How To Stay Motivated, Productive and Creative During Isolation

  • Monotony leads to distress and distraction, so switch things up!
  • Creativity is a muscle that you need to work out — and rest.
  • Declutter your mental and physical space to keep a level head.

If you’ve been working from home for a while, you may have gotten into the swing of a new routine. Still, it can be hard to get into the right headspace when you’re disconnected from your coworkers. Isolation can sap your energy and harm your productivity.

How can you boost your motivation, check off your to-dos, and think up new ideas? It all comes down to a few simple shifts that help break your mind out of its rut and get moving again. Here are some basic strategies you can implement to help yourself stay on track, even when you’re working in isolation.

Mix up your routine

Many of us wake up, make coffee, and check our emails and social media before officially starting our work day. That routine may be comforting, but if you’ve been doing it for years — and now entirely from home — it can become a rut that drags us down. Try switching things around. Start your day with a workout or yoga session, then immediately dive into your work. Avoid email and social media until you’ve knocked out some of your time-intensive tasks. You’ll likely get more done and feel a little less stressed.

Tidy up your workspace

When we all first started working from home, we heard all about the importance of establishing a dedicated workspace. Now that we’ve been there a few weeks, it’s time to do a quick check: is your desk tidy and organized or a chaotic wreck? It’s easy to become a workaholic when you work from home, and that sometimes causes us to neglect our housekeeping. A clean, well-kept workspace allows us both mental and physical space for new ideas to emerge.

Get your creative juices flowing

Burnout is a real possibility for people who are working hard to stay afloat during the pandemic, especially for those who struggle to disengage from work at the end of the day. With burnout comes a decline in creativity and motivation. Ultimately, it’s important to take a break to resolve burnout, but if this isn’t an option, try a creative activity, such as a puzzle or a bit of creative writing, to recharge your creativity.

Wrapping Up

Of course, you should check in with your coworkers as often as possible. But let’s face it: you’re still working from home, alone, without the exciting buzz of your workspace. That’s why you need to invest in a little extra self-care to keep yourself balanced during periods of isolation. Plus, it’s helpful to switch up your normal routine and physical space so that you can feel fresh and energized. Devote a few minutes each day to tidy up, reflect, and just breathe. You’ll feel much more motivated to tackle the next thing.

Successful Entrepreneurs: Sam Walton

Nobody expected a country boy from rural America to surpass the CEOs of the department stores that peppered the nation. And yet, one did. Despite early supervisors’ remarks that he was not suited for retail, Sam Walton ended up not only becoming Forbes’ 1985 Wealthiest Man in America, but he also transformed retail forever.

An Entrepreneurial Spirit

As a sales trainee at a J.C. Penney’s store in Des Moines, Iowa, young Walton loved working retail but found the emphasis on quotas and bookkeeping to be a distraction from his real passion: making sales.

After serving in the military, Walton returned to retail, this time as an investor-owner. With $5,000 of his savings and a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law, Walton bought a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. Newport, Arkansas. At the time, variety stores had meager offerings for rural Americans, who had to travel to metropolitan areas to make big purchases or get discounted goods.

Walton had an idea: What if he not only charged less for his products but also expanded the stores’ offerings to include what the department stores offered? His approach worked: Walton tripled the performance of the Ben Franklin store, making it the leading store in six states by 1950.

Unfortunately, Walton’s customers weren’t the only ones to notice his success. His landlord asked to purchase Walton’s business, and when Walton refused, he refused to renew his lease.

The Move to Bentonville

Not to be defeated, Walton picked up and moved across the state to Bentonville, where he opened his own store, Walton’s 5&10. He made sure that this new enterprise was located in the town square — and had a 99-year lease. Walton immediately rose in pop- ularity because he charged significantly less than the other variety stories in town.

Throughout the 1950s, Walton took out loans and reinvested profits so that he could acquire new stores. At each location, he low- ered the products’ prices to entice customers. By 1960, ten years after relocating to Bentonville, he had 15 stores to his name. Still, Walton wasn’t seeing the profits he needed to pay back his loans. Something needed to change.

Walton had a brilliant idea: He could combine the five-and-dime approach, popular in big cities, with the variety store model. He needed bigger stores with more products — all at a discount. Going back to his roots, Walton approached the company that fran- chised Ben Franklin stores for help. They were unwilling to accept the initial cuts in profit margins that Walton admitted would be necessary to make the model work.

So, Walton took out a mortgage on his home to put his idea into action. In 1962, he opened the nation’s first big-box store: Wal- Mart, located in Rogers, Arkansas. He was 44 years old.

The Wave of Walmart

Neither the variety store franchisers nor the major department store chains foresaw what happened next. Wal-Mart exploded in pop- ularity, quickly expanding to 18 locations throughout Arkansas and Missouri in just seven years. Finally ready to pay back his debts, Walton made the company public in 1970, and the company instantly generated $5 million. Walton and his family owned 61 percent of the company, ensuring that Walton could continue to bring his retail vision to life.

Walton didn’t stop there. He had a revolutionary approach to his employees, which he called “associates,” and gave them a lot of in- put on how to grow the company. In time, Walton expanded his big-box model to include grocery, automotive, and gardening sec- tions (Wal-Mart SuperCenter) and then launched a wholesale club for his fellow businesses (Sam’s Club).

In 1985, when Forbes named Walton the richest man in America. He had an estimated worth of $2.8 billion. And yet Walton stayed humble, continually looking to improve the Wal-Mart brand and bring value to all Americans.

A Lasting Legacy

On March 17, 1992, President George Bush presented Walton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing his entrepreneurial spirit and his devotion to his workers and customers. Just a few days later, Walton, who had been suffering from bone cancer, checked into the University of Arkansas Hospital. He passed away on April 5, 1992, at the age of 74.

In just 30 years, Walton had transformed the face of retail and created a brand with an enduring legacy. While big-box stores are now commonplace, they owe a lot to Walton’s vision.

How To Stay Motivated While Working Remotely

  •  Maintaining a routine and professional environment can help you stay on task.
  • When external motivations are removed, it’s important to set up internal incentives for productivity.
  • Avoid overworking by taking breaks and setting a schedule.

As people are now working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are discovering both the joys and frustrations of re- mote work. Some are finding that they’re more productive; others, less. Some are enjoying a sense of freedom, while others desper- ately miss their office and coworkers. Either way, it can be hard to stay motivated. If you find yourself procrastinating a lot or distracted by social media, you might need a crash course in motivational science. Most people work differently — and perhaps less effectively — when they’re not used to their environment. Here’s how to boost your motivation and get things done while working remotely.

Maintain a Morning Routine

Humans are creatures of habit. While you may enjoy that extra hour of sleep now that you don’t have to commute, it may be hurting your productivity. Taking the time to rise early, brush your teeth, and get dressed helps establish a boundary between work and the rest of your life. If you simply roll out of bed and start working, you’re obliterating that boundary. Instead, try to simulate the routine you’d have if you were going into the office to work. Take the time to get ready in the morning, and take a lunch break as you normally would. Having this personal discipline helps you maintain focus, which is key for motivation.

Treat Your Home Office Like An Office

Many people are tempted to work from their couch or in their pajamas. While that may be comfortable, it’s not conducive to your motivation. Think about it: Those are things that you do to relax, and your brain and body know it. No one feels motivated to work while lounging. Instead, put on professional clothing and establish a home office. If you don’t have a separate room to use, that’s okay: Take over one end of the dining table or set up a card table, then use that as your “office.” Again, humans get accustomed to their environ- ment, so it’s much easier to stay on task if you have a dedicated workspace where you can get into that mode.

Take Breaks

Studies show that remote workers tend to work longer hours. That makes sense, because they don’t need to commute and they’re less distracted by coworkers. What those studies don’t always reveal is that remote workers also work more hours. When there are no meetings or water-cooler conversations to take you away from your desk, it’s easy to overwork. That’s why many remote workers drift into workaholism. To avoid this, take plenty of breaks. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to keep your mind sharp and help you stay motivated. Here’s how it works: You work for 25 minutes straight, with no multi-tasking or distractions. Then, you take a 5-minute break to stretch, go for a quick walk, pet your cat, or whatever non-work thing you’d like. Science says that the human brain can’t sustain fo- cus for much longer than 25 minutes at a time. By taking a quick break to recharge, you can stay motivated to get your project done. Plus, you’re less likely to be distracted by email or social media when you know that you can check it on your 5-minute break.

Create a Reward System

As the kids say, “Treat yo’self.” Rewards are a powerful source of motivation and a cornerstone of work psychology for decades. Our brains release dopamine when we achieve something, and we can incentivize our productivity with a dopamine boost. If you’re struggling to stay on task, decide what “office perks” you’ll give yourself. Did you meet a deadline? You can have a cup of coffee or a quick game on your phone. Try logging your daily goals in your planner or notebook and assigning a reward to each one. If you complete your tasks, you can have a cookie. This system works especially well for remote workers who may have few external incentives (e.g. a boss cruising by your desk every hour).

Stay in Touch with Coworkers

With a plethora of virtual communication tools, there’s no excuse to not talk to your coworkers. Loneliness is the number one reason that remote workers cite as a reason they miss a regular office environment. And loneliness can be highly distracting. Plus, your coworkers are a source of motivation. You get inspired by chats with them, and you get things done in preparation for your meetings with them.

Without them being physically around, these incentives fade away. Keeping in touch through tools such as Skype and Slack can help. Establish regular check-ins to help ward off loneliness and boost your inspiration. You can even use your 5-minute breaks to send a quick message to a coworker. Being social goes a long way toward being productive.

Wrapping Up

Remote work often presents a distracting, disorienting environment. By following the above tips, you can take charge of your productivity and ward off distractions. Having a structured routine and a sense of connection to your coworkers can boost your motivation. Once you strike this balance, you’ll feel much more ready to conquer your to-do list.

Successful Entrepreneurs: The Story of Steve Jobs

In the early 1970s, an enterprising teen named Steve Jobs approached Hewlett-Packard co-founder and president William Hewlett and asked him for computer parts for a school project. It was a risky move, but it worked. Impressed by his initiative, Hewlett gave Jobs the parts — and a summer internship at Hewlett-Packard. For Jobs, this would mark the beginning of his famously passionate approach to innovation.

The Early Years

At Hewlett-Packard, Jobs met a young engineer named Steve Wozniak, who was trying to build a small computer. At the time, computers occupied entire rooms. Jobs convinced Wozniak to turn his hobby into something bigger. In 1975, they set up shop in the Jobs families garage and sold their most valuable possessions to fund their new venture, which they named Apple.

Just two years later, Jobs and Wozniak released their Apple II, which garnered $2.7 million in sales. Not only had they successfully launched a multimillion company out of a garage and only a couple thousand dollars to their name, but they had launched the era of personal computing.

Ahead of Its Time

As other competitors — especially IBM — entered the market, Apple’s followup products underperformed. Apple had primarily been marketing to businesses, but Jobs wanted to make Apple products available to home users. He debuted the Apple Macintosh in 1984. This was the first personal computer to feature a graphical user interface that one could manipulate with a handheld device (a mouse). Unfortunately, at a retail price of nearly $2500, it was out of reach for many Americans. Sales declined, and shortly there- after, CEO John Sculley removed Jobs from the board of directors. Jobs resigned in 1985 and sold his stock in the company.

New Ventures

Undeterred, Jobs founded NeXT Computer Co., which he intended to market to higher ed and research institutions. Debuted in 1988, the NeXT computer featured fast processing speeds, enhanced graphics, and an optical disk drive. The price tag of $9,950 was too high, though, so NeXT failed to take off. Jobs began to focus his attention on his side project, Pixar Animation Studios, which he purchased from esteemed director George Lucas in 1986.

Pixar’s debut film was an entirely computer-animated film, Toy Story. Released by the Walt Disney Company, Toy Story not only was a box office smash, but also established a new benchmark in animation. The world knew that CGI animation was a viable way to produce animated films. Once again, Jobs had launched a new era of technology.

The Return to Apple

After Pixar went public and catapulted Jobs into stardom, the now-struggling Apple bought NeXT and reappointed Jobs to the board of directors. At the time, Apple held just five percent of the personal computer market, still unable to create a computer that could provide what the public needed at an affordable price. CEO Gilbert F. Amelio ended up stepping down, and Jobs assumed the role of interim CEO. By cooperating with Microsoft, Jobs was able to speed up Apple computers. Suddenly the Mac was not only affordable but also everything that consumers needed. Within a year, Apple had become a multi-billion-dollar company, and in an act of poetic justice, original founder Jobs was back at the helm.

Marketing Strategies and Resources To Spike Your Sales During COVID-19

  • An inbound approach helps encourage people to trust your company and make purchases.
  • Digital tools can empower innovative marketing strategies such as virtual experiences.
  • Combining these innovations can help boost sales even during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected businesses of all sizes and types around the world.

As doors shutter and many businesses expand (or launch) their online counterparts, marketers need to find new ways to reach consumers while optimizing their operations. Is your business struggling in the face of the novel coronavirus? Let’s take a deep dive into some strategies and re- sources that can help.

Marketing Strategies for the New Normal

As more shopping and services become online-only, digital marketing is poised to become ever more important to businesses. While digital marketing is nothing new, the way that marketers go about it needs to change as they attempt to reach homebound consumers. The difference comes down to the basic approach. In traditional marketing, outbound strategies such as ads and emails attempt to convince consumers to make a purchase. Now, as people are sheltered at home and trying to minimize their spending, is not the time to push sales. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make sales. The key is to build interest in your brand through an inbound approach. Few people are willing to take risks in an already risky world, so they’re going to more suspicious of “sales-y” content that comes their way. Let customers come to you and encourage them to trust your brand. Here are a couple of ways to do this:

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Ask your audience to share their content on social media and tag you. It could be a selfie with your product or an activity that’s tangentially related to your brand. As people are bored in quarantine, they’re more likely to do this. The key to a successful UGC campaign is to invite people to participate in a virtual event. Generic requests for content won’t cut. Make the request part of a larger conversation and offer incentives for people to participate. For example, you could offer a discount code to people who participate, which encourages them to make purchases.

Virtual Experiences

Experiential marketing was just starting to take off when shelter-in-place orders swept the world. Thankfully, you can still create special events for your customers. Just do it virtually! Many businesses are offering free online classes, seminars, concerts, and other virtual events for people. This tactic is a great way to get people fired up about your brand. Use these events as a way to build interest in what you offer, then seal the deal with ticketed virtual events to create a new income stream.

Resources to Help Boost Your Business

Whether you had a robust digital presence or you’re in the process of building one, the right tools can help save you time and money. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to use automation, social media, and other digital tools to streamline your operations. It’s important to reevaluate some of your existing campaigns. For example, campaigns that focus on gatherings or real-world experiences won’t resonate. You may also need to ramp up your content to connect with people who are spending more time online. After you’ve re-envisioned your marketing strategy, draw upon the resources you need to cost-effectively put it into action.

Social Media Managers

HootSuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, and other social media managers can help you level up your content marketing. It’s easy enough to post three times per week and check the notifications once per day. But once you start posting more often, your numbers will rise — and so will your hours spent managing comments and replies. One or more of these tools can help you do this more efficiently.

Email Marketing Providers

Email marketing is the bread-and-butter of digital marketing, and MailChimp, Constant Contact, and other providers have been around for years. Even though emails are an outbound approach, it’s still important to maintain contact with your audience. What’s

neat about these tools is that they also offer landing page, social media integration, and other tools that are crucial to an inbound approach. It’s well worth your time and investment to expand your email strategy.

Livestream Platforms

Remember those virtual events we talked about? They’re often done through livestreams. The good news is that you usually don’t need expensive livestream software to do them. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all offer “live post” functionalities, and you can also do a live video via YouTube. For private events, you can use Zoom or other teleconferencing platforms. Just be sure to face your camera the right way!

Wrapping Up

Businesses are nervous about their future should look for ways to expand their marketing strategy into new digital realms. Carving out innovative virtual spaces might be the key to connecting with otherwise absent customers. However, developing a new market- ing strategy with an inbound approach is only part of the equation. Virtual communication/automation tools are essential to putting these new strategies into action and helping businesses boost their sales during the pandemic.

How To Communicate With Your Team During A Crisis

  •  Team members will seek out answers, so make sure that you’re sending out accurate, honest information.
  • Keeping lines of communication open is not enough; you must cultivate conversations.
  • Always answer questions, and always answer honestly.

Now that more employees are working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are facing new challenges in remote work. Latent problems in communication and coordination bubble to the surface, while the overall strain on resources makes it hard to be productive. Meanwhile, many people are experiencing stress or fear during these troubled times, and it can be hard to avoid carrying that over into work. How can managers and leaders help their team members become less stressed and more productive? The key is to put the principles of crisis communication into action. Here’s how to communicate with and support your team during difficult times, especially when you are not in the same room.

Expand Lines of Communication

It is not enough to “keep lines of communication open.” To help their remote teams perform their best, leaders must carve out con- versational spaces where there were none before. Being a remote team, especially if you weren’t before, means that you not only have to make a concerted effort to keep in touch, but also create additional channels for coordination. For example, many teams use Slack as a cheap in-office messaging app. Slack is too robust for this simple use. It permits highly customized chat spaces and project management integration. Those features can help teams do more than “check-in”: They can forge new feedback channels and promote higher-level organization of messages and file-sharing. In a time when clear communica- tion is crucial, a remote team’s messaging app must be able to facilitate this.

Be Authentic

The worst thing you can do in a time of crisis is to say “check back later.” People are hungry for answers and will easily spread mis- information if you are not sending official communiques. The chief principle of crisis communication is that you speak the truth — even if you don’t have all the answers. When communicating with your team, ensure that you are keeping them updated. In terms of the current pandemic, this might in- clude any changes to paid sick leave, layoffs or furloughs, remote work procedures, and so on. A strong crisis communications plan anticipates questions and prepares an honest response to each one.

Acknowledge Your Mistakes

During unprecedented and devastating events, it’s normal to not know exactly how to keep your team on track. You might have a mix of team members who are working from home or furloughed. Adjustments to remote work compound existing issues you had with workflow or accountability. You may experience pushback from team members who are upset by disruptions to their work life. During all this, it’s important to own up to your shortcomings. Think of this crisis as an opportunity to refine your management skills. This might include leveraging cloud-based collaboration tools to eliminate project bloat. You can also improve communication among your team through screen sharing, conversation logging, and other techniques of virtual collaboration. Let your team know that you’ve identified these issues and are looking for ways to make things easier.

Keep Your Virtual Door Open

If you had an open-door policy at your office, you need an open-door policy in your virtual workspace. Expect to have a lot of questions and concerns from newly remote workers — and expect to have your own concerns about team members who aren’t adjust- ing well. While you may not be able to immediately solve all these problems, it’s crucial that you indicate you hear these concerns. Consider creating a private chat channel for you and each of your team members, or schedule regular times to check in on their progress and answer any questions. During these uncertain times, silence can easily be read as bad news. By cultivating these conversations with team members, you can relieve their stress and help boost their trust in you.

Wrapping Up

Even as businesses are forced to work remotely and their employees experience confusion and stress, there is an important opportunity facing them. A combination of crisis communication principles and virtual collaboration tools can help remote workplace leaders better manage their teams. It’s critical that they develop and implement a robust crisis strategy and response to help team members feel less worried and more secure. By leveraging these tools, managers can help their teams be more resilient in the face of the pandemic.

Top Logo Stories: Netflix

The first Netflix logo was an unassuming swirl of film reel around the words “Net,” right before the word “Flix”. The font was a fairly normal-looking font with serifs. It’s thin and pretty nice for the 1990s.

It makes a lot of sense considering that the company began in 1997.

The Netflix logo that is best remembered is the second one. It was originally done in the Graphique font. It’s a bold, tall typeface that screams pop culture. There have been a few iterations of the logo since then.

Great things can’t last forever, but the iconic second logo is one for the history books.

Rebranding

The third logo is a change in style that is quite dramatic. The red background and outline of the letters was removed to make way for a stark, sans-serif font in straight red.

The logo lends a nod to the era of video games and HD streaming. It’s got a dramatic arch formed by the bottom of the letters and reminds everyone how strong the brand has become.

Capitals Only

The brand is so well-known that Netflix now shoots its own movies with major stars. They are doing quite well in this new venture.

Due to its importance in the video sector, Netflix now has an alternative logo of the capital “N”. Following the graphic trend of flat design, it seems to be formed by a folded red tape (or ribbon, depending on how you view it). There is a bit of shading on the ribbon to show what part is folded over what, but it’s notably flat. It still holds a lot of drama and stands up well for the brand.

Top Logo Stories: A Prime Logo

The name “Amazon” has become synonymous with the ability to buy pretty much anything. This appropriately named company started as an online bookstore, but now sells everything from food and baby supplies to computers and electronics. Founded by Jeff Bezos as “Cadabra” in 1994, Amazon is now a worldwide sensation with a highly recognizable brand and logo. However, it wasn’t always that way.

The Early Version

After Bezos renamed the company to “Amazon,” he pulled appropriate, if not-so-compelling, imagery that evoked the massive river of the same name. The first logo was an “A” with a river shape cut into it, set against a watery blue background with the name “Amazon.com” and tagline “Earth’s biggest bookstore” printed below. It resembled something that a third-grader might make in Mi- crosoft Paint. At this time, the brand was still clinging to the “dot-com” part of its name.

1997–1998

In 1997, Amazon abandoned the river imagery and adopted a simple wordmark, accompanied by its tagline. This clearly didn’t per- form well, because only a year later, Amazon changed the typeface yet again to a vaguely National Geographic-type design with a large orange “O.”

1998-2000

Still not satisfied, Amazon changed the typeface a third time to a lowercase serif and abandoned the orange “O” in favor of a curved orange underline. Some think that the curve is meant to represent forward momentum or innovation, while others believe it repre- sents the curvature of the Earth.

The Turn of the Millennium

It was designer Turner Duckworth who finally solidified Amazon’s logo into the friendly version we see today. Duckworth inverted the orange curve, shortened it, and added an arrow. The new design, which vaguely resembles a smile, now has a line pointing from the A to the Z. Duckworth made this choice to mirror the company’s expansive selection of products.

2012

Finally, Amazon dropped the “dot-com” from its logo, and effectively from its brand as well. Amazon now has brick-and-mortar sto- ries and technology that extends beyond the World Wide Web. The new logo retains the orange arrow but simply reads, “Amazon,” a name that symbolizes the brand’s promise to sell you anything you might desire, from A to Z.

Growth Hack Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign During COVID-19

You’ve probably heard that many businesses are shifting their marketing focus due to the pandemic. Instead of pushing sales, they’re leveraging the power of inbound marketing to build a resilient community around their brand. If you’re a startup or new business, you might be wondering how you can grow your community quickly, especially when people are cooped up inside. One key technique to do this is growth hacking. Let’s take a look at some different themes of these unconventional strategies and how to put them into action.

Use Influencers in a Creative Way

Classic influencer marketing involves a tradeoff: The influencer shares your product in exchange for a post on your page. This typi- cally only works if both of you already have established communities. If you don’t, it’s time for a growth hack.

For example, just a few years ago, Unsplash was a relatively unknown stock-image provider. They started asking micro-influencers to curate a collection of photos. Then, they both promote that collection. What makes this different from traditional influencer mar- keting is that it involves the influencer creating something with the service rather than just giving a shoutout. Now, Unsplash is widely regarded as a premium provider of free stock images.

Crash a Party

Ahrefs is a well-known SEO tool. While you’d think that they used their own strategies for their success, they actually used a growth hack to splash onto the market. They debuted a custom coffee cup design at the Brighton SEO Conference that parodied a Nutri- tion Facts panel with a list of SEO facts e.g “keyword difficulty” and “return rate.” A link to their website appeared at the bottom. This clever approach garnered them name recognition among the coffee-chugging conference attendees.

Similarly, HubSpot released a free tool to check your website’s SEO tool, then ensured that people could easily share the tool to their social networks. This helped HubSpot gain valuable exposure in established circles — without spending a dime on advertising.

Tap into FOMO

FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is well known among marketers for its ability to get people overly excited about a brand. People not only like to feel “in the know,” but they also like to feel like they’re influencing others. That’s why referral techniques work so way. Think about Gmail, which used to be invite-only. Google was able to quickly grow Gmail because it made having a Gmail account an exclusive club. Dropbox used a similar technique by rewarding users with more storage if they were able to get friends to sign up.

Similarly, the microinvesting app Stash grew its following with referral links that invested $5 for both the friend and the referrer. This technique worked better than traditional referrals, in which only the referrer gains the benefits, and Stash is now a robust financial platform.

Write Unconventional Copy

Phrases such as “Thank you for your order” and “We appreciate your business” are so overused that people simply don’t read them when they appear on websites and emails. To grow your startup quickly, inject a little personality into your copy. For example, you can take inspiration from CD Baby, which allows independent music artists to distribute their work. Their copy is famously quirky, such as “Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.” CD Baby is now the largest indie music distributor in the work. Another startup, Mint Mobile, offered mo- bile plans and phones at a steep discount. Using a whimsical fox-based brand and conversational, witty copy. For example, their FAQ section is titled, “You’re adorable when you’re confused.” Mint Mobile caught the attention of famously quirky actor Ryan Reynolds, who bought an ownership stake in the company. That’s the power of whimsical words.

Solve a Problem

We mentioned Mint Mobile above. Its unique selling proposition was that they would “fix everything wrong with mobile.” Similarly, the Dollar Shave Club aimed to fix everything wrong with razors. In their provocative ads, they take a brash approach to reaching their customers. It comes off as though they’re chiding the people spending $20 on a name-brand razor, but it works because those customers don’t want to be doing that. This tactic allowed Dollar Shave Club to splash onto the market as one of the more popular subscription services.

Growth Hacking Samples

Need inspiration? Here’s how some major companies got started with growth hacking:

AirBnB allowed people renting out rooms to cross-post the listing to Craigslist with one click. They essentially approximated the Craigslist platform for their own purposes. Very clever.

Groupon takes referral marketing to the extreme by offering deals only if enough people register for the coupon. If you can’t get enough friends to buy in, you lose the deal. Now that’s how you put FOMO into action.

Shazam grew via word-of-mouth by encouraging people to hold up their phones to speakers. Eventually, “Shazamming” became a thing, and Shazam became an essential app on people’s phones.

Uber offered free rides to their early adopters, which helped build a loyal customer base that would provide Uber with word-of- mouth advertising. By providing cheap, convenient rides, Uber quickly began to supplant the taxi companies.

Wrapping Up

If you’re launching a new enterprise during COVID-19, you probably want to grow your following quickly and start bringing in income. Try one or more of these strategies to help you stand out from the crowd and get people excited about your brand. Growth hacking is just that: hacking. Find established spaces and promote your product or service with unconventional techniques. If done well, you might just become a superstar in your industry.

Top Logo Stories: The Story Behind Target’s Logo

Iconic Brand

The Target Company started out as Dayton Dry Goods Company in 1903. In the early 60’s, Target, as we know it today was introduced in Minnesota. Target’s easily recognizable logo can be identified by over 90% of the people in the United States.

Attracting the Eyes

The first Target logo was revealed in 1962. A red and white bullseye with the word Target written across it in black script font. The bullseye logo was meant to grab the attention of customers with its contrasting colors. In 1969, the red and white colors were changed to black and white, but the resulting logo was not as memorable.

In the early 80’s, an updated logo featured a slightly new design. The bullseye was smaller with only a single white ring on a red circle. The colors, still red and white, were adjusted to be brighter and more noticeable from cars passing by. Moving the Target name off the bullseye also made the logo more eye- catching.

No Need for Words

The company name has moved around the logo since its inception. The original design had the name directly on top of the bullseye. By 1975, the company name was written in black capital letters to the right of the bullseye. In 1989, Target experimented with an unsuccessful red text-only logo. It was a flop and did not last a year. Customers associated the bullseye with Target, and the text was not the necessary feature. The company name has also been below the bullseye, but the main take-away is that even without the name, customers will still know the Target brand by the symbol.

Small Changes

The 2006 logo resembled the previous iterations, still with the red and white target symbol, but the name was smaller. The most current logo, revealed in 2018, has the Target name in lowercase letters instead of capital letters, underneath the bullseye. It is possible the change in lettering was hardly notice because the bullseye target remained the same. Target’s color scheme has always been red, white, and sometimes black. For almost 50 years, the Target brand has had a mostly consistent logo, giving customers a sense of dependability from the retail giant.