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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