Thursday, June 26, 2008

You're Better Than That!

Branding is all about market niches. To say your uniqueness is your great customer service or that your employees make the difference is simply not compelling enough. Take a good hard look at ALL aspects of the delivery of your product or service. Most companies try to be all things to all people, thinking this is the best route to getting all the business. It only puts you in a line with all the other companies taking the exact same strategy. That being the case, you are now just a price to the customer - a commodity.

Discovering that niche, positions you as something more important or compelling. It gives your customer a reason to view you differently. If you target a specific industry you can become the leader in that category. People like to deal with specialists or experts. It only stands to reason - if you lead - your not following.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

5 Tips To Branding A Powerful Presence.

If there is one thing that many small businesses love to mess with, it is their brand image. Perhaps it is their chance to get creative, in an otherwise numbers oriented existence. It is also the one area that gets the greatest abuse in regard to the "holy Grail" of brand - CONSISTENCY. One area I'd like to address is your web presence.

Does your website reflect your brand accurately? Let's take a look at 5 cyber-consistency challenges:

ONE: Over-all brand image of your website.

If I met you at a networking event and you passed your card on to me - when I got back to my office and went directly to your website - would I see something familiar when the opening page appears?
Your business card is my initial exposure to your brand image. I begins my journey down Brand You. If upon opening your web page, I am faced with an entirely different esthetic, then you are doing your company/brand a HUGE disservice. Your visitor now has to adjust their interpretation of your brand from another perspective. Ideally, you want their brand experience to reinforced from their initial exposure to Brand You. Don't get tempted with the urge to get overly creative if it means moving away from what was already established on your business cards.

TWO: If your brand is information oriented, your website should reflect this.

Let's say Brand You, has established itself as an expert, then your site should be focused on delivering information on your category. It should give the visitor the distinct impression that Brand You is indeed that expert. It should show that you are there to help them. Outside of the web, your collateral material should also portray this.

THREE: Your promise should be the same on AND off-line.

Whether your customer meets you at an event or on-line they should hear only ONE brand promise. The power of consistency goes a long way to getting the trust of a potential customer when the promise they hear is repeated at every point of contact. Also be sure that the promise is acted on, not just a hollow statement.

FOUR: There is more to a domain name than you think.

Your URL. Is it specific to your brand. Ideally it is the same name as your brand name. So if your company is called - The Acme Company then ideally the URL would be The If that isn't available don't be tempted with acronyms like, while representational, it does nothing to make them think of Acme. If I called your office, you now answer the telephone with. "good morning Acme", not good morning TAC. A good alternative would be something descriptive of Acme. Maybe something like, "". Now we're thinking something positive about Acme.

FIVE: Is your website presence passive or pro-active?

Determine how your website can be an asset to your brand. If it is strictly informational, then it is a passive tool. Get the information out and make it easy for the customer to contact you. If it is to be pro-active, then you want your customer to stay around your site longer. Give them tools and information that they can use. Become a valuable resource for them. Which ever of the two strategies you follow, be sure that it is in sync with your brand.

CONSISTENCY - there is no more powerful word regarding your brand experience. With it, each element builds on the next. It leaves confusion in the dust. Without it, it is a harder, more expensive route to take. Never compromise. Take a hard look at your brand as it exists right now. Are there any loose ends that could use a tweak or two to assure that everything you do is consistent?
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