Friday, July 15, 2011

Eco Packaging Great For Your Brand

If you're a business who packages goods, then having a great sustainability story is golden to your brand. If you use styrofoam or other petroleum based packaging, this moth's issue of Packaging magazine has a terrific article and video outlining mushroom based packaging.

A sustainability story gives you something positive to tell about the social conscience of your brand. Down the food chain it gives your customer's a story to tell as well. Every body would love to do their part for the environment. This is your opportunity.

This is an idea that is worth investigating. Beat your competition in being an early adopter. Lead with your brand.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

911 Branding

When it comes to branding - small businesses in general assume a lot. They more or less figure that if money is coming in the door then everything must be alright. But is it? Do you have that nagging in your gut, that you simply aren't performing to your potential? Maybe you're not getting your fair share. Are you aware of what your brand actually stands for in the mind of your stake holders? What are you doing to distinguish your brand? Are your sales staff motivated and moving your brand higher? If you don't know where your brand is right now or what it stands for, at least investigate what you can do about it.

911 Branding is my proprietary process that immediately addresses your brand anxiety. Working with a branding team comprising of your stake holders we determine your brand values, which are the foundation blocks of your brand and the brand personality which is the soul of your brand. Identifying these two attributes is the initial characteristics of any brand. Identifying them sets the tone in brand development.

One sure-fire way to motivate employees and especially sales staff is to give them reason to crow about your business. Many times, sales staff are tired of the same old marketing lines and don't really believe that you need one more hook to get leads. They need to be the leader in their markets. The last thing you or sales people want is to solely compete on price. You want doors to open because of your strong brand perception not because you're the cheap guy. 911 Branding's advanced deliverable is the positioning strategy. Compete based on a leadership perspective. An effective positioning strategy's sole aim is to resonate with your audience and to differentiate your brand. It is not a broad brush approach but a targeted one.

As an example of what I mean, take three of my clients' positioning lines. Great Northern Hydroponics: "The ONLY tomatoes tested for taste", Guardog Skate Guards: "Original Guardog - Anything else is a mutt" and Suntrition: "The LEADER in small-batch, oral-dose manufacturing". In each case the positioning speaks directly to its target audience. Each is taking the high ground and boasting about it. Although bold, these statements reflect a real advantage that each of the businesses own. Their claims are genuine and defendable. A brand must be genuine to be of any use. Now your sales staff has a story to tell. NOW they can sell from a position of strength.

Validation of the results above is carried out by speaking directly with stake holders and getting their perceptions of the brand and see if they agree with our discoveries so far. This bit of research is key to being sure your brand is authentic. It tells us that we are headed in the true direction.

Rounding out 911 Branding, is an analysis of the competitions brand including their image and positions they hold. We also do a brand image audit of your company to see how consistent your brand image is. We are looking for inconsistencies that can cause your brand damage and cost you money. We wrap up the process establishing a proper brand standard that is adhered to by all stakeholders. 911 Branding also intends on establishing image elements that you can own and use as memorable brand icons such as colour. Much like UPS owns the colour brown.

911 Branding is my most comprehensive approach to branding and delivers in a big way. It gives you a clear perspective of where your corporate brand sits today and how it will move forward with a position of leadership that resonates with your customers. It delivers a knowledge and confidence that brings clarity to your brand.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Perils of Ignoring Your Brand

I believe that most small businesses ignore their brand. They have absolutely no idea what the perception of their brand is among their stake holders. Many even fail to recognize that they are a leader and are content with settling with following the perceived leader. They allow that leader by default to define their brand for them.

If your understanding of a brand, is restricted to that of your image then I've got some bad news for you. Your brand is so much more than that. Your logo and marketing materials are simply the face of your brand. Every touch point reflects on your brand. When I speak to groups of businesses on the subject, I simply say that "Branding = Your Reputation." At the end of a work day, stake holders don't leave your brand behind, they take it with them. If you the leader, take your brand lightly imagine how they (the stake holders) regard it. More to the point - how they misrepresent it. Your brand when managed properly allows you to command a leadership position, attract great employees, draw the attention of other brands who may want to acquire you and motivate sales staff driving meaningful sales to you.

Your brand is real. When individuals contemplate you, they have to draw their conclusions from some where. If your brand has grown free-style then you are what you get. Perception is reality. Assumptions are the foundation of your brand. You have absolutely no control over what the message is. In describing you, the marketplace defines you by comparing you to the leader - "They do stuff like ABC Company." A brand like this is definitely not a thought leader. Publicity eludes you, they want to speak to an authority. As you can see so far we haven't even touched on image.

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