Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

How to Brand Your Business and Position it for Success

For small businesses, having a well-established brand with a loyal customer base is critical to both immediate and long-term success. While investing money in brand developing tools may be costly, building a suite of business cards, postcards, signs, banners, brochures and other products that give your business a professional look can be easily and inexpensively accomplished. When your brand acts as your identity, anything you can do to increase public awareness will only help your company.

First and foremost, it is important that your company map out exactly what it stands for, who your target customer is, how you would like to be represented, and how you want your message to be delivered. Once that has been decided, define your brand – how you are going to help a customer identify your business with a given product, promotion or piece of advertising. Will it be with a logo, color scheme or a slogan? To make this as effective as possible work with focus groups made up of current and potential clients, as well as peers within your industry so you can come to an educated decision on which vehicles will work best to accomplish your goals and objectives. Also, remember to always keep your marketing tools up to date.

Next, focus on which marketing tools your company is going to use to deliver your message. If you’re not in a position to develop a complete set of marketing materials, then focus your efforts on one piece at a time. For instance, one of the most valuable tools in today’s market is a simple business card. With a business card in hand, an ambassador of your brand is effectively able to provide your contact info and exposure to the corporate brand.

Business cards are most impactful when the logo is prominently featured and includes your associate’s contact information, title, website URL and Twitter handle, among other things, and the font is easily readable. It’s also important to develop a consistent message to deliver across all channels at all times. This assists in building a recognizable brand that consumers will automatically associate with your company.

It’s also important that you consider your geographic location. If your company is located in a bustling community with a large amount of foot traffic, it may be a good idea to create a large banner to place on your store front which features a special offer or promotion. Using this type of tool assists in generating awareness and not only helps to attract new customers but retains existing ones by providing additional incentives to keep them coming back for more. Alternatively, if you have a business specializing in lawn care or real estate, then perhaps creating a lawn sign to place on your client’s property may be beneficial as the property serves as a testament to your services.

Another low-cost promotional tactic is a well-crafted brochure to feature within the office or give to potential customers/clients. A high-quality brochure enables your company to relay in-depth information, such as the company’s mission statement, pricing, services, accreditations, certifications and more. Additionally, they give your organization an extra level of credibility since consumers have come to expect printed material from companies with whom they are doing business. Also if you truly want to make your brochure buzz-worthy, try to integrate an offer or coupon into the copy of the brochure itself.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that creating an effective marketing strategy will take a considerable level of effort to organize and execute. However, having an assortment of customized marketing materials will attract your desired target customer and leave them with the information and incentive they need to revisit your company in the future.

Provided by: ARA

Why is Building An Identity Important?

Being successful in your chosen field depends largely on the image you have. If you were able to build an identity that speaks of hard core professionalism and expertise, then you would definitely stay in your business for many years to come.

And it all boils down to who you are and how you would want to be known as when you present your marketing tools to your customers and prospects.

What your customers and potential clients see in your promotional print tools is what leaves that positive mark. Your brand and identity rely on the first impression that your professionally designed custom business cards or business letterhead provide your clients. Hence, it is crucial that you make a great first impression. It is therefore important that your aim for your print materials should be able to convey an identity way beyond that of your design and message.

Two of the most basic identity system package that any business should have is your custom business cards and your letterhead. This is where your clients would see your logo and hence, the kind of image that you would want to communicate.

One of the most crucial elements when designing your identity system package is to learn your business inside and out. Everything there is to know about your business and your particular niche you should be able to convey. If you know your business inside out, you would be able to provide a successful system.

Here are a few questions you need to answer when preparing for your identity system package so that you can get the most from it:

  • What kind of business do you have? Do you have a niche?
  • What are your products and services?
  • How many years have you been operating? How long have you been doing it?
  • Do you have competitors? If so, who are they?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How do your target clients see your business? What about the industry you are in?
  • What is the purpose of your identity system?
  • Do you intend to focus on a particular group of your target market?

When you are done answering these questions, you can now put forward the identity you would want your clients and prospective customers to retain in their minds. Putting your best foot forward surely helps in creating that positive image of your business to your clients.

Brand Management Lessons from the Gap Logo Debacle

On October 4, 2010, retail giant GAP quietly unveiled a new Gap brand logo on its website, and someone noticed.

In the seven days that followed, professional journalists, bloggers, fans and critics frothed the media with social commentary. Some called the move haphazard brand management, others a brilliantly conceived stunt to revive languishing sales. By midnight, October 11, the “new” logo was gone.

Any Port in a Storm

Like a Weather Channel reporter, company spokesperson Louise Callagy spent eight days standing between her public and a deadly storm. At first, she said the new logo signified Gap’s evolution from “classic, American design to modern, sexy, cool.” But Gap fans disagreed violently, describing the new mark as “horrible,” “ugly,” “childish,” and “clip-art.” Some fans even suggested GAP’s brand manager should be fired.

Writing for BrandChannel.com, Abe Sauer said the logo change “demonstrates a prototypical brand panic move. With things not going in its favor, the brand decides to change the one valuable element it has going for it.”

By day three, Gap was running for cover, redefining the angry dialogues as “passionate debates.” Gap said it loved the new logo, but was interested in seeing other ideas. In an attempt to quell the furor, they hinted at a crowd sourcing project. But designers – at least the ones posting on Facebook – revolted. Gap’s well-intentioned crowd source initiative was interpreted as a “spec work stunt… completely appalling and beyond unethical!” Another “fan” said crowd sourcing was “completely insulting to the industry, and to [Gap’s] designer as well.” And a handful threatened to retaliate with a boycott.

A small contingent of Gap fans, like Jamie Lyons, used their Facebook accounts to speak out, in support of Gap. “If this is a publicity stunt Gap, I say great job. If it’s not, I say great job.” And Taylor Wyant admonished his peers, saying, “suck it up and move on, it’s JUST a logo, it’s not like it’ll affect your life.”

By day seven, Gap relented. Marka Hansen, President of Gap Brand North America, issued a statement indicating the company would roll back the brand and resurrect the iconic blue box logo. The online community declared victory.

Publicity Stunt or Act of Desperation?

On October 12, just one day after Gap recalled the failed logo, critics were performing the post-mortem. Vanity Fair contributor Juli Weiner dismissed the whole affair with a mock obituary, claiming the logo died “after a brief and ignominious battle with stage IV banality.” Writing for Bloomberg, Ryan Flynn hinted that the change may have been connected to Gap CEO Glenn Murphy’s focus on reviving sales. Blogs and columns began to surface, claiming that the whole episode was nothing more than a media stunt.

Whatever the motive, Gap’s unexpected brand shift bears striking similarities to other companies’ failed attempts to breathe life into withering brands. Cable television and internet service provider Comcast rolled out the new Xfinity identity in February of this year, hoping to dissociate itself with its own reputation for poor customer service and high pricing. Last July, The SciFi Channel changed its name and logo mark to “SyFy,” in an attempt to better relate to its young audience, only to discover that “syfy” is a slang term for syphilis. In January of 2009, Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice abandoned its “straw-in-the-orange” brand symbol in favor of packaging which consumers labeled “generic-looking.” Parent company Pepsi, just one year earlier paid the same agency (Arnell/Omnicom) $1 Million to develop a new Pepsi logo (whose only redeeming quality, in this writer’s opinion is that the white stripe, which widens as the calories increase with each product in the line, serves as a gentle reminder of the effect the product will have on consumer waistlines).

The Crux of the Matter

Whether Gap’s failed introduction of the “new” logo was a media stunt or a rebranding strategy, one thing is clear: the process lowered most observers’ opinions of Gap. Luckily for Gap, people have short memories.

But I think there’s a bigger issue on the table. Bigger than cause, and bigger than effect.

At the heart of this historic social media event is the question, “Should a company define its own brand, or should they allow their customers’ preferences to define their brand?” Of course, the simple answer is “yes.” Marketing experts have long recognized the importance of resonance with the market. Market research, audience segmentation, message mapping, surveys and focus groups all pay homage to the power of resonance. But a more accurate answer might be “the feedback of any audience should be understood in the context of the composition of the group of respondents, and weighed against the mission behind the issue in question.” Huh?

Social media like Facebook provide brand owners with powerful tools for communication – two-way communication. The sheer numbers of media like Facebook can be inspiring, intimidating, facilitating… and misleading, in two ways.

As marketers, we need to stay mindful of the effect that a representative sample has on our ability to project opinions of the sample group to the wider population, with validity. In Gap’s case, I suspect that feedback from the sample group who self-identify (by virtue of their Facebook membership, their “fan” status and their inclination to voice unsolicited opinions on issues they don’t control) might be representative of Gap’s target audience. I do not suspect, however, that all target audiences share these characteristics, and for that reason, I would encourage any brand owner to consider (and probably to proactively manage) selection into the sample group – especially when that sample group is contained in social media.

More importantly, a brand owner must understand the mission behind the brand, or in the case of a changing brand, behind the evolution of the brand. If, for example, an organization intends to lead by the power of its brand, then it would behoove that organization to act with the courage of its convictions – to do what it believes is right, regardless of feedback, and limited only by the impact that a backlash may have against its future ability to affect the change dictated by its mission. Or, to put it in the vernacular of the street, “You can’t lead by following.”

 Article Source: EzineArticles

Defining Your Corporate Identity

Your corporate identity impacts all aspects of your business and plays a vital role in your customer’s overall experience with your organization. Having a strong consistent identity throughout your communication and marketing efforts is the first step to building your organization and a solid image. Many corporations accomplish this with the help of outside branding and corporate identity consultants, or specialists. These specialists ensure that the company is acting in a way which is consistent with its corporate identity, keeping the company’s position in the market strong.

A brand or corporate identity, serves to create associations and expectations among products made by a producer. A brand often includes an explicit logo design, font and typography structure, color schemes and symbols which can be used across all marketing materials. This corporate identity system shows the difference between the conceptual and technical borders of a sign as the identity, and an organized system of signs and visual structures. The creation of an identity program is beyond the design of simple signs. Corporate identity involves a company’s logo and design strategy, and is merely a component of an overall brand strategy. When all of these components come together, a memorable brand is created. If you have ever purchased something after seeing a commercial for it on television or after seeing a print ad for the product, than you already know just how effective this strategy can be.

Brand identity is a basic requirement for any company, product or service to launch itself into the branding roadmap. Every company should have a basic but well-researched brand portfolio that describes what the brand is and what it stands for. This model is based on the idea that brand identity is managed. Positive brand image that ensures a competitive advantage is build up when conveying brand identity to consumers efficiently and employing particular strategies of positioning. This identity is the most outward expression of the brand. It serves to distinguish your brand from its rivals while affirming market position.

Who do you want to be as a corporation. What values do you want your corporation to adopt and promote. When people think of your corporation, what would you like their first thoughts to be. When you are developing your corporate identity, these are some of the initial things that you should be thinking about. Your competition is working hard to develop their own unique branding and marketing strategy, which is why it only makes sense to work twice as hard to develop yours.

The Power Brand Identity

Have you ever purchased a product after seeing a commercial for it on television? Have you ever had a jingle from a commercial stuck in your head? Well, you have experienced the power of brand identity marketing firsthand. Brand identity is defined as the desired perception of a product or brand in the mind of the consumer, and advertising and marketing agencies work hard to achieve what their clients define as the correct perception of a particular product or brand.

Agencies begin with a product, defined as something that is produced to function and exists in reality, or simply the idea for a product, and brainstorm to come up with brand qualities. These are the feelings, expectations, thoughts, and associations generated by a product. For example, a kitchen cleaning product creates very different thoughts, feelings, and expectations than a bag of dog food. The kitchen cleaner makes one visualize a clean kitchen, while the dog food creates images of healthy, happy dogs.

Brands speak to the needs of the consumer or audience. If you have dry, damaged hair, you will probably search for a shampoo that is specially formulated for your hair type. But which one will you purchase? This is where the concept of brand recognition comes into play. If a product has been properly branded and marketed, then you will associate it with clean, hydrated, healthy hair. You may remember the commercial that you saw for the product, or the packaging may be aesthetically pleasing to you, or maybe the jingle for the product is still stuck in your head. Either way, you choose one product over all of the others on the shelf and put it in your cart, usually without even realizing why you have decided to do so.

Brand identity marketing strategies are geared towards the concept of the brand as a valuable asset. A brand, unlike a product, does not have physical attributes. This means that the physical attributes of the brand must be shaped in the mind of the consumer, sometimes even before they see the actual, tangible product. You may have a clear picture of what XYZ shampoo is, based on the commercial that you saw, before you actually see a bottle of it in person. Maybe you remember the images of the models in the commercial with healthy, bouncy hair, or maybe it was the image of the poor woman with frizzy, fried hair who had hair just like the models by the end of the commercial spot. Either way, XYZ shampoo is on its way home with you, thanks to the power of brand identity marketing.

Three in Seven

With the oversaturation of ads in the marketplace, consumers are flooded on a daily basis with different product or service offerings, and as we try to win or retain their business we run the unfortunate risk of being lost in the noise.

To avoid, or minimize, that risk, it is essential for your company to create a broad and lasting awareness in the minds of your target audience. How do you do this? By maintaining a strong brand presence that is constantly being exposed to your audience, and in a consistent format.

Branding is the act of exposing prospects to your name, logo, tagline, etc. By exposing new and current customers to your brand on a frequent basis, you are maximizing the potential that you are top of mind for these customers when they are ready to purchase the product or service that you offer. With the right ad campaign, not only will your customers know who you are, but they will actively seek out your brand to purchase.

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. Studies show that a prospect needs to be exposed to the same ad impression three times within a week to make an impact. This does not mean they need to see the same medium, but it does mean the exposure needs to be consistent. It is important to maintain continuity through use of the same logo, business name and/or tagline in all of your promotions.

Once the brand has been created, the next step is to develop an ad campaign that will have the highest reach to your target audience. This could consist of anything from television, radio, or print to websites, online marketing, and so on. To reach the results you are looking for, contact Dailey Marketing Group today.

During Unstable Financial Times – Focus on Your Brand

Most companies in 2008 experienced changes in their business due to the economic downturn of the country. Many of us saw businesses filing for bankruptcy or laying off employees due to reduced sales and low consumer spending.

So what impact does this have on customers wanting to conduct business with your company? How does this affect your company’s brand identity? How do you bridge the gap between your brand image and your brand identity? Why is this a good time to relook at your company’s brand?

It is more important now than ever to do so. Customers and prospective customers looking to use your services or buy your products need to know if your business is going to be around for the long haul. In order to remain top of mind and create a high level of awareness, your company needs to communicate to all of your target audiences. But before you get started, you need to relook at your company’s brand. The first thing you need to do is understand your brand identity and brand image.

Brand identity is everything the company wants the brand to be seen as. It is the total promise a company makes to its customers. It may consist of features and attributes, benefits, performance, quality, service support and the values that the brand possesses. The brand can be viewed as a product, a personality, a set of values, and can influence the position it occupies in people’s minds.

Brand image, on the other hand, is the totality of consumer perceptions about your company and its brand, basically how they see it, which may not coincide with your company’s brand identity. Companies have to work hard on the consumer experience to make sure what customers see and think is what is intended by the company. Remember, branding is all about giving a relevant face to your business, no matter if you are a small “mom-and-pop” business or a Fortune 500 company. If you do not create a face to your business, the target market will soon develop one for you and it may not be the one you want. Once an impression is created, it is very difficult, and can be expensive, to change it.

How to get started improving your company’s brand.

Understand your brand image

This is the time to do a little research. First, get to know your customers–find out why your customers do business with you and continue to do so. Next, find out why previous customers are no longer working with you. Sometimes this is the most eye opening feedback a company can get.

Improve your brand identity

Many business owners might say that improving your brand identity means spending money on advertising, which requires a huge investment. This is not necessarily the case. Advertising costs depend on the size of your target market and the best medium to reach them. You do not necessarily need to invest in expensive billboards or in a full-page newspaper advertisement to reach the target market. But you do need to create a positive impact on your company’s brand by hitting the target market repeatedly. You must make sure that they remember your company when they need you the most.

Article provided to the La Quinta Chamber of Commerce – GEM Publication February 2009 page 21

http://www.lqchamber.com/pdf/gem-feb09.pdf