Thursday, February 22, 2007

Are you up to re-branding?

You're starting to hear it more and more in the business community, "We need to re-brand ourselves!" If this sounds like your current battle cry, ask yourself this question:

Am I really prepared to do what it takes to actually re-brand ourselves?

And with this question, let make sure that you actually understand what you are taking on.

If your intention is to re-brand yourself, then it is a forgone conclusion that you are not happy with your existing brand. Something has triggered you to want to re-invent yourself. Perhaps your brand has been left behind in a competitive environment where technology has passed you by and now you are left without the necessary tools to compete effectively. It could be a plethora of market conditions that leave many companies floundering, searching for anything to help keep them from imploding. Re-branding is a worthy goal but it is also a risky venture if taken lightly. To launch a new logo and catchy slogan is NOT re-branding yourselves - if it was only that easy. Putting a new face on the brand will not make the issues go away - they never go away.

From the out-set, let me say that you must be prepared to make fundamental changes to the way you currently do business.
You must tackle the issues head-on. And by issues we don't mean just poor sales, but anything that affects your brand, ie: environmental problems, labour issues, integrity - anything that potentially has the power to tarnish your reputation (whether true or not).

If in preliminary investigations you discover that your brand results in a very unattractive personality profile then you've got problems at the core of your brand. Are you now prepared to devout the necessary effort to change your current brand reality? Are you prepared to allocate the time necessary to see the changes through? Take for instance the question I have posted on several blogs concerning my city, Windsor. The results coming back show a very unflattering brand. As much as the information collected is unscientific in nature it does provide an interesting glimse of how we may be viewed from distances greater than a day-trip. If our city fathers truly want to re-brand ourselves to change these perceptions and move forward in bold new direction, they must take steps to change the negatives that persist in dragging down our brand. Not an easy or short-term task.

The simple fact that you are out here among the branding blogs shows that you are an optimist. You are looking for solutions to do more business. Re-branding your company will feel like starting over and breathing new life into your vision.
Give your brand the opportunity to be great and work it to keep it there. Build your brand strategy first and then strengthen it visually based on that strategy. It is a winning combination. If you have questions, there are a lot of us out here who are more than willing to help you through a tough spot. That is why our blogs exist.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A new brand for Detroit!

The Detroit area has just released the results of a branding effort whose challenge was to brand Detroit AND surrounding areas. Crain's Detroit Business has a good article on their efforts.

I think that they have done a good job and the brand logo shown here embodies Detroit nicely. I see automotive and sports culture in the image and this goes right to the soul of the motor city. Now it will be interesting to see how it is integrated in its overall marketing. The suggestion being put forth, is that Detroit is "Where cool comes from".


Does it matter if you're real?

This past week, I had lunch on two separate occasions with friends who are embarking on business ventures involving direct selling, (multi-level marketing, pyramid etc). One was trying to sell me, one was just updating me on his progress. What struck me was there was a "little" deception going on with each.

From the selling friend I experienced this...

Like many MLM situations, there must be a 'product' to sell. That's a given. You need to open that door and your good looks won't cut it. But, once that door is open there isn't much conversation about the product anymore. It turns quickly to money. If you don't bring it up, they will - it's the crack of their business. The product was Identity Theft protection coupled with pre-paid legal. Nice fit.

I asked the question- do you make more cash selling the product or by recuiting? BINGO, I could tell this question had been asked before as the facilitiator scribbled out the chart backwards. (this told me he's done this example before). He quickly hopped into how lucrative the scenario could be. Everybody up the ladder benefits. Old story, same ending.

With the selling friend I left the meeting feeling that he's drop a notch or two with regards to my respect for him. I was lured to the meeting through the premise of learning more on ID theft. The 2 young guys on either side of me who were half my age sucked it up like Pepsi through a straw. I was impressed by their presentation, my friend played the straight man to the facilitator. Why are good people drawn to situations where there has to be some initial deception to get you to listen?

I've been in business for about 25 years now, and I always believe you should be as honest as possible and deliver value. I am currently beta-testing a DIY version of my branding process and the number one thing that I asked of one of the companies that is trying out my product is: "Can this help deliver a genuine solution?" My brand - corporate and personal is key for me. I sometimes do business on a handshake because my word is my bond. I don't want to use deception to get a meeting with you, I want you to meet with me because there is a genuine interest in what I may have to offer. I don't want to talk to anyone who may not want to talk to me.

You will do better business, with stronger lasting relationships if you initiate it honestly. Care about the customers success and strive to offer additional value every step of the way. I have no problem with direct selling businesses so long as it is balanced. Good product, great service and superb follow-up. You also benefit with a selling network with the same high values. All I heard at the meeting was a focus on recruting your way to riches and any customer issues are handled by the system in place. You don't have to care. You focus on recruiting - the money.

To me being real, means having integrity and delivering value for what you have a passion doing OR am I naive?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Can my blog help you?

My request for information regarding Windsor, gave me an idea: if there is a question you would like to post to my readers, let me know and I will post it for you. Thanks.

Have you ever heard of Windsor, Ontario, Canada?

This is an open question to all who visit my blog: Can you tell me what you know if anything about my city, Windsor, Ontario, Canada? All I ask is that in your response you tell me which city you hail from.

We here at the Branding Experts anticipate being a part of a tender to brand our fair city and I would like to build some un-scientific data on the city's brand as it exists. I feel that with the international character of blogging, I should be able to get some good feed-back to this request. It is relevant if you have never heard of Windsor also, so if you could let me know that fact as well it would be much appreciated.

This request is one of the incredible things about blogging - assistance on many levels with what we love to do.

Thank you,


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Help make the web safe for kids.

There is a good message circulating on the web right now that I thought I should help draw attention to. It is directed at porno sites that have have free content on the splash pages, allowing kids to view it. It is not aimed at kids, it is just that there are no barriers in place to restrict their gaze.

The following statement is their plea to the porn profession:

"Please require a password-protected login before allowing even free access to explicit adult content. We understand that selling porn is your business and we respect your right to make a legal living. But understand our legitimate concerns and work with us. You already have the “warning adult content” on your websites. Yet kids, who are not legal customers of your product, ignore the warning. So to prevent them from having direct access to explicit images, texts and sounds, the simplest way is to have a password-protected login. No more “free tours” before a visitor supplies basic information."

If you would like more information, please go here: Blogger Power: Safeguard the Web for Children. I'd like to thank Mihaela Lica at e-Writing for bringing this issue to my attention.

A kid's innocense is so fragile these days, try to help out this cause.

Thank you.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Help me welcome a friend to blogging...

An associate of mine, Marcia Hoeck from Toledo, Ohio has joined us in discussions on branding. Her "temporary" blog is at: Brands That Connect. I'll update this link when she launches her official site soon. Marcia and I are charter members of a group of branding professionals from Cinncinati, Toledo, Chicago and myself here in Windsor, Ontario. Together we are MOOB - Mind Our Own Business. We meet every quarter at one of our locations and spend the day discussing our brand products and other opportunities to broaden our intellects and success. We have been doing this for over 4 1/2 years now.

Marcia is incredibly well read, a good writer and public speaker. My only dilemma is going to be my general inability to disagree with her as we are generally on the same page because of MOOB. She has a great post on Sensory Branding, an issue I discuss when I do speaking engagements, but I don't believe I have seen addressed yet in the blogs.

When you visit tell Marcia I said hello.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Please, PLEASE do my poll!

I get regular traffic to this blog every day. Why don't they fill in my poll? I thought it would be a no brainer. Are people afraid of polls? Blogging by their nature gives opinion a place to breed, so why not give my poll a go? It needs to be fed too.

Go on, leave an answer. Please - I won't beg. Well...

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

How to take your online brand image to another level.

Your online brand. It's a heady challenge. Many small companies do not take their web presence as serious as they should. Many view that presence in the simplest of terms. It is just a digital representation of their printed brochure. No matter what industry you are doing business in, if you choose to ignore the web's potential you are agreeing to leave money on the table.

A printed brochure by it's very nature is limited in it's scope. It's message is expensive to present. Content is set in a fixed time frame and distribution is expensive in labour and the cost to implement. It's main benefit is as a tangible marketing tool in a big box of tools we use to get our messages in the hands of potential customers. But today the not so subtle message on your printed materials should be the drive to the website. While your printed materials are considered successful to grab a 4 - 6% response rate in direct marketing the web can deliver far greater numbers. Online surveys enjoy healthy results.

It is critical that all brand materials across all media present a highly professional, consistent brand message and image. Your company really is open to the world and they are watching. I use StatCounter® to track useage. I am regularly visited by people from all the industrialized nations. StatCounter® is a free service, but it gives me plenty of information. Make your website a tool for your customers and resource to your industry. Offer a FREE newsletter to push out advice and other news your market will benefit from. A terrific brand building vehicle. If you are in retail, you can't find a better avenue for promotions and collecting data on customers who sign-up for a better experience from you.

Look at what Coca-Cola Canada is doing. Blogging - what you are actively doing now cranks your web presense up a notch. My opinions here and comments left out at other blogs, increase my brand presence every day. I get several visits each day directly from other blogs that I have visited. A number of them, I am aware of their visits simply because of my tracking and awareness of their brands. Today, millions of potential customers search for help for their businesses. Give them every opportunity to find the benefit of your business.

If you have publications to offer, the web gives you the opportunity to sell it cheaply to an immense web audience as opposed to a higher price point BUT in an expensive distribution cycle from a bricks and mortar store with a regional audience. Long Tail thinking. With every element you add to your site, you raise the level of your online brand. I will admit it is very time consuming, but think of it as a highly sophisticated form of networking with world-wide potential.

Once you have a professional online presence, the only real expense is effort. If you can't afford the time, delegate. Make the web work for you, the rewards come will a highly polished corporate brand image. For more on this topic check out this blog: ewritings.
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