It’s never too early to get started on a career in business.
That’s why I was honored last week to speak to students with the Young Entrepreneur Academy at North Point High School in Waldorf, Md. As the Interactive Designer at NDG, I jumped at the opportunity to represent our agency and tell the group of 13 middle school and high school students about the importance of branding and a strong Web presence.
The YEA, sponsored by the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, helps young people achieve their dreams of becoming real and confident entrepreneurs. The students develop business ideas, write business plans, do market research, pitch their plans to investors and some even launch and run their own companies.
Each week, the class invites a different speaker from the community to visit and share what they’ve learned in their own careers.
To get started, I asked each student about their business and invited them to share their “elevator speech.” Wow, was I impressed. They had some great ideas—everything from anti-bullying apparel to fish tank accessories. They’d started their business plan weeks earlier and they were well on their way to success.
Now, the pressure was on me. I started by asking them a broad question: “What is branding?” Most said branding was the logo, the color scheme or the slogan. And of course, they were right. Branding is all these things and more rolled into one.
To stress the importance of branding and how it can set the tone for years of success, I showed the students Apple advertisements from the 1970s up until today. By the time I explained that the “funky looking keyboard” in an ad was actually a typewriter, they understood what I was showing them. After all these years and hundreds of products, Apple’s brand remains consistent, strong and memorable.
Moving on to the idea of Web presence, I asked the students another question: “What do you do first when you want to find out more about a product?” And everyone answered in unison, “Google it!”
“Content is king,” I told them. An overused phrase, I know, but it reminded them that a great website doesn’t begin and end with great design.
I showed them statistics that revealed how much better a business does when it uses an effective website and we discussed how important it is to develop a great user experience and targeted marketing strategies. And we wrapped up by reviewing the almighty Web Strategy Pyramid.