Blog - Page 2 of 27 - Rock, Paper, Scissors

Posted 21 Aug 2017
brand awareness

Are Other People Talking About Your Brand?

At RPS, we’re in the business of building brands – and we want your brand to look good from head to toe. I’m talking head-turning, jaw-dropping, quality client-collecting good – the kind of brand people will talk about for all the right reasons. There are certain characteristics that make a good brand good and bad brand bad. Good brands take work and come from a core of passion and a solid motive behind why you do what you do. Bad brands can be caused by lack of direction to simply missing the mark or even failure to connect on a personal level with the intended target audience.

A typical Chief Marketing Officer wears more than one hat and makes decisions about the effectiveness of certain marketing techniques. Some are million dollar investments and some are as simple as a t-shirt. Now let’s back up. This is just an example. Don’t go running to the printer and frantically order a wholesale quantity of your company’s logo heat pressed onto a Comfort Colors shirt. At least not yet.

Whether we’re talking about t-shirts, business cards, websites or the very front of your office building, you have to ask whether or not you’re the only one talking about your brand. The marketing industry has changed and it is no longer enough to talk yourself up. The world is too connected. If you’re talking about your brand and everyone else is talking about another one, it doesn’t matter how immaculate your high resolution sign is, you will miss the mark.

You have to create something relevant that those within reach not only find worthy of talking about, but also worthy of wearing, purchasing, using, investing in, and of course, talking about. It’s easy to start something that you have a passion for, but the real magic is creating something that other people feel passionate about and then tell somebody else. For this reason we’ve listed a few basics to get people talking.

  • Invest in your customers, so they will invest in you. Give something away. People LOVE free stuff and will take giveaways all day long. If you really want to be an overachiever, give them more than they need. They’ll tell somebody.
  • Don’t just create social media profiles – use them! Create a content strategy that includes posts your customers will find interesting, and engage with them when they interact with you. The world is entirely too connected for you not to be taking advantage of it. This is the frontline of today’s marketing and your prime opportunity to target and reach those who want you product. Ask questions, post photos, and start conversations.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Put a great emphasis on creating, nurturing, and leveraging mutually beneficial, strategic partners. These relationships are your greatest asset when first getting started and can help with referrals. They are a great mouthpiece and will be happy to wear that (figurative) t-shirt.
  • Try something. Billboards are safe, newsletters are safe, and flyers are safe. If you want people to get talking, hire that skywriter. If you want to get the right people talking, begin creating your customer profile based on both demographics and psychographics of the ideal people you want to connect with. Truly knowing what drives your customers to request your services will fuel your business.
  • Try, try again. Timing is everything, and sometimes things don’t work out because you don’t know your audience’s preference and behaviors well enough. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t work now. Use social media insights, surveys, email marketing, and website analytics to your advantage to see when your audience is most active, and then use that information so that your messaging goes out when your audience is more likely to receive it.

Creating a brand can truly be rewarding as long as you’re willing to put on your hard hat and work. The internet is daily declaring videos, brands, and individuals as ‘viral’ just mere hours after nobody had ever heard of them. If you think about it, you’re one good attention-grabbing campaign away from a booming business that people will start talking about. Go after it, and keep us posted!

Posted 28 Jul 2017
storytelling for nonprofits

Storytelling for Nonprofits

Rock Paper Scissors has enjoyed working with the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia (CFNEG) for quite some time to help develop the nonprofit’s brand, annual Giving Reports, and providing support for the annual Good2Give Gala. Each summer, we join forces with the CFNEG and marketing consultant Heather Loveridge to share helpful marketing tips for nonprofit leaders. This summer, our focus was Storytelling for Nonprofits.

Over the course of a few hours, we started with a discussion on why storytelling is important for a nonprofit’s brand, then shifted to where nonprofits can find their stories, how they can tell their stories, and then wrapped up with the importance of knowing your audience, and started the process of creating audience personas. We also discussed the elements that make a compelling story, creative ways to tell stories, and some storytelling guidelines.

If you’re a nonprofit leader in need of a little help with your storytelling efforts, we invite you to take a look at some of the highlights of the presentation below. We’ve included the presentation slides as well.

WHY you need stories:

  • Storytelling is a part of the human experience. When it comes to your nonprofit, stories are some of your greatest tools for informing people about your brand – who you are, how you got here, where you plan to go, and your mission, vision, values, and more.
  • Being a good storyteller is a part of building your brand. As you build your brand, think about the stories you are and will tell about yourself and your organization.
  • You need stories because they help you connect!
  • Your stories can also help build a foundation for building a future growth strategy.
  • In marketing, the role of storytelling is, according to Bernadette Jiwa, to “show your customer how your product makes him the hero of his story.”


HOW to find good stories:

  • Don’t just tell a story with facts and figures. Use the story of a real person to tie it together. Your nonprofit needs a “face” – That human element will get people to look at the facts. Give people someone to empathize with.

“It is difficult for people to generate empathy for a group or a collective. Empathy comes from identifying with ONE person, getting into the shoes of that ONE person, and feeling the same emotions as that ONE person.

If you want people to feel something, give them one person to empathize with.” – Jeremy B. Koch, The 5 secrets of great nonprofit storytelling

  • Make sure your stories always connect to your nonprofit.


KNOW your audiences:

  • You need to know who your audience is and where they are in order to connect with them.
  • Most nonprofits have at least a few main audiences: the clients you serve, your donors, your board of directors, and your volunteers, to name a few.
  • Building audience personas is a good way to help you identify the types of people you want to connect and share your stories with. Think of it as a profile of the ideal person or types of people you want to reach.
  • Use demographic information (age, gender, ethnicity, occupation, income, location, etc.) and psychographic information (personal values, cultural values, behaviors, interests, influences, etc.) to build audience personas for each of your target audiences.


WAYS to share your stories:

  • Use your website or blog as the “home base” where your stories will reside, and link back to these stories in social media, emails, and other communications.
  • If possible, use video to tell your stories. A recent  Google study found that 57% of people who watch a video go on to make a donation.


A few reminders:

  • Make time for storytelling. If you don’t make this a priority, chances are it won’t happen.
  • Be sure to define how you communicate with your audiences and the type of tone or voice you want for your organization. A lighthearted tone might be appropriate for one organization, while a more professional tone may be ideal for another.
  • Be mindful of what information you can share as well as when you need to conceal the identity of the person the story is about. Change their names, or attribute their quote to “survivor” rather than their name.
  • Be creative with photography when someone’s privacy needs to be protected (kids in foster care, victims of domestic abuse, etc.). 
  • Make sure to share the outcome. Don’t end with a cliffhanger!
  • Include an appropriate call to action (Donate now! Learn how to get involved, etc.)

We also invite you to download a copy of our Storytelling for Nonprofits workbook so you can start crafting the stories of your nonprofit in a way that will connect with people in a meaningful way.

Storytelling for Nonprofits Workbook

Click to Download!

If you need further assistance with telling your nonprofit’s stories, please contact us or Heather Loveridge. We are available for consultations, workshops, and creative work (both visual branding and storytelling) and would be happy to schedule a time to work with you and your organization’s leadership team.

Posted 27 Jul 2017

Once Upon a Time…: Finding & Telling Your Story

Did you miss our recent Storytelling webinar? Read our recap below, or watch the recording included at the end of this post!

Storytelling has been around for as long as humans have walked this earth. People have used stories to educate and entertain all throughout history, and as time has gone on, we have discovered new ways to tell stories through writing, song, dance, art, dramas, and more. But what does storytelling have to do with your brand?

The answer is everything! Stories are some of your greatest and most powerful tools for informing people about your brand – who you are, how you got here, where you plan to go, and your mission, vision, values, and more.

Why You Need Storytelling

Having a great story to tell can help you connect with your audience in a more meaningful way and help them truly understand who you are and what you do by sparking their emotions, offering education and understanding, and even helping to set you apart from the competition.


What Role Does Storytelling Play?

So what role does storytelling play in your business? Good question! It’s more than just to create some advertisements. According to Marketing Week, a brand’s story isn’t “just something businesses should refer to every time they launch a marketing campaign or issue a press release. It should be the foundations on which a future growth strategy is built.”

Bernadette Jiwa further explains that one of the real roles of storytelling in marketing is to “show your customer how your product makes him the hero of his story.” In other words, the story shouldn’t be about telling the product story, but rather telling “the story of the customer in the presence of the product.” Some great examples Jiwa points to include IKEA’s “Start Something New” folding chair and Johanna Basford’s coloring books.

Where to Find Your Stories

There are endless places you can find a story. You just have to take the time to look around! A few examples of the kinds of stories you can tell include:

  • Your history and how you got to where you are
  • Your life and what led you to do what you’re doing
  • How you helped a client solve a problem
  • How you resolved a conflict
  • Your expertise in a specific area
  • Client successes


Elements of a Good Story

Now that you know the role storytelling plays in your business and where you can find a story, it’s time to figure out how to craft a story in a compelling way and find the most appropriate place to tell them. First, you’ve got to know what elements make a good story:

    • A main character: Be sure to explain who they are! Where do they work? What’s his or her family like? What makes them tick?


    • Human element: Using emotional touches can help people connect with your products or services on a more personal level.
    • Element of surprise: An unexpected plot twist is a great way to hold the reader’s attention.
    • Descriptive words: Readers like to see a story in addition to hearing or reading it. Use descriptive language that appeals to the five senses to help paint the picture in their minds in a way that will make your brand story more memorable.


  • A clear beginning, middle, and end: The beginning should be attention grabbing, the middle should maintain the reader’s interest, and the end should bring the story to a nice close that shares the outcome, if applicable, and give readers a clear call to action.

Tips for Telling Your Story

Once you know what to include in your story, it’s time to tell it. It may seem like a pretty natural thing to do since we tell stories to our families, friends, and co-workers almost daily. However, it’s not always that simple. Jiwa says “It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if you don’t understand the worldview of the person who will buy it. The first step to mastering the art of brand storytelling and being a better marketer is to stand in your customer’s shoes.” From there, here are a few good storytelling pointers to keep in mind.


First, practice! If you will be sharing your story in front of an audience or recording it, practice in front of family, friends, and even colleagues. This will help you perfect your volume, tone of voice, hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions, as well as how to pace your story. All of these elements are important for creating a more captivating story for the audience.


If you are writing your story for a blog, email, brochure, or other written format, include small paragraphs and bullet point lists to help make it easier to read. Also, make sure your voice is consistent throughout, the story is paced well, and that you use punctuation properly.

Storytelling is a powerful tool for your business or organization, and best of all, it’s free. Take some time to find your best stories and start telling them!

Posted 11 Jul 2017

Why Your Why Matters

Cause and effect. Beginnings and ends. Questions and answers. You can’t have one without eventually finding the other. Business basics are full of these types of unions. Each leadership decision will have a corresponding result. Every campaign launch will eventually come to an end. And sometimes just asking your employees the right questions will get them all the way to the answer.

The same principle should dominate your marketing tactics. The vision for your brand needs to be clear and well communicated – the kind of clarity where each employee can articulate the vision immediately. Your purpose should be sturdy enough to build an entire brand on top of it. That’s REALLY sturdy. So how do you do it? Determine the why.

Your why matters. You are halfway to the goal when you know the motive behind what you’re doing. There’s no one way to identify it and no easy way to articulate it, but there are a few questions you can ask to put you on the path of discovering your purpose.

  1. What change did you want to make when you started your business?
  2. How will the pursuit of such change make a bigger difference?
  3. What are your business’ greatest strengths?
  4. What is the greatest value your business can contribute to the world?
  5. How does your brand fit in when you look at the changes others wish to see in the world?
  6. How will you articulate your purpose in a way that will create trust among your audience and support of your brand?
  7. What makes you feel alive?
  8. How can your purpose motivate the people you work with?

Take a look around and you’ll see plenty of examples of brands that know exactly what their why is. TOMS, Warby Parker, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola are just a few that have discovered their why, not only from a business standpoint but also their why for changing the world around them.

Once you identify your purpose and spend good time processing the full vision, your brand can more easily slip into a customized plan of action tailored to its unique shape.

You can’t set sail without a destination in mind or it turns into merely drifting. Don’t drift. Be proactive. Brand purpose should not be a whisper, but a shout. Not a suggestion, but a declaration. Practice daily the discipline of asking yourself why you’re doing that and how it’s going to get you there. Wherever there is.

Posted 07 Jul 2017

Brand Perception & Economic Development: Janus Forum Family Feud

We had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2017 Janus Forum in Rabun County, Georgia in May 2017. The Janus Forum is a program of the Janus Institute, and we were asked to give a presentation at this year’s event. Rather than just stand up and lecture, we wanted to truly show the value of branding and how it relates to economic development. Our goal was to start a conversation that would inspire participants to put themselves in the shoes of the people who live in the communities they are trying to build up. We wanted participants to have fun and walk away with a refreshed perspective, which led us to create a Family Feud-style game, as we knew it would be a fun experience and generate great conversations!

To prepare for the game, we sent out a survey to a selection of both individuals that work in the field of economic development as well as related fields, such as site selection and elected officials. We also surveyed our connections within the general public so we could gather information on how people that do not work in the field understand economic development.

We had the group split into two teams or “families” and had each choose a captain that would start the game off. As we began reviewing the rules, it was obvious who of these nationally renowned economic developers had their own little Family Feud guilty pleasure. For those of you not familiar with the rules: the host reads the question and the first person to hit their buzzer would have three seconds to answer. The team with the highest ranking answer would have the opportunity to pass to the other team or play. If they chose to play, the rest of the team members would take turns guessing the answers. If they guessed three wrong answers, the other team would have one chance to guess and if they guessed correctly, they won that round. The team with the most winning rounds wins the game.

economic development

Branding & Economic Development

We started the game with questions that lead to discussions on the importance of community branding in economic development. As expected, economic developers and those working in related fields feel that community branding is extremely important to economic development. With that baseline understanding, we moved on to what the public understand about branding and economic development.

For our survey, we asked consumers to give us their thoughts on the importance of branding for businesses, as well as how brand names affect their decision making process. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being least important and 10 being most important, the majority of survey respondents rated the importance of branding for businesses between as an 8, 9, or 10. Similarly, the majority of our respondents said that up to 75% of their decisions are based on brand names. No big surprise there.

economic development

What Does Economic Development Mean?

Interestingly, when surveyed about what they think “economic development” means, the respondents from the general public gave varied answers. We got some great answers that included some of the elements of economic development, such as:

  • Improving the quality of life and standard of living and average wages for people in the community
  • The act of bringing and retaining businesses within a specific geographic area
  • Promoting a destination/city/state to businesses, tourists and other investors
  • Marketing to attract revenue
  • Creating jobs
  • The development of the economy
  • Creating interest in a particular community based on items such as tax rate, skilled workforce, social services, arts and recreation, etc.

However, the majority of our survey respondents indicated that they had no idea what economic development is, and even though they feel this way, the majority also indicated that they felt branding is significantly important for communities. As we shared these answers with the group, they shared that they sometimes have trouble even explaining what economic development is to others. The more we discussed this, the more we all realized there is a great need for a solid elevator pitch for economic developers to use when explaining what they do and how it impacts a community at large.

From this, we can also see that there is an opportunity for those working in the field of economic development to get to know the communities they serve. This will help them better understand the perspective of the residents in these communities and allow them to better explain the value their services can provide, even breaking it down in a way that will showcase the benefits of economic development on a community and personal level.


Brand Loyalty & Millennials

If people really do make the majority of their decisions based on a particular brand, it’s likely that they use the same process to choose which community they would like to live in. When you think about decision making based on brands, there is always a buzz about what the Millennials think. In fact, this had been a topic of conversation at the Janus Forum the previous day, so we adjusted our game a little so that we could have a deeper conversation about this generation and how branding drives their choices. This was especially important to include since younger economic development professionals are a group that the Janus Institute would like to build more connections with, and because they are currently at a stage of life where they are establishing their careers, starting families, and looking for a places to live, work, and put down their roots.

This demographic tangent sent us in search of the facts. According to a past report from Inc. Magazine, Millennials are the most brand loyal group out there. With that information at hand, we wanted to discuss which brands Millennials spend their money with. The University of Alabama recently conducted a survey aimed at identifying brands that Millennials are most loyal to when making purchase decisions. According to the survey results, the top eight brands Millennials are most loyal to are:

  1. Nike
  2. Apple
  3. Target
  4. Amazon
  5. Coca-Cola
  6. Lulu Lemon
  7. Starbucks
  8. Victoria’s Secret

economic development

As we revealed the answers to the group, some were surprised to learn that these were the top ranking brands, due in part to some viewing Millennials being very loyal to smaller brands and entrepreneurs that sell their goods in local shops and websites like Etsy. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Amazon because most people viewed it as more of a curator of goods rather than a brand itself.


Perspective is Everything!

Overall, the game allowed us all to take a step back and remember that perspective is everything no matter what industry you’re in, and that’s why it’s important for economic development professionals to learn about the communities they are working with and the perspectives of the residents as they work toward making these communities the best places to live, work, and play.

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