Tag Archives for " brand strategy "

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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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Sailing into a big, blue ocean of opportunity.

Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, likes to tell the story of his origin as an entrepreneur. And it always revolves around focus…

“For the first five years we only had one product. Stretchy tee shirts,” Plank said. “Great entrepreneurs take one product and become great at one thing. I would say, the number one key to Under Armour’s success – to any company’s success – plain and simple, is focus.”

v5-1201166-400_htfUnder Armour’s focus on stretchy tees for football players enabled Plank to create a whole new pie in the sporting goods industry. He wasn’t fighting with Nike for market share, he was competing on a playing field that no one was on. It was a classic “blue ocean” strategy… instead of competing in the bloody waters of an existing market with well-established competitors, he sailed off on his own. And he kept his ship on course until the company was firmly established. Only then did they begin to expand their product offerings.

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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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Information is killing your advertising.

Contrary to popular belief, information is is the enemy of persuasion. Not the friend.

Most people think they can convince, sell or persuade by piling on facts and stats. Well, it might make you feel smart, but it’s not going to produce results. In fact, the more info you stuff into an ad, the less you’ll get out of it.

Information is what web sites are for. You can cover all the nitty gritty details in the content of your site. That’s where you go deep. Don’t try doing that in your advertising.

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2 Making websites work — on many levels.

It’s been very interesting to witness the progression of web design over the last 20 years. Trends come and go at a fashion-runway pace. Technology changes even faster than that, and the graphic style is continually evolving.

Regardless of the latest trends or technological bells and whistles, there are some timeless facts about this communication tool that will always apply. First and foremost: The most effective websites are multi-dimensional. That is, they communicate on many different levels…

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1 Is the term “inspiring bank” an oxymoron?

It’s interesting, where people find inspiration. For some business owners, it’s the pages of Forbes or biographies of big-name entrepreneurs. For Monet, it was the garden. For me it’s the bookstore, the ski slopes, or the trails.

old-bankThe bank is definitely not on my list.

Banks are not known for their inspiring environments or groundbreaking business practices. In fact, the entire banking industry has a huge cloud hanging over its head, every since the mortgage banking debacle of 2009.

The most exciting thing to ever happen at my bank was the emancipation of the counter pens… They were released from their chains and replaced with crappy logo pens that are now free to take home with just a purchase of a $10,000 15-year Certificate of Deposit.

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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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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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