Monday, January 31, 2011
I'm quickly adding tips to my growing list of branding tips. You see I am planning on taking all the tips from the past few years that I have been sending out every Wednesday in "Ed Roach's Two Cents Worth" mailing. The title of this new book will be: "Ed Roach's Two Cents Worth: 101 Branding Tips!" The format I favour is a hard cover pocket book. It takes a lot of effort to put together a book, and at the same time is exciting. Publishing adds to your expert profile and gives you something to sell at speaking engagements. I have spoken with many speakers who say that a book is important to getting engagements as well.
I have a peer who put together his working philosophy into a book instead of a brochure and gives it out to prospective clients. He says he gets a terrific response to this, and they take care to handle it nicely. With today's on-demand printing houses like Lulu.com and Blurb.com it is so easy to publish without the need to warehouse huge quantities. You have the expertise, why not immortalize it into a book?
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Compliances of every sort are viewed as good and bad depending on your perspective. In every case there are costs associated with them. They're usually meant to protect something or deliver some assurance of quality.
Being compliant while mandatory,is a great opportunity in branding. Informing your compliancy among your stakeholders assures them of your leadership profile. Some eco-compliances deliver a sustainability story that you can capitalize on. Your small carbon footprint for instance provides a great story for your customers to tell. It benefits them to have suppliers who are compliant. It rubs off on them. Naturally it is beneficial to continually look for good news to tell about your company. Compliances are often forgotten. Use them as branding flags to wave at your marketplace.
Let's say you must adhere to a total of five compliances - why not develop a symbol for the group and maybe market them as your "Five Star Quality Program." At the very least, people will be curious as to its makeup. Branding encourages creativity. Step away from the norm and encourage creative thinking among your team. Simply following the leader isn't a story i'd be proud of.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I've been asked over at Linkedin if I could possibly outline my branding process. So I thought it might be a good idea to share this here as well. My branding process called "Brand Navigator" is a proprietary process aimed at establishing a brand based on a differentiation strategy. It is essentially broken into three components: Internal Brand Analysis, External Brand Analysis and Brand Action.
In the first component it is the goal of the branding team which by the way is made of stakeholders of the brand. They can be management, employees, customers and suppliers. I always make sure that the number of players are an odd number. This is to break ties when we vote of something. My process is a democratic one.
The first discovery is to determine the brand values. These values represent the foundation of the brand. It's relatively easy in good times to determine values that the brand can adhere to. But the magic is to develop values that can withstand a downturn in the economy. I often say to the teams I facilitate, if you ignore these brands in slow times, then the brand ceases to exist and it is now a weaker brand. Be sure that you can live up your brand values.
Moving on we want to determine what the brand personality is. If your BRT brand was a person how would you describe that person? It's amusing that early on in this stage, every trait is complementary, but eventually, all the warts start to show and an honest depiction rises to the top. Recognizing these brand personality short comings gives us something to build on and address as we soldier-on to make the brand stronger.
Now we must know is a few sentences exactly what it is we do? This is not for public consumption but is more an internal declaration.
The last part of the first component is to determine what makes the brand a leader, or the first at something. How can we differentiate from the competition?
This is not slogans or mottos but something tangible that allows your brand to take and hold the high ground - something compelling.
Component two involves surveying existing stakeholders to see if they agree to our discoveries so far and to also test their knowledge of our brand as it sits today.
If it is an entirely new service, this component is optional because there is no history. Component two also involves competitive analysis to determine the environment the BRT exists in. This gives you a clear understanding of any challenges to your brand.
We now get a good handle on your brand image and look for opportunities to strengthen it using all the previous components as guides to be sure that your design elements are the best fit. Strategic design if you will.
The process is essentially complete except for buy-in from the team members and this accomplished with brand action statements that explore how each individual will spread the word.
I hope that this basic outline gives you a glimpse at my process. My competitive analysis is unique and opens eyes. It is especially handy in determining some elements of brand image. Compared to other processes I'm told by those in the know that it is quite extensive. What I do know is that it is always well-received and delivers good value for the effort extended.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
What does your brand say about you? Let's say you put a group of people in a room who are familiar with you. Each has their own perception of your brand. Ask them to use their imagination and picture your brand as a person walking across the street from them. Ask them to describe that person. Man or woman, friendly, charitable, grumpy, athletic, spiritual etc. ? What ever comes out is essentially correct. All the traits as a whole, accurately describes your brand personality. This personality is the essence of your brand. Does it portray that of a professional?
This and other exercises can help you to determine where your shortcomings are in professionalism quotient. It will help you see what areas are lacking when it comes to positioning you as the professional you are. Perhaps you have to get out there more intellectually and physically. A lot of professionals don't enjoy the limelight, but many times this is seen as someone who lacks confidence. This is no doubt untrue, but it is the perception and in branding perception is reality. This was one of my issues six years ago. For me blogging released me from my shell and is something I credit for absolutely growing my expert profile world-wide.
Always play close attention to your "Professional Brand", never take anything for granted and constantly embrace opportunities to demonstrate your value.