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Branding

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Why Brand?

Branding is a marketing technique that has the potential to elevate your
business to the top. It involves helping your customers to form a recognizable
association with you. Link your business with a design, logo, slogan, and/or
color and observe the positive results.

Brands create a feeling of familiarity. If customers have seen your logo,
insignia, or company name, they are more likely to continue to select your
product or service. Also, they are more apt to suggest them to others.
Referrals through word of mouth can be an extremely powerful form of
advertising.

A brand helps possible customers remember your business. People may know little
about your philosophy or reputation. However, if they can recognize your brand,
the chances are greater that they will do business with you. Branding creates
memory in the mind of the public.

When the public remembers your brand and familiarizes themselves and others
with it, they will come back. Customers are more likely to remain devoted to
your business and are apt to buy further products or services from you based on
the brand of the initial product with which they had success.

People are willing to pay more for products or services that they highly regard.
This means that customers are likely to pass up cheaper prices with competitors
if your brand has made a positive impression on them. If clients believe in your
product, they will pay for it.

When you have distinguished your business through branding, the marketing has
the capability of becoming so profound, that little else is necessary.
Developing your brand takes time and effort, but after it has been solidified,
and after customers have had the chance to identify with it, your sales can
increase naturally. You won't have to spend as much time planning marketing
strategies to attract the public.

A Matter of Senses

Think of your brand in terms of what the customer gains when it is viewed by each 
of his or her five senses-hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and touching. In a 
nutshell your brand is the result of everything your prospects senses can pick up 
on about you. It's the image you present at all times. From the company's logo and 
color scheme all the way to the manner in which your employees dress. Think of what 
your colors portray. Are they giving the message you want to give? It's what your 
prospects hear from and about you. From what they hear about you in the media to 
how your customer service team handles incoming complaints. Are former customers 
likely to speak kindly about you? Are you and your employees pleasant when you speak? 
It's the feeling your prospect gets in all their dealings with you. From their 
satisfied or unsatisfied interaction with you to the relationship building activities 
you carry out. Do customers and prospective customers feel they can trust you? Do
they feel your honesty? It's the pleasant or unpleasant scents that get associated 
with you covering everywhere from the scent of your product or facility, to even 
your employees. Do customers get a scent of cleanliness? And lastly it's also the 
tastes that get associated with you. From the taste of your product (if it's a 
product meant to be tasted) to the quality of coffee or tea you serve. Your brand 
encompasses everything about you. Hence you can see why it's important to always put 
your best foot forward. Bottom line, branding is essential to establishing your 
identity in the marketplace and consistency is the key to effective doing that. Take 
time to examine with your senses what message you are giving your customers.

Living Your Brand

Everyone is not your buyer. There may be a mass amount of people that purchase
your product, but that's not everyone. Dig deep and research your audience.
Find the answers to these questions: What are their spending habits? Values?
Concerns? Needs? How does your product/service fit into their life?

By answering these direct questions you will begin to win over your key
customer. The closer the focus the more connected the buyer will feel with your
brand. You want them to think that you designed the brand specifically for them.

It is imperative when communicating that you exchange information about the
product in the same way your buyer talks. For example: if they are high class,
intelligent and money filled speak to them with sophistication and parallel
their first-class style. Or for the free-spirited young adults don't confuse
them with big words, or Robert Frost like metaphors; simply connect with your
audience on their level.

Employees, community members, friends, and clients must know the personality of
your business. Everyone needs to be familiar with and carry out the persona
inside the brand. Some great ways to do this are to hire those you believe
already possess the desired traits, company parties, being a part of community
events, and relaxed company meetings on implementing the brand through its
employers.

Next, use your brand, logo and tagline on company material. These are: web
sites, marketing, advertising, public relations, e-mail, letterheads, business
cards, and product packaging. Place your brand on any objects related to your
products or services.

Society is always changing. With that said, it's important to evaluate and
re-evaluate your brand. Simple changes without changing the overall message are
needed to survival. Grow with and ahead of your buyer. Don't let your brand get
left behind

Saying it With Color

Have you ever considered the importance of color in branding? Color plays a
huge role in memory recall. It stimulates all the senses, instantly conveying a
message like no other communication method.

Choosing the right dominant color for your brand is crucial. This color should
appear on all your promotional material. Following is the most common
impression each color conveys:

Blue: Cool blue is perceived as trustworthy, dependable, fiscally responsible
and secure. Blue is an especially popular color with financial institutions.

Red: Red activates your pituitary gland, increasing your heart rate and causing
you to breathe more rapidly. Count on red to evoke a passionate response.

Green: In general, green connotes health, freshness and serenity. Deeper greens
are associated with wealth or prestige, while light greens are calming.

Yellow: In every society, yellow is associated with the sun. It communicates
optimism, light and warmth. Certain shades seem to motivate and stimulate
creative thought and energy. The eye sees bright yellows before any other
color, making them great for point-of-purchase displays.

Purple: Purple is a color favored by creative types. It evokes mystery,
sophistication, spirituality and royalty. Lavender evokes nostalgia and
sentimentality.

Pink: Hot pinks convey energy, youthfulness, fun and excitement. Dusty pinks
appear sentimental. Lighter pinks are more romantic.

Orange: Cheerful orange evokes exuberance, fun and vitality. Orange is viewed
as gregarious and often childlike. Lighter shades appeal to an upscale market.
Peach tones work well with health care, restaurants and beauty salons.

Brown: This earthy color conveys simplicity, durability and stability. Certain
shades of brown, like terracotta, can convey an upscale look.

Black: Black is serious, bold, powerful and classic. It creates drama and
connotes sophistication. Black works well for expensive products, but can also
make a product look heavy.

White: White connotes simplicity, cleanliness and purity. The human eye views
white as a brilliant color, so it immediately catches the eye in signage. White
is often used with infant and health-related products.

What's in it For the Customer?

Anyone who is going to spend money usually wants to know what the purchase will
do for him or her. In fact, 70% of all purchases are made on an emotional level.
So for the most part, buyers aren't concerned about the logical points of the
purchase. If they were, the vast majority of us would be driving small, fuel-
efficient cars with one-speaker radios. Think of your brand as a promise... a
promise you make to your clients, prospects, employees, and even your vendors.
It is necessary that you are able to back it up. You cannot build a successful,
long-term brand on unsupported claims and wishful thinking. To separate you from
your competition, your brand -- your promise -- has to differentiate you from
others in the minds of your prospects. This is the reason you cannot use quality,
integrity, or price when positioning yourself in your marketplace. So many
companies claim to offer these particular characteristics that none of them stand
out from the others. Logos, customized cardboard displays, brochures, advertising
and other forms of marketing may, in certain instances, be individual components
of a branding campaign, but unless they are part of the system of determining a
company's capabilities, direction, opportunities, and indeed its essence, they
cannot -- and should not -- be referred to as branding.

To say that a new logo, for instance, is equivalent to a new brand is to believe
that I can compete at Daytona International Speedway by slapping decals all over
my car. Even if it ends up looking good, it's still not ready to -- or able to --
compete. What this all boils down to is the fact that every business -- including
yours -- has a brand. The question is whether your brand is being determined by
outside factors, or if are you actively building it on your terms.

What Constitutes Branding?

You may have heard something about 'branding' in regards to marketing, but 
perhaps you've wondered what that means exactly. Some people think branding 
is like positioning, but it is different. The main difference is that 
positioning is a fluid concept. In other words, you can position yourself at 
different times in different markets as different things. Branding is more set 
in stone- it's a hard-core recognition factor. Branding is more about the 
following of rules because if you don't follow those rules, things don't look 
the same and people won't remember you. When you put out your marketing pieces, 
you want to create a similar look and feel so that people remember you. And you 
want that similar look and feel on every thing you put out. The good thing is 
that you get to make the rules...colors the same, style of lettering the same, 
logo etc. And there is some flexibility as long as you follow the rules. You 
can't go too far out of bounds, but you can change some things within the frame 
of what others can still recognize. Branding in your marketing has to make you 
feel something. A technology company can't have an old style font -- you might 
not think they were very far advanced. Branding is just like the old coat of 
arms that families used to have connected with their name. It would instill 
respect, fear, and wealth -- whatever. Likewise, a country's flag gets people 
to feel a certain way about their country. Think about what message you want to 
portray. What do you want recipients of your promotion to think about you? What 
image of your company do you want to put out there? That is your brand. When 
people see you continually as one thing, they begin to expect the same from you 
and they get used to you.

Benefits of Branding

Your business needs to create a positive image in the minds of consumers.
Contrary to what most people believe, branding isn't just a logo. Your
businesses purpose, focus, and image all combine to create your brand. Why
should you make this effort? Below are a few benefits:

* You are remembered. It's hard to remember a company with a generic name. You
may not be able to distinguish their purpose and business focus. And why would
you call a company if you couldn't tell what they did? Branding your business
ensures consumers will know what you're about.

* You gain customer loyalty. The fact is, people build close bonds with brand
identities. Consumers want quality products they can trust. So, your business
should have an identity that your customers can cling to. If your company
delivers great products and services and has a great brand identity, people
will remember you. In addition, they will often refer you to friends and family.

You become well known. You want the people who have not done business with you
to still know who you are and what you do. If they see your ads on billboards,
hear them on radio, see them on television, or any other media, they will know
your brand identity. And when the time comes that they need your product or
service, your company will be the first to come to mind.

Consumers pay for image. We are a very brand aware society. People commonly
associate brand names with quality and may only buy certain brands for that
reason. If people only want one brand of a particular product, they are willing
to pay a higher price. Having a great brand will make your company have a
superior image and cause consumers forget about the competition.

Become an Expert at Something

Establishing yourself as an expert in your field will help you gain both 
recognition and respect. Luckily, that recognition and respect transfers 
directly to your company. If people trust that you truly know what you are 
talking about, they will feel good about investing in your product.

A website is the best place to start. Build a professional looking site with
sound and informative content and you'll have a source of expert information to
direct customers to. Remember that it is okay to give away some of your precious
knowledge free of charge. Offer the customer something useful up front and they
will label you as a legitimate source to go to for whatever your company may
offer.

Article marketing is an especially effective method to achieve that expert
status because it gives you the ability to distribute a small number of
articles to a huge number of content-rich sites. The more places your name pops
up, the more people will be exposed to your site and product. Another way to
show your expertise is through online forums and blogs. This is a bit more
casual than article writing. It allows you to remain in the first person and
talk candidly with interested web surfers. The conversational tone used in such
settings will put many potential customers at ease.

Not only will they view you as an expert, they'll also feel connected to you as
a real human being. Also, such places give customers the opportunity to ask
questions and give you the opportunity to back up your product in the face of
criticism.

Find the right places to gain recognition. Put yourself out there and command
respect through that exposure. Highlight your achievements and successes.
Branding yourself as an expert is all about getting other people to recognize
something about you that you already know.

Personal Branding for Success

One important part of branding is the image you yourself portray. Developing a 
likeable personal brand is essential for succeeding. If you want to rise to the 
top of your particular arena, you need to first be able to sell yourself to your 
potential customers. Think about it. Would you rather do business with a person 
who smiles and comes across as friendly or with one who snarls and ignores you? 
The first impression a potential customer receives is from you. Make it a good 
one. How can you accomplish this? 

One: Become an expert source. 

Two: Become a great communicator. Research shows communications skill is the 
top determinant for upward social and professional mobility. 

Three: Draft a marketing plan for yourself annually, and review it quarterly. 
Include specific goals, strategies, action steps, and a timetable. 

Four: Develop an 'elevator speech." Within the time that it takes an elevator 
to travel one floor -- about 60-seconds -- be able to deliver a succinct 
description of what you do, how you do it differently, and the benefit it 
provides. 

Five: Build your Rolodex. Make new business contacts and stay in touch with 
them. Most people with powerful brands have powerful friends. 

Six: Balance your individual style with clothing that will appeal to those you 
are trying to impress. 

Seven: Learn good business and social etiquette. Buy elegant personal stationery 
and send hand-written notes. 

Eight: Give something back. Giving your time, talent, and money to charitable 
causes is a brand-builder especially when it complements your brand strategy. 
Find a cause you are passionate about. 

Your personal brand is one of your greatest business assets. Put as much time 
and effort into it as you do in branding your product. In the end, if you can't 
sell yourself, you'll find it nearly impossible to sell your product.

Using Your Logo Efficiently

There should be a consistent look and feel to every page of your website. You
want your visitors to know they haven't actually left your site when they go to
another page. Icons for going back or to the next page, for printing the page or
even the icons that line your menu should all follow the same theme as your site
as part of your marketing effort. Every aspect of your website should be about
your brand. Standing out from the rest is not nearly as important as having
others recognize your site. If a visitor travels to other pages and they look
different, they may believe they accidentally left your site and then leave it
all together.

A simple concept for internet market branding is your logo as an icon. You can
then use this as buttons and every time a person has to click, your logo makes
an imprint. Obviously it will need to be much smaller than the main logo on
your page or other areas to be used as a menu icon, perhaps as small as 16 x 16
pixels, but the reduced image will continue your branding throughout your pages
and offer a benefit to your internet marketing effort.

Additionally, with this level of branding throughout your site there will be no
doubt in your visitor's mind where they are. You can even make it so a visitor
bookmarking your site will see the icon in his or her favorites, further
imprinting the image. Remember, returning visitors often buy more than first
time visitors and keeping your image in their minds will aid your internet
marketing efforts With a bit of creativity, you can make it so prospective
customers automatically think of you when they see your logo. This is one of
the simplest yet most effective branding methods.

Be True to Yourself

If your online marketing material stimulates an image in your mind that is just 
not you, likely you've been trying to model your approach after someone else or 
you've been using work produced by someone else without giving them the benefit 
of knowing you, learning your approach, sharing your ideas and interjecting your 
personality into the material. So, what's the solution? The solution to this 
dilemma is to be yourself and let your personality show through in your online 
marketing materials. If you are writing a blog entry in the midst of a snowstorm 
and it is "a bit nippy outside" don't hesitate to say so. When you let your 
personality shine your image will be your own, not one you have crafted that will 
change from day to day depending upon what you have read most recently. There's 
lots of talk about branding in regard to online marketing. The basic principles 
of branding are to decide on the image to drive home. While some people could 
write a book on how to brand your business, there are really only a handful of 
factors to consider -- your image, your purpose and your message. The purpose of a 
brand is to craft something that will stick in the minds of people and help them 
to remember your business. Creating and building a strong brand does not have to 
compromise your personality. The only real decision is whether you want to be 
casual or professional. In the world of online marketing, retaining your 
personality and your identity will go far in branding your business. You'll be 
much happier with the long-term effects of your online marketing if you don't try 
to be someone you are not. Be yourself and have fun.

Five Benefits of Personal Branding

Personal Branding is about honing your skills, narrowing your focus, and getting 
clear on what you're passionate about. Branding is not just about you being better 
than your competition. It's about getting your prospects to choose you as the ONLY 
solution to their problem.

Here are five great benefits of creating a strong personal brand: 

* One of the greatest benefits to you of having a strong brand is that it creates 
  a sense of individuality and "separateness" in the marketplace so that your
  clients are able to easily differentiate your company from your competitors.

* The goal of personal branding is to be known for who you are as a person and
  what you stand for. Your brand is a reflection of who you are, your opinions,
  values, and beliefs that are visibly expressed by what you say and do, and how
  you do it. 

* The branding process allows you to take control of your identity
  and influence the perception others will have about you and the services you
  offer. 

* A strong personal brand will enable you to effortlessly attract clients and 
  opportunities. You will position yourself in the mind of your marketplace as
  THE service provider of choice to dominate your market and command higher fees -
  work less and make more! 

* Establish yourself as an expert and become a celebrity in your area of 
  specialty. Gain name recognition in your area of expertise where it counts the 
  most -- in your customer's mind.

Make a lasting impression and be super-rewarded for your individuality. Trust, 
respect, and admiration will follow when your name and message are embedded 
repeatedly into the consciousness of your target market. You will be perceived as 
an expert the more you are visible to your target audience. Your brand will propel 
you to the top in your marketplace.

An Online Presence

Branding, as a whole, is essential for any serious business because a company's
brand is what distinguishes it from its competitors. In today's computer age, it
is necessary for most businesses to have an online presence to stay competitive.
An effective internet branding, just like its offline counterpart, helps bring
awareness to your unique business offering and drive customer demand.

While Internet branding offers huge opportunities for business, in order for it
to be effective one needs to attract and engage its customers. This isn't easy
on the internet. Branding is not as easy as putting up a website and adding
your company logo and slogan. Your internet branding strategy should make your
online brand noticeable and apparent.

Branding utilizes hi-tech tools to create an online presence for your business.
Graphics and animation, a compelling web copy, and overall website design that
reflect your company are some of the important elements that will bring your
online brand alive. An attractive website that helps customers easily and
quickly find the information they need is the key to getting customer
interaction and eventually, business. Your branding plan should include good
design elements and ease of use to create an effective overall impression.

A strong online image will make the difference between a customer who buys from
you online or switches to your competitors. Remember, that online customers can
just leave your site and go to your competitors at the click of a mouse. A lot
depends on the impression they get from your site. Branding seeks to convey an
immediate unique message about your business to your target clients.

As you can see, there are many requirements for a successful branding strategy.
Hiring a branding specialist mightbe helpful to give you focus on your efforts
in creating an online presence that will become a valuable asset to your
business




Internal Branding

A brand is recognition of a company and its products. It can be in the form of 
logo, symbol, color or just a name. This recognition helps differentiate a company 
among its competitors. Creation of a brand is not just reating a logo or byline 
statement or a symbol. It is the creation of an experience that will make the 
customer want more and more of your. An experience, which can create strong 
positive emotions, something that can lead the customer to trust and become loyal
to it. First thing that qualifies a company or product to be a brand is the ability 
to create emotions. A brand has to be associated with or should trigger emotions. 
Logos, colors, symbols, statements, advertisements and promotions are the main tools 
for the communication of a brand. There is yet another step in your branding
process-that of creating an image upheld by your employees. Internal Branding
or promoting the brand internally among employees so that they are aware of the
capabilities of the company and are proud to be working for it is one of the
most important branding tasks. With the help of internal branding, a new source
of powering the brand comes to force. All employees are people who connect with
the outside environment after office hours. All positive vibes sent out by
employees to their friends, neighbors, relatives, etc creates a compounding
effect on the image of the company. The pride the employee shows to be working
for an organization itself speaks volume about the company. The manner in which
employee behaves itself portrays or communicates something about the image of
the company. Make sure all of your employees are aware of the image you want to
create. The best way to do this is to go over it during the hiring process. In
the end, it will save much stress and perhaps customers.

Initial Steps of Branding Yourself

Branding is much more than just a thoughtful logo or slogan and it's more than
just a unique color scheme. Below are the initial steps that need to be taken
in order to start your successful brand image.

Step 1: Examine the Competition

One of the keys to creating a successful brand image is to separate yourself
from your competition. You will need to know how consumers see your
competition. You need to recognize how your competitors differentiate
themselves from others. Also, you should know your competitor's strengths and
weaknesses. Your business can benefit from knowing this information by learning
from their weaknesses, and learning how to differentiate your company from the
competition.

Step 2: Identify Your Strengths

Now that you know your competition's weaknesses you can begin to focus on your
company's strengths. Perform a target market analysis, learn from it, and use
it to your advantage. This is a useful tool to confirm your company's strengths
are in fact important to your target market. Once you've realized your
strengths, and what strengths are important to customers, you can think about
ways to successfully market these to the public and involve them in your
branding campaign.

Step 3: Know Your Customer

Learn more about the customer. Know their purchasing behavior. How often do
they buy? Do they buy only during sales or promotions? Do they buy an array of
products or services or just a select few? These are questions you should ask
to better market to your customers. Also, know your customer's lifestyles,
needs, mindsets, and attitudes. Knowing and working with these personality
traits are also key to marketing success.

Step 4: Be Your Brand

Make sure your company truly represents what your brand identifies you with.
For example, if one of the traits your brand identifies your company with is
politeness, be polite. This means every employee from the receptionist all the
way up to the CEO needs to live your brand.

How to Sell With Branding

When you think of the Coca Cola brand, what comes to mind? Does an image of a red 
can with words Coca Cola written in white display in your mind's eye, or perhaps 
a coke bottle? Likewise we must pick our niche on the internet and brand our name 
accordingly. Be known for doing good in 1 area before moving on to the next 
project. Here are the things we need:

1) A website that belongs to you.

2) Auto Responder and Opt In box. Your visitors will most likely not make a 
purchase on the 1st attempt and when they leave your site, you will not see them 
again. So do capture your visitors details with an auto responder opt in box and 
follow up with a series of emails. Follow up emails reinforces your brand name 
in the mind of your readers. Respectful persistence wins sales.

3) Photograph & Signature. Scan a groomed, smiling photo of yourself and your a 
penned signature. This adds that personal touch to let your audience know you are 
a real person.

4) Audio. Do you have a nice speaking voice? If so, combine this with your 
photograph and signature to humanize your website and establish rapport with 
your audience.

5) Blog. A blog can be an add-on to your main website or be used as a free 
alternative to a website, at least until you are generating profits. You can 
combine every aspect of name branding mentioned in the above points into your 
free blog. Update your blog at regular consistent intervals with content specific 
to your vision. Refrain from writing about off topic content so as to keep your
message and theme consistent. One way to keep your readers posted about your 
content is to use RSS feeds. 

6) A Domain name. You can register a domain name and forward it to point at your 
Blog. Use the domain masking feature that allows your website to have a 
professional look.

Three Key Ingredients in Branding

Personal Branding can be the most influential tool for success in your self-
marketing toolkit. You can identify, package and sell who you are to build a 
personal brand that results in business growth, influence, and income. Here are 
three key things you need to develop a strong personal brand: 

1. Get clear on your personal strengths, talents, values, and core area of 
expertise. Understand how you connect best with people. Consider what your target 
audience needs and wants, and then identify the value and the experience that you 
can deliver to meet those needs and wants. Communicate in ways that reach into 
the hearts and minds of your target audience and connect with their core values 
and deepest desires. 

2. The personal branding process is about having self-awareness of your strengths 
and talents, and then letting everyone know about your gifts, talents, and 
experience. It's about giving a clear impression of who you are, what you value, 
what you're committed to, and how you can be counted upon to act. Your branding 
statement must provide a clear, concise view of your unique set of strengths and 
tell why you can do it better than anyone else. You need to be able to state 
clearly and unequivocally why you are different than everyone else, and what 
services you offer that make you unique and set you ahead of your competition. 

3. Consistency is one of the keys to building a strong personal brand. Be aware 
of being consistent in every interaction you have, both in what you say and how 
you respond.

Establishing a Professional Brand is absolutely critical to long term, sustainable 
business growth. In an overcrowded marketplace, if you're not standing out, then 
you're invisible. Branding your products and services will give you an edge over 
your competition and enhance your value to your target market.

Three in Seven

Society is flooded with so much advertising that we face the danger of not
being noticed by our prospective customers. Will your customers know who you
are without an ad staring them in the face to remind them?

In other words are you trying to rely completely on direct response to your
ads, or are you creating a broad and lasting awareness in the minds of your
target audience? Without a strong attempt to brand yourself you will need to
constantly advertise.

By branding, I'm referring to the act of exposing prospects to your name, logo,
tagline, etc. on a frequent basis, and to the extent that people are already
aware of you when they are ready to purchase a product or service that you
offer.

For best results a business needs to expose each prospect to the same ad
impression three times within a week. By running a very strong campaign over
the course of a month you can easily create a very lasting effect on the people
you would like to have as your customers.

It is important to maintain continuity through use of the same logo, business
name, or tagline in all your promotions so your targets are receiving the same
impression with each exposure, regardless of the exact mode of delivery.

Radio and television are by far the most effective means of brand creation
available. These formats can be reinforced with yellow page ads, flyers, or
even the aggressive distribution of simple business cards.

You want people to be aware of your name, logo, or tagline and associate this
awareness with your products and services well before they even need what you
have to offer.

What can you start doing right now to see that your prospective customers are
exposed to the same message at least three times over a seven-day period?

The Loyalty Factor

What exactly is a brand? It's a question that has confounded the academics for
decades and eluded the most erudite of scholars. So, coming from the trenches
of the real world of branding, we've defined the term and given it a
comprehensive meaning..

A brand consists of eight basic building blocks:

- The Name 
- The Logo (brand icon) 
- The Brand's Colors 
- The Slogan and Brand Messaging 
- The Sound of the Brand 
- The Overall Look and Feel 
- The Brand's Position 
- Packaging the Brand 
- The Brand Experience

A Brand is the greater sum of its parts. It is always more than just the nuts
and bolts, the pieces; great brands are always the result of the whole equaling
more than the sum of its parts.

Branding is about making me, the consumer or buyer, more hip, more in the
"know," more cool than anybody else. We are a generation and a nation wanting
to be special. We want to be richer, more beautiful, better dressed and more
effortlessly gorgeous than any other generation that we know.

We want everything to mean more. We want everything to have meaning. That's why
we flock to the reality shows. Why we love "The Apprentice" and "American Idol"
and other top realistic shows. We crave authenticity in this age of fabrication
and falsehood. We "just want to be real."

We want to be able to trust what we buy and whom we buy from. That's why Coke
is still the number one brand in the world. The more we know about a brand, the
more we trust it. The more we trust it, the more we buy it and continue to
experience it. The more we experience it, the more loyal we become.

Loyalty is the currency that cannot be traded for dollars.

Ten Branding Musts

Branding is not just your logo or tagline or the "look" and "feel" of your 
marketing communications. Branding is the sum total of your customer's 
experiences and perceptions of your products, services, and employees. In 
actuality, your brand is what everyone else thinks your company and product 
are -- it's what people say about your company behind your back. A branding 
strategy is the beginning of all customer contact behavior. When the budget 
allows, the branding strategy can become the basis for better advertising 
communications such as multi-media advertising, direct mail, trade shows, 
and expanded public relations. The undertaking of branding may seem scary; 
however there is strong proof that branding is worth the effort. Listed
here are some benefits of a strong brand. 

* Branding is what gives your company value and separates you from your 
  competitors. 

* Enhanced perceived value allows for top pricing and shelters you from price 
  competition. 

* Branding will provide protection in times of negative press. 

* A strong brand enables you to launch new products and services more quickly 
  and cost effectively. Your brand will come to pass with or without your 
  effort. Branding and managing a brand is tough work. Here are some no-nonsense 
  guidelines on how to get started. 

* To succeed, you'll need to get everyone involved from top management on down.

* Research the successful competitors. Study their communications and how they
  position themselves. 

* Study what values are most significant to customers. Develop a questionnaire 
  and interview key customers and prospects. 

* Develop a strategy from the information you gathered. It must be achievable 
  and differentiating. 

* Leverage brand strategy by integrating marketing communications. Check for 
  consistency of all communications from every department. Sending a cohesive 
  message will build brand equity. 

* Evaluate and measure performance. Make changes as needed but be patient.

Signs -- Ultimate Sales Tools

A well-designed signage program can instantly and effectively communicate the 
style, professionalism and overall presence of your business, it conveys to people 
who you are, where you are and what you do.

Vehicle signs are one of the most cost-effective advertising tools available to
maximize the potential of your business. With unique and effective design, your
shop car becomes a moving billboard and connects with your customers in a way
that no other advertising medium can. It sends the message to potential
customers that your company is expert and professional and is also established
and reputable. Vehicle advertising is long lasting and works 365 days a year.

Exterior and interior signs are also important marketing assets in promoting
your business and enhancing its representation. How your directional and
informational signs are presented and function together with attractive
storefront or forecourt signage are important to a positive customer shopping
experience which will in turn create more sales and leads. 

Advertising banners and displays can be used to announce new products, promote 
special events, advertise sales, generate excitement or attract and motivate 
customers.

One of the initial things to do when choosing a sign company is to find one that 
specializes in the sort of sign you want. Although the majority of companies will 
not refer to any specialty in their advertising, many will actually be mainly 
proficient at making a certain type of sign. You will often find faster turnaround 
and better pricing when working with such a company. 

Working with people who are on the whole informed about the details surrounding a 
given project can significantly impact the type of signs that are created. If you 
are not using your own designer, you may want to think about the completed 
projects of graphic designers working at the sign company. This may well be your 
best investment.

Have You Been Branded?

The personal brand you project affects others' decisions as to your intelligence, 
character and ability, and determines whether or not they want to do business 
with you. The way you dress (and act) has a remarkable impact on the people you 
meet professionally and socially. This greatly affects how they treat you. Humans 
think with their eyes. A UCLA study proves that 85% of all decisions are made 
with our eyes. That's right: the visual you have has the most impact. If your 
personal brand is not professional and congruent, attractive and attracting
you will be passed over -- guaranteed. To be competitive, to have a greater
influence on others, to attract more business and be more successful it's
essential that you develop a well-thought-out personal brand. Before you sell
anything -- your product, company or service -- you sell yourself first. Shift
the balance of power in your favor. When you brand yourself correctly, you are
seen as more desirable and in demand. Now take large, successful companies for
instance. They understand the power of "branding" a product. They spend a lot
of time, money and energy to create a "brand" that is eye catching and
appealing enough to sell their product through to market. They want to make
sure that the buyer has a strong connection with that brand.

Now think of yourself as a company with one employee -- you. How much time,
money and energy have you spent in developing a "personal brand" that is unique
enough to sell through to your market? An individual who has a well-defined
personal brand has more status and a tremendous advantage over the competition
in the market place. With a great personal brand, you are already half sold and
thus far above the competition.

Promoting Your Brand

Remember the importance of branding. If you haven't already initiated a brand
for your company, now might be just the time. Use these simple techniques in
the promotion of your special brand

Make your brand as unique as possible. Catch the eye of the public by creating
something different- something that people have not yet seen. Instead of doing
what has already been done, go the opposite direction and be creative. Don't
forget the legal dangers of copyright infringement related to borrowing or
stealing from another firm's design.

Display stability. Take time in the development process to establish your brand
and accomplish the look you really want. It's better to spend sufficient time in
the beginning fine-tuning your design to the desired outcome, rather than to
play with it after it's been revealed to the public. Changing your brand, and
all that's involved with it, including colors, slogans, logos, and tag lines,
doesn't support an image of reliability and long-lastingness.

Stability should be maintained with branding. If you have integrated a brand
into your company's marketing, then use it all over the place. It should appear
on all of your marketing materials, business cards, web site, and printed items.
The same is true for your packaging. Your brand should appear on all of your
products

Give your brand away to the public with diverse promotional products. You can
help your brand to saturate the consumer population by handing out precious,
yet low-cost, items. Promotional products encourage possible customers to keep
in mind your brand and your gift every time they are used. Consider useful
devices such as letter openers, flashlights, first aid kits, and CD cases.

Brands are an extremely effective marketing tool. When working with your
concept, consider the above to ensure the development of an effective brand.

Your Ultimate Ambassadors

Brand Identity is a promise. Whether that promise involves product quality, 
service, price or a million other things variables. A strong brand identity can 
place a business above its competition all by itself. But having a brand that's 
strong takes time, money and effort to grow. It's not as easy as just creating 
a logo or writing a tagline. Brand identity is the reason you give your customer 
to pick you instead of your competition.

Successful re-branding involves "evolution," not "revolution." You must make an
impact on upon your existing customers that your new brand is just a new and
improved version of the same you. It's vital to not get too extreme with a
re-branding effort because you could end up destroying delicate emotional ties
and customer loyalty. Having a brand identity that resonates with your market
is imperative, but not at the expense of the people within your company. They
need to not only get it, but also be your brand's most ardent ambassadors. Do
your employees believe in your company? Do they feel like they have a vested
stake in its success? Companies with solid brand identities can say yes to
these questions. Can yours? If not, here's some things you can do: 

1. Get every aspect of your company on the same page. Get all your departments 
talking to each other and understanding each other. 

2. Give everyone a common understanding of the company, its mission and their 
part in it. They should feel like they have ownership-even if they don't.

3. Reinforce brand values and behaviors. Constantly promote these fundamentals 
until they're second nature.

Your employees will ultimately determine your success or failure. You, as
leadership, must earn it. But once you do, you'll have a company that is full
of happy, motivated successful brand ambassadors.

You Can't Turn Cheese Into Jelly

Everyone's heard of a company called Kraft. "Hey, those are the cheese people." 
Yep. For years, Kraft and cheese were one and the same. It was an example of 
branding with a position competitors would have been hard-pressed to wear down 
had company brass been content in their cheesiness. They weren't. Like many 
companies blessed with strong brands, Kraft began to think their brand name 
was invincible and that any product introduced under its banner would dominate 
their markets simply because of its name. So, Kraft began offering jams, 
jellies and mayonnaise among other things. The numerical truth about Kraft's 
brand extension strategy Ohio-based Smucker's owns 35% of the jams and jellies 
market. Kraft has 9%. Hellman's mayonnaise has 42% of the mayo market. Kraft has 
18%. The plan for equal domination didn't quite work out as planned. Despite its 
dominance in the cheese market, Kraft was relegated to bit player status in these 
other categories. Their strategy of trying to leverage a great brand name into 
being all things to all people resulted in few real winning products. People who 
wish to expand into other product areas need to do so by using a strong brand 
identity as the foundation of its marketing strategy. Either that or create new 
product lines that somehow relate to your old product line, such as cheese 
companies putting out a line of pre-made cheese and cracker snacks. What Ritz 
did with Mini Ritz sandwiches, Kraft could have easily done by focusing the 
product's marketing slant on the cheese in the cracker. Over the long term, as 
your brand becomes synonymous with a specific kind of product or service, more 
people will turn to you for hat product or service...and continue to do so 
because they believe they're getting quality only a specialist can provide. A 
jack-of-all-trades really is master of none. So if you are a master, or wish to 
become one, do it. Be it. Just not to everyone.





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