Lead411 Reveals List of Hottest Companies in DC

Lead4112222  begins the second quarter of the year with a lot of excitement for DC, as the company announces the list of Hottest Companies in the DC area.

As part of the Lead411 teams daily tasks, they go through more than 600 pages of press releases, as well as venture capital funding news, business articles, and more. This particular list originated from a total of 389 organizations/companies, and has been minimized to the top 24.

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Must-Have Branding Elements

When you think of branding, you likely think of logos, websites, and social media. These are all elements of branding that are necessary for your business. Let’s dive in to understand how to get started on each.

Your Logo

A logo is important for your business because it evokes a certain emotion or idea surrounding your brand. If your logo is boring and non-memorable, people may not be as excited about shopping at your store or your website. But if it’s bold and uses exciting colors, people will quickly be able to recognize it anywhere they see it (and they should see it in many places).

Consider what messaging you want to portray with your logo. Would a retro feel get that message across? A very ornate logo? A simple one? Look at other logos for inspiration.

Consider the role color plays in your logo. There’s a reason health food companies use green in their logos: it evokes health and freshness. On the other end of the emotional spectrum is red, which can symbolize passion and vitality.

I’m adamant that hiring a good graphic designer is well worth the expense for a small business. But there are also DIY options if it’s not in your budget just now.

Your Website

Once you’re got your logo down, move on to the branding behind your website. It should contain or complement the colors used in your logo for consistency, and your logo should be at the top of each page.  Again, consider messaging. What are you trying to portray with your website? Many companies think a cutesy Flash site is what their customers want, when in reality they want simplicity and functionality.

I feel the same about web designers as graphic designers: you don’t want to skimp on your website. Although there are many content management and blog-based options that you can use yourself, it’s worth it to find out how much a good website will cost (likely less than you think).

Your Social Media Profiles

Social media profiles provide you with another opportunity to brand your company using your logo and colors that match your website. You can now get customized Twitter pages and enhance your Facebook page with photos so that you create an attractive place for social media users to hang out.

Create customized Facebook tabs to connect users with your current promotions and coupons. You can set up a customized landing page so that all new visitors to your page view the promotion when they click on your page.

Keep in mind the communications you share via social media also counts as branding. Make sure the person in charge of your social media accounts speaks in the voice you want your company to have. If you want to maintain a professional image, using slang or off-the-wall updates on your wall won’t help you appeal to your audience.

Photo: jkirkheart35 on Flickr

Choosing Your Company’s Name

When you’re starting a business, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is your company name. You want something that’s easy to remember, catchy, and easy to pronounce. But with more companies crowding the marketplace, it can seem like every good name has already been taken. How can you possibly find one that will resonate with your clients, be available as a URL, and help brand your business?

Start by Brainstorming

Gather a few key employees and sit down to determine what you want to portray about your business. Make a list of words that describe your brand (or what you want it to be). Consider what types of names would help cement this as your brand. Do you want a name that is…

  • Serious
  • Professional
  • Whimsical
  • Made up
  • Foreign
  • Exotic
  • Reliable

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5 Tips for Creating Your Company’s Mission

We’ve all seen mission statements: they’re framed near the front of an office, or posted to a company’s website. Usually they’re nothing more than fluff that few employees ever take the time to read, let alone adhere to. But a mission statement should concisely explain why your company exists, and what it aims to do in the future. It should explain your company’s values and beliefs. If a potential customer can’t get a sense of who you are as a company, your mission statement has failed to do its job. Let’s look at what you need to know about creating a mission statement that has purpose.

1. Consider it from your customers’ point of view. What do you want your customers to know about you? What promises do you want to make them that you will deliver on?  Never overpromise in your mission; instead, use it to encourage higher levels of service from your staff.

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How to Run a Team of Welcomers

I just finished reading The Welcomer Edge by Richard Shapiro, and I got a lot out of it about customer service. We’ve all come to expect our experiences with call center reps, cashiers and customer service agents to be bad, based on the fact that many of them are. But think back to one or more times where you were pleasantly surprised by your interaction at a business. Maybe the cashier asked how your day was going (and meant it). Maybe when you called a customer service hotline, you actually got to speak to a friendly human being. Whatever your experience, I bet it stuck out in your mind.

Shapiro calls these people “Welcomers.” They’re the ones who make you want to return to that business. The ones that make you feel at home in a store. The people who make a business successful. He says that no matter what type of business you have, you can have Welcomers on your staff.

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What Does Content Marketing Do For Your Brand?

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A recurring theme in my blog posts is how hot content marketing is right now. I encourage clients to set up blogs to provide useful information to potential clients, to use social media to connect with customers. I found this data from MarketingProfs and Junta42 extremely interesting, as it shows the many ways content can help a brand increase visibility and sales.

Brand Awareness: Clearly, if no one’s heard of your brand, you want to expand your reach in as many ways as possible. It’s easy enough to do this through setting up a company blog, guest posting on other blogs and using social media to reach new customers.

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Want to Be an Expert? Start Answering Questions

If you’re looking to brand yourself or your company as an expert in your industry, one of the best ways to do that is to provide useful answers to questions people have. There are a variety of tools to do this. We’ll examine my three faves.

LinkedIn Answers

LinkedIn lets you search through questions in a given category and answer those you feel qualified to answer. The benefits are:

  • You show your knowledge to the question asker and anyone else who reads it
  • You have a link to your LinkedIn profile, which encourages others to connect with you
  • If you answer more questions than anyone else, you are featured on the front page of the Answers section

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Creating Your Conference Strategy

Exhibiting at conferences and expos can be a great way to introduce your product or service to your market, as well as make great contacts. But before you shell out the tens of thousands of dollars that an exhibit booth can cost, develop your strategy for why you’re going and what you want to achieve.

"Exhibit Hall"

Why You’re Going

You’d be surprised (or not) how many businesses exhibit at a show without any real objective. They’re there because they think they should be. And then they wonder why they wasted so much money. It’s important to determine why you’re there. Is it:

  • To get feedback on a product or service?
  • To introduce your brand/product/service to the market?
  • To make potential partner contacts?
  • To make new sales?
  • To establish yourself in a new market?
  • To learn?

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Why Aren’t You Listening to Your Customers?

Recently I returned to Dell headquarters in Austin to participate in the company’s Consumer Advisory Panel for the second time. Dell wanted to know what customers (specifically those of us who blog and talk about brands like Dell on social media) think of Dell.


It was an amazing opportunity to be heard as a consumer. A year ago, our group made suggestions for improvement to customer service, brand messaging and the website. This year, they delivered. They updated us on their efforts to make our requests a reality. It’s a powerful feeling to be heard.

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