Project Overview: Santosha Yoga

Here’s one of the latest design and SEO projects to be completed…the Santosha Yoga site rebuild.

Santosha is a new yoga Colorado studio that opened its doors for business this past summer. The opening actually got a lot of really nice press from the City or Wheat Ridge and some great coverage in the Wheat Ridge Transcript.

Owned by Michelle Gindele, a Colorado native, the studio specializes in Hatha and Iyengar traditions.

One of Michelle’s challenges was figuring out how to have an internet presence that would not only be great looking and easy for visitors to use and navigate, but intuitive for her to update as well.

The site she started out with was slow (running on a UK-based, Flash CMS platform), difficult to maintain and lacked the aesthetics that she had hoped would be representative of the studio.

Santosha Yoga Studio

While we were able to easy meet all of her needs with the site, we also set up a Santosha blog on WordPress. This will allow Michelle to engage students and build upon a following she has already established through word-of-mouth and Facebook. By employing a little ColdFusion script, we were able to pull the latest feed from WordPress and display it on the studio website in real time.

If you are looking for a great yoga studio, make sure you check out Santosha Yoga in Wheat Ridge. You won’t be disappointed.

Developing a Brand Strategy

Over the past week I have been working on a brand strategy for a client. It is the first step in creating a larger marketing plan, and traditionally where I begin. After all, if you don’t know what your brand stands for, then you really can’t market anything.

With every client I start out at the same point, emphasizing that a brand is not just a logo or a color scheme. I make sure they understand a brand is much more. It is every experience a customer may have with a company. It needs to be functional and emotional; intrinsic and original; active and intentional. Leading brands are championed by everyone and, therefore, meet compelling needs, create a premium, inspire loyalty and insulate against the competition. And more than anything else, leading brands are responsive. They respond to customers, competitors, the market and any other influence that can have an effect on the brand experience.

Creating a brand, and the strategy around it, is rife with challenges. Sometimes the biggest challenge is within the particular company itself. I have met with a lot of clients, as well as leaders at large, successful companies, who don’t get branding.

Why don’t they get it?

Because branding is anything but tangible. The process of building a brand can be extremely abstract and metaphysical. It’s the part of business development where perception reigns supreme. Consumers are not rational. They follow their instincts and are driven by a hundred different factors at once. Successful branding has to be one step ahead of consumer perception. And the leading brands are very adept at this.

Branding is a Business Process

Where some chief executives and business owners can’t see themselves spending more than a few minutes picking logo colors (the full extent of their brand strategy), others know that branding is a business process.

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Twitter to Have Brand Pages

Twitter has announced a major redesign today that includes a big makeover for the public-facing profile page. The new look will take the profile in a direction that more closely resembles Facebook and Google+, with most of the user information moved to the upper left corner. That only makes sense considering that eye tracking studies have always shown that portion of a webpage to be the hot zone, the part of a page that is viewed first and with most intensity.Twitter saysthe changes will put “you and your interests front and center,” and will be “your opportunity to introduce yourself to the world [and] stay close to everything you care about.”

That’s all great, but from a marketing standpoint the real news of the day is Twitter’s decision to introduce brand pages.

While companies have been able to make use of a presence on Twitter, until today those branded profile pages have only served to push content to followers and respond to customer service requests. The pages are hardly destination unto themselves since company pages are really no different from user pages.

Twitter will now, however, give companies a way to showcase their brand. New branded pages will allow marketers to not only customize headers so that logos and taglines are featured prominently, but give them the ability to select a particular tweeted message that visitors see when they first come to the page. This, Twitter says, will help you “highlight your most engaging and important content and better connect with your target audience.” Highlighted tweets will also appear auto-expanded, so visitors can see the photo or video content that is linked from the tweet.

For entertainment companies and big budget marketers this could be a real enhancement to Twitter presences. Think about what it could be like when visiting the Disney Twitter page…now they’ll be able to feature video clips of upcoming movies right on their profile.

And for little company’s…what a great opportunity to highlight videos, links and other calls-to-action that can better drive traffic to your site.

AdAge points out in their article discussing the changes today that while one aspect of this decision to have branded pages is Twitter’s attempt to take on Facebook, another component could be Twitter’s attempt to make their own advertising products more appealing.

Either way, Twitter isn’t going away anytime soon, and branded pages will only make sure of that.

While they’re not available just yet, watch for the new branded pages. The big launch partners include American Express, Best Buy, Bing, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Dell, Disney, General Electric, Hewlitt-Packard, Intel, JetBlue, Kia, McDonald’s, Nike, PepsiCo, Staples, Verizon Wireless, NYSE Euronext, Heineken, Subway and Paramount Pictures.

Then it will be your company’s turn to jump on the bandwagon.

Google Maps Goes Indoors – Will This Impact Local SEO?

Google has announced that they have begun mapping indoor spaces, namely places like airports and malls. Starting this past Tuesday (November 29th) indoor mapping is available in the palm of your hands, helping you, as Google says, “determine where you are, what floor you’re on, and where to go indoors.”

Check out their promotional video:

To make this happen, Google has partnered with some of the largest retailers, airports and transit stations in the United States and Japan. You can see the full list of partners on their help center. At present, it includes nearly 20 airports, as well as several Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Home Depots and Ikeas around the USA. Shopping malls that are currently participating include the Mall of America in Minnesota, Vallco Shopping mall in Cupertino, CA and Eagle Rock Plaza in Los Angeles, CA.

Google is also encouraging people to upload floor plans of their buildings and locations, and that raises the question:

Will businesses that participate in the indoor mapping project get a foot up in search engine optimization (SEO), especially when it come to business listings in Google Places?

Ranking well for local queries is essential for local businesses to gain an advantage over competitors. As more and more people are turning to the web to shop locally, and using mobile devices to do so, it seems inevitable that inclusion in the indoor mapping project would contribute to an advantageous placement during local searches.

After all, it strengthens the accuracy of information about a particular business (and it’s exact location) and Google has always said that the most important thing for them is providing relevant and accurate data. That is, in theory, what the tweaking of their algorithms has always sought to do…to create the most relevant search matches.

So, while it is cool that you can find your way around an airport without having to find a directory, as a marketer and business consultant, I plan to advise clients located in malls or airports, or who have multiple floors in large buildings, to participate as soon as possible. It just might be the extra thing that puts you a notch above your competitors. And for companies, organizations or universities with sprawling campuses, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be chomping at the bit to get involved…the advantages of participating are practically innumerable!

There’s still plenty of time though. It’s still the early stages. Indoor mapping is an exclusive service for Android operating systems.

But it’s only a matter of time before iPhone users will have access too.

And we all know…this is going to be big!