Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The "NEW" Business Card

Use traditional 3.5" X 2" business cards to promote new services, products, specials or whatever is new at your business. They would still have your contact information. Use them to drive business to your website or location. Treat them as promo cards with a personal circulation. A clever new way to celebrate your brand.

When you go to a networking event in your community, you can take the opportunity to NOT hand out your traditional card but instead, hand out your "what's new card." One great result is that it initiates conversation on your "news." It's a simple idea, but one that is inexpensive and novel. It doesn't matter what size company you have - there's always great news to spread. What could you put on your promo card?

Monday, May 20, 2013

5 Steps To The Motherlode!

That next telephone call or email could be the mother lode of opportunities. If you're anything like myself, you're fiercely proud of what you've accomplished to date. The relationships built over the years have not only delivered happy customers but rewarding business friends that have turned into advocates for you.

Of course, if the mother lode is to fall into your lap, it would come not by happenstance, but a concerted effort. You know as well as I, that you can never take your eye of the goal. One of my favourite anonymous quotes goes something like. " I can't get over how lucky I am the harder I work." You have to be responsible for your own success of failure. Taking ownership is a powerful brand action. Here a few tips to the motherlode:

Put together a "Re-Acquaintance Package". This is a program that has you sending out promotional correspondence to past customers that have dropped off your radar after many years. You'd be surprised how many would love to reconnect and benefit from your accumulated experience. This could also involve introducing new products or service not yet available when you first spoke.

Develop a "Referral Kit". You know that many of your customers are indeed advocates for you, but you have no control over what they are saying about your brand. By putting together a little package of materials to hand out and a story outlining the types of business you are looking for, they will be more effective in generating more profitable leads for you. The kit should contain branded items such as pens, notepads, business cards and of course the letter of intention. Make sure your kit is as professional as you can to make it. Be sure it compliments your brand image. Send these to advocates that have the greatest influence among your target audience.

Participate in open networking events sponsored by various groups in your business community. This gives you the opportunity to exhibit a presence locally. Don't be concerned if you find yourself among regular attendees and not new faces. It is this familiarity that gets you business because everyone gets to know each other very well. Knowing allows conversations to start within 'their' networks. It's those conversation that bring terrific referrals.

Getting involved in online promotional efforts that position you as an expert. Things like bogging and social networking are great avenues to spur opportunity. Blogging especially has a huge impact from a business perspective. Chance are good that the mother lode of opportunity could hatch from this effort alone. Very powerful. Consider public speaking as well. Very engaging.

Building an opt-in business email database. Email marketing puts your message directly into the hands of your target market. Because they are opt-in, your message is welcome. A great place to nurture your brand. It is also a great opportunity to provide valuable free advice. Become a free resource which leads to a paid resource. This database is essentially your very own marketplace.

What the heck - one more. Be sure that what ever you do, you are extremely consistent in tone and brand image. Consistency pay dividends. Opportunity only comes to those who are willing to earn it and ready to accept it when it calls. "The next time you get email" - this could be the one - brace yourself!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Five Ways To Brand Like The Fortune 500's

Branding can be daunting at the best of times. As small to medium size enterprises, budgets to address brand initiatives are just a fraction of what a Fortune 500 company may apply. If you're anything like myself, you're constantly educating yourself on ways to fine tune your brand. Books on the subject is a great way to discover nuggets of information that can be applied to your situation. But often, branding books use as examples, companies who the world knows and whose budgets are no where close to small business's reality which makes it hard to relate. I thought I'd use this space to show small businesses some good branding strategies they can use to with great effectiveness and little cost.

ONE: Consistency

You'll never see a Fortune 500 company with multiple versions of their logo. Many small businesses have one logo on their business cards and another on their location, vehicles and uniforms. To many this may seem silly, but look around your communities. You'll see that this happens all the time because companies do not have brand image guidelines in place. The image of the company is left in the hands of whom ever picks up the ball to do some marketing. Establish strict guidelines for your brand and you'll experience less confusion among your customers.

TWO:  Brand Experience

Drop by any Apple store, Walmart or McDonald's location and the experience crossing the threshold will be the same no matter where in the world you'll come into contact with them. Even if you only have one location it's important that all employees understand the experience you want your customers to have once they contact your company - whether that's live, online or over a lan line. Customers have to become very familiar with  brand attitudes, policies and general expectations. I know when I step up the counter at any McDonald's, the wait staff are going to try and deliver my order as fast and efficiently as they can. All while having a great attitude regardless of how busy the restaurant is that day. 

You too can orchestrate a brand experience that customers grow to love and expect. It doesn't take buckets of cash, to make a customer feel like you care and repeat that over and over. Training staff is crucial to your brand experience.

THREE: Own Your Color

If I quote a popular marketing slogan - "What can brown do for you today?" who am I speaking of? Most people I ask this to state that's its owner is UPS. What's marvellous is that they know the identity of the firm by their colour - not their name. UPS owns the colour brown. You too can own your own colour if you choose it strategically instead of psychologically or by picking favourites. Research the colours used by competition in your category and choose colours that are not being used. I analyzed the tool and die industry in the industrial heartland and 74% of them used the colour blue. They were essentially following the leader. The rational being, "if they were successful using blue, then we should follow them." All it really does is put your brand in a sea of sameness. 

FOUR: Use An Icon

You've heard the old adage, "a picture is worth a thousand words." Well it's definitely the truth in branding. Icons are becoming so powerful, some brands are dropping their names in favor of their icons (or symbols). These companies include Apple, Target and Starbucks. Does your logo have a symbol or icon attached to it? maybe you should consider it? Some have fun with the technique by having their icon also become their mascot. Afflac's duck became so powerful they applied it to the logo. Coke's glass bottle shape was an icon so familiar, patrons could identify the product in the dark just by the feel of it in their hand. Harley uses a sound icon, which of course is the sound of their bike. Cinnabon uses smell as an icon. No matter which sensory button you'd like to push, icons scan be very powerful in representing your brand on many other levels.

FIVE: Brand Culture

Many of the Fortune 550's have a brand culture that encourages their employees to excel. From the top down a positive and inclusive attitude exists that encourages growth from within. Attitude is paramount. You too can have a winning corporate brand culture. Study how they work their human assets to benefit the whole. Attitude doesn't involve so much cash but rather a perspective and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. One advantage small companies have over Fortune 500's is that they are flatter, and therefore can turn on a dime to changing trends. Making stakeholders brand advocates puts everyone on the same team benefiting from a common culture.

That's about it. There is so much towards having a winning brand. These five examples are a good start to growing your brand. Implementing just one, will make a difference in your business.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gawd Brand It!! Do As I Say Not As I Do!

I came across an interesting article today that smacks the face of good branding. It speaks to authenticity. Colby Sambrotto, the founder of 'for sale by owner' recently sold his home through a real estate owner. He even paid full commission. What does that say about his authenticity? The negative press will certainly hurt the DIY market. Read the story here:

Are you and your brand on the same page? Do you manufacture parts for GM but drive a Chrysler? You can't have it both ways. We are all guided by our perceptions. I've met people who sold sales training packages but they themselves never used it in their sales efforts. I've met Dale Carnegie guru's who never exhibited traits complementary to Mr. Carnegie's principals. Hypocrisy abounds. It takes real effort to live your brand. To do otherwise shows that you don't take branding seriously and put its value as so much spin. 

Branding is not a slogan or an "I wish I was great." Branding is the reality of your company at this point in time. It's not what you wished it was or hope it could be one day. Real estate agents across the continent are going to be re-defining Mr. Sambrotto's DIY brand for him over the next little while. He wrongly thought his personal and business brand were exclusive of each other. That kind of arrogance can be very costly and hard to back away from.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Is Your Brand Image Up To The Challenges To Come?

Your brand image is the face of your brand. It is the first thing your target audience sees when first introduced to you. What do you suppose goes through their mind when they see your brand image? Are the colors and imagery resonating by correctly representing your brand values and personality? How about consistency, are you showing one message?

At the first introduction everything is riding on your brand image. If a business's image is amateur, then they are doing immediate damage to sales goals. Their efforts to save money and get an image on the cheap, only shows their lack of understanding as to how the buying public formulates buying decisions. Their perceptions are the reality in the world of a brand. If a business looks like a small player, a person will have a more difficult time building a belief that the business can deliver for them. These perceptions and reactions happen in seconds. Building trust is huge in the sales cycle and so any distraction from that effort is critical. 

Your brand image should also differentiate your company. Choose colors that not only represent your personality, fit psychologically but also are different than competing companies. Every aspect of your brand must be compelling to a prospect. Your brand image mustn't be simply window dressing either. You have to walk the walk. There are so many things you have to remember in order to succeed, your image should be the wonderful wrapping to a tremendous gift inside. 

Take this opportunity to look objectively at your brand image. Ask friends and customers for their opinions in a short survey. Use the results to address any deficiencies and make your job a little bit easier.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

How to Benefit From A Cohesive Brand Strategy

An interesting brand strategy to me has always been putting the owner's persona front and center. Make them the face and voice of the brand. Everything we read today speaks to the relationships we build with customers. Make 'em smile when they see you coming. Volunteering for local charities. Networking. A good number of small business professionals I come into contact with invest a lot of face-time in their markets. These efforts make their names synonymous with their brands. In the greater world, think of Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. As you read each name, no one had to tell you the company behind each. Attaching the visionary to your brand image extends the effort you put out to a greater effect. Relationships extend to your marketing and sales, benefiting from your notoriety in the marketplace. 

Humility often gets in the way of this strategy. It may seem like boasting, but if you identify yourself as a product for the greater good of the brand, then the benefit becomes obvious. By coupling the two you would also benefit from the fact that your marketplace won't view the brand and the very public owner as two separate entities. As it stands, the public owner is seen as the pillar of the company. If they were to die tonight, most would view the brand as vulnerable. Viewed as a spokesperson on the other hand, the company has brand cache of it's own. It carries on in the spirit of the spokesperson, i.e.: Walt Disney. Of course this strategy takes some nurturing, but at the very least it can be argued that cohesiveness of efforts bears more fruit than separate strategies for a common goal.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The 10 most profitable Google Feed Optimizations

Google Shopping is a paid service. That offers an opportunity for many advertisers: more clicks, a lower cpc and better conversion rates. Advertisers are beginning to realize that the profitability of their Product Listing Ads depends on the quality of their product feed.
What are the most profitable feed optimizations that will help advertisers maximize the RoI of their Product Listing Ad campaigns?
DataFeedWatch analyzed the modifications that its customers executed between November and February and compiled the following top 10:

  1. AdWords Grouping: Bids based on price 
    RoI-driven advertisers set higher bids for more expensive products. They divide all products into different price groups ($1-$5, $5-$10, etc.) so they can create product targets that are a mix of e.g. brand and price. Some of them are even able to categorize their products by margin and maximize gross margin across their entire product portfolio.
  2. Exclude: only advertise profitable products 
    Most merchants exclude certain products from their Google-feed for various reasons: Seasonality, CPA too high, etc. Not advertising those products is a big saving.

    Some merchants take that one step further; they exclude products on a per-channel basis: some products do well on Shopzilla but not on Google. By selecting the best channel for each product, they considerably improve RoI.
  3. AdWords Labels for high converters 
    Web shops are willing to bid more for products that convert better. Setting a product target per product type does not achieve that.

    Example: A shoe shop knew that those red high heels size 8 sell much better than those black ones size 10. Setting color and size as AdWords labels, enabled the shop owner to bid differently on both products and improve his RoI.
  4. Google categories: 6 levels deep 
    Merchants often have all products in a few generic Google Categories (example: Software > Video Game Software). An effective optimization is to assign deep-level categories to each of their products, based on product type (example: Software > Video Game Software > All Xbox games > Xbox 360 games).

    A more specific Google Category increases visibility and the traffic quality on Google Shopping and thus increases impressions and conversion rate.
  5. Availability: only advertise what's in stock 
    The "availability" field is mandatory and it ensures that out-of-stock-products are never advertised. Most shopping carts have a field for that, but Google accepts only four values here: in stock, available for order, out of stock and preorder.

    On Magento, for example, availability will be either 0 or 1, so all Magento-merchants remap each 0 to out of stock and each 1 to in stock. Another popular re-map is using Stock Levels: Availability = out of stock if quantity = 0 and in stock if quantity > 0.
  6. Variants: No way around it 
    Most apparel shops have Variants (example: 1 shirt in 5 different colors). Every shopping cart has a different way of presenting those variants and that's often not the Google-way. Hence, those merchants have no other option than to find the field that links all variants and re-map it to Google's group id.
  7. AdWords Redirect: Add Tracking 
    Tracking the performance is key for every merchant. Even though most of them have a pretty good insight using data from AdWords and (any) Analytics software, it pays to add additional tracking code to their feed: It enables them to segment all data in one place, like Google Analytics. Google has created the "AdWords Redirect" field to add tracking code.
  8. Appealing product titles 
    Merchants often remap product titles to ensure that their Product Listing Ads are compelling enough. Example: If the title of a product is "501", the merchant should add "Levi's" to it.

    As a side note: merchants sometimes use this functionality to meet Google's guidelines, by erasing exclamation marks, replacing CAPITALS and deleting promotional texts such as "Free shipping, etc.
  9. Add bar codes 
    Adding the bar code of each product (UPC in the US, EAN in Europe) increases the conversion rate: Google now can identify each product exactly and better match products with search queries.

    Example: even if a product feed for mountain bikes does not contain fields for suspension type or frame material, Google can categorize all bikes by these attributes, if they have the UPC.
  10. Condition: new or used? 
    Web shops that only sell new products add 'new' as a static value in the mandatory 'Condition' field. Merchants with both new and used goods do a more complex remapping: They set the condition based on product type or even on certain words in the description.

About DataFeedWatch

DataFeedWatch is a web-app that enables merchants and agencies to map their product data feed any way they want.
DataFeedWatch is a service of WordWatch Inc. When we started managing Product Listing Ads, we quickly found out that controlling the data feed was the only way to be successful. We built a tool that enabled us to modify anything in a data feed. The performance of the PLA-campaigns soared as a result. The tool was so effective that we decided to spin it off as a separate service.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

So You Want To Build A Brand.

Where does one start to build a brand? Do you just let nature dictate, or should you plant your own seeds and nurture it along? My answer has to be the latter. As I see brand as essentially your reputation, I often tell start-ups to determine what they'd like their brand to stand for and then to work to that end. I think that that's a little easier than to trip along unengaged with who you are and what you stand for. 

I also think that you should differentiate your brand from the get-go. If you use differentiation as a strategy, then you can analyze the competition and then do something different then they are doing. Use them as a "what not to do model." The strategy here is to resonate with your customers by positively standing out. It's not to be different for the sake of being different, but different by being better - a leader. Your brand image should reflect something other than them. Most industries use a follow the leader mentality. Look at the leading brand in a category, more often those competing against the leader use the same colour palettes, the same images and the same conversation.

You want to own the conversation and attract by your difference. Values you adopt and consistently abide by will see you go from start-up to flourishing. Your brand values define you and your brand.  Who ever you decide to become, be sure to be authentic and passionate. Branding can be your friend and positively affect every touch point of your brand.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Are You Holding You Back?

Is your brand continually evolving? Are you always watching for tools and education to put more opportunity in your cross-hairs? Just last year I fine-tuned my website. I really thought the look and functionality was exactly what my brand reflected. In the year or more since that re-do I recognized that to update or improve the sight I really should have not completed it in html (which I did myself). I am now in a major re-do porting the site to a Wordpress platform. This is beyond me so I had to engage the services of a professional in this area. I'm anxious to get the flexibility that this platform allows.

Are you finding it easy to get the brand information and/or training you need to help you grow your brand? I've signed up for a few webinars and online lectures only to have them deliver generalities. I leave with more questions than answers. You come to realize that the webinar is really just a come-on in a complicated sales funnel. This can happen in a paid webinar as well. I set my sights low in many things that I attend. I am usually just looking for a nugget or two that can help me more effectively deliver my products. When I deliver to my clients, I often ask myself if this is how I would like to be treated? Is this price point something I would consider paying?

Do you monitize your services? Do you find it difficult to do? I'm curious to know what platforms you find advantageous and are you and your audience having an enjoyable experience working together? I've seen just having a book out there draws people to you and your brand experience. When you have a strong brand, you'll find yourself in demand for your opinion. How many people offer to buy you a coffee to get your opinion on something? These questions are exacting the reason I found that the platform of my website was sorely lacking to allow me to quickly adjust to new revenue streams. I like to react immediately not six months or more down the road. My brand expects me to jump while the iron is hot. Who better to invest in than myself? A few thousand well-directed dollars can make a HUGE difference in how your brand develops. 

How many people do you know, who whine on about the economy but do nothing to develop opportunities that will will positively impact their businesses? It's as thought their answer is to ignore the problems and success will eventually find its way to them. I wish that were true but it's never worked that way for me. I've always had to create my own opportunities. It's like the old adage. "I seems the harder I work, the luckier I get."

Monday, February 25, 2013

You've Been Voluntold!

If you're anything like myself - you do a great deal of local networking. At least two or three days a week, you might run into me at some event or another. Some are professional groups where my target customers lurk and others are general professional organizations local and national. In a few of these organizations I play a managerial role, (one I'm the president). As you may well understand this takes a great deal of commitment and effort.  I absolutely believe that these groups help get my brand in front of the right people who desire what I'm offering. I have a strategy for my efforts and all involve being in control of my efforts. I'm proud that my brand commands the respect of my peers and as such I never have to suffer the the terrible affliction of being "voluntold." 

If you're on a committee or two but fail to show up when you're needed to participate, you will fall fate to joining efforts you are unaware of at the time you were induced. Some describe it this way - " the fasted way to getting the worst job on a committee is to not show up at an important meeting." At that critical meeting your brethren will take great pleasure in volunteering you, and if this happens - brother you've been VOLUNTOLD!" 

Being Voluntold is the scarlet letter of organizations. If you're Voluntold too many times your personal brand is going to take a beating. For the sake of your brand, be aware of the importance of meetings and your responsibility within a group.

You've been warned.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ed Roach on Talk To Derek Show!

Great interview with yours truly on the "Talk To Derek" show produced locally. Check us out at:   Derek has begun what he hopes will be a well received business forum.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Here's What's In A Great Marketing Tool Box…

Your brand is anchored in what differentiates you. Without that differentiator, you have to fall back on image or (god forbid) price. A good number of small businesses think to raise the bar they have to changes their logo, update their image and refresh that website. I've sat through enough meetings with graphic designers who still push this antiquated notion. My background is in graphic design so I have a healthy respect for the industry. But, I don't rest the success of communication and sales initiatives squarely at the feet of design. Design from my perspective is the compliment to great branding. 

Give me something that absolutely resonates with your customer and then wrap it up with great design so that your overall communication is outstanding and really positions the customer as a leader in their category. That's a story worth telling. Graphic designers today have a tendency to not understand fundamental marketing. Most (that I know) have never taken a marketing course. Graphic design courses in this region don't have marketing as part of their curriculum. To these isolated designers, it's an us or them attitude.

How many presentations on social media have you been to where they compare social media to off-line media as if they were rivals. ie: doing this and this social thing will save you the cost of print, radio and TV. Email marketing is much more beneficial than direct-mail marketing. Stupid. It's all about fit - NOT us or them. 

The fact of the matter is, they are ALL tools in your brand tool-box. Online marketing is spectacular and combined with traditional media can be incredibly powerful. The Kardasian's may have millions of Twitter and Facebook followers but without television and print coverage how long do you think they'd last. When the day comes and the public tires of them and they no longer exist in the visual media - THAT will be the true test of their brand power. 

My promotional efforts include on and offline, and face to face efforts. And every single effort I put out there has to be absolutely consistent and powerful. My brochures aren't printed on my office printer. My business cards to come in a sheet | have to tear apart. My web efforts weren't developed for the price of a case of beer. But I didn't spend a King's ransom either. Everything involves a fit. What works for your brand. Overall what is it saying to your audience as opposed to what your competitors are saying. Are you leading or following? 

Peer deep inside that tool box and foster a strategic plan than carries your brand along as authentic and as powerful as your marketing budget affords you. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Great or Safe - You Can't Be Both!

I've seen several cases lately where graphic designers will gather opinions on Facebook regarding logos they're designing. I can't help but think that reflects badly on their brand. The client is retaining them based on their professionalism in the field. I feel letting Facebook friends chose their best says plainly that these designers don't have the confidence to know what is the best solution. A logo speaks to the face of a brand.  It's not a work of art but a communication vehicle. These designers are doing their clients a disservice. 

I believe that a designer who is charge of helping to develop brand images must do so based on the brand and its promise to its marketplace. There are plenty of examples of individuals who believe it's not a good idea to ask the public for their input. Steve Jobs of Apple was one of these. He absolutely believed he knew what people wanted. Henry Ford had a great quote: "If I had asked them what they wanted they would have said faster horses." I've always said to my clients, "I don't give you what you like, I give you what you need." 

More times than not crowd sourcing delivers mediocrity. The general public are more likely to choose safe over ground breaking. When you engage the efforts of a professional you put yourself in their hands. If you don't entirely trust them, then you chose the wrong person. Put your brand into the hands of someone who can really make a difference. The last thing you want is to be is safe. Safe doesn't stand out from the crowd. If you're a graphic designer reading this and you enjoy crowd sourcing to make your decisions, maybe it's time you reconsider your occupation. When you're designing an image your client is the brand that hired you, not the public. They are there to be inspired by the truly great ones. 

We should all strive to one of those.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Web Killed The Trogan Horse Brand

Before the web was a dominant influencer to a brand, a company could essentially hide behind their brand. How their advertising portrayed them was all the contact the public had with the companies they bought from. With this in mind a company could say one thing on the surface and do an entirely different thing behind the scenes. The tobacco industry is a good example. In the public eye, the advertising showed a lifestyle that was glamorous and appealing while the reality behind the scenes was that they were selling a product that could kill the user. At that time there was no recourse as effective as social media to exposing the double identity of that brand. Today the web changes that scenario.

Today, every business has to be sure that all channels of contact with their prospective customer may be using is represented in their marketing plan. You have to be aggressive in defining what your brand stands for. The flagship of your brand today is your website. If you hire an amateur to do you site, it will turn off those who approach you online. Your brand image must be consistent to make the best impression every time they come into contact with you. Any week points in your presentation works against you.  Unlike the old days, you can no longer risk the ire of the public when you say one thing and do another. Authenticity is paramount to defining your brand. Anything that reflects bad behaviour will be exposed almost instantly to a planet-wide audience. If its bad enough, it could take on a life of its and ruin a brand.

The web is an open book and that's a great thing. If your brand fears the web, then it has problems culture-wide. The web absolutely levels the field. Staying on top off your marketing efforts on and off-line allows you some control over what messages are being pushed out to the public. The challenge of course is staying on top of these efforts. Just like lean manufacturing, your branding needs constant attention and improvement. To ignore your brand is to play with your sales potential.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Choosing The Right Color For Your Brand

Nothing is more striking visually in a brand than its colour palette. It can move people, calm people and agitate them. Colour has meaning and can be historically relevant. An example of what I mean by this is - let's say you have an antique store or modern store for that matter that sells 1950's era goods that are original or retro. You would be wise to use the pastel colour palette from that era (shown here). On doing this, your audience would immediately relate to the environment you are trying to create. 

Color also can help the customer feel a certain way. Red for instance is a power colour. It motivates. This is the number one colour used in retail sales to get customers to react to a sales statement . Act Now! Call Today! Up to 50% off - these are things you see every day and colour sells them.

I also like to analyze what colours the competition is using and use a palette that is completely opposite which is currently being used. Think UPS and brown. This is a leadership approach to color selection. How ever you choose to pick your corporate palette, don't just make the choice based on your personal taste. If mauve is the proper selection to help you sell, don't ignore it just because you may not like mauve. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

When Should A Company Re-Brand?!

There are many good reasons why a company might want to re-brand. Entrepreneurs by their nature see the benefits in upping their game. Constantly raising the bar within their category keeps the competition on edge. They spend more time keeping up or as I like to say. "following, not leading."

A common mistake you'll see all around you is companies who think re-branding is changing their logos and marketing materials. Without a doubt this may indeed happen with a re-branding, BUT it is by no means the definition of re-branding. You would want to re-brand if you are looking for positive change and growth for your company and you want to do it from a leadership position. A lot of companies look to branding when sales have fallen flat or growth has hit a wall. They are not happy with the status-quo and they have a keen desire to be stronger and to have a brand that resonates this with their current and potential customers. Sometimes the culture of a company has become tired and there's a sense of spinning their wheels. Every brand stretches and contracts over time. Perceptions of the brand miss the mark simply because there were no strategies in place to lead the brand. 

An unfortunate  time to re-brand is when a company is in its death throes. Due to circumstances that aid to the demise of the company, realistic finances are never available to properly address a re-branding. This is where you'll see people who think changing the logo is going to solve the problem and fool the customers into thinking the problems have corrected themselves. This is lipstick on a pig. If you hate the taste of Pepsi - is changing the logo going to make you enjoy it more? Of course not. Same goes for branding.

You re-brand because you see an opportunity to take your company to a higher level. You have the confidence to determine where your brand sits today, analyze it and determine where your leadership exists and build on that. Essentially you know what you'd like your brand to stand for - this is your chance to freshen up and build towards that end. I use a pretty extensive process to get this done. There is also plenty of information out there to at least get a fix on the direction you should take. I've had many cases where a logo change wasn't needed and this was because the logo was highly recognized and that kind of cache is hard to recover. 

Be sure that you get your brand right and not build on false hopes at the risk of alienating existing customers. What ever brand you have it's a must that you be authentic. There are plenty of examples in the marketplace where companies scream great service only to slowly eat away at it. Grocery chains are good at this. In the last few years (in Canada anyway) we've had them start charging for bags that were once free, having us pack those same bags where they once had bag boys. Introducing self-checkout under the guise of speed when it's about greed. Airlines and their charging for blankets, pillows, snacks etc. when they were once free. Both these industries tout service, but are actually re-training their customers at the expense of their brands. One day you will see something come along and replace their greed models and they will be standing agape with open mouths and wondering where they dropped the ball. i.e.: Blackberry today. 

Your brand has to be about them not you. If you must re-brand, do it strategically. If you desire a new logo, be sure your motives reflect your corporate culture not just because you're tired of your image. An old adage I've always used is, "the point when you tire of your own image/marketing is just the point when your clientele are beginning to notice it."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's 2013 And I've Got Nothing!

I'm sitting here trying to be profound  and write something great about the coming year's branding efforts. I've got nothing. Not to say I'm pessimistic about the coming year, but I'm drawing a blank about what to write about. Since I've started blogging (2006) I have written several hundred articles on branding. Now, during the first week of a fresh new year I can't think of a single thing to write about except this description of my dilemma. I try to write an article a week as a minimum. Sometimes the inspiration flows and I'm able to bank them and other times (like this week) I can barely conjure up more than a paragraph. 
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