outcomes are extremely beneficial to the overall performance of the company.

Attracting new investors while maintaining our current shareholder base, building collaborative relationships with local stakeholders who understand our vision and objectives, and consistently delivering on our business plan are examples of positive indicators that efforts are paying off and our strategy is successful.

NOVAGOLD interview

7.    Is there a specific website you visit or IR tool you use that is crucial for IR success?

Our group relies on a number of platforms and tools that help us stay on track and accomplish our objectives. On a daily basis, we use research databases, market surveillance platforms, content management systems, social media, and our own network to name a few. We consider our network a central tool that includes our Board, subsidiaries, analyst, fund managers, government officials, other IROS, and local stakeholders. It is important for us to regularly seek input, enhancing our knowledge base and continuously improving the work we do.

Bonus Question:

8.    What’s one element about your job that would surprise people?  

NOVAGOLD interview

To effectively do our job we have to be chameleons meaning that we need to be generalists in our knowledge of the company, assets and industry, while being able to quickly adapt our approach to the audience at hand. From the bush of rural Southwest Alaska to the Board room, we need to successfully deliver our message and tell our story. Being attune to our environment, reading people’s body language as well as their reception to information are skills that we rely on daily. Again, it is all about building and maintaining connections.

It’s a dynamic, fast-paced role. We never have a dull moment… and wouldn’t have it any other way.



Thanks for your wonderful insight Mélanie and Erin, and we’re so happy to work with you and the rest of the NOVAGOLD team. And don’t forget to check out NOVAGOLD’s new, award-winning website!

If you treated investors like Taylor Swift treats her fans: a story in GIFs

taylor 1

Ah, the branding queen of 2015

Love her or hate her, there is no denying that singer Taylor Swift has essentially taken over the world in the past year. Since the release of her highly anticipated album 1989 last September, she’s been on the cover of more magazines (we’re talking TIME and Rolling Stone here, not just your run-of-the-mill US Weekly) and attracted more media attention than any other icon. And, hard to believe, being under a constant microphone has mostly resulted in good press and more adoring fans. There’s a lot to learn from this media empress; articles about the genius of her marketing and branding overwhelm the internet. Swift also knows how to transform every social media outlet from Tumblr to Youtube (we doubt she’s on Google + though) into blinding beacons where she signals her massive fandom to rush to her aid and promote her next idea.

You may be reading this thinking, her methods seem to be all kittens and fresh baked cookies what the hell am I supposed to do with that? Stay with us, here. Because we want to pull all that branding power from Taylor Swift and imagine if that was channeled into investor marketing. Why? Because we can, and because we may or may not be victims of this new disorder.

Here’s where all the investor stuff starts if you’re a skimmer

We’ve said this before, and we’ll say once again: many people forget that investor communications is just a form of marketing. It’s telling a good story. It’s showcasing your company in such a way so others will not only like you, but trust you enough to support you and become a part of your story, too. So we’re examining, in Taylor Swift GIFs, how your investor marketing strategy could improve by taking some tips from the 25 year old marketing genius.

1. Look outside your regular network

How Taylor’s done it:

Taylor Swift is is known for her #squad, or the collection of friends constantly surrounding her and going on outings with her. Though she spends a lot of her time with Victoria’s Secret models and the like, Taylor Swift is very artful at making friendships outside her expected sphere. Inc. Magazine writes “Swift is forging partnerships with unexpected figures, such as Ellen Pompeo and Mariska Hargitay…both represent a largely different demographic from the one Swift typically engages”. In her now infamous Bad Blood music video, Swift showcases to the world that nearly every celebrity is her best friend, from rapper Kendrick Lamar to icon Cindy Crawford. As she branches out and makes connections with different demographics, her fanbase broadens as well.

Swift has also been making a point to invite both already famous celebrities and up-and-coming stars to share the stage with her during her 1989 World Tour. One example of a guest that was out of her normal ‘arena’ included the night she invited the U.S. women’s soccer team on stage to celebrate with her after their World Cup win.

women's world cup

How you do it: 

Always be thinking about how you can reach people outside your normal group of contacts. Though certain investors may not seem like the most obvious choice to connect with, you never know where a good conversation could lead you. Get your name out there and go to other events that aren’t specifically within your industry.

2. Create an air of exclusivity (2)

How Taylor’s done it:

Heard of the 1989 Secret Sessions? They were a brilliant move by Taylor and her marketing team. Swift invited different groups of 89 fans from across the country to intimate house parties at one of her or her parents’ houses. She described them as “mini living room house parties where I’m going to be playing them the album first”. She baked them cookies, secretly played them the whole album a month before its release date, and took pictures with each person. She then made each fan swear not to share what they had been up to until the official release of the album. Fans left the event in various stages of weeping, all the while proclaiming they had “literally the best day of our lives”.

How you do it: 

Reward brand loyalty. If you publish content such as whitepapers or e-books, create the next one exclusively for those who’ve been signed up to receive your email updates or newsletter. Think of ways to make your community feel special, especially those who have been rooting for your company since the beginning. One easy and not too expensive way to do this is drop off a ‘just because’ type gift at your most loyal client offices. Everyone can give client gifts during the holidays. Challenge the norm and randomly do it in the middle of July.

3. Make communication a two way street (15)

How Taylor’s done it:

Taylor Swift speaks to her fans like they’re actually her friends. She tweets awkward moments she has during the day, she pleads with them to help her figure out the more confusing aspects of social media, and she has no problem making fun of herself. Swift is also famous for something dubbed as ‘Taylurking’ where she intensely follows her fans on social media and learns about them and their hardships. She then often surprises certain fans with presents or nice handwritten letters.

Taylor tumblr (8)

How you do it:

Encourage investors and other interested parties to ask you questions on social media! Start a live-chat with people on Twitter during your latest earnings call, and speak to them just like you’d be talking across the table to someone. And don’t be afraid to be a little goofy sometimes, as long as you know the boundaries. Remember: just be out there and be human!

4. Prioritize their convenience (3)

How Taylor’s done it:

Taylor doesn’t like it when her fans have to wait around. She often rewards patient fans with exclusive backstage passes, and released a deluxe version of her album exclusively at Target, because she said she felt that’s where the majority of her fans would shop. She also recently responded to a social media plea from a senior citizen theatre company who were denied the rights to play her song ‘Shake it Off’ with their closing number. Swift bypassed her people who had originally denied the troupe the rights, and tweeted out that she personally would grant them permission and wished them luck on their opening night.

How you do it:

Really think about what investors will want to see, and prioritize that information on your investor website and with your marketing materials. Don’t make them search for that necessary public company info; the easier and more intuitive their online experience with your company is, the better.

5. Let them glimpse the inner-workings (6) (7)

How Taylor’s done it:

Taylor released a deluxe version of her 1989 album that included extra songs as well as what she’s named ‘Memos’. These memos are short audio recordings of her in the studio with her producers and other members of her team. You can hear her figuring out the beginning elements of the now famous songs. In releasing such a personal element of the process, fans feel like they can really connect to her songwriting.

How you do it:

Show your community and investors what the day-to-day life of your company looks like. Share behind the scenes pictures on social media, tweet Did You Know’s and interesting stats about how you became a company. Publish a letter from the CEO, or host a video interview with someone in the company. Making investors feel like they have an all-access pass to what’s going on with you is a great way to make them feel included and to stay interested and involved in your story.

And finally (because you have to give us this one)

6. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate (10) (11)

How Taylor’s done it:

Just listen to her song ‘Shake it Off’, if you haven’t already. Or just read the title.

How you do it:

As a public company, it’s almost guaranteed that some decisions will face criticism from the investment community. While it is important to listen to those criticisms and always be aware of the conversations happening surrounding you, make sure to also take these comments in stride and stay true to your mission and your brand. (4)

Thanks for the inspiration Taylor!

6 lessons from companies on creating a killer brand

Take some tips from the masters. There’s a reason we’ve all heard of these names, and although size, budget, and success may all be different between factors between these brand curators and your company’s brand, there’s still valuable lessons they can teach you about standing out. Take a look at these six lessons from companies who’ve mastered everything from email newsletter copy to reviving 90’s hip hop.

Lesson #1: Know your legacy and let it influence you

The expert: Sprite

Sprite’s been doing a bit of marketing speed-dating lately; they just switched creative agencies for the fourth time in three years. Flashback to 1994 when they launched the now iconic ‘Obey Your Thirst’ slogan with a campaign featuring underground hip-hop up stars and freestylers like Nas, AZ, and Grand Puba.



Over 20 years later, Sprite is returning to the ‘Obey your Thirst’ campaign and to their hip-hop roots. Sprite partnered with The Fader magazine to create a video series aptly titled ‘Obey your Verse’ featuring big names like Drake and Nas, alongside shining up-and-comers Vince Staples and Isaiah Rashad. The Fader president Andy Cohn spoke to Contently about the campaign, saying “I think Sprite had a really good handle on how they wanted to relaunch ‘Obey Your Thirst’ because I think they realized they had a legacy they could trade on“. The new twist on the famous 90’s campaign has been very successful; the series has totalled more than 1 million video views so far. Cohn also spoke of how the legacy of ‘Obey Your Thirst’ with famous rappers was so easy to rejuvenate because “ever artist we talked to…knew about Sprite and ‘Obey Your Thirst’ from 20 years ago'”.


Lesson #2: Speak to your audience like human beings

The expert: Mailchimp

If you look up Mailchimp’s public Style Guide, you’ll get pages and pages of content explicitly explaining a Mailchimp employee’s responsibility to help customers in a friendly and informative way. They’ve even created a whole website called Voice and Tone full of potential conversations between a user and Mailchimp, and appropriate way to respond. What you’re seeing is Mailchimp nailing the importance of frank and personable communication. Isn’t it refreshing when a company’s support line speaks to you like, well, the real human being that they are?


MailChimp voice and tone


Lesson #3: Understand your core message

The expert: Dove

Growing from a brand who sold soap to a well-known advocator for all women’s beauty is quite a feat. Dove’s “Campaign for Real-Beauty” evolved in 2004 and still runs strong in their ads today. In the past few years, they’ve also become experts at making viral videos. The brilliance of these videos comes with the underlying core message in each of them: a move to inspire self esteem in women and encouraging all girls to reach their full potential. Whether their ads focus on Real-Beauty sketches, choosing whether to walk through a door that says ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Average’, or teaching young girls to embrace their curly hair, each of Dove’s ads trace back to their social mission statement of creating “a world where beauty is a source of confidence, and not anxiety”. Other brands have begun to follow Dove’s lead, such as the Always #LikeAGirl campaign and CoverGirl’s #GirlsCan empowerment ads.


Lesson #4: Don’t be afraid to take risks 

The expert: GoDaddy

2015 marked GoDaddy’s 11th ad appearance in the Super Bowl. Over the last decade, GoDaddy’s Super Bowl commercials have been some of the most controversial and some of the weirdest ones out there, but definitely also the most talked about. Their bold marketing moves and insistence on being surprising year after year has cemented them as one of the country’s most recognizable brands. And what’s their thing? Providing website domains. It’s not the spiciest industry out there, but it’s a safe bet that anyone you ask has at least heard the name ‘GoDaddy’, even if they’re not sure what exactly the company does. But that brand recognizability is exactly what the company needs to keep doors open. This isn’t to say taking plunging risks like GoDaddy is always the smartest move (they’ve definitely fallen on their faces a few times), but the idea remains an inspiring one. If a website domain company can be one of the most talked about companies out there, they’re certainly doing something right.



Lesson #5: Be brilliant at something unexpected

The expert: Lululemon

Lululemon’s brand dominates their industry. The yoga-inspired athletic apparel company has been so successful for many reasons, especially the way they encourage an entire healthy lifestyle as well as selling their product. Lululemon’s ‘good vibes’ and lifestyle branding are driven by their lesser known talent online: their killer content creation. Lululemon’s daily email newsletters are brilliant moments of witty copy, and their blog is a space for everything from wellness articles to profiles on up-and-coming folk singers. They’ve recently also released a seven part podcast as part of their one week meditation challenge. The constant contact a user receives online from the podcasts, interviews, and blogs establishes Lululemon’s brand beyond simply producing comfy yoga pants. The become that super healthy friend who you’ve always admired who’s also there to motivate you with some good vibes and great reads.


lululemon podcast

lululemon podcast


Lesson #6: Keep raising your own bar 

The expert: Tesla

Heard of ‘Ludicrous Mode?’ Well, it’s Tesla’s new addition to the Model S sedan and Model X SUV that’s going to kick the car from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, and the SUV in 3.3. It’s also a nod to one of the greatest movies of all time (no judgement, it’s a classic). Elon Musk announced the new speed last month,  as well as promising his adoring fans audience that “he’ll launch an all-new Roadster in four years” (Bloomberg). This announcement comes only a few months after the unveiling of Tesla’s next venture the ‘Powerwall’, their own sustainable home battery. The lesson here, in essence, is that Tesla refuses to quit. They’re pushing into multiple industries and demolishing  all expectations along the way. There’s a reason they’re called “the brand of the year, decade and possibly century” (Forbes). Even if you’re not on the Elon Musk level, there can be strong value in refusing to settle and constantly pushing out new ideas and ways to evolve as a company. The energy surrounding Tesla and its supporters seems more like fans at a rock concert than shareholders and consumers. That’s a sign of how crucial Tesla’s brand has been in their success. Now, it’s all about where they’ll go from here. Maybe all the way to plaid? If you didn’t understand that, you didn’t click the movie link.


Tesla Powewall


8 creative ways to use Instagram for business

It’s 2015, and many companies now have the hang of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Instagram, however, is the newer, slightly trendier cousin who’s shown up to the party late and not everyone knows. Although it’s true that Instagram is a perfect space for fashion brands and their summer catalogues, we’re interested in ways that all companies can benefit from a little Instagram for business. You don’t need to be Starbucks or Lululemon to have a rockin’ account. Here are some ways to have fun with an Instagram account for your company while still sticking with your brand and staying informative.

1. Teach your audience something new

Short Instagram videos are a great way to create product demos or just produce some fun how-to’s.  Buzzfeed Food’s Instagram often publishes food hacks like the infamous bacon taco-shell below to provide their followers with helpful mealtime tips.

Bacon Mac and Cheese Taco! Follow @buzzfeedfood for the recipe.

A video posted by BuzzFeed (@buzzfeed) on

2. Prove you’re experts in the industry

General Electric’s Instagram is out of control (aka they’re one of the most followed companies on Instagram). GE alternates between animations, nicely designed quotes, and short videos to really give their page some spark. In the post below they promote their aviation testing ground with a fun fact about the engines they produce. This is a great idea. Be your followers’ ‘helping hand’ in the industry and share valuable info and fun facts with them, along with a visual they’ll want to share.

3. Introduce someone from your team

Get personal and share those smiling faces you’re so proud of. Ben and Jerry’s pulls out all the stops with a full video about one of their ‘flavour guru’s. The video is pretty cool, but a team member introduction can also be as simple as a nice picture and a fun writeup. Ask them to introduce themselves, talk a little about their job and day-to-day duties, and end with a little fun!

4. Give people a behind-the-scenes glimpse

Lasers to create smoothie labels? Who knew? Even if you think your company’s day-to-day routine might be a bit, well, routine, it’s not that way for anyone else! Your followers will be interested in some BTS glimpses into the life of your company. Capture a boardroom meeting, a day on-site, or some after work Friday bonding and put a filter on that fun.

David is playing with lasers today. He claims it's for genuine work reasons. Nobody's buying it.

A photo posted by Innocent (@innocentsmoothies) on

5. Use your followers as your testing ground

Covergalls Workwear is a Canadian (woot woot) company inspired by the female mining experience to design and develop working clothes for women. In their Instagram post below, they shout-out to all their followers and ask for an opinion on a new product. This is a great way to show your audience that you’re listening to their feedback and determined to produce a product that everyone will love.

6. Send your community some love

Speaking of shoutouts…give your followers and customers some thanks. Instagram is a great platform for getting personal with those you do business with. Tag a company who has been supporting you the whole way, make a fun video for a special individual, or tag those who recently came to an event of yours with a word of thanks. A little really does go a long way.

Sending a super rad customer some #unbouncelove today. #unbouncing ❤️

A video posted by Unbounce (@unbounce) on

7. Preview new content you’ve published

If you have a regular newsletter or frequently publish blogs, promote them on Instagram. It’s a little annoying since Instagram won’t let you hyperlink in a post, but tell people the link is your bio and then add a subscribe link to your profile page. Previewing content is a great way to generate some interest around what you’ve been writing. Or reach out to your followers and ask what they’d like to hear about next.

8. Tell a continuous story

Turn your Instagram into a series. Verizon Wireless  got really into it with their ‘The Call’ campaign. Conduct an interview with a notable industry professional, have a week-long ‘Instagram takeover’ internally where someone different from your company posts to the page, or promote a series of blog posts with multiple part Instagram posts. Make sure to label each one ‘1 of 5’, ‘2 of 5’ and so on. By connecting different posts, your followers are more likely to come back to check out what’s happening the next day. Instagram also becomes more than just a snapshot of company life, but a more in-depth way to learn about your company’s story.

tell a continuous story


Just can’t get enough? Why should you? Now check out 6 tricks for using Twitter for investor relations.

Here are some easy ways to grow your email list (with examples)

You’re writing great content, have must-see company updates, and now need people to see it! Before you consider shelling out some cash to pay for ad campaigns or promoted posts on social media, check out these quick tips you can implement almost immediately. Most of the time it’s just about being clear, having a great call to action, and making sure people see you asking for their email! 

1. Be impossible to ignore

Even if someone is interested in you, they’re not going to dig very far into your website or social media accounts to give you their email. A signup form needs to be super easy to spot on each page of your site. You don’t have to include a pop-up; include the form as a sidebar or have it (very obviously!) in the footer. If you are into the idea of being impossible to ignore, feel free to have some fun with pop-ups when someone visits your page. Check out how J Crew and Madewell captured their audience’s attention.




2. Tell them why they need you

Hubspot does this well: there’s 300,000 other people on their marketing email list, so why aren’t you one of them? Think about what makes your list special, and what those who sign up are going to get. Then sell yourself in the same space where you’re asking them to sign up.

Hubspot email form

3. Offer exclusive content only for people on your list

If you’re producing any type of regular content such as thought leadership pieces, marketing guides, whitepapers, or webcasts, consider offering the next one only for your email subscribers. Make sure it’s a topic that a lot of people would be interested in. And then, the most important step, make sure you PROMOTE that new, exclusive piece. Share the whitepaper on social media with the subscribe link, and let people know that, by subscribing, they’ll only get more of this great content.

4. Ask your existing subscribers to pass you along

There’s no harm in just plain asking. The Skimm daily newsletter does a great job of this. At the end of each of their emails, they ask their list to share them and they offer a possible Starbucks gift card as an incentive. If you’re not there quite yet, just do a simple ‘please will you’ message (and make it fun!).  Make sure it’s a breeze for a subscriber to click a link and share directly on social media or email with their own communities.

SKimm contest

5. Offer a special deal when people opt-in 

The opt-in form is a great moment to thank your new subscriber with a deal or gift. Offer a discount on their first product or a free assessment or service. If it doesn’t feel like the time to offer them anything substantial, then show them why their signup is beneficial with a list of everything they’re now receiving as a subscriber. Maybe they’re getting access to exclusive content, maybe they’re the first to get company updates. Whatever it is, let them know you’re excited and that they should be too.

6. Use social media to promote yourself

Show them exactly what they’ll be getting on social media. AKA: include an image! Share a nicely designed image along with the subscribe link to all your social media followers encouraging them to sign up. Here’s an example of a post we shared on Twitter with our subscribe link and an image of our newsletter.


Soak up some more of our knowledge

So now that you’ve got a killer email list going, how do you use social media to reach out and interact with investors? Click right here and find out.

How to use video for investor relations

Introduction: Incorporate video for investor relations to up your IR game

There are many ways a company can use video for investor relations in order to grab an investor’s attention. We’ve made a list of some ways you can start using video in your future investor relations strategies with five examples of companies doing it the right way.

If you’re interested in more ways to connect with investors, download our free eBook about 9 ways to improve investor communications with your website.

1. Educate people about what you really do

Here’s a video we did for the folks at Uranium Energy Corp. The company wanted to talk about the new ISR mining technology they’re incorporating into one of their projects. Instead of attempting to describe the technology in long paragraphs, we produced a short animated video under their website section ‘Uranium 101.’ Educating about your product is a great way to utilize video for investor relations so potential investors and current stakeholders can learn what the company does.  Click to :45 to see the animations really kick in.


2. Address big company changes and common questions

If something really big is happening in your company, address it with a video. Stakeholders and community members alike are sure to have questions when it comes to a big transition, like new leadership or a merger. A concise company video can answer most questions at once and shows you’re on the ball in addressing the situation first.

Here’s an example from Medtronic, a medical technology and services company, who acquired the company Covidien last year. They utilized video for investor relations initiatives to educate stakeholders shortly after the merger about the ‘Medtronic story’, and said in a statement, “as we welcome Covidien to Medtronic, learn about our journey to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life for millions of people around the world”.


Another example is Bill Gates (yeah that guy) welcoming Microsoft’s new CEO. If Bill Gates is telling you about the new CEO, you listen.

Want some other great tips on getting your website investor ready? Download our free eBook about 9 ways to improve investor communication with your website.



3. If you like it, then you shoulda put a face on it (aka CEO videos)  

Get your CEO talking. Microsoft is a great example of how company videos don’t have to include crazy animations or special effects to be interesting and get an important point across. To introduce their new CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft published this video of Nadella and an interviewer just strolling around the Microsoft campus talking about life and his exciting new role. Nadella takes the opportunity to say how “honored, humbled, and excited” he is to be offered the position. Face time with the boss, even in video, goes a long way. 


4. Three words. Corporate. Social. Responsibility.

TD Bank has an entire video gallery within their Corporate Responsibility tab showcasing different ways the bank gave back to their community. To put it plainly, it’s a lot more motivational watching a video about the affected community rather than reading paragraphs on a website.

using video for investor relations

Videos not only showcase what you’ve been doing in terms of CSR, but also why the acts themselves are so beneficial for public companies. Nielsen, a global information and measurement company, posted a video on their investors page of the executive director Nic Covey giving an interview about the extreme importance behind Corporate Social Responsibility and public companies. This is a brilliant move because it positions Covey, and by association the company, as a thought leader in CSR and CSR reporting.


using video for investor relations




Conclusion: Go beyond best practices

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to have an investor relations website without multimedia elements. The most important part of your IR site is to ensure investors can get the information they need right away. Using video for investor relations, however, can really give you an edge over your peers. Everyone is checking off the best practice lists, but how many are thinking of how they can take their corporate IR website beyond that? Introducing video, even a small 30 second CEO message, could really take your investor relations section to the next level.


9 tips to improve investor communication with your website

6 tricks to master Twitter for Investor Relations

Introduction: How to use Twitter for investor relations

You loved our ‘How to use social media for investor relations’ blog back in March, so we thought we’d focus in a little and talk about that little blue bird, and how utilizing Twitter for investor relations can benefit your company. Here are 6 tips to help you navigate through Twitter’s feature to help with day-to-day investor relations communications.


1. Embed a Twitter timeline at the bottom of your IR homepage

Allow investors to keep up with you socially without leaving your site by embedding your Twitter timeline at the bottom of the homepage. Many available timeline widgets out there allow users to tweet back to your company, share an individual post, and follow you, all from your IR site. If your company has multiple Twitter accounts–say one main corporate account and a separate one for IR–an embedded timeline for your IR account can serve as a quick at-a-glance of your most recently tweeted investor news.



2. Tweet the numbers out with an infographic

Using Twitter for investor relations doesn’t have to be boring. Here are some great and colourful examples from GE and T-Mobile IR. Infographics get you around that 140 character barrier, they’re easily shareable, and make those numbers more engaging to your followers. Pick one highlight from the infographic to share in the actual tweet underneath the pic.


3. Use Twitter for earnings call Q&As 

The immediacy of Twitter is what makes the social networking platform really stand out. Use the real-time aspect to have shareholders and interested parties alike tweet your company questions during your most recent earnings call. Multiple companies are already trying this out, such as T-Mobile and Twitter themselves. Let your community of followers know the appropriate hashtag to tweet with a day or two before the call (T-Mobile asked their followers to tweet their questions to #TMUSearnings, and Twitter used #TWTRearnings).  During their first quarter earnings call of 2015, T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere was proud of the company’s third “open Twitter conference” and announced that the company would be taking questions “via text, and Twitter, as well as the normal dial-in questions”.



4. Know how your cashtag can work for you

We told you about cashtags last time, but want to talk about them again since no Twitter for IR list would be complete without them. A ‘cashtag’ is your comapny’s ticker symbol with a ‘$’ in front that creates its own feed. Think of it like a clickable stock symbol. Exactly like a hashtag, searching a cashtag symbol (lets say $TWTR for Twitter) will pull up a separate Twitter feed of all the market conversations going on about that company. Searching your company’s cashtag every once and a while is a great way to keep up with the conversation. Sidebar: there are other great ways to use your ticker symbol for further IR site exposure. Check out how GoDaddy used their symbol in a way barely any of the Fortune 500 have figured out.



5. ‘Quotebite’ your annual meeting or earnings call 

We’re not sure if ‘quotebite’ is a real word, but it made sense for what we wanted to talk about next, so we’re making it one. Exactly how a news broadcast uses a ‘soundbite’ from an important televised event, some companies are beginning to use Twitter during their annual meetings to tweet meeting highlights and memorable quotes from the CEO. Check out how General Electric and Hewlett-Packard used Twitter in their annual meeting and earnings call. Quotebites can help make the meeting more accessible and more shareable.


6. Get familiar with Twitter lists

Many people still don’t know what the mysterious ‘Lists’ selection is at the top of their Twitter profile page of how they can greatly benefit your Twitter for investor relations strategy. Twitter lists are a curated group of Twitter users. You can create lists for yourself or subscribe to be a part of someone else’s list. You don’t have to be following someone to add them to your list. Twitter lists are great because they allow you to break the vast social network down into more manageable groups that you care about. Find influencers in your industry or lists you want your company to be a part of and subscribe to them. Being a member of various Twitter lists is a really simple but great way to get your company more exposure.

using Twitter for investor relations



how to use Twitter for investor relations


9 tips to improve investor communication with your website