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Creating an Authentic Brand

 

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A huge branding trend of 2016 is blurring the lines between companies and their audiences: authenticity.

The public is craving content that is genuine from companies they follow. It has been shown that consumers engage more with companies that make an effort to build a relationships than faceless companies that seem unapproachable.

People like knowing what your Brand has to offer but people love knowing the people behind the brand. Knowing that big name companies are run by people just like them ignites trust and gives them meaning for supporting a brand.  With the explosion of social media brands now have more opportunities to connect with their audiences on a personal level than ever before.  

Ascendant Strategy helps grow and connect your brand to the audience you desire through PR campaigns, social media management, brand strategy development and more.   

 

Ascendant Group launches office in Cairo to expand CEO Branding focus globally

Vantage BDS, an Egyptian business development solutions company signed a partnership agreement with Ascendant Group, the global frontrunner in CEO Branding. Ascendant’s unique service focuses predominantly on emphasizing and spotlighting to the public, the outstanding capabilities and expertise of professionals who are leading organizations and institutions within both the private and public sectors, which positively impacts the credibility of such entities, ultimately inducing a higher confidence level from stakeholders and enhancing their top line revenue.

“The success of any organization or institution depends primarily on the capabilities and performance of its people, from top management to all functional and operational personnel,” says Ezz Eldin El Nattar, CEO of Vantage BDS and now Partner in the new Ascendant Global Division. “However, a capable leader is the driver of success and therefore it is important to all stakeholders to be aware of the competence, aptitude and success stories of such a leader.” On entering into this partnership Ascendant Group CEO Raoul Davis added “Ezz ran the 9th largest business in Egypt at one time we couldn’t think of a better person to head our global outreach efforts in the region. We’ve had success in the United States, China, and Peru and look forward to helping CEOs in the region increase their visibility by raising their level of recognition within both their industry as well as the global audiences.”

Ascendant Group for over a decade have developed a proprietary 5 phase brand model, which has created a proven framework through which they execute a custom built brand acceleration program using core components such as brand strategy, public relations, social media, design, strategic alliance development, and book deals/marketing.

The official signing ceremony for this exclusive partnership occurred during the CEOs Summit, which will be held at the Cairo Marriott Hotel in January 2016.

About Vantage BDS

Vantage BDS is a business development solutions consultancy, established in 2003 with a mission to provide a wide range of organizations within the MENA Region with effective, state-of-the-art solutions to complex business-related problems. Their clientele range from startups to multi-million dollar enterprises within the private, public and government sectors. Utilizing their vast professional network and capitalizing on the diverse corporate experiences of their consultants, Vantage BDS has successfully developed and executed a series of creative business development projects and strategies, which have positively impacted the bottom lines of their clients in the most challenging times. Vantage BDS is an associate member of Global Trade Matters, the private sector think tank for economic and political reform policies.

About Ascendant Group

Built on referrals and inspired by trust since 2004, Ascendant utilizes a proprietary CEO brand development and implementation model that is amongst the most integrated in the world. With a clientele that ranges from multibillion dollar Chinese companies to mid size companies in the U.S., and retired professional athletes with business ventures, Ascendant offers a vast experience across a number of industries. Recently the company was named a Founding Member of the Forbes Agency Council; a designation reserved for some of the world’s leading agencies. You can learn more at www.ascendantstrategy.net

5 BRANDING TRENDS YOUR SMALL BUSINESS CAN’T IGNORE

When you’re a small business owner, it can be tempting to stick to tried and true methods for branding and promoting your business. However, the marketplace is constantly evolving, so what worked last year isn’t guaranteed to work this year. Because branding largely determines how your customers view your business, it’s critical to be in touch with current branding trends.

The following are 2016’s most important small business branding trends and how to best use them to your advantage.

1. Personal Branding is Now Mandatory, not an Option

Your personal brand and image as the owner of your company is just as important as your company’s brand and image. The two are interrelated and are equally important. For instance, would you take health and fitness advice from a business run by someone who appeared unhealthy and out of shape? If your personal brand doesn’t align with your company’s, that disconnect will put off potential customers and damage your bottom line. This methodology is called “CEO branding,” and it’s the art of using tactics such as PR, social media, book deals, speaking engagements, and award procurement to provide the clearest point of differentiation any great company has, its leadership. Our business Ascendant has been doing this for over a decade www.ascendantstrategy.net

2. Increased Social Media Budget

Organic reach isn’t dead but it isn’t what it used to be, either. In April 2012, Facebook for Business reported that pages organically reached about 16% of their fans. In 2015, that number plummeted to 2.6%. The fact is, if you want to reach a bigger audience on social media platforms, you’re going to have to pay for it. However, don’t despair. Truthfully, Facebook and Instagram are doing a great job making these services much more efficient and measurable than other forms of advertising. Twitter and Pinterest have followed suit. While LinkedIn advertising tends to be more costly and, in my opinion, has a while to go before it becomes a more efficient spend.

See the full article here: http://sales.hoovers.com/small-business-branding-trends/

Ascendant Group Branding Launching Global Division

The Ascendant Group, known for designing and executing successful PR strategies to enhance the personal profiles of CEOs and executives, announced it has launched a global division.

“We’ve built a company focused on exceeding the high expectations of an executive clientele – and we are thrilled to officially expand our services on the global scale.” – Raoul Davis, CEO

An established titan in the field of personal branding, Ascendant Group not only delivers top line CEO branding strategies but also works with business leaders to execute those strategies. Ascendant Group’s established clients, ranging from CEOs at $5 to $250 million companies to executives at Fortune 500 companies, often seek multi-year relationships with the company. Clients benefitting from Ascendant’s services have taken the spotlight in prestigious media outlets and have seen unprecedented company growth.   

Whether executives want to expand their brands into the United States or want to leverage the prestige US media outlets offer, foreign clients can rely on Ascendant Group’s experience to increase their media presence in the US. Ascendant Group is already serving clients in Peru, China, Switzerland, and Canada. The Ascendant Group’s promise is to secure guaranteed significant visibility for foreign clients within the first 60 days of working with them by utilizing public relations in the United States – a mandate the company has been able to fulfill for 100% of their current foreign clients. The value of Ascendant’s global division lies in exposure to the largest and most recognizable media outlets in the world. In turn, this global presence can impress shareholders, customers, and potential strategic partners.

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With the combination of a unique marketing mix and focused execution, the Ascendant Group has helped place clients in The New York Times, ABC News, and other high-profile media outlets.

If you would like more information, please contact info@ascendantstrategy.net or 302.450.4494 ext 202.

6 Steps For Creating A Better Company Culture Through Play

While change has always been a necessary component of business, never before has the pace of change come at organizations as rapidly as it is occurring today. To survive, leaders need to engage their employees in the creation of an “adaptive culture.” Without a resilient and adaptive culture, organizations are finding it increasingly hard to compete, let alone to jump ahead of the curve. According to Gene Jones, creator of the Triviation program for corporate training and an expert on breakthrough thinking, one of the greatest answers to this challenge is play. In a recent interview, he proposed the following six steps that businesses can use to leverage transformational play for building the adaptive cultures they need to develop as a foundation for long-term success:

1. Open the Door

How does leadership open the door to creative thinking? Adaptive cultures focus on creativity, and they foster freedom of thought and expression among employees. They allows ideas to flow up and down the chain of command, thereby providing a wider spectrum of fresh concepts to fuel productive change. Adaptive cultures encourage breakthrough thinking at all levels of the workforce, which greatly expands the mental resources that become available for maximum use. Adaptive cultures adore flexibility. In an environment of accelerating change, flexibility is essential. Without it, companies are left scratching their collective heads as the competition speeds past.

“This is the corporate version of Darwin’s survival of the fittest,” Jones says. “Thinking outside the box has given birth to modern titans such as Google and Apple. The same dynamics hold true for smaller companies as well. Flexibility opens the door for innovation, and innovation is as central to the success of any sized company as the wheel is essential for any sized automobile.”

Gene Jones, creator of the Triviation program for transformational play, has also served for 25 years as the creator and host of the trivia game show Gimme a Hint!

Gene Jones, creator of the Triviation program for transformational play, has also served for 25 years as the creator and host of the trivia game show Gimme a Hint!

Inspiring breakthrough thinking within an adaptive culture is a formidable challenge. Standard business structures frequently inhibit the development of flexibility, and the regimen of daily responsibilities often precludes the development of new thinking. Great leaders are seeking new methods to nurture this need. One of the answers is play.

2. Learn to Play with a Purpose

Jones maintains that one of the most exciting ways to create a more adaptive company culture is the use of transformational play, which involves the use of entertainment and games to achieve serious business goals. It is ‘play with a purpose’.  Used wisely, it becomes a powerful training tool that leads to greater creativity and productivity.

Since transformational play is not judgmental in nature, it minimizes participants’ fear of being criticized or embarrassed, which is the most prevalent inhibitor of open communication in most companies.

There are six initial steps in the transformational play process, Jones says:

  • Play a specifically designed game
  • Share relevant information
  • Ask Questions
  • Focus on Direction
  • Decide on course of Action
  • Work on details of Action Phase

3. Encourage Expansive Thinking

While transformational play can take many forms, Jones points out that the trivia game show format is evolving as a surprisingly effective tool. The advantage of using trivia games as the ‘play’ vehicle is that the company can imbed targeted information within the game itself, thereby accelerating the learning curve and encompassing the first two steps of the creative process.

By inducing what is known as ‘asymmetric thinking’, he says, strategically designed trivia games can lead participants to make new connections between previously known data points and creative ideas. Asymmetric thinking differs from linear thinking in that it causes the brain to fire in random patterns (in technical terms, it leads to greater neuroplasticity in the brain). By presenting different types of information in quickly changing random sequences, trivia games are highly effective at triggering asymmetric thinking. These random patterns access dormant mental connections in participants’ brains, and, of course, triggering asymmetric thinking in individual group members can lead to stronger and more inspired brainstorming sessions as well.

4. Start Listening

When targeted properly for the demographics of a group, a trivia game show highlights experiences that participants have in common. This helps to inspire better conversations and improved listening, and acts as a community building experience that helps groups to function better as teams.

For example, consider the possibility of turning the kind of information you would usually communicate in a Power Point presentation into a game show instead. This can make the information more memorable, thereby increasing its retention and use. Management has to remember that they have an important role to play in the evolution of an adaptive culture as well: they must listen actively and must be responsive to the ideas and suggestions that arise from their newly empowered personnel. As transformational play creates a more adaptive culture, it requires the active participation of management to continue and sustain itself after the learning activities are done.

5. Be Strategic
Companies can apply transformational play to any business challenge, such as ideation, product development, problem-solving, sales, human resources, in addition to refining corporate culture. The increased levels of creativity and expression can lead to epiphanies not only in the idea stage, but also in the action phases of any project.

6. Use Play As Practice For Change

The relatively new mantra of ‘play first to drive success’ is one that every organization should consider. Adding strategic playfulness into the mix of serious business is part of the arsenal today’s companies require to succeed in the changing landscape of modern economics. Those who ignore the benefits of transformational play in preparing and rehearsing for change may find themselves wondering why they have fallen behind.

To summarize, the advantages companies gain from the strategic use of transformational play include the following:

  • Inspire innovation
  • Facilitate healthy corporate culture
  • Expedite problem-solving
  • Foster communication and team building
  • Reinforce knowledge and clarify concepts
  • Increase productivity and growth
  • Enhance leadership skills and effectiveness
  • Streamline business operations
  • Improve competitive strategies

If you haven’t yet considered the power of transformational play within your organization, what’s holding you back? The answers to your challenges may be as easy as … play. For more information about the concept of transformational play as tool for corporate training or to reach Jones directly, visit www.triviation.com.

PR evolved

Abandon preconceived notions about public relations (PR). Today, public relations is a cross-platform communications action reliant upon traditional and digital PR strategies, as well as social engagement, content marketing, brand publishing, media relations, inbound content, SEO strategies and limitless creativity.

Today, PR includes social media, blogging, online reputation management, brand journalism, content strategies, thought leadership and more. PR is now an extremely broad and diversified field – it is no longer anchored to crisis communications, press releases and media alerts.

We’re talking PR...evolved.

There exists today a churning, swirling mix of initiatives that all, at their respective cores, are inherently linked to the actions of a corporation, enterprise, organization or individual to promote activities – public relations.

So What Are Today’s Core Elements of Public Relations?

The New Art of the Pitch

Pitches are fundamental components of public relations. Whether touting products, services or promoting company branding, a pitch should be reflective of the current and emerging areas of specialty and expertise of a business – or individual. Pitching takes finesse and patience.

To craft a pitch, determine the vital elements of what you want to share, explore market trends and competitive announcements to create a diversified positioning and make sure the pitch stays in line with existing branding.

The pitch you land on will power your press release content, media alerts and even serve as inspiration for social media shares. Today, pitches don’t just go to editors and reporters. PR pitches target bloggers and online experts with impressive Twitter personas and consistently updated, insightful blogs.

You are just as likely to send a pitch via Twitter as you are via email or even the now antiquated telephone pitch. Social media platforms have given rise to a whole new crop of new age journalists and market watchers – with followers galore.

Social Media Influencer Mojo

A component of PR is working with the media. Today, the media could easily include social media influencers and bloggers, not to mention a great diversity of ezines and blogging communities. Popular bloggers, Twitter greats and LinkedIn influencers are now very important targets in public relations campaigns.

Utilizing tools, such as Cision or Vocus, can help power social media influencer identification and engagement. Press releases are not enough – social engagement can make a big difference in attracting attention from media, bloggers, columnists and more. Incorporating social influencer outreach and engagement is now a part of any comprehensive PR strategy – one that relies upon active social media engagement on all levels.

The Rise of Content Strategy

Content is now more powerful than ever, as it carries awareness and supports brand identity, plus the opportunity to strategically generate leads, links and conversions. PR plans today include content audits and content assessments, enabling PR professionals to determine areas of weakness and winning measures occurring in active campaigns.

When it comes to content, there is a fusion taking place between marketing and traditional PR, creating a synergy of content delivery strategies designed to elevate a business on multiple levels, including SEO. Content strategy – touching on all critical and appropriate platforms for outreach – is the foundation of any PR campaign today.

In other words, you can’t do great PR without Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Pinterest. (Disclaimer: That may be an exaggeration, but you get the idea.)

PR is about creating, curating, managing, distributing and marketing content to support and promote initiatives, recruit media attention and develop brand loyalists. There was a time when public relations was the strategy, incorporating the creation of content. Now, it seems as though the roles have reversed, with content strategies incorporating PR tasks and tools.

Take heart, PR enthusiasts. In reality, this is all great news.

Any PR person worth a tweet knows that PR was always – always – about content development and content management. The difference is that in today’s competitive and mobile business landscape, there exists technologies and innovative tools designed strictly to create and harness content in ways never before imagined.

Today, you can tweet your press release, comment on market trends in your blog and share with key reporters, editors and superstar bloggers your latest and greatest updates.

It’s PR for the digital age – and it’s potential is staggering.

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