Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Check Your Brand Positioning in 5 Minutes

Understanding brand positioning is very important if you want to correct misconceptions and off-brand opinions of your brand. You may have every intention of analyzing your brand to make sure that it is in a position of strength by participating in scientific research to that end. But first as a litmus test, you might find it useful to do a little under the radar analysis to get a quick feel of your stake holder's opinions regarding your brand positioning. We are going to casually ask them.

The idea for this came from a discussion I had with the CEO of an international architectural firm who were coming to terms with their brand. I asked him just what do they do at his firm? He quickly gave me his take (elevator speech) on the firm's qualifications.
I thanked him and asked if he felt that his employees would answer that question in more or less the same way. He thought that maybe they would, but he wasn't certain. I told him to walk up to the first persons he sees the next time he is at his office and ask them, "What do we do here at ABC Company?" I mentioned that he might be surprised by what he hears. 

Now he was intrigued.

It turns out that he went back to his office and made it into a small project. He assigned a manager to do exactly what I suggested, but on a larger scale. He asked several dozen employees "the question." The answers fed his appetite for a better understanding of how his own people viewed their brand for better or worse. The result of "the question" spurred him on. To finish off this exercise he asked the same question of his 250 shareholders. Most of whom are engineers, and was pleased to discover that their understanding of what the company did was summed up in a hand full of similar words. They got it.

This simple exercise will show you very quickly how strong your brand positioning is and whether it may need updating or not. Of course, you don't have to make it into the kind of exercise I outlined above in my example, but just by asking an innocent question, you can find out an enormous amount of information about your brand. The fact is, nobody ever asks. Your brand just chugs along, swaying back and forth in the marketplace and unless you pull in in for analysis from time to time, you simply fail to recognize when it goes off center.

Don't be afraid to ask. Try it and come back here and let us all know what you've discovered. Do your people get it or does your brand positioning need a little tweeking? Do it today.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Does Web Viagara Exist For Your Brand?

I'm having great fun promoting my new book, "101 Branding Tips" (blatant promo). My main store front for distribution is Amazon. I am working on the Kindle version at the moment. Amazon presents a number of challenges. The biggest being easily found there. Like Google, it all hinges on search and your rankings with Amazon.

In my research for answers I've come across many intriguing programs, promotions and quick fixes. All of these seem fascinating. But a common thread reveals itself. Can real benefit actually come from some of the schemes? I know from past research on other goals, the truth always boiled down to "nothing gets good results outside of hard work."

We are all tempted by the quick fix, because the web is daunting in its size and complexity. Our desire to win, sometimes teases us into finding that nugget of wisdom that lands us at the top of the rankings. I've discovered that it is possible to rank high, but not for the  long term. It is fleeting at best. Consistent rankings and success, results solely from sweat. Work hard at your goals and results are your reward. I've never spoken with anyone who got there over night and sustained the momentum. I have my doubts that viagra for the web exists.

That leaves us with the natural solution - hard work and determination. Fine tune your strategies and strike at what ever opportunities present themselves. Make your exposure field wide and benefits reveal themselves. Three weeks out and I'm already seeing results of my efforts. My book has moved from being "a book" to being a fantastic opportunity to build my influence. Some have called it a 114 page brochure. Funny how things change.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Hijack My Subscriber List?

I've had my weekly mailing to my subscribers hijacked by competition over the last few weeks. For as clever as it was, I can't see what the benefit was. I won't give the guilty party any more free publicity, but as a branding 'professional' how does this activity square with your values?

Thank heavens I know a bit about html code, to know what to check for. I've also had the good fortune to have subscribers alert me to this episode and offer their help to correct the situation. A hacker is understandable - it's what they do. But feeding off my subscriber list seems way too seedy to me form a peer. I hope it was worth it.

What were you thinking?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Embrace The Limb

Considering all the words I write on branding, essentially all I'm saying is that if you're not playing, you're losing. That's not to say that  you're not successful, but that you're not being the best you can be. I'm saying that marketing can be a little easier when you compete as a leader not a follower. 

Most companies advertise by using campaigns to inspire consumers to buy in the moment. They use any number of proven techniques to get the attention of you the consumer. A number of these techniques have even taken on a life of their own. Ie: When something is new and improved, or there's 50% more etc., you see these statements contained in a burst, or a banner, or a peeled back page - these visual gimmicks are called violators in the industry. There are violator companies out there, who do nothing but generate these cues. Color is used for its psychological effects, sound and smell are often brought into play. Tantilizing visuals are also used to stir those emotions. As this paragraph outlines, there are any number of tried and true ways to advertise and they are consistently used by everyone who advertises. 

The one thing that every advertisers does not use is positioning. 


Because to position wisely, you must be a leader. As we see in life, not everyone is cut out to be a leader. There are vastly more followers than leaders. Many businesses like the tried and true. They don't enjoy going out of their comfort zone and they pay a high price for this. It is much easier to do nothing and be content with what you have. A lot of people are afraid of "Leader" because they fear being called out on it. This is  a just fear if they're really not a leader, but are pretending to be. It's not enough to say you are the Leader, you must BE the leader. Act like one and win like one. Without knowing it, we all lead in some way. It's within all of us. Maybe it's the 'no brag rule' that our Mother's instilled in many of us, or a childhood shyness we never quite outgrew. If you ache for your brand to lead, then positioning should be a must-do in your business bucket-list.

This is where I typically come into the picture in the role of Brand Consultant. I take heads of companies through the maze of their business environment and deliver an awareness of their brand. This clarity provides the fuel that satisfies their hunger to lead. Often times, the positioning developed accurately reflects an area, they currently dominate but have not articulated effectively. I inspire them to "bold-up" as it were. If you couple the Leadership Positioning with traditional marketing, then you have a very powerful message to resonate with customers. Without positioning you are simply one of many. Your competitors are many as well. Without Positioning, everyone is saying the same thing in different ways. All the slogans while inspirational, don't resonate. Leading gives the customer something to embrace and understand your value. 

As a category leader, you must embrace the limb. That is to say, you have to climb out onto the limb first, then with all confidence embrace it. To benefit from this precarious location you have to put in place processes that encourage and sustain your leadership. Brands grow or decline with time. Depending on the foundation laid out, your brand will go in one of these directions. Establish a strong set of Brand values and stick with them. The leadership position you embrace, must where to these values as they are the foundation defined.
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