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The Art of Successful Branding
Branding: it's a term that carries great weight in the world of advertising. Successful branding is best illustrated by the world's most prominent corporations, but it's no less important to the small business owner. Your Brand is your identity; it's every single puzzle piece, fitted into the big picture of your company. From your name and logo to your business philosophy and corporate mission; from your advertising campaign message to your design elements; from your products and services; all that is owned, produced, stated, sold and marketed by your company falls under the broad heading of your Brand.
What exactly is a "brand?" The term probably originated at a time when when ours was a strictly agricultural society. Ranchers take a branding iron to their cattle, as a way to signify they OWN those cows. Likewise, modern corporations choose a logo to brand their name into the mind of the consumer. Every time you label an ad or website with your company logo; every time you take a political stance on behalf of your corporation, you're putting your brand into effect. And if a brand indicates ownership, then it should be your ultimate mission to dominate, or own, your niche. Brand your company. Own the cow.
How do you determine your style of branding? Analyze your audience. Zero in on the group you're trying to reach. Are they male, female, or both? What's the age group and economical level? What are their spending habits, their values? How do they TALK? What are they concerned about? What do they think they NEED? Where will their focus be in six months? And most importantly, how does your marketable product fit into the scheme? If you never really get to know your audience, you can read all the marketing how-to strategies in the world, and it isn't going to mean diddly-squat for your business. It isn't going to help you build your brand.
What's the next step? Always, always, always put yourself in their shoes. Jump right into their heads, if you can. Think of your audience during the business-plan conception process. How do they communicate? What do they find visually appealing? Are you marketing to senior citizens? Use bigger fonts, a nostalgic tone, and a morally forthright attitude. Is it the filthy, stinking rich whom you're trying to attract? Save the Crazy Eddie shtick, because money is no object here. Every bit of energy used to promote your brand should be focused toward winning over your key customer.
There will be a time when you completely lose sight of who you're trying to attract. This, in turn, dilutes the power of your brand. You'll be in the middle of writing an ad, when suddenly your head is racing with potential buyer types. This happened to me once during my writing stint with a digital media company who sold Santa Claus greetings. In my sales letter, which went on for pages and pages, there was no limit to what Santa could do! He could praise tiny tots for using the potty. He could play matchmaker to a couple of young lovers. He could patch up an argument you had with Aunt Freida in Topeka. All of this was great, but it was really convoluting Who We Were as a company, and our Santa was becoming a Jack Frost of all trades. It was no good! So we went back to square one. And through simple words and a more narrow focus on our original audience of children, we finally captured the Magic of Christmas that we had originally intended to be Our Brand.
Reflect your brand in everything you do; from your website design, to your public relations, to how you go about selling your product. Once you've done this, the next step is to create Brand Awareness. This is achieved through consistency. You can dream up the most brilliant ad campaign on the planet, but if you're not consistent about putting it in place, you'll never establish brand recognizability.
If the tone of your company is "fun, light and noncontroversial", steer clear of anti-war demonstrations. If Arial is your font of choice, then don't go switching it up mid-campaign and putting out affiliate program materials using Tahoma. If tongue-in-cheek humor is how you attract attention, don't line your website borders with super-mushy personal ads. Ask yourself: will this resonate with my key customer? And use your logo and company tagline wherever possible-in your email correspondence, on your website, as your letterhead, on your business cards, in your advertising and on your product packaging. Remind people of who you are. Burn your brand into their minds.
To some extent, branding is following the herd... emulating respected companies that capture what you'd like to be known for. Still, a wise entrepreneur must never forget that today's success story is tomorrow's dot-com that went under. "What sold" for someone else may not work for your company. Just because Joe Baloney made millions selling with a bilingual circus clown doesn't mean that will work for you... or that anyone's even going to find it remotely interesting in six months. The market changes like the tide, depending on what direction society is going in. Where they were before, which way they're headed, and wherever it's likely they'll end up... socially, economically, ethically, politically, culturally, intellectually, psychologically, philosophically.
How will you know that you've branded successfully? When people start listening to you. Not just hearing what you say, but letting you call the shots. You'll know it when people start imitating you, too. You'll start seeing knock-offs of your products and your company image. This may flatter you or it may annoy you, but when it happens, it's your cue to lead the pack in a new direction. That's how to stay on top of the Branding Game.
The day that you find yourself functioning as a real, live spokesman for a group of individuals, is the day you've achieved Brand Recognition. The day that you make the front page news headlines is the day you've become a household name. But a word to the wise: once your brand achieves true power, someone will try and take you down. Remind them that you own this cow.
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. Use with permission.
Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like Toys"R"Us. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.
Optimize Your Mailing List For Better Results
A list of customers who have previously bought from you is your most important asset. These are the customers who will provide you with return business, which is more profitable than the first sale. Are you getting the most from your customer list? There are some secrets you should know, so you can squeeze the most benefits out of your mailing list.
Its Time For Some Steak
Recently, I was reviewing our website statistics. One of the sites that had a link to mine caught me by surprise. Since this is a family publication, I won't include the name of the website. But, let's just say it contains a four-letter word that people do not use in most business circles.
What the Heck is Branding and Why Should I Care?
There's been a lot of buzz lately about branding. But what exactly is it, and who needs to do it? Simply put, a brand is what makes your business uniquely YOU! It's the way you present your business and how the world perceives it. And, importantly, it's the way your clients remember you when it comes time to make another purchase. Branding encompasses your key marketing messages and tagline, logo, marketing materials, image, and your clients' complete experience with you from start to finish.
Standing Under the Umbrella And Still Getting Wet
Make More Money Making a Name for Yourself
Trademark Issues in the Mobil Auto Business
There have always been trademark issues and lawsuits in the mobile auto service business. I know this because I own several such businesses. We first noticed a competitor in the Mobile Auto Detailing Business, which had a name "Mobile Auto Services" another "Mobile Oil Change" and still another "Mobile Car Care". Mobil Oil Company was marketing at the time their Gas Station Service Centers as "Mobil Auto-Services" "Mobil Car Care" and "Mobil Auto Care."
Build Customer Loyalty by Promoting Your Customers
Do you want to attract new customers while building greater loyalty among your current customers? Include your customers in your marketing and promotions. By creating greater awareness of your customers (and their businesses) you may help to build their businesses and increase their demand for your products and services. Whether or not using customers in your marketing causes them to buy more from you, your willingness to showcase them will cause them to feel more attachment to you and will encourage them to remain customers for a long time to come. Here are a few ways you can make this work for you.
Brand Strategy - Brand Identity Guru
If you could have the secret recipe and all the manufacturing facilities of Coca Cola but not the Coca Cola brand-or have its famous brand but no facilities-which would you choose? It's not a trick question. But it demonstrates the power of the brand. Walk into any bank and say "hi I'm Coca Cola, how about a loan"!
Trade Journals in Franchising
As many people know Industry Trade Journals in America have gone through a tough time in recent years due to slowing of advertising dollars. In franchising there is no difference. They use to give away subscriptions to Successful Franchising on franchise web sites; unfortunately that magazine was unable to weather the storm. They stop publishing in October of 2001. Now we see a re-emergence of Franchise Times, who has hired a new salesman, who is going to all the franchisors and telling them to advertise.
Britney Spears Branding
How would you like to sell as much in one year as Britney sells in one day or in one hour? Have you put much thought into how marketing empires are created? If you're selling anything then you're a marketer and you should study the biggest successes to follow in their footsteps.
Differentiate and Dominate
Quite often small business owners will ask me to reveal the most powerful marketing strategy I have seen. I can say without hesitation that the most powerful marketing strategy has little to do with advertising, direct mail, web sites, referrals or blogs.
Hummer is an Excellent Brand
What size is your Hummer? Hummers Come in All Sizes; Tiny, small, medium and large and of course the most popular of all; The Oh My God Size. They make matchbox size Hummers, Tonka Toy size and adult size. Are you quite sure you know your hummer sizes. Marketers of the Hummer Brand want to be omni present in your life and it is working. For instance here is a toy hummer you can buy online
Santa - The Brand
Every Christmas Eve, a burglar named Santa busts into homes around the world, but he has never been charged with B&E. He has one of the best, most positive brands around and it continues to inoculate him against any hint of impropriety, as it has for generations.
When Search Engine Marketing and Trademarks Collide
In the world of marketing, branding issues are always an important part of any campaign. Companies work hard for their name to be recognized as a quality organization and a leader in their field. Companies will defend any action they see as a negative to their brand. They do not want unauthorized third parties to advertise their products, because they may do it in a poor manner which will generate negative consequences for the quality of the company's brand. Recently, Google was charged with trademark violations by Geico and American Blinds. The cases (C 03-05340 JF US District Court For The Northern District Of California San Jose Division) have gone to the discovery phase of litigation, which means the judges have said there is enough there right now factually to potentially justify these lawsuits. The impact of this trial could be vast for search marketers.
Why You? -- Professional Identity Branding
You can have first-rate products and services, but if you can't establish the need, communicate the benefits and differentiate yourself from the competition in ways that make people want to do business with you, you'll forever be selling up hill.
Image is EVERYTHING
The absolute foundation of your small business is your image. The way potential clients and/or customers perceive your business sets the stage for the way your product or service is recognized and ultimately judged. Image is everything and it will affect your business either positively or negatively.
Putting You and Your Company in Position to Own Your Market
Americans have always liked their coffee hot. But then Starbucksmade hot coffee desirable, in demand, and extraordinarilyprofitable. And then Starbucks made coffee "cool" with itssuper-popular iced Frappucino drink -- just as trendy,fashionable, and universally appealing.Starbucks is no doubt one of the greatest marketing stories ofrecent history. How this company turned an unassuming beverageinto an icon of sophistication and taste is no mystery, however.It's all about a marketing tenet called positioning.The coffee company started out in Seattle's Pike Place market in1971 as a single gourmet coffee shop, and by 1995, the chain'searnings were $26.1 million. Marketing experts agree thatStarbucks' skyrocket to fortune centers on its aesthetic sense.In other words, the public's perception of Starbucks has to dowith how it appreciates this company's style. Sure, Starbucksfilled a need and created unique product brands, but whatattracts coffee drinkers again and again is the experience ofthe Starbucks environment and its products. Smooth,sophisticated, artistic: These are seductive qualities even fora business based on a little brown bean.The Starbucks story illustrates at least two powerful marketingprinciples. Both help us to better understand effectivepositioning, or the process of finding a "place" for ourselvesin people's minds:People buy for their own reasons, not anyoneelse's.The stronger position is found in the experience, outcome,or benefit you provide as opposed to the methods you use forproducing those outcomes.Starbucks shows us that it's not about packaging -- it's aboutpositioning. The environment of Starbucks creates an experiencethat invites us to come study for exams, hang out andphilosophize with friends, or get the day started with a warmcup of java and the morning news. Starbucks is an invitation tolinger, not just get your coffee and go.When you are assessing your own position and considering how youmight improve your image and thus your market share, rememberthat there are essentially four winning positions: better,different, faster, or cheaper. You can certainly positionyourself as one of these, perhaps even two; capturing a positionas three of them is tough and probably not desirable, andcornering all four is just about impossible.Not everyone is up to the task of creating another Starbucks.It's tempting, with price wars so rampant, to believe that aperception of being cheapest is easiest to establish. Yet intruth this is the most difficult because of fixed costs. It'slike doing the limbo: you can go only so low, and then you'reoverextended or flat on your back. Definitely not the easiestposition to be in.How about being better instead? Contrary to popular belief, thisis perhaps the easiest position to take, since making animprovement or simply creating the impression of greater qualityor ability has no constraints. One tip: when you capture thedifferent category, you may get the better category as aby-product.Starbucks capitalized on this technique, as did Dennis Rodman,the oddball of basketball. He came up with a way to take twopositions in fans' eyes: both different and better. Okay, maybehe wasn't actually better than his teammate Michael Jordan, whowas unbeatable, but certainly he was perceived for a time asbetter (cooler, trendier) among those who were captivated by hisstyle. His fashion and fascinating antics made him so unique thathe became unforgettable. And because he was also an excellentball handler, he became famous and highly regarded in hissport.BMW has also taken the better-different approach. Until fairlyrecently, Mercedes-Benz had the better luxury car market sewnup, so BMW -- a competitor with a parity product -- simplyrepositioned itself. Its tag, "the ultimate driving machine,"appeals to a younger crowd and gives them luxury with power andhandling. This is "hip luxury," which is different from theMercedes position, which could be summed up as "elegant luxury."And voilà: BMW became as hot and desirable as a cappucino on awintry morning.BMW marketers had both a strong sense of the position theywanted to hold and precisely defined their premium clients, thecréme de la créme within their target market. You can do this,too. Once you've figured out what position you can successfullygain in your business, ask yourself the following.Who is my premium client? Who would be the most enjoyableand rewarding to serve?What are this client's unique desires, needs, andchallenges? How can I best serve this client?What do I (or can I) provide in a unique way to help myclients achieve their business outcomes?How can I position myself as an expert in this market?With this information, you can tailor your marketing efforts --everything you say to people, any support materials you use,even the way you dress and act -- directly to this audience tohelp establish your position. This is the first step to "owningyour market."Positioning is like popularity: You have to be seen in the rightplaces and with the right people. This is more than socialclimbing: You learn more about your clients and they learn moreabout you when you frequent the same places, attend the samefunctions, join the same associations, be published in theirperiodicals, and develop products and services specifically forthem.Positioning is as much about who you are not as it is about whoyou are. Starbucks is not a cheaper and faster cuppa joe; it isan upscale, gourmet coffee experience. BMW is no old-styleluxury; it is stylish performance. Dennis Rodman is no gentlemanforward; he is the outrageous, extreme athlete who is arecognized celebrity even for people who don't know basketballfrom billiards.Do you want to win big? If so, have the courage to answer thesequestions clearly and define your own game: Who are you? Who areyou not? Who are your clients? These are the essential decisionsyou must make if you want to not only understand but own yourmarket.
Too Dull? Too Sharp?
You work hard getting the right cover message and words for your brochure. Now, you want to give it a look, an image.
Could Ray Kroc have founded McDonalds in the Era of Sarbaines Oxley?
Over regulation of our free markets is stifling our growth in America and killing the next superstar Entrepreneurs. Let's discuss just how bad it really is. Let's us discuss Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds and the Father of Franchising. In this philosophical discussion let us look at history for a moment shall we? If Ray Kroc had to pay $45,000 to create disclosure documents to franchise right out of the gate, could he have still had the capital to do it? Would he have wanted too? What if he had to pay an additional $15,000 per year to stay registered in all the states; another $10,000 to $20,000 to keep up with the law changes and case law? Could he have actually stayed in business?
Importance of Business Branding
Branding is very important to a business, whether it is an online or offline business. Your brand will be the first impression the public has of your business and could very well be the most important one. The goal in business branding is to give consumers a visual image of your company. Business branding is very important to a business because it allows the public to identify your company name on sight.
Your brand is the culmination of everything about you and your business. It is how people come to know you. It is your business name, logo design or other symbol that identifies your goods and services. It's what makes you different from everyone else in business. What are some of the components that come to make up your brand?
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