Ontario’s $2,500 Digital Adoption Grant

The government of Canada has introduced a $2,500 digital adoption grant to help businesses with the cost of making their products and services more digital. It is meant for Canadian for-profit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) registered for GST/HST, have been in existence since March 2020, and have generated less than $20 million in revenue in 2019. Businesses can apply for the digital conversion grant online.

The government of Canada has defined “digital” as “the application of technology to transform information into useful data.” this program aims to help businesses adapt to change by increasing digital sales and transitioning from traditional commerce to eCommerce. For example, you could use the digital conversion grant to make your business more digital by creating a website or eCommerce store, developing an app, improving your social media presence or building an online advertising campaign.

Businesses that receive the digital conversion grant can also be eligible for other beneficial programs like the Employer Health Tax exemption if they meet specific criteria, so it’s worth exploring these options.


What to do with the $2,500 Digital Adoption grant?

First of all, congratulations! Free money is always nice. It’s not much to write home about, but here are a few recommendations on what to do with the grant money based on where you are in the life of your business, use of online tools, and digital presence. Here are just a few recommendations.

Websites and Content
If you don’t have a website yet, this is the perfect time to set one up! A website will help you build credibility as a business and offer an online space for your customers to learn more about your products and services. Are you worried about maintenance and everything that goes with having a website? Keep it simple and straight to the point with evergreen content that local search engines love. Things like news, timely advice, menus, service updates etc., can continually be updated and promoted through your social media channels at little to no cost.

People make judgements about businesses based on their websites. Suppose yours isn’t promoting visitors to connect or is poorly designed. In that case, it can be challenging to convince them that you’re trustworthy or professional enough for them to do business with you. If you already have a website, but it’s pretty basic, this is an excellent chance to invest in a photoshoot or video and ensure you have the right content and forms to build your sales funnel.

Headless and Social eCommerce
If your website has everything it needs and then some, consider taking your eCommerce strategy even further by getting on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok and setting up a simple cart to sell services and products directly through these channels. These techniques can be targeted and significantly boost sales over time if they’re done correctly. You’ll never know unless you try.

Payper Click Campaign
Creating a PPC message on Google Ads and focusing your keyword and target area can generate immediate traffic to your site. Especially for websites that don’t rank high, a drip campaign could be sustained over a period of time to make sure your ads are being served up on the first page of Google.

Give Back
Developing a brand is so much more than the bottom line. “Do the right things and the money will come,” “Build it and they will come,” “Pay it forward” While cliche, these expressions have merit (as long as things are planned and executed correctly). Why not take your grant money and get familiar with online crowdfunding for charities you believe in? Create a compelling online pitch with your grant money and connect with like-minded individuals in your community. Do good, feel good isn’t all that bad or self-serving. You have to stand for something, after all.

Making the most of it

Think about your business in the context of long-term goals and set a realistic budget to achieve what you need to drive results. $2,500 is a great start – but it only gets you so far. Knowing where to start is half the battle. We help our clients navigate these decisions daily as trusted advisors.

If you’re considering what your next steps are, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do to help.

What to consider in choosing the right branding agency

Selecting the right branding company to work with is a process that typically happens before your project starts and is a crucial first step. For some clients, having everything under one roof is desirable but it’s quickly realized that it often comes with a price tag that can cause extreme sticker shock.

The traditional model

The days of genuine full-service design agencies are few and far between. A typical more prominent agency has a lot of top-heavy management that outsources work to smaller shops or contractors who do the job. So you end up paying for margins and overhead at that point. Or the big guys are buying up smaller companies or creating new branches to crush the competition. At that level, you’re often faced with many promises and the good old broken telephone, which can cause tension and politics that slows down any momentum.

Sure, you could try your luck on Fiverr or hire a freelancer. For many that go down this path, they quickly realize that to get the results desired, you have to make a wise decision and invest once into a verified leader in the industry. Because time is money and you don’t want to do the same thing 2 or 3 times before you get it right.

The alternative

Enter the agile, ‘anti-agency’ that can fulfil your needs with thoughtful planning, strategy and handpicked team members who are specialists in their own right. Refreshing transparency and reasonable budgets to get the same, if not better quality of work complete.

Qualifying an agency is no different from an agency qualifying a client. It’s a relationship like any other and you’re going to be working with each other for the duration of the project and, ideally, well beyond that, so you want to make sure it’s a good fit.

We happily categorize Jackson Wynne as this option.

Things to look for

How they work

You’ll notice a lot of overlap and similarities in processes between branding agencies, depending on what you’re looking for. Having a process in place ensures that a project runs smoothly and it’s not their first rodeo. This provides structure and a formula that can be followed for consistent results. Some agencies get a little carried away, branding and trademarking this and that, which gets to be a bit much – but it speaks to packaging something up that feels more like an exclusive, secret formula. It’s a bit market-y and cheesy, but someone is buying into it. Of course, you need to go off-script for something new or different.

Services offered

Does the agency offer what you need? Often there is some wiggle room if you require something more specific. Things can be accommodated and brokered or project managed, but make sure the core services offered align with your needs. Occasionally, you are not sure what you need, so that’s where consultation and planning phases help map out insights that are useful to do the work properly.

Track record

There are too many “fly by night” companies who won’t be around next year. You want to make sure you hire someone with a well-balanced, seasoned portfolio with specific examples of work via a portfolio or case study format.

Having some experience in your industry is beneficial. Sometimes taking a calculated risk is fine because transferable skills and related projects can apply. Enter the catch-22 – how does one get experience if they are never hired for it?

Testimonials

This is a standard. Most work will speak for itself, but it helps to verify things by a client who worked with the agency. Ask for references if needed.

Things to be cautious of

Companies claiming they can “do it all.”

There are a lot of inexperienced companies that claim to be able to do it all. I would be very suspicious of that claim since diluting your core service offering means you’re spread thin and become a jack-of-all-trades; yes man, “we can do that for you.” But you just have to wonder if they really can do it and how well they can do it, if at all in most instances.

Too trendy

Flash in the pan agencies who are one-trick ponies fill a niche, but you want to be careful about those young companies still figuring things out. The allure of hype and PR only takes you so far. Buying into excitement is fine, but you need to consider your short-term *and* your long-term needs.

Trying too hard

I’ve seen smaller agencies try to look bigger than they are by doing some pretty weird stuff like Photoshopping the same employee 4 or 5 times into a photo to make it seem like there are more people in the office. Overcompensating for lack of warm bodies is embarrassing at best and just comical to see. If the end product you produce speaks for itself, you shouldn’t need to throw smoke and mirrors at clients to feel like a legitimate service provider.

Lots of buzz words

I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand and see through this veil. If the rep you’re talking to throws around many big words, they’re selling hard and don’t know what they’re talking about. Little do they realize that they are probably scaring you off unless they’re speaking your language, then it could be music to your ears?

Things to consider

Localization

With the internet, working with companies abroad is becoming standard. Figuring out time zone differences can be tricky to work around but very doable. There is something to be said about face-to-face that is a challenging element you want to try and have if possible but work with what you have.

Starting small

Building trust and rapport is essential to make sure both sides are committed. Starting on a large project may not be an excellent first step. Perhaps you want to try a smaller project first to test the waters and develop a working relationship before you dive in. That is more than fair.

There are many providers out there that offer similar services. They all have very similar processes and approaches, use the same technologies, etc. Ultimately, develop a relationship with people you think you would enjoy working with! What makes these companies different? It all boils down to that.

Talk to them, meet them, get to know them and trust them to do the job!

When should I rebrand my business?

There comes a point in time when you seriously think about overhauling your business. Besides understanding branding on a fundamental level, timing and assessing the right approach is everything.

First off, what does a rebranding process typically look like? Many tend to fixate on a company’s logo in the press, but there is usually a lot more going on. A rebrand looks at your business as a whole. From your identity system to applications – print collateral, digital presence, environment (if you have one), etc. there are a lot of nuances. Besides the overall look and feel, what is the brand personality?

A brand exercise addresses challenges you face now and in the future. A rebrand can position your business for growth. Maybe you’re creating new products or sub-brands. Or you’re just in need of a refresh.

The first thing I would do is ask these questions:

  • Do I *need* to rebrand?
  • Is my organization ready to take the journey?
  • Do we have the budget to do this properly?
  • What’s the total cost of rolling this out?

Aligning your brand internally

You and your team are an extension of your brand. Make sure you have leadership that can drive those values. You might find going through the process that what makes you stand out is a key member of your organization or the combined efforts of many that are unified in their goal. Getting on the same page and unearthing insights is part of the process.

What’s the shelf life of your brand?

It depends on your industry and the needs of your business. How long will your rebrand last for? How do you quantify any ROI? If you’ve been in business for 10+ years and you still have the same logo from when you started, chances are you’re overdue for a rebrand. A rebrand done well should last you at least a few years. A solid brand system could work for many years.

Brand Equity

Consider the legacy of your brand. A business that is 1 year old is very different from one that is 10+ years and so on. Often, a refresh with a few small tweaks and adjustments optimizes your image for today, while not straying too far away from what’s already there. Sometimes that is all you need. It has to make sense for the business. Your customers and potential customers are already familiar with your image, how does this influence brand direction?

Do it right the first time

You’ve got a great brand, spent a good amount of money and that’s it…forever? That’s all well and good but there are several factors that are at play here. Besides “getting it right”, the reality is; a brand evolves with the business over time. Your needs are not necessarily the same today as they once were or will be later. While it would be amazing if we could predict and anticipate all future needs, a brand update, to some degree, could be required every couple of years to keep things current.

Critical stage of your business?

The timing is just right. You’ve been anticipating a major change for a while now and you’re ready to get moving. Your business demands more attention and needs to reintroduce itself to your customers and clients. A business gets to the point where it needs to bring things to the next level and a rebrand plays a huge role as part of this plan.

Just for the sake of it

Don’t always go chasing trends because you feel like you need to. You’ll see a lot of startups go through a transition period where they are constantly growing and adapting. Changing your brand every couple of years might be a good strategy or it might not. I would caution you to think twice about updating your brand “just because”. Make sure there is sound reasoning behind it.

Other factors

A new CEO comes in and wants to shake things up. This could be good or it could be a make-work project. If it aligns with the needs of your business and where it’s at, go for it. But be wary of someone who comes in and just wants to leave their mark behind. They might not be around to see things through.

Time to dive in

Are you ready to go the distance? In that case, embark on the journey, you’ll be happy you did. It’s not always a painless process, but it will pay off in the end when aligned with the right strategy and goals.

Life moves at a rapid pace, especially in the technology world. What you build today will improve over time. Sit back and appreciate the evolution of your brand and be proud of the journey.

It starts with a rebrand. Stay consistent, maintain and build on it.

So what is Branding anyways?

Let’s go back to Branding 101 so we can get a better understanding of what it is that we do. What is a brand, and what is branding? This post isn’t a 7-step listicle blog, but it’s a quick brand low-down.

Brand

Traditionally, and where the name comes from – a brand is a mark that has some negative connotations. It is still used today to mark animals as property and was also used to mark criminals and slaves with a searing hot branding iron. Talk about leaving an image in the mind. Its origins might be controversial, but as a tool for your business – it can be effective.

More than a logo

A brand is typically a combination of elements working together. Developing a cohesive image for your product or business, a good brand can build awareness, affinity and customer loyalty.

It’s a name, design or symbol that is identified by goods or services unique from the competition.

Beyond visuals, it’s a representation of what you’re all about.

Branding

The process of branding covers a broad spectrum of areas, so it can be difficult to articulate with a finite sense of confidence, but we’ll try our best.

Some of the largest brands in the world bring to mind specific associations. For example, we could look at McDonalds or Nike and understand what their brand is. It’s something that is so prevalent that we just take it for granted that they exist and what they stand for. Appreciating what the brand system is and the mechanics behind it elevate our relationship with businesses as emotional, intelligent beings and how we interact with the world as it is.

Branding shapes perception in our minds about what a product or service represents. It’s why we have affordable products on the market that are comparable to premium products with similar attributes. What’s the difference? Positioning, quality, market segment, advertising. All of these things and more.

To break it down, let’s look at key points of the branding process:

Communications
What your brand sounds like, and how it’s communicated. Your brand story, or narrative.

Experience
What kind of feeling are you left with? This could be in-store or online, etc.

Price Point
Is it an affordable product or service? Mid-level, or on the higher end?

Partnerships/Associations
Who you’re affiliated with speaks volumes about your business.

Visuals
Of course, essentials like your logo, typography, imagery, etc.

Integrations
Brand extensions such as customer service, campaigns, email signatures, etc.

Consistency
Staying on brand no matter your platform is important.

It’s a collaborative process

There is what you think your brand is, and what it actually is. In that I mean, one might think a certain way about something, but the reality is that the customer thinks something else entirely different. Realizing your brand limitations and listening to your business can open up more options.

At the end of the day, your brand is a dynamic, multi-channel, living, breathing entity. It’s constantly adapting to new technology and opportunities.

Your brand should have a personality that matches the demands of the industry you’re in, and the expectations of your clients or customers. Or not. Be an innovator and change the status quo. How do you stand out in a saturated market?

There are other niche segments that are interesting like personal branding, “no-brand” and several other approaches. But let’s save that for another time.

Be the brand steward your business needs.

Loading icon

Newsletter Signup

Get the latest from Jackson Wynne to your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.