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Branding your Business for the New Year

 Branding your Business for the New Year

The new year 2018 is fast approaching and is sure to be filled with a myriad of New Years Resolutions of getting fit and healthy.

After all the eating, drinking and merriment most people want to buckle down and really focus on their goals.While achieving your health goals is important, accomplishing your business goals is also desirable with this fresh start attitude. With only 21 days left in the year its time to start thinking about branding for your business in the new year. 

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Right now you are busier than ever with Holiday Parties, shopping, and making travel arrangements.

Branding your business is probably not a top priority right now. But unlike reaching your weight loss goals, branding takes a little bit more preparation. It is important to take a look at your business goals for the new year and focus on where you want to be. 

Why is Branding your Business even important for the New Year?

The New year lends the opportunity for a fresh start. Take this time to give some much needed love and attention to your business. It is the perfect opportunity to reveal a new logo or website. People are ready and receptive to change in the New Year so this is the time to launch a new product or campaign.

Customers are searching for answers in the new year!

They want to have the best year and will need the best products to achieve it. So that’s where your business comes in to serve their needs. Your products or services do not have to change but repacking them in a fresh new way is the jumpstart your business needs for the New Year.We have compiled a checklist to help you get ready for branding your business for the new year. 

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1. Know your Audience

This seems self-explanatory but it is actually something businesses struggle with regularly. There is this disconnect between who your desired audience is and who your real audience is. When you know your audience you can identify what their needs are.

“If you want to create messages that resonate with your audience, you need to know what they care about.”

-Nate Elliott Marketing Technical Advisor

When you know their needs you will know how you can serve them. Be exact and as detailed as possible when you are honing in on your audience. What kind of car do they drive? How old are they? What do they do? What are they searching for late at night on google? 

If you would like a professional branding session with us to help you identify your brand please go here to schedule a meeting. 

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2. Be your own mirror

As a Business owner, it can be hard to identify your own shortcomings and flaws. Perhaps you are the type of person that takes on too much and has a hard time delegating? Or if you have poor time management skills. Whatever the case may be for the new year it is important to take a long hard look in the mirror at these things because they are holding your business back. Once you identify your flaws you can brand your business plan around them to ensure your success in the new year. 


3. Know your Why? 

Knowing why you wake up in the morning is important. Having a sense of purpose is something that all humans crave. Meaning is what makes our efforts valuable. Knowing your business why will make or break your success. If your why doesn’t make you cry you will never be successful

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. What you do simply proves what you believe”

-Simon  Sinek 

The reason it is so vital to know your why with your business is because your why will dictate how much pain you are willing to go through in order to be successful. Houses don’t always sell right away. Clients aren’t always happy. And sometimes you have to put your employees needs ahead of your own. Knowing why you are willing to go through the hard times will ensure your success in the business booming times. Your why will also dictate your brand. 

For example: Alan is passionate about helping underprivileged children because he himself grew up poor. So he decides to open a tutoring business where he has youth outreach programs. In the beginning, its going to be difficult to get his business to turn a profit. However, he is going to see an immediate return when the kids he helps are achieving higher grades. This is going to push him to move forward with his business even when times are tough. His brand is going to be a reflection of his passion for community and voluntarism. 

4. Evaluate your current Brand

How old are your marketing materials? Do they reflect your brand’s message? How old is your website? Or even worse how old are your lifestyle photographs and headshots? All of these things need to be updated in the new year. It is okay for your brand to change because that shows growth both personal and professional. You were in a completely different place when you open your doors two years ago. You have made mistakes, learned better ways of doing things, and who your audience really is. So make sure that your brand reflects this growth. 

If you would like to schedule a meeting with us to help you evaluate your brand and create new marketing materials you can do so by jumping on our schedule here


5. Set your goal for the New Year

Where do you want your business to be? Once you have a goal in mind you can build off of that for your branding. A goal is the clearest picture of what your brand needs to reflect. If you want to achieve a goal of selling every house you list in less than a week than your brand news to reflect to your buyers that you invest all the resources possible into listing homes so they sell quickly and for quality offers. 




How to photograph the Eclipse with your Smart Phone

Blackhound Creative Werks, Photography Eclipse Smart Phone, Columbia SC 


The Great American Total Solar Eclipse is coming…

As we approach the Total Solar Eclipse here in Columbia South Carolina, a lot of people are wondering how they will photograph this once in a life time event? Is it even possible to use a smart phone to capture the Eclipse? Will it ruin my phone camera? At what stage can I photograph the Eclipse? At Blackhound Creative Werks we specialize in photography so we have some awesome tips on how you can use your smartphone to photograph the Total Solar Eclipse. 

Practice makes perfect!

Practice taking pictures of the Solar Eclipse? 

Yes! Professional photographers spend decades practicing to get quality eclipse shots. It is a very difficult feat because it’s dark and you can’t look directly at the Eclipse until it’s in Totality. They use expensive filters and telescopes, but for the average American a smart phone will be the camera of choice. We suggest that you practice photographing the eclipse because this event is something many of us have never experienced before AND it is said to be really earth shattering.

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A total solar eclipse is something that you experience both visually and physically.

As the moon covers the sun the temperature will drop a noticeable amount because the radiant heat from the sun will be gone. Birds and animals will bed down, it will get quiet, and dark. There will be a lot of people around as well so it can get overwhelming. Even expert eclipse chasers have been awe struck during totality and unable to think straight, leaving their camera lenses on. With that being said practicing before the event will help you get a good photograph because there is going to be so much going on. 


How does one Practice taking Eclipse photographs?

Blackhound Creative Werks, Photography Eclipse Smart Phone, Columbia SCFirst make sure you have proper Eclipse glasses because there have been a lot that have been recalled. It is best to get them from a certified manufacturer to ensure they have the proper filters for viewing safety. It is best to practice at night when the moon is out because it is going to be dark when the eclipse occurs. You can use your eclipse glasses as a filter around your smart phone camera. The reason is because the Eclipse is going to be so powerful that it can damage your cameras sensitive sensor. Practicing on the moon also helps you gauge the right distance you will need to zoom in on Eclipse Day. 

You will also want to adjust your camera settings on your smart phone:

  1. Turn off flash and autofocus so your camera phone doesn’t try to autofocus or flash ruining your photo and the experience for others. 
  2. Reduce your exposure by sliding it down so that it controls the amount of light that comes in the lens. It is the sun icon on the camera app in your smart phone. 
  3. You can buy a filter for the lens if you do not want to fuss with using eclipse glasses as a make shift filter.
  4. You can also buy some inexpensive lenses for smart phones that will help with your zoom capabilities.
  5. Download an app to help you capture more details of the eclipse or even allow you to capture the images in RAW picture format rather than jpeg. 
  6. Setting up a tripod for your phone will ensure stability so the picture wont be blurry. 
  7. Understanding the different phases of the Eclipse is important as well because you don’t have to use a filter the entire time. In fact if you leave your filter on during totality it will ruin your picture all together. See the graphic below for the different phases of the eclipse. The last image is totality and this is when you can take your filter and glasses off. 
  8. Take one or two photos and then turn your phone off and enjoy the moment. An eclipse can be captured on camera but that cant compare to viewing it with your own eyes.

Blackhound Creative Werks, Photography Eclipse Smart Phone

We hope that these tips were helpful and we can’t wait to see everyone’s posts. Remember the hashtag for the event is #totaleclipsecae. Be sure to check out what we are doing the day of on our social media Blackhound Creative. Happy Photographing everyone! 



Meet Our Newest Team Member!

Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to everyone for your kind thoughts and patience while I was out on maternity leave.  Spending that time with my daughter is time I will truly always cherish.  On that note, I’d love to introduce you to a new Blackhound team member. 

For those of you that don’t know on May 23, my husband Andy and I, delivered our first child. She was born in the evening after almost 24 hours of labor.  She was born at a whopping 9lbs 6oz, 21.5 inches long.  It was love at first site.  Meet Emma Daylyn.

Adjusting to being a new parent has been just that, an adjustment.  There is only so much you can prepare for with books, family, friends, and google.  No one truly can prepare you for the level of commitment you feel and experience once becoming a parent.  I’ve realized that having a child is somewhat like starting a business.  You all of a sudden find yourself completely consumed in the minute by minute tasks and emotions.  If you’re like me, you can’t focus on anything else and it takes some time to find balance again.  I’ve experienced this with both scenarios now. 

While she does cause me to lose some sleep and makes getting things done a little more difficult, I wouldn’t trade her for the world.  Emma is truly the most precious child I’ve ever seen.  She is our world.

I’m back now though and we are running things full swing.  I can’t promise I won’t have to bring Emma along on an appointment every now and then, but I can promise that Blackhound is back to giving a full 110% to our customers and clients.  If you have any questions about Emma, or the business…please don’t hesitate to call me.

Spring is Here: Get Ready for Home-Selling Season

Spring is when the weather warms up, the flowers start to bloom, and also when houses start going up for sale left and right. While it’s true Spring is the hottest season to sell a home – it also means it’s the most competitive season – so being fully prepared to have your house listed is extremely important. 

The first steps to take after finding a good real estate agent is to do basic maintenance. Make sure to complete any repairs to plumbing or appliances that you’ve been putting off. It’s one less thing buyers will have to deal with (and they don’t want to deal with).

Next, try to landscape to create an eye-catching curb appeal. Spring is such a great time for beautiful exterior home photos because all the blooms and greenery. Cut back any overgrown bushes and pull any weeds.

To make the master closet look even bigger, take all your winter clothes and put them in storage. By thinning out your clothes and organizing everything, buyer’s won’t be distracted.

Pay special attention to your kitchen since it is one of the most important rooms in the house to a potential buyer. Updating the countertops or giving the cabinets a fresh coat of paint could really set it apart from the rest.

If you have the time, you should begin to depersonalize your home. Painting any colorful walls neutral and removing family photos make a huge difference. You want buyers to be able to imagine their family in the home – and you don’t want them dreading all the painting they think needs to be done. 

According to Zillow, data shows homes sold from mid-March to mid-April sell around 15 percent faster and for 2 percent more than the average listing. So, if you’re wanting to list your home in primetime you better start preparing now!

Business Marketing Plan for 2017

Developing an effective marketing plan for your business is one of the best ways to attract clients and grow your brand. While creating a business marketing plan may sound elaborate and time-consuming, it is very much worth the time and effort because of the benefits you will reap. 

With 2017 right around the corner it couldn’t be a better time to start planning for the year. Anything you have in mind, whether it be designing a new logo, investing in new office space, or releasing new products/services, all of these ideas can be included in your overall marketing plan. Every goal is important in shaping the flow of you marketing plan and defining every business goal you have will help fill in the blanks in your marketing strategy.


One of the best approaches in creating an effective marketing plan is taking a glance at the 2015/2016 years and seeing which strategies did and did not work. Take everything that was positive and worked for your company and work it into the 2017 plan. Every strategy that failed, try to figure out why and brainstorm a new approach to take this year. 

In 2017, take a look at your business brand. Is your logo, design, cards, website, etc. consistent and fluid? Try to update and integrate all of these things to represent your brand and message as effectively as possible. We aren’t saying it is necessary to completely rebrand, but updated a logo or font text to something more eye-catching will make all the difference.

Further define and reach out to your target audience. The more you understand and know who invests and supports businesses like yours the more business you will gain. Ultimately it is up to you to decide what audience you are trying to target and shape your brand around that decision. 

If you like things tangible you may want to build your marketing plan in a binder with separated sections with different goals, ideas, products, services, etc. If you would rather have it all organized on a computer there are several programs that would work for creating a detailed plan. Try to keep a calendar of some sort with important dates or milestones you have planned for 2017 – that way you get a visual of what’s ahead. 

Last, but not least, take every plan and goal you have for 2017 and develop a budget to compensate for these goals. Again, taking into account how much you spent last year on marketing, make a chart to allocate money to each goal you have. If you plan on using outside marketing sources (such as Blackhound) then also allocate that money to its own section. 

Now it’s time to get down to business and start growing your business. If you have any questions about developing an effective marketing strategy or want to know about the services we offer here at Blackhound Creative Werks please contact us at

Favorite Holiday Commercials

With the Holidays quickly approaching (Thanksgiving is next week!) we have been seeing more and more of the holiday-geared commercials on TV. The commercials are always fuel by a powerful sense of emotion – whether it’s happiness, sadness, or love – they pull on our heartstrings in hopes of catching our attention during the holiday season. We scavenged the internet to find some of our 2016 holiday commercial favorites.


This Lexus commercial is sweet, more on the light-hearted side. This ad captures the spirit of the holidays by showing how parents want to enjoy “asking Santa” for gifts just like their kids. 


I love how this commercial has us laughing at the beginning and practically crying by the time it’s over. The commercial is extremely relatable for most and Comcast had me wondering how they were going to execute the whole thing. I’m glad to see the family spending time together for the holidays versus sitting around on their phones – one potential downside to having all those gadgets and WiFi. A commerical well done!


This is technically from 2015 but AT&T really got me with this one. We all have family members that just can’t seem to get off their phones and be a part of the family and it’s so nice to see AT&T acknowledge this common problem – they even decided to pull all ads except this one on Dec. 24th and 25th. This (almost) altruistic commercial will really score the mobile company major points for showing us what’s truly important during the holidays.


John Lewis is a British retailer that did a bloody marvelous job with this commercial. The visuals were not only stunning, but it gave me so many questions and confusion it kept my fullest attention. We’re big dog lovers here at Blackhound and this ad gave us the happiest of feels. 


Finally, an ad from Starbucks, the company that sparked major controversy last year for their holiday campaign pulling all holiday-related visual from their cups. While angering many people, others say it as a simplistic approach to seasonal items. This year they’ve brought back holiday decorated cups uniquely decorated by individual customers. It’s definitely a cool concept with a fun little advertisement to show them off. 


For more holiday ads click here.

Presidential Candidates & Marketing

DISCLAIMER: We are not proclaiming support for either Presidential candidate and will not be approaching this blog in a biased manner.


With the election of a new President just a few days away we’ve decided to take a deeper look into the marketing strategies different candidates past and present have used to sway voters. Companies use marketing to attract and engage their target audience in hopes of securing a new customer – in this same way a Presidential candidate has to accurately target voters with the best tactics to secure their votes.


In 2008, Barack Obama shook the political realm when he utilized social media to the fullest extent. The Obama campaign grasped the attentions of millions, got people engaged, and ultimately won the majority of votes to win the election. It was a technique not yet adopted in the political spectrum, but was seen to have a drastic effect on the outcome of the election. This campaign marketing was not only widespread but meaningful and forever changed the way future candidates would market themselves.


In this year’s current election, both Donald and Hillary have had a massive presence on social media. Trump is the more vocal on platforms like Twitter, which is why it’s no surprise he has far more followers than Clinton, but he’s has to stick his foot in his mouth more than once over controversial tweets. Here’s a good infographic to breakdown each candidate’s social profiles:



Overall, the Trump campaign has done a fantastic job of branding. Trump is a brand. “Make America Great Again” is driving and inspiring voters to do their American duty. He’s done a good job of targeting his ideal voter. Clinton’s campaign, while less of a stand alone brand, has relied on the support of Obama – which is why “Better Together” is such an appropriate slogan. The #imwithher hashtag took off and also gained her another edge in social media and marketing herself.


The ads in this election have been all over the place. At first it was positive messaging about the best aspects and traits the candidates offer America as President. A few weeks out from the election we started seeing a trend of more and more negative ads attacking the other party and “a vote for me is a vote against them”. Despite the negativity, these strategies are working well for each candidate. They’ve studied their audience’s feelings and reacted with the most logical marketing to gain the support from the last minute undecideds.


While most people stand with one candidate or the other. The important thing to note is how well each party has harnessed the right tools and learned all they can about their target audience in order to provide the most engaging and enticing Presidential nominee to support. Businesses can learn from watching each candidate sway voters, because these skills can be scaled down to fit a business model to capture the right audience and “win over” customers.



facebook live logo

Facebook Live: Build an Audience

Facebook Live is the newest feature recently added to the popular social media site. If you haven’t got a clue what Live is or how to use it we’re here to help. If you’ve already mastered the feature, but need some new ideas on what to post we’ve got you covered.

facebook live video

For a while now, Facebook Live has only been available on mobile, but just this week the company started rolling out the feature for computers/laptops. This way users can sit behind their computers and do live feeds instead of having to hold their phones the entire time.


Using FB Live is as easy as pressing a button and being completely Live with your audience. On mobile when opening the app the feature is immediately viewable in the top left corner. Click “Live” and you have the option of adding a description for your broadcast, which can be general or very specific. Then all you click is “Go Live” in the bottom corner and you can start talking to your viewers.


A few tips for those venturing into FB Live:

• Let your audience know ahead of time when you’ll be broadcasting live. This way you’ll end up with more viewers ready to see what you have to say.

• Also, before connecting live, make sure you have a great signal or even better make sure you’re on WiFi.

• The longer your video lasts the more likely you’ll see an increase in viewers. Since most people aren’t online simultaneously by extending the length of your video as different people log in you will notice more tuning in.


Facebook Live is the perfect way to increase exposure for yourself or your business since you are able to interact with your audience and engage with viewers in real time. One cool way to build a relationship with an audience is hosting a Q&A where viewers ask questions and you respond while filming. This real-time interaction is perfect for generating trust and gaining exposure.


photography real estate

August Real Estate Photography

Professional photography is one of the many services we offer at Blackhound. These are just a few of our favorite photographs from the past year.