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Creating a ‘brand’ new business signature

A new full-service branding agency provides all aspects of marketing, branding, and other business strategies

by: RON HALVORSON/SPECIAL TO THE CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Left to right: Anthony Tarantino, Serenia Groth, Layla McGlone, and Shawn Peschel,  of Creative Groth

There was a time when getting the word out about your business was easy. Put up an attractive sign, purchase a few ads in the local media – both print and radio – and you were set. You might even buy some stock business cards from the local printing shop and hand out free calendars at the beginning of each year.
   Those times are gone, according to Serenia Groth, founder of Prineville’s new full-service branding agency, Creative Groth (pronounced groth). Today, more is required. Much more.
   “We do all aspects of marketing, branding, web development, PR, printing, social media, and business strategies,” she said.
   Company branding, just like its livestock-related equivalent, is a modern-day means of identification.
   “Branding is essentially a company’s signature, how you’re known,” explained Layla McGlone, a member of the Groth team whose specialties are creative writing and concept strategies. “It’s your signature colors. It’s your tagline. It’s your image. Branding makes sure there’s consistency in your communication and the presentation of your company. It’s all-encompassing of a company’s communication and outward presentation to the world of who they are.”
   Nike is a prime example, Groth offered. Their brand goes far beyond the ubiquitous swoosh.
   “It’s everything that encompasses the ‘Just Do It’ campaign, the swoosh, to how they present themselves in giving back to the communities,” she explained. “That all becomes their brand and how they’re perceived. It tells people who they are.”
   “When it comes to branding,” added McGlone, “there’s so much more that goes into it than a well-designed logo, or a great magazine layout, or television ads.”
   McGlone emphasized that in today’s world, a business needs experts who understand the technology that’s available, because the Web and its related environs are where most of our communication takes place.
   Businesses really don’t have a choice, according to Groth.
   “These days, with technology,” she said, “you have a presence on the Internet. Whether you want it or not, it’s there. If you’ve ever sold anything, if anyone’s ever talked with you, you have a Web presence.”
   The result, McGlone said, is that people have the ability to either promote or tear down businesses through social media. Businesses no longer control their messages – the consumers do – and if not handled properly, a business can suffer the results of a negative firestorm.
   A case in point, she said, stemmed from an experience a country music artist had in 2009 with United Airlines. His guitar was damaged during baggage handling, and when United refused to compensate him, he made a YouTube music video that went viral.
   “If you Google United,” McGlone said, “his negative campaign against them came up and ranked higher than their website and their message, and marketing, and branding.”
   “Which cost them millions,” added Groth.
   At last count, the music video “United Breaks Guitars” has been viewed more than 12 million times. As a result, United Airlines stock reportedly took a 10 percent nosedive, and the company lost nearly $30 million.
   “Negative stuff can always happen,” McGlone said, “but how are you going to respond? If you (as a customer) have a bad experience and you Facebooked it or Tweeted it, all of a sudden you’ve just told 10,000 people that the service sucks, or the food was not very good. That’s a huge loss of revenue. Especially if they (the business) don’t have a Facebook or social media presence. They don’t know about it. They don’t keep up with that. You have to be in position to use the tools and technology that’s available to counteract some of this stuff.”
   Both agreed that branding is even more important for smaller businesses if they want to participate in today’s marketplace. A business might do fine without it, but they won’t be in the mainstream if their business doesn’t pop up with a Google search, they won’t get the business.
   “When the consumer does a Google search they want to see that company.” Said Groth, “It’s their image. Do they look professional? Who am I letting into my house? If you’re doing well, and you don’t have a website, think of how much better you could do with a well designed website.”
   “Every business should have three things: a quality logo, business cards, and a website. Those are the basics, and they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.”
   Groth started her business in Bend, in 2009, after working in art, design, marketing and branding for 15 years. She moved it to Prineville – where she’s lived since 1999 – last March.
   “The economy’s not great, but it’s a perfect time to start a business,” she said. “It just seemed like a great opportunity. I’m shocked every day by the talent that’s here in Prineville, and the people I meet, and everything. It’s a nice community. I really like it.”
   Groth has immersed herself in the local chamber of commerce, and serves as marketing chair on its board of directors. She’s also worked with the Chamber to teach classes to local business owners, showing them how to take control of their media presence, including the ins and outs of Facebook.
   “Prineville is hungry,” she said. “They want to know. They just don’t know where to begin. So where do you begin? Facebook. There’s doing Facebook, and then there’s doing Facebook effectively.”
   “There’s so much growth,” observed McGlone. “Prineville’s right on the verge of exploding. We’re that bridge between a lot of gifted and savvy business owners who just want to focus on what they do, and do that best, and then we can help support them.”
   “Every day I have people walking in, really wanting to know what we do, how we can help them, things like that,” said Groth. “Somebody comes in frustrated and upset, and then I get to help them.
   “I definitely see us growing and expanding.”