I suggest you start with a branding audit, a systematic assessment of resources, processes and materials.
It’s a good idea to perform this task periodically. In the bustle of daily business, it’s easy to lose track of assets and how they contribute to the efficiency of our business.
You can perform your own audit in any number of ways. Here are five methods to consider:
- Pile, purge and pencil in the changes. While this isn’t the most efficient of ways to get through large amounts of information, it may fit your style. Gather everything. Toss what no longer works and note the items missing as well as the ones you need to refine or redo.
- Build a flow chart or mind map. Think through your process, noting each step and the items required. Here’s a partial example for service providers: brochure or initial presentation folder, client assessment, thank you, contract, report, invoice. Each item requires a visual assessment. Does it brand you well? Is it consistent with the image you wish to project?
- Review your calendar. Focus on meetings and/or deadlines. Review items needed for each. This will bring things to your attention in a time-friendly manner which you may find easy. When its renewal time for your industry association, for example, you could update your information with a new logo, address, biographical information.
- Make a list. Write down your “to-do’s” in the marketing realm. Unfortunately, without some prompting, you will likely miss some opportunities.
- Develop an Excel spreadsheet and consider some specific categories of information.
- The look of my materials (standardized colors, logo placement, font, footer, copyright information to name just a few).
- Promotional materials. List items individually. Note if you need to update, refine or completely redo the piece.
- Collateral materials. (See the previous list.)
- Website. Check all links, dial each phone number and be sure that every icon works. Update your bio and, if necessary, your photo.
Branding audits provide you with fabulous information, a starting point for your master plan. Take the time to audit your materials.
Here’s an interesting brand audit on scribd.
My e-book, the Six-Week Marketing Master Plan, also provides an audit. The detailed audit (more than 25 questions) is covered in day two of the 45-day process.
“Brand DNA: Uncover Your Organization’s Genetic Code for Competitive Advantage” by Carol Chapman and Suzanne Tulien offers dozens of tips on branding and walks you through the process. I reviewed earlier this year in a post entitled: Transform Your Small Business with the Power of Branding.
However you do audits, get specific and get going now. Ready?
Today’s post marks day two in a 45-day master marketing plan. Take your business to a new level in just one hour a day. Focus on one topic. Learn more.
Branding: the process of creating and living a brand’s message, according to soon-to-be-published Brand DNA: Uncover Your Organization’s Genetic Code for Competitive Advantage by Carol Chapman and Suzanne Tulien.
The authors, principals with The Brand Ascension Group, use Meg’s story to develop the premise of branding as an internal function encompassing the core message of a business.
Following a free webinar, “Cashing in on Branding,” Meg becomes a Brand Ascension client to better brand Ecologé, her line of natural/organic body-care products.
With the help of Carol and Suzanne, Meg develops her core brand, working through components like value, style, differentiators and standards. These are the four components of Brand DNA.
Throughout the book Carol and Suzanne make it clear that branding is an inside out process and they present it step-by-step. Even the terminology makes the distinction:
Marketing = the process of communicating and spreading your message. (External)
From Meg’s “magic story,” a structured way of getting employees on the same page, to her view of the value of an updated logo, Brand DNA is real. At one point Meg jumps to a conclusion when she sees a glimmer of a solution. We see the disconnect: Meg wants to spending money on an external message before she addresses the company’s internal response.
Brand DNA’s authors are certified trainers in accelerated adult-learning methodologies. It shows. We first see the exercises reflected through Meg’s eyes and we hear her commentary about employee reaction.
The interactive workbook presents a do-it-yourself option, and gives estimated times for each exercise segment. Most businesses could benefit from working through one or two of the activities. In addition, a “consultant’s corner” suggests further questions and actions for any business.
Believable. Authentic. Doable. Those words came to mind as I reviewed Brand DNA. A student of branding, I enjoyed the discussion.
As a presenter who addresses branding for small business, I found myself admiring the cohesiveness of Brand DNA for the local or regional brand on the grow. An acknowledgement of small business pressures provides a healthy dose of reality: working on your business while working in it is one such example.
Brand DNA is an easy, thought-provoking read. It can provide an in-depth, brand-transforming result. In “Afterward” the authors say:
“Remember that branding is a process, not an event, and that this level of consciousness around your brand should continue for the life of your organization, not just by you, the owner, but by all its stakeholders. Clearly articulating your Brand DNA will help streamline many other facets of the business (e.g., marketing, communications, employee hiring, partnering, business decisions, etc.). When you achieve this level, you will see your business thrive!”
Each chapter of the book supports the statement, “Branding starts from the inside out.” Whether you’re looking for a collection of brand terminology, or assessments and or collaborative exercises to address employee involvement in your brand, this book has something for you. Working on branding will indeed affect every other aspect of your business.
Small business owners serious about improving their branding can pre-order Brand DNA at the author’s discount.
(Disclosure: Suzanne Tulien contacted me through my blog and I agreed to review the book.)
Once again Tiger Woods claimed the mainstream media spotlight. Widespread coverage of his press conference to apologize emphasized the importance we give to “bad boy” sports figures and their mistakes.
The key, of course, is the game. As a country, we seem ever-willing to forgive athletes: NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who pleaded guilty to dogfighting, is now yesterday’s news and he continues to play. NBA star Kobe Bryant, once front page theater is no longer of main-stream interest and he continues to play.Bode Miller, known for bad behavior and excessive arrogance at previous Olympics is now relished for his ever-present humility and, of course, his ability to win. Chris Del Bosco, the American/Canadian Ski Cross competitor has turned his life around and deserves a chance to be recognized for sobriety. He, too, wins and in so doing commands our respect.
- Does my brand benefit from the score, the wins, this athlete brings to the game?
- Do those numbers outweigh the potential pitfalls of losing?
- What values (think morals) are important to me and to my brand?
- Can this star incorporate those values so my business is better because of its association?
- Is there a match in brands between my company and this athlete?
- How will my business fare if something goes wrong?
- What protection do I have for my product if this athlete makes a mistake? (i.e., a morals clause in the contract)
Brand – the essence of any business -deserves discussion, review and revision on an ongoing basis.
What is a brand, anyway?
The famous swoosh (especially with the “Just do it” tagline) is one of the most know brands in the world.
How fun to read commentary on the development of the Lip-Sticking Brand as I caught up on my reading from the past few weeks. The Lip-Sticking blog offers fun commentary on marketing to women. (Disclosure: My friend and collaborator Mary Schmidt is one of the contributors.)
Now, an expanded Lip-Sticking Society site offers much more, including a soon-to-come learning center. Sign up now to get the updates. In a recent post, Donna DeClemente, marketing director for the Lip-Sticking Society gives a branding overview about the development of Lip-Sticking’s new look. She’s got some strong “how-to” hints for any business:
1. Describe the product in writing (yes, you must write it down for true clarification)
2. Define your audience – primary and secondary
3. Define your value proposition. What is it you offer the customer and why do they care?
4. List the unique features and benefits of your product.
5. Create the personality by listing the words (preferably from the customer)
6. Develop a tagline
Read the entire post and check out the new look for Lip-Sticking Blog.
One of my most aha moments came from “Brand You,” a concept developed some years ago by Tom Peters and featured in one of the early issues of Fast Company. It’s still applicable.
No matter what you’re doing today, there are four things you’ve got to measure yourself against.
First, you’ve got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague.
Second, you’ve got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value.
Third, you’ve got to be a broad-gauged visionary — a leader, a teacher, a farsighted “imagineer.”
Fourth, you’ve got to be a businessperson — you’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.
It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.
Naturally brand isn’t a new realization for me. It’s an ongoing process. See related posts: Clarity begins at home, Walking your talk requires taking your own medicine, and P.S., Take big steps.
When several of my co-authors of our new book, A Guide to Getting It: Branding & Marketing Mastery, got together recently to talk about ways to get the message out, we decided the best way to introduce ourselves and the topics we have written about was to give people an opportunity to ask us their most challenging branding and marketing questions!
When we got to the part about what to charge, it was unanimous that the roundtable calls should be no-charge. So, for two information-packed hours, you can have an opportunity to ask questions and receive personalized answers from a group of professionals who make their living coaching business owners to excel at their branding and marketing efforts.
If you are interested in masterminding and brainstorming with a team of women marketing experts who can answer your most challenging, costly, and pressing questions, this is where you will want to be September 8th and 22nd, at 4 p.m. EST, 1 p.m. PST.
To register or read more about this remarkable opportunity to get your questions answered by a panel with over 100 years of combined marketing experience, go to www.clarityofvision.com/marketingroundtable.html
If you’d like to send us your questions, enter it in the comment space on the registration checkout form, or post your challenge here. We’ll cover it on the calls!
As I’ve blogged before, branding is the compilation of all the little things about you and your product. The making of a brand makes for fascinating study and considerable debate. Yesterday’s Brand You Summit offered an outstanding collection of experts on Branding. This morning, I opened Change This and discovered “Build Your Brand in Bits and Bytes,”a manifesto by brand strategist, public speaker and author, Willian Arruda. Arruda founded Reach, the global leader in personal branding.
Download your copy of the manifesto, Build Your Brand in Bits and Bytes.
In 15 succinct pages, Arruda gives instructions for gauging your personal brand effectiveness on the web. “You’re being googled,” he writes and offers an online tool to evaluate just how your personal brand effectiveness stacks up.
A simple table demonstrates where your brand ranks on the digital scale; answer five questions and Arruda’s easy-to-use tool calculates the answer for you. Even better, he explains how to implement a plan to develop the online brand you want to portray. I encourage you to take the test. Are you digitally disguised, dissed, disastrous, dabbling, or distinct?
Once again William Arruda has provided high content, easy-to-understand branding information that can take you to the next level in your ongoing quest to a positive web presence.
At last week’s Economic Summit trade show I saw Quality New Mexico in action. Their purpose at the show: outreach to communities and companies about Quality New Mexico and discussion of how the NM Quality Awards program can support organizations in achieving the next level.
Calwyn Gullick, Business Unit Owner Advertising & Public Relations introduced herself to me with a comment about my website. Calwyn had been researching sites mentioned in an e-blast; naturally, I was pleased to be on the radar and impressed with the fact that she was prepared for a decision.
The Quality booth featured client giveaways such as a unique highlighter from The Gap as well as a promotion product (a tiny radio) touting Director Julia Gabeldon’s Radio Show, 5:00 – 6:00pm Sundays on KKOB 770 AM. Both were appropriate giveaways.
Members of the Quality NM contingency commented about John Vinyard, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of GENITECT, LLC; Vinyard addresses “Creating an Environment for Peak Performance using the Malcolm Baldridge Model” at the upcoming annual conference event for the local chapter of American Society of Training and Development (ASTD-NM).
This experience illustrates the power of connection, the importance of finding commonalities with potential customers, and the experience of brand. I say experience of brand because it’s the compilation of all that you do to promote your product or service. The nuances carry far more importance that one might expect. I suspect for Quality New Mexico, it’s one more way to walk the talk.
Herding cats can be easier than getting your branding in line. Just ask Jill Duval of New Mexico WOMAN. Jill and her staff took time this week to take a look at an ongoing process: bringing a new look and tagline to life.
New Mexico WOMAN, an independent magazine of 19 years, encompasses three other events and a directory. Like any small business, the operation involves more ambition than people to fulfill it, implying a constant juggle of time and money.
After a decision to cohesively brand all elements of the operation, Jill and company began implementing the pieces. It’s a major project for an existing operation. Here’s a sample checklist:
- All materials carry the look
Letterhead, postcards, magnetic signs, nametags, internal communication, products, collateral pieces, external communications like advertising, website, customer service communications, co-branding communications, direct sales communications
- A digital file exists for all collateral materials
- All employees can access all materials
- The website mirrors the look
- The brand message is clear
- The communication of the message to clients is consistent
- The communication of the message by employees is consistent
- There are product mix/service innovations in place that enhance the brand
- There is a plan for focused communication of the message
- There is a formal checklist in place internally to insure continued improvement
Brand is everything you do. Hence, my original premise: for an existing organization, transforming brand is akin to herding cats.
Brandweek Magazine keeps me abreast of advertising news and offers food for thought. The Top of Mind Perspectives and Commentary frequently catches my attention. Last week, September 10, 2007, the “Got Tagline?” commentary from Mike McGinty, creative director at Groove 11, caught my attention.
McGinty commented: “Too many companies approach taglines without thinking…. …”if any of these outfits did actually stop for even a second and analyze their own taglines, they’d see just how insipid, inappropriate or indistinctive so many of them truly are.”
In an article that made me laugh out loud, McGinty hammered about what works and what doesn’t. Some of his picks for what works include:
Every kiss begins with Kay – Kay Jewelers; this advertiser marries the brand name with the product benefits and the emotion behind it.
OR, You are now free to move about the country – Southwest Airlines; Here’s a tagline that offers a relevant twist on a familiar phrase.
AND, Get the door. It’s Domino’s; As McGinty points out, this is a pure, simple experience-driven tagline.
The laughing part came as McGinty discussed fast food taglines. He pointed out that Church’s Chicken uses: Gotta love it; McDonald’s I’m loving it, and suggested that you check competitor taglines before you finalize yours.
I find most taglines to be vague and non-descriptive; here are some such samples from local publications:
Compass Bank, Just a little better
Martha’s Body Bueno, THE place to shop
Casa de Rosa Assisted Living, This is living
Dillard’s, The style of your life
Bank of Albuquerque, The banker makes the bank
Here is a list of the Top 100 Taglines of all time. Taglines clearly say what you do and should tell users why they care. Check yours. My rule is, if you can substitute your competitor’s name for yours and the statement is true, then you have a problem.
Recently a speaker from the League of Women Voters discussed authenticity and stated that was the one quality she wanted to see in political candidates. I found myself thinking about authenticity in marketing and business.
Authenticity requires vulnerability, the willingness to be open, truthful and sincere. Genuine. Authenticity in marketing requires truth in advertising and presentation. A number of recent posts from consultants in organizational development discussed authenticity. The Free Management Library offered additional insight on the subject.
Social media and its transparency supports truth. Companies and people find it difficult to “pull one over” on consumers in today’s world. Yet, authenticity is lacking. More than ever authenticity is cited as the catalyst for customer loyalty.
Not surprisingly, books are written on the subject. Beyond-Branding: How the values of transparency and integrity are changing the world of brands, is a compilation by 14 authors. Read more and download your free chapter here.
Authentic branding strikes a chord, causes a response from the target audience, and resonates at the cellular level.
Ultimately, a quote from Barbara De Angelis, Internationally recognized expert on human relations, sums up authenticity: “We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.”