Building a Brand for Your Business

When you’re building a business you can’t just think about the nuts and bolts of what you’re doing: the logistics of delivering the goods or services that are you specialism are important of course, they’re absolutely vital. But people need to discover your business, and they need some way to make a choice about whether it’s the best one for them. People make their choices based on their emotional reactions just as much as the bare facts: your customers perception of the value of your product is just as important as the factual price point.

What you need to do is learn how to create a brand that the customers you’re targeting will be drawn to: one that’s attractive to their sensibilities, that will call out to them from even a cursory contact like seeing a single poster or catching the end of a broadcast ad.

But what is a brand? Counter-intuitively, there’s more to it than simply branding. Branding is design, it’s how you put a stamp on things that say ‘this is mine’ and it’s a big part of your overall brand. Your brand though is a bigger construct: it’s made up out of every way your customers can interact with your business. That includes explicit advertising, of course, but also the design of your products, the furnishings in your branches or offices (if you operate a bricks and mortar business) and the design of your website.

You need a lot of skills and data to build a brand that will see your business safely thriving in the long term. It makes sense to work with market research agencies and marketing companies to gather your data and turn that into the actions that build a brand: from placing carefully created adverts with precisely the hosts that your customers will browse and be attracted to, to schooling your customer service staff in the image they need to project. Are you a generous company when things go wrong? Are you austerely professional? Are you the sort of company people read about in Mail on Sunday colour supplements or do you appear in their Facebook feed?

All these choices build your brand, with even the smallest decision factoring into what customers feel about you. Ideally you want the maximum number of people to think yours is the business for them, but what helps you build a brand people can understand is specificity. Choose an identity for your company and work out simple things you can do to project that image as widely as possible.

Exploring Scandinavia

When thinking about visiting Scandinavia, there is always that idea of pure and clean air, mountains, rivers and forests. There is naturally all of this in Scandinavia, as well as some other incredible places visit in between too, like cities, amazing nature and a culture that complements it all so well. I love going on tours to Norway, Sweden and Denmark and wanted to write this article to talk a little bit more about what you can do by exploring this great region of the world
Explore the nature of Norway
A tour to Norway is one of my favourite things to do, especially because there is just so much to do. The nature of Norway is one of the things that stuns me and it really has to be seen to be believed. If you have ever just driven in Norway, you will understand exactly what I mean. You experience mountains, fjords, rivers, lakes, the sea and beautiful green forests. The air is clear and the people blue-eyed and blonde, as is quite common in Scandinavia.
There are some incredible destinations in Norway and one of my personal favourites has to be Preikestolen. This huge rock rises to over 600 metres above sea level and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Here you can see mountains, fjords and the rocky landscape below. It is incredible to sit on the edge of the rock itself, which is a sheer cliff face. Drop a stone and it seems like it takes an eternity for it to reach the bottom. It truly is an exhilarating experience to stand right on the edge, but it is probably a better idea to lie on your stomach to be safe.
There are quite literally hundreds of other locations that you can visit that are just like this. Another extremely exciting destination is Trolltunga, which literally means troll’s tongue. It is a rock that extends past a high cliff face that you need to hike for 10 hours to get to. It is quite possibly the best view that you are likely to see. Other great places can be found anywhere and sometimes in the places you would least expect, so don’t be afraid to get off the beaten track to find something new and exciting.
Explore the cities of Sweden
Sweden is another great place in Scandinavia to visit and I find the cities absolutely incredible there. In particular, I love Stockholm and Gothenburg, which have a great mix of culture and a beautiful setting that is absolutely unique. Stockholm has to be one of my favourite cities on earth, especially with its many bridges and islands, as well as incredibly old and beautiful buildings. You absolutely need to enjoy a boat ride through all the islands of the city, which is very interesting and full of history. The old city or “Gamla Stan” as it is known, is also an extremely pretty place with very old buildings and cobbled streets. Here you can easily access the main attractions of the city, like the Vasa Museum, Skansen or the Stockholm Palace, where you should definitely watch the changing of the guard. This is an unusual and interesting experience that I would recommend to anyone.
It also has a very healthy dose of nature too, which I love. There really is nothing quite like heading out and exploring the thousands of small islands that lie on the Stockholm archipelago. This is an amazing place to visit in the summertime as many of the people from the city rent or visit their summer houses here.
Visit Copenhagen
Copenhagen is one of the most pretty and liveable cities on the entire planet and it is an absolute pleasure to visit. It is absolutely beautiful with colourful houses, green parks and canals. The Danes also have a great cafe and food culture, with many great restaurants, bars and cafes. Hiring a bike is a must and in my opinion, it is the best city going for bike riding. Bikes are a way of life in Denmark and there are not so many cars in the city centre itself. The bike paths are well planned and everywhere, and the city is small enough that you can reach anywhere on your bike within a few minutes. It is also great to ride along the canals and enjoy the views.
If you are looking for something a bit different, you can visit Freetown Christiania, which is a hippy commune which has claimed itself to be autonomous. Here you can see interesting colourful buildings and live like a hippy for the day.
There is only one negative that I can see about Copenhagen and that is the fact that it rains quite a lot, but don’t worry, the upside is that it is one of the most stylish cities in the world and you are sure to find an incredibly stylish raincoat there that you won’t find anywhere else.

Exciting things to try in 2018

New Year’s resolutions are not easy to stick to for an entire year. The problem lies with the fact that people typically have more than one resolution. And a resolution often comes with a commitment to try and reinvent or overhaul themselves into being a brand new person. This makes the goals difficult to achieve because no matter how great our intentions, the amount of focus and determination we can put on our attributes dwindles as times goes on.

 

That’s why I like to do simple resolutions that are fun, attainable and push my limits of comfort. Each and every year I make a small list of things I could do that would scare me but also thrill me and allow me to see the world in a different perspective.  They are just small things that I can tick off my life list of “I’ve done that”. So I thought I’d share my list with you this year.

Go to an amusement park.

 

I’ve long been scared of amusement park rides and roller coasters. But millions of people head to theme parks like Walt Disney World every month, and they love it! So this is the year to stop being afraid of what so many individuals and families love to do all over the country. There are a lot of parks spread across the world but I have my eye on Universal Orlando Resort.

 

Perform Stand-Up

 

Did you know more people are scared of speaking in front of a crowd then they are of dying? I am part of this category and want to change it. Public speaking is a great skill to have at home, in the workplace and to grow as an individual and leader. Standing up in front of a crowd in a setting that’s meant to be humorous is a great setting for a first timer. The jokes can be rehearsed and the delivery is staged. It’s probably the easiest way to talk in front of a group.

 

Join a class

Learning a new skill, sport or language is great, it’s even better with a group. Taking a new class is something I do every year. The team setting creates the feeling of accountability to keep attending and learning. There is also great social benefits to joining, as some of my closest friends have come from a knitting class I took years ago. It’s the perfect way to grow and expand a social circle.

 

Baltic Cruises Are Top Of The List In 2018

Going on a cruise has always been a favourite way for me to take a break and relax. Usually I enjoy travelling around the world with a backpack over my shoulder, staying in remote places and traveling quite uncomfortably. All of those things make cruises even more special and luxurious.

I recently went on a Baltic cruise holiday for the first time, it certainly will not be my last!The Baltic region is fast becoming a hot spot for cruising, that’s due to its superb culture, stunning architecture and rich history. I enjoyed every minute of my time at this fantastic destination. There’s so much to love about a Baltic cruise it’s difficult to fit into just one article, but here’s what I loved most and why I think you should all try it in 2018.

Top Class Food

Very quietly ‘New Nordic Cuisine’ has been having a big impact on the culinary scene, it has put Scandinavia well and truly on the map as a great destination for food lovers. One of the of the main restaurants responsible for this is Noma. If you stop off in Copenhagen then head straight for this Michelin starred restaurant. It can be tricky to get a table so plan ahead.

Full-On Itineraries

The greatest advantage for going on a Baltic cruise is the fact you get to visit so many cities in such short time. Many of the ports are quite close to one another making it easy to pack in as much as possible on your cruise. You can expect to visit at least four or five cities on your cruise, most include Copenhagen and Helsinki, plus lots more.

Hop Aboard In The UK

For me this is a huge plus because I come back to the UK each year for a couple of months. This means I can visit my family and once I am finished hop onboard a cruise ship bound for the Baltic region. I usually pick a boat up from Dover, but there are options of Portsmouth and Southampton too. If you feel like making the cruise even more memorable then you have the chance to catch the boat from Tower Bridge in London – remember that these are super popular, so make sure you book way in advance so you’re not disappointed.

The Top Reasons To Visit Disneyland Paris

I have to admit that once I reached adulthood I wasn’t too interested in visiting theme parks again. That sentiment changed the moment I had kids – they wanted to go and what’s more I loved going too! Here are some top reasons to go to Disneyland Paris:

Keep the kids happy

This is a no brainer because your kids are going to love every second of their time at Disneyland. They get to eat sweets, go on great rides, meet cartoon characters and watch some amazing shows. What kid wouldn’t like that?

The Rides

Theme park rides are one of the main reasons to go to any park, Disneyland seems to have a never ending supply of them. They have it perfectly set up, so if your with toddlers you’ll find suitable rides and if your with older kids there are plenty of hair raising rollercoasters to try out. Star Tours, Space Mountain 2 and Big Thunder would be my top picks.

You can see it in one day

One of the negative parts about visiting Disneyland in America is that it’s massive, possibly too big. Paris is perfect, it’s smaller, less busy and you can (if planned carefully) see it all in one day.

See a new country

Sometimes kids can be slightly apprehensive when you float the idea of going to a new country, that is eliminated when they hear you’re going to Disneyland. The park in Paris gives them a great opportunity to have fun whilst seeing another country.

The perfect family trip

If like me you have kids of different ages then a trip to Disneyland Paris is absolutely ideal. That’s because there are plenty of things to do for all ages and interests, plus many activities that the whole family can do together. My kids still chat about our holiday even though we last visited 2 years ago – it puts a smile on every parent’s face if their kids talk about having the trip of a lifetime!

Have you been to Disneyland Paris? I would love to hear all about the holiday and any tips you might have for other readers here. Just put your comments in the box below – thank you for sharing!

Time to relax in a spa hotel

When you think of rest and relaxation the first thing that springs to mind is to take a break from the daily grind and stay in a nice spa hotel. The amount of choice available out there is incredible so once you have chosen your destination, maybe one in your own country or an exotic break to one of the wonderful beaches of tropical Thailand, you are then going to have to decide what you want from your well-deserved break. Different spa’s offer different treatments, but if it’s unusual you want, here are a number of suggestions.

First one to make the list is cupping. This is a practice used extensively throughout East and Southeast Asia. Hot cups, sometimes made from bamboo, are placed on and around the torso and left in place for around twenty to thirty minutes. Although a little painful at first the treatment is said to improve blood circulation and aches and pains. The only downside is that it leaves what look like circular bruise on the body which may take as long as three weeks to disappear.

Another unusual therapy is the Moroccan practice of Hammam. Not exclusive to Morocco as it can also be found in Turkey as a Turkish bath, the treatment begins with a twenty minute naked steam bath. Following this you are then led away by, to coin the term loosely, a masseur proceeds to scrub you senseless removing numerous layers of dead skin. You are then quite roughly slapped around and bent into various positions only contortionists usually get into. To top it all off you then have freezing water poured all over you. Not for the faint hearted but good fun.

For those who like getting down and dirty, then a mud bath might be up your street. Basically you enter the bath of warm gooey mud and begin to cover every possible part of the body including the hair. by letting the warm mud dry on your body you are said to be absorbing the nutrient and mineral rich benefits of the mud into your body. Once it’s been on for about thirty minutes a nice warm shower is taken to wash the bad stuff away. You may think that your body is pretty clean afterwards but you can guarantee you will still be finding bit of the mix for at least a month later.

Cornish Treats Waiting To Be Discovered In England

There is no better place to spend the summer in the beautiful county of Cornwall in England. With over 1000 kilometers of coastline and a history engrossed in mysticism and magic, there is no better place to take a family holiday. Whether you are camping, glamping or living it up in a fancy hotel, there is plenty to see and do for every generation. The climate is just right and the surrounding water is always a nice temperature that is fuelled by the warm currents being brought up from the Caribbean Sea. You can even find palm trees! Here are some of the must see sights in this wonderful county.

So, where does the magic and mysticism play a part? Tintagel, close to Padstow, is said to be the home of the legendary King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Legend has it that Tintagel Castle was Camelot and can be found built on a rocky outcrop completely surrounded by the sea. Also to be found nearby is Merlins cave, the famous mystic who helped and guided Arthur through much of his life. Most people see the King Arthur story as fiction, but don’t say that to the locals.

Dubbed the eighth wonder of the modern world, another must see attraction in Cornwall is the amazing Eden Project. Hewn out of a huge chalk pit over 30 years ago, the site now boasts five biospheres that each portray different climates, flora and insect fauna from across the globe. Whether you want dry and arid or experience how it would feel to trek through a rain forest, Eden will certainly deliver and leave you amazed.

Also, you cannot go to Cornwall without visiting one of the many little typical Cornish fishing villages dotted all around the county. Best of all is a sumptuous Cornish cream tea. Usually taken in the afternoon, this delight is made up of a delicately light scone with delicious clotted cream and a large helping of good old English strawberry jam, all washed down with a good old cup of char. Sit and watch the world go by and watch the fisherman bring in their catch of the day. It really doesn’t get better than that.

These are just a few things to take into consideration when planning your holiday in Cornwall but there is so much more to see and do.

 

Canadian City Breaks: Top Five Highlights 

A city break can be a glorious thing – the chance to explore a city that you’ve not seen before, sampling the cuisine, the culture and the entertainment that is within its limits.

While it may be tempted to jet off  somewhere close to home for your vacation, it’s worthwhile to fly all the way to Canada and see what the cities are all about. With so many city delights on offer, it’s difficult to choose where to head, but these five highlights of the country may help. If you’re planning to visit more than one of the following cities then we recommend you rent a car when you get there, who doesn’t love a road trip? It’s the best way to truly experience a new country and its cities.

Vancouver

It may not have as much history as some of the other Canadian cities, but it certainly makes up for it in experiences. Mountains and beaches are both at home here, with skiing on Grouse Mountain during the winter and surfing at Wreck Beach during the summer months being popular pastimes for locals and visitors alike. Whether you choose to be active and take part in these sports, or you’d prefer to stay on the city streets, browsing the shops, dining out or taking a stroll through Stanley Park, there’s plenty to see and do.

Montreal

From the 17th century architecture to the modern day skyscrapers, Montreal has an abundance of sights and attractions to see during your visit. As darkness falls, there’s a popular party scene while your days could be filled with tasty culinary treats, world-class museums and fabulous shops. Take an elevator ride several storeys below the surface and you will be able to see the Underground City too.

Toronto

Toronto is big, real big, so if you’re heading here, you may want more than a day or two to explore it. So much diversity is packed into this one city, which will likely leave you pleasantly overwhelmed. Take a trip to the top of the CN Tower to see for miles around, or explore the various multicultural corners, including Chinatown, Greektown and Little Italy. Plus, Niagara Falls is less than two hours away . 

Ottawa

Canada’s capital may not be massive and may not be as historic as some of the other cities, but it certainly makes up for it when it comes to relaxation, laid-back attitudes and a fabulous charm. Lively, vibrant and clean, the city is full of delights, including a myriad of museums, boutiques and family-friendly sites.

Canada has plenty of cities to explore – take your pick for your next city break!

How to Save Money to Travel

Hitting the road with a rucksack on your back is one of the greatest experiences that you will ever have. Throughout the world there are literally thousands of people young and old who have taken the decision to explore this amazing planet of ours and the people who live within it. The hardest thing about traveling is financing it and whilst it may be difficult, it is more than achievable. And so, whether you have dreams of seeing the Great Wall of China, visiting the Taj Mahal, getting involved in one of the motorcycle tours in Himalaya or taking your photo with Christ the Redeemer, here is how you can get  the money together to realize your dream.

Online Work

Getting a second job is not always easy when you consider the time restraints of your existing job, and other responsibilities which you may have. The perfect option therefore when it comes to some additional earnings, is to make money online. There are various ways in which you can do this from filling out online surveys, matched betting or a wide range of freelance work which you can find on the net. Not only does working online give you the chance to make some extra cash but you can do so from the comfort of your own home, at a time that suits you.

Selling Things

We can all be guilty of hoarding things that we no longer need and you could well be sitting on plenty of cash. Take a day to have a root around your home or your room, and  dig out anything which is no longer of use to you. Once you have all of the clothes, games, tech, gadgets and miscellaneous items, take to eBay and auction them off. Even things which you may not think hold much value, may very well be valuable to someone else so you should always have a go at trying to sell everything that you find. Be ruthless when searching for things to sell and keep your eye on  the big picture in terms of your travels.

Stopping Your Spends

Saving up to go traveling should be a combination of looking for ways to make more money, and learning how to keep hold of the cash which you have. For this reason, it is vital that you are on the front foot in terms of reducing how much money you spend each day. The key here is to employ the 10 second rule, simply put, you should stop for 10 seconds before buying something be it clothing, coffee or a sandwich. During those 10 seconds, think about what you want to see when you are traveling and you will soon find that you are spending far less. As mentioned before, you must think about the big picture, a $50 night out could easily be a flight between Vietnam and Laos, or entry to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. A great trick here is to put a photo in your purse or wallet of the sights that you wish to see, whenever you think about spending money, you can look at the photo and think again.

The harder you work on putting money together before you go, the bigger the rewards will be when you finally get on the road.

Why I Love Visiting Mexico

There is nothing quite like the uniqueness of visiting Mexico and a lot of the time it is always losing to its bigger brother, the United States. It is in my opinion even better than the states and I wanted to talk a little bit about why I love it even more. So sit back, relax and enjoy reading about one of the best places to travel on the planet.

The Riviera Maya

This is one of the best if not the best parts of all of Mexico and there is so much on offer here, from diving and snorkelling, to restaurants, nightlife and shopping. This is one of the premier diving destinations in the entire country and the world. You can see tropical fish, coral reefs, whales sharks and other amazing wildlife too. The Riviera Maya vacation rentals aren’t bad either, especially in this part of the world with some of the best beaches and weather that you can possibly imagine.

The diversity

Mexico is a large place with a lot to offer in terms of landscapes, climates, food, culture and people. There are so many ways to experience it, from the beaches of the gulf of Mexico or in the gritty streets of Tijuana, near the California border. There really is something for everyone here, which is one of the best things when it comes to travel. Everyone should do it and enjoy it in their own way.

The historical sites

Mexico has an interesting history with the Aztecs and Mayans, which were two different people that had very interesting cultures and beliefs for their time. These two civilisations have left their mark on Mexico with a huge number of historic sites that dot the country. The Mayans are very famous for their stepped pyramids and intricate cities that they built, many of which have been well preserved and you can visit to this day. My favourite is definitely El Castillo pyramid.

The beaches

These are for sure one of the highlights of Mexico and the country certainly benefits from its huge coastline and ideal location. It also has a very warm and beautiful climate to enjoy the great beaches. The beaches of the Gulf of Mexico are my personal favourites, as they are those typical white sand beaches that have the most amazing deep blue water that you could only dream about. If you wish you could combine a visit to Tulum beach with the nearby Mayan ruins, which were absolutely perfect for me on my last trip there. If you would like to enjoy Mexico’s wonderful beaches, historic culture and lively city center, a great place to stay is at the Meliá Resort in Playa del Carmen. If you would like to enjoy Mexico’s wonderful beaches, historic culture and lively city center you can stay at one of the luxury resorts in Playa del Carmen