Category Archives for "Branding"

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These two words are NOT synonymous: Logo. Brand.

Here’s something I heard from a graphic designer recently: “Oh yeah, we’re going to create a new brand for that company. Totally.” No she’s not. She’s not going to create a brand, she’s going to create a brand identity. There’s a difference. Let’s get the terminology straight.

A brand identity job typically includes a logo and graphic standards that dictate fonts and colors for the company’s marketing materials. It’s a valuable service, but those graphic elements, in and of themselves, do not add up to a “Brand.”

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Clarity. Clarity. Clarity.

Clarity is the key to many things… Relationships, international relations, politics and parenting would all benefit from more clarity. But let’s stick to the subject at hand; Clarity in branding, advertising and marketing communications in general. Doesn’t matter what form… from a quick tweet or a simple email to an in-depth webinar or long-term TV campaign, you need to be clear about what you’re trying to say.

It’s a war of clarity vs. confusion. Simplification vs. Complication. Cool persuasion vs. a lot of hot air. Straight talk vs. bullshit. And it starts with your internal communications.

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1 “Brand” Trumps Managerial Incompetence.

I need to stop being surprised by managerial incompetence. Honestly. I need to reframe my expectations and just be pleasantly surprised when I encounter an exception to the rule. Because everywhere I turn, knumbskulls, nuckleheads and nitwits rule the managerial world.

Witness the retail store owner who has no handle on her inventory issues or labor costs.

The non-profit executive who has a revolving door of talent, going only one direction.

incompetenceThe managing partner of a professional agency who constantly over bills his clients.

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1 Five things every marketer should be thankful for.

Once a year we all sit down at the dinner table and express our gratitude and appreciation… for the food, the friends, the family, the abundance. You might want to do the same thing at work once in a while.

As business people, it’s easy to forget the stuff we should be thankful for in the workaday world. We get so wrapped up delivering the next deliverable, doing the next deal, and appeasing people who may be unappeasable, we just forget to be appreciative. Or worse yet, we don’t see the good stuff at all.

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2 Zero-in on Branding success.

I love this saying: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” I think Steven Covey coined that one.

When you boil it all down, that’s the essence of branding: Zero-in on one thing you can honestly, passionately, expertly hang your hat on, and stick with it. Then when it comes to marketing communications, come up with one idea to convey the main thing, and just pound that home in every way, shape and form you can afford. One idea, multiple executions.

Unfortunately, most business owners and brand managers don’t have that kind of focus. Once they get a taste of success in one little niche, the temptation is just too much… They take their eye off the main thing, and dive into a lesser thing, hoping it will become the next big thing.

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4 How to hire the right marketing person, the first time.

I don’t work with Fortune 500 companies. My clients rely on small, efficient teams of people for all their marketing needs. If that’s your situation, or if you have a fledgling start-up, you better think carefully about the type of marketing person you hire to spearhead the effort.

The most common mistake is hiring a specialist… someone who’s deep into SEO, or social media, or web programming, or brand journalism, or graphic design. Whatever. Those “doers” are all important players in your marketing mix, but what you need is a thinker/doer. An idea guy who can wear many different hats.

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3 When Branding outpaces the Brand. And vice versa.

First of all, let me address the common confusion around the two “B” words in this article’s headline. The verb “branding” is often mistakenly associated with logo design. You’ll hear someone say, “Oh, we’re going through a complete re-branding exercise right now,” which in reality is nothing more than a refresh of the logo.

Branding is much more than that. Branding refers to everything that’s done inside the company — and outside — that influences the perception of the brand. If you redesign the product, that’s branding. If you engineer a new manufacturing process that gets the product to market faster, that’s branding. Choosing the right team of people, the right location, the right distributors, the right sponsorships… it all has an impact on your brand.

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1 The Inside-Out Approach To Building A Brand.

I’m always amazed by business owners and CEOs who spend considerable time and money on branding initiatives, only to neglect the most important component of their brand: Their people.

If you want to build a great brand, you better start on the inside and work your way out. Seriously. If you can’t convince your employees to be your greatest brand ambassadors, who can you convince?

If they aren’t drinking the Kool-aid, who will?

It’s interesting, during a brand audit, to compare the company’s external market research data with prevailing internal attitudes. I’ve seen companies that accurately claim to have a 98 percent approval rating. “Customers love us,” they say. But when we talk to employees, suppliers, past employees, and friends and family, a completely different tune emerges.

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3 Deschutes Going National: How to grow without selling your soul.

Bend, Oregon is a small town better known for big fun than big business. There are only a few local brands that have grown to national prominence. It’s fitting that one is a beer brand.

When it comes to craft brewing, Oregon is the undisputed leader. And Bend is #1 in Oregon, with the most brewpubs per capita in the country. (28 at last count, with at least a dozen more in the works. Bend’s population is 80,000.)

tap-handlesIt all started 26 years ago when Gary Fish opened Deschutes Brewery. Since then, Deschutes has grown into the 6th largest craft brewery in the country, and the 11th largest U.S. brewery, period. That’s big. And with expansion into Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania this year, Deschutes is getting bigger all the time.

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1 Branded content – finding and providing something worthwhile.

Fifteen years ago, in The Cluetrain Manifesto, Christopher Locke wrote, “the internet has made it possible for genuine human voices to be heard again.”

What do you mean, “again”? Never has the average Joe been afforded unrestricted access to an audience any bigger than the crowd in a neighborhood pub. This giant electronic soapbox known as the internet delivers a world-wide audience. Anyone can pontificate at will, on any subject, and potentially reach billions of people across the globe.

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