Software Advice Asks Kaon CEO How to Improve Sales and Marketing Strategy Through Effective Brand Guidelines

marketing team planning and strategy brand meeting

Improve Your Sales and Marketing Strategy Through Effective Brand Guidelines

by: Andrew Friedenthal | originally published by Software Advice™, a Gartner company, on November 8, 2017

Have you ever seen a commercial for a sale, only to find out when you get to the store that the terms of the sale are different than advertised? The frustration that you feel is a direct result of a company with a misaligned sales and marketing strategy.

For companies that rely on branding to help sell their goods or services, this problem can cut even deeper. It’s unthinkable to imagine an Apple Store salesperson who isn’t up-to-date on the company’s newest products. That’s because Apple is extremely diligent about maintaining brand consistency.

Inconsistency arises from a lack of communication between marketing and sales departments. This problem exists at companies of all sizes, but can be especially damaging for small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) that rely on interdepartmental cooperation to survive.

Fortunately for them, brand guidelines are one of the cheapest, easiest, most direct and effective ways to make sure that your marketing and sales teams are on the same page. These guidelines exist as shareable documents, accessible to the entire company, that explain the vision, story and values of a company’s brand.

We talked to a variety of marketing, sales and branding experts to learn how they create and use brand guidelines. We looked at how these teams can collaborate in order to create a more effective sales and marketing strategy.

Here’s what both teams can do:

Marketers Should Be Clear and Consistent
Salespeople Should Pay Attention to Marketers
Both Teams Should Cooperate More

Marketers Should Be Clear and Consistent

Brand guidelines begin with the marketing team and the messages that they create. As Gavin Finn, CEO and president of interactive marketing company Kaon Interactiveexplains, “When marketers create value messaging, the customer’s expectation is framed by those messages. A great brand is built when the customers consistently experience what the company promised in their messaging. That’s known as brand alignment.”

Marketers need to create clear, consistent messages that can be easily understood by both their customers and the salespeople who will be directly interacting with those customers.

Victor Ong, director of marketing at Premio, recommends your brand guidelines provide a set of rules that “basically outlines the brand’s goals and what the company’s philosophy stands for.” He says that these guidelines should identify the following details:

  • They should communicate the proper spelling and use of the brand’s names.
  • What type of images should be associated with the brand and the company’s products/services.
  • Identify preferred marketing tactics that are encouraged versus those tactics that are forbidden.

It’s not enough for these guidelines and rules to exist, though. They also need to be easily accessible by stakeholders across the company, especially the sales team.

Cristian Renella, vice president of marketing and co-founder of MelhorEmprestimo, recommends sharing your guidelines via Google Docs, and keeping them constantly up-to-date. Everybody with access can suggest changes, which are ultimately authorized (or not) by sales and marketing managers. Constant iteration and improvement leads to greater brand success.

Just providing access to these guidelines may not be enough, though. Nick Leffler, owner of digital marketing company Exprance, says that, “There’s a bit of internal marketing required to make sure that branding guidelines are known to everyone and that they’re easy to access and understand.”

Your marketing team’s job doesn’t end once they create brand guidelines. They need to talk to the sales team and convince them that the brand guidelines are simple, useful and beneficial to the entire company.

Salespeople Should Pay Attention to Marketers

Once they are provided with access to the marketing teams’ brand guidelines, the sales team needs to commit to actually using those guidelines. As Cindy Donaldson, CEO of Red Barn Consulting, suggests, “The team needs to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid of the messaging.”

A salesperson who’s a good fit for your company will believe in your company’s core values. As Donaldson explains, you may need to focus on hiring “sales managers and sales teams that believe in the higher message and value of the company.”

When a sales team buys into the company’s values, visions and strategic goals they will develop a sales culture that links up with the brand guidelines and focuses on the positive aspect of the brand.

President of Global & Sustainable Products/Consulting Ernesto Mosquera explains, “The sales team has to concentrate on the unique selling points of their products and convince their customers about the products’ advantages. The goal is to keep the focus on their superior products and not focusing on the actions of others (the competitors who would offer lower prices but with less functionality) so as to foster a positive image and brand reputation.”

In order to make sure that the sales team focuses on these brand benefits, be prepared to monitor their work.

Bret Bonnet, co-owner and founder of Quality Logo Products explains that his company will, “record a random assortment of phone calls and review them later with each sales rep. We go over what was outstanding, average or what needs to be improved during each call. Having all of our reps go through this process gives them a chance to continually improve upon their understanding of our brand voice.”

Sales managers should be regularly reviewing customer calls (as well as emails), but it’s also worthwhile to have them reviewed by marketing managers. This way, the marketing team can have ongoing input into how their branding messages are being relayed by the sales team.

Both Teams Should Cooperate More

Although both teams can take actions individually to help improve your company’s sales and marketing strategy, they also need work together on creating, maintaining and implementing brand guidelines. Both departments can and should be working towards the same goal with constant inter-team exchanges and clear communication.

One way to foster interdepartmental teamwork is through creating a shared document which both teams can contribute to. Working together on creating and/or fleshing out brand guidelines will give both teams a stake in the ways in which they are distributed and utilized.

Tracy Julien, vice president of marketing at GuidedChoice, explains that, “This will help to unify and strengthen the bond between the teams. It also is a great way to get different perspectives, as you sometimes will find unique insight from co-workers who are not in creative roles.”

SalesCollider founder J. Ryan Williams describes another way for these two teams to work together on this project, particularly as a company grows in size:

“Initially small teams might allow sales reps to test many different kinds of messages, but once the company grows up and brand becomes more important, the sales development leader needs to work closely with marketing to ensure that messaging is consistent across all campaigns, not just outbound sales.”

The ultimate goal is communication and consistency. Marketers can’t expect salespeople to be energized by brand guidelines they’ve had no say in creating. Similarly, salespeople can’t expect marketers to create guidelines that reflect the sales teams’ concerns if nobody from that team is willing to help the marketers shape those guidelines.

Brand guidelines can help businesses execute a stronger sales and marketing strategy so long as they are a co-creation of both teams, a situation where everybody has a stake and is working towards the same company-wide goal.

Where to Start

Now that you’re thinking about how brand guidelines can help you improve your company, you may want to check out how various types of software can aid in your strategizing.

Posted in CEO Corner, Marketing Guru, Sales Tools | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kaon’s Augmented VR Solution Partnership with ASUS Featured in IOT Evolution World

Kaon AR Demo at VRARA Boston Midsummer Event

Kaon Interactive and ASUS ZenFone Launch Augmented VR Solution

By Chrissie Cluney, September 14, 2017 | Originally published by IOT Evolution World

Kaon Interactive, provider of 3D marketing and sales applications for global B2B brands, recently announced that its augmented reality solution, Kaon AR, and virtual reality solution, Kaon VR, are now available on the new ASUS ZenFone AR. Both solutions can be used on the Kaon High Velocity Marketing Platform.

The ZenFone AR is a smartphone that is equipped with Google’s augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, Tango and Daydream.

“The release of the ASUS ZenFone AR marks a whole new opportunity for enterprise marketers. Mobile applications that incorporate AR and/or VR will become increasingly important for B2B companies,” said Gavin Finn, president and CEO, Kaon Interactive. “Mixed reality offers an incredible potential to improve the way businesses operate. This kind of capability could be transformative for B2B companies, improving sales, decreasing costs and informing better purchasing decisions.”

With the release of the ASUS ZenFone AR, Kaon Interactive can provide its customers B2B marketing AR and VR solutions on one device. Kaon AR works on all Tango-enabled devices. It allows companies to interact with 3D AR product models in their customers’ physical space. The device offers 360-degree rotation animation capability. Also Kaon VR works on all Daydream-enabled devices to fully immerse users in a virtual environment, all within their Kaon applications.

The company has found that this is a cost-effective way to create an emotional connection and communicate a unique value proposition. This increases both sales productivity and marketing efficiency. As more Tango- and Daydream-enabled devices like the ZenFone AR are introduced to the market, leading global B2B sales teams will increasingly adopt the technologies as a competitive differentiator.

The applications are available in the Google Play Store, Apple Store for the new iOS11 and the Cisco 3D Interactive CatalogClick here to view a video of Kaon’s 3D AR product models in action on Apple devices.

Posted in 3D Products, Channel Partners, Geek Talk, Hardware Trends, News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smartphones Are Changing the Game for the Enterprise…

Just check out our teaser video of our clients’ products in 3D augmented reality on an Apple iPhone with iOS 11.


Then, read this article written by our President and CEO Gavin Finn in last month’s technology issue of Brand Quarterly for more proof points.

Reality Check: How Smartphones Will Change The Mixed Reality Game For The Enterprise

September 5, 2017 — by Gavin Finn | published by Brand Quarterly

You’ve likely heard about virtual and augmented Reality, but do we truly know how they will be used in business? As these technologies evolve, more and more enterprise applications will very quickly become mainstream.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are getting more attention lately, thanks to the launch of new smartphones making the technology more accessible to a mainstream audience.

Google was the first to introduce an AR mobile platform, which several Android smartphone makers quickly endorsed. Known as “Tango,” this platform is a combination of special hardware and software designed to allow the phone to augment physical spaces with digital data. Google also developed a mobile VR platform, which it calls “Daydream.” The Google Pixel smartphones include Daydream VR.

In 2016, Lenovo introduced the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, which was the first third-party Android phone with Tango technology built in. Very recently, ASUS introduced the ZenFone AR, which includes Tango technology. The ZenFone AR has the distinction of being the first smartphone to include both Tango and Daydream technology, ushering in the era of mobile mixed reality. Some are calling this phone “the one worth owning.”

Let’s step back and break this down for a moment, because it can get confusing. Augmented reality is the ability to take a real-time camera view of a physical space and superimpose digital objects within that space, virtually. Imagine seeing a superimposed (digital) microwave on an empty counter, for example. With augmented reality, you’re still in your real environment; there’s just a virtual, “digital” object in it with you. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is the ability to place a person inside a virtual space (like a virtual kitchen), allowing them to move around and interact with that space as if it were the real, physical world. With virtual reality, you use a headset to block out any view of the real environment around you, while you “step into” a completely new, virtual world. When we use both AR and VR (either together or as complements to each other), then it is known as “mixed reality.”

Who’s leading the charge in mobile VR and AR? Google’s Tango and Daydream platforms are becoming the Android platform standards for both of these new technologies. Apple has focused most of its energy on AR, and recently announced that its ARKit will be available on several iOS devices when iOS 11 is released. Apple’s ARKit has taken a somewhat different approach from Google’s – it is an operating system and software-based platform. Developers will be able to use ARKit to provide applications that include AR, running on standard Apple smartphones and tablets.

As more AR- and VR-enabled smartphones come to market, more applications that use these technologies will be adopted. These next-gen mobile devices will drive demand for a wide variety of AR and VR consumer and business applications. Now that Apple and Google have made strategic investments in mobile mixed reality, these two market-leading mobile platforms will facilitate rapid adoption and advances that result in mixed reality becoming the norm.

Pokémon Go offered the first mainstream exposure to AR. While the popular game spread virally, it only scratched the surface in terms of what AR can do.

For the next couple years, I anticipate most AR and VR applications to remain entertainment-focused among the consumer audience, meaning more games that allow for the inclusion of AR and VR will be released. Where it gets interesting, according to many of us in the enterprise space, is when they go beyond gaming – these applications offer an incredible potential to improve the way businesses develop, manufacture, market, sell, support and maintain products.

Take, for example, WayfairView, an app that makes it possible for consumers to use AR to place virtual models of the furniture and décor that Wayfair sells right into the customers’ homes at full scale. Customers can now see how these products would really look (and fit) before they buy. WayfairView uses Google Tango technology and can be used on the Lenovo Phab2 Pro and the ASUS ZenFone AR.

There are business-to-business (B2B) applications, too. Companies like GE, Cisco and Dell EMC are enhancing the way they market and sell their large and often complex products to other businesses via AR and VR applications. These applications are also available on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and ASUS ZenFone AR. The mobile experiences allow these Fortune 500 giants to save on exorbitant shipping fees, so massive products don’t need to be shipped to customer sites or tradeshow floors for sales and marketing purposes. Instead, the products, in their vast size and complexity, are visible and interactive via the mobile applications. For example, Cisco now offers the Cisco 3D Interactive Catalog via the Google Play Store; an AR and VR application, available for both Google Tango and Daydream, allowing interactive exploration of their products.

The potential to add this kind of capability to a wide variety of B2B applications could be transformative, improving product quality, reducing downtime, and helping companies and people make better purchasing decisions. An engineer, for example, could see how new manufacturing machinery would fit on the production floor. A lab director might explore how different options for new diagnostic devices would fit into her lab. A service technician could see how to repair an aircraft engine without using a technical manual. And an architect would show a client a realistic, immersive view of how a room addition would look, even before the project has started.

Each use-case would not be possible without devices and applications that leverage these mixed reality solutions. While consumers are catching on to AR and VR, mobile phone manufacturers are ahead of the game , producing devices that allow us to use the technology, whether it’s for sales, marketing, service or just plain entertainment. Who knows… we may soon live in a world where “dragons” walk the streets. One thing is for sure – it will be exciting to watch and participate as our new “reality” evolves.

Posted in CEO Corner, Geek Talk, Marketing Guru, News, Sales Tools | Leave a comment