Archive for the ‘Branding’ Tag

Homegrown Marketing   2 comments

I hope, like me, you have had the chance to get caught up on some good reading this summer. I am finally diving into that pile of parenting books that gnaw and nag at me from my nightstand. As I whittle down the stack, I’ve been stuck by parallels between marketing and parenting and how both strive to make a strong and lasting connection.

 Interestingly, in his new book The Secrets of Happy Families, Bruce Feiler explores how solid business premises from corporate America can be applied to building stronger families. There are similarities in what makes both great and marketing it turns out, plays a key role.

We are a Company Who…:

Do you know your company’s brand? Can you articulate it in a 3 minute elevator speech? With conviction and certainty?  If not, it’s time to reflect on what makes you special and why you do what you do.   What is your purpose and mission? Successful companies, like families, know what they are about.  They know their core values, embrace them, protect them and covet them completely.

For example, we are a family who loves being outdoors and in nature. It’s a strong part of who we are, what we value, how we like to spend our time and where we like to relax.   In essence, it is part of our family brand because it’s so integral to our being.  Your professional brand should be equally integral and clear. It defines who you are and what you say to your customers.

So pause for a minute to finish this sentence:

We are company who…

Hopefully the words came easily. If not, no worries.  Brands are an organic concept that need marinating and maturing before we put them on paper. And then need periodic revisiting and refining.

Eagle’s brand? We are a company who helps clients build lasting customer relationships.

Who is Your Target Market:

Once you’ve locked in on your brand, you need to identify your target market and what they need from you. This can be tricky in both business and parenting (particularly when you have 3 children)!  Kids, like your customers, have certain features in common. They’re all children for example who live in one house. And yet, my 9 year old son has vastly different needs than his 6 year old twin sisters. It would be ineffective to “lump them together” and treat them all the same because they are each, in essence, their own target market. 

To be effective, we motivate our little “customers” best, by tailoring our message customized to their individual needs. For example, my husband and I employ Target Marketing when we transition kids to bed time. The promise of a book does the trick for one while a little song and a snuggle gets another jumping into jammies. 

You may not be singing lullabies to your clients but you do have to know who they are, what makes them tick and what they want and need. 

Try this out:

My target market is…..  And they need ……

Hard to answer?  When it comes to defining target markets, be it brands or parenting, you are never really “done”. This process is on-going, a constant ebb and flow of trial and error, refinements and adjustments.  Remember it’s okay to ask your clients what it is they want and need. It’s better than guessing. 

Rather than be discouraged, think of this process as an exciting challenge to figure out the puzzle just before the pieces get tossed in the air. 

As Albert Einstein once said, “The Three Rules of Work: 1. Out of clutter, find simplicity. 2. From discord, find harmony. 3. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.”

Have you found harmony in your corporate identity? If so, we’d love to know how you got there.

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Posted August 7, 2013 by Amy Blum in Uncategorized

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What makes a better brand?   1 comment

A new Starbucks opened up in my neighborhood this week. This one in a supermarket. The one before that? Just a block away with skimpy parking but a killer drive thru that I find hard to pass by.  I cherish my morning “get into gear” coffee and my afternoon “pick me ups”.  No matter the location or time of day, I know I can count on Starbucks to deliver a great product with smart service in a highly reliable, familiar way.  That’s what great branding is all about.  Creating an experience and filling a need in a remarkable, consistent way.

Here’s a quick test. Look at this logo and quickly think of 3 words or feelings it conjures for you:

Starbucks

For me?  Reliable, relaxing, pampering.  All positive around an experience I like to repeat over and over.  I like coffee and I like the coffee Starbucks makes.  If, on the other hand, you despise coffee or tea, there’s probably nothing Starbucks can do to change your world view.  They’re simply not selling anything you need or want. So in your own marketing for your company, product, or service, focus on being remarkable and memorable to your core target audience.  Understand, through research (surveys, focus groups, comment cards) what it is they genuinely want from you and be honest and thoughtful about what commitment you can make to deliver.  And to excel.  Anyone can do mediocre, but to stand out in the crowd you need to be extraordinary.

I would invite you to look at your own brand and the story you tell your core customers. Is it authentic, reliable, consistent?  And is the experience they have with you spectacular? If not, what can you do to make it so.

If you deliver the need in a consistently extraordinary way, the end result is unwavering loyalty.  And you’ll have developed brand evangelists who will happily, and without monetary reward, help you spread the word.

Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.
Chip Bell, Founder Chip Bell Group

Is there a company you love telling friends about? We’d love to hear your stories.

Posted May 15, 2013 by Amy Blum in Branding

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Be Remarkable and Be Remembered   Leave a comment

How do you get customers to become loyalists when they’re barraged with marketing messages from companies vying for their attention? We could list the many “how to’s” but here’s the bottom line — you have to Be Remarkable. Recently I was on the receiving end of “remarkable” from the most unlikely of sources.

Story #1:

Heard any stories lately about phone companies and their amazing customer service that goes the extra mile? More than likely, your answer is a big NO!  Phone companies aren’t known for exceeding expectations; they’re more often the source of frustration and gripes for lousy service.

Imagine then my surprise and delight when I received a handwritten note card from a Sprint employee thanking me for my business and offering a 25% discount on my next in-store purchase.  Seems Sprint has decided my loyalty is appreciated. And I appreciate them taking the time to tell me so. It seemed so, well, personal.

What happens when you feel appreciated? For starters, you feel good.  And you feel good about your decision to use this company, their product or service. You feel more emotionally connected to them and their brand and you become more passionate and engaged. And chances are, you will tell your friends, family, and colleagues. So by exceeding your expectations and showing appreciating, this company has turned you the customer into a fan who will tell others this remarkable story.

Story #2:

Here’s a story about another type company you’re unlikely to get excited about – an auto body shop.  I became a fan recently of Caliber Collision Centers when they surprised me with their excellent customer service. I dropped my car off some for repairs recently. The staff was so attentive and caring I was taken aback.  They asked about the accident (not our fault), empathized over the inconvenience and offered me copious amounts of coffee and water.  The service agent followed through on his promise to call every Tuesday and Thursday with an update. And the repairs took 3 days less than anticipated.  In short, they exceeded my expectations and generated a level of loyalty in me I didn’t know possible.

When I complimented the office manager on their great service, she told me she tries to treat customers the way she’d like to be treated.

I hope I don’t get in another accident soon but if I do, I know where I’m headed.

How are you working to be remarkable and remembered? We’d love to hear your story.

Posted May 31, 2012 by Amy Blum in Branding

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An Inconvenient Truth* #3: Don’t Make ‘em Work   Leave a comment

I watch yet another car lurk around the parking lot, scoping out the closest space possible to the building’s front door. Despite the fact that just a few rows away are dozens of empty spots, ignored by just about every driver. Round and round she goes, where she’ll stop, nobody knows – except you can be certain it won’t be far away.

And, of course, all this walk-avoidance is happening at the gym.

This hunt-for-the-nearest-parking-spot scenario is played out in parking lots across America day after day, at malls, restaurants, the airport, and yes, even the gym.

So what does this mean for you, dear Marketer? Another inconvenient, but important truth: At heart, most people are lazy. They’ll rally during times of crisis, show extraordinary strength and courage during history’s darkest hours – but just don’t make ‘em walk across the parking lot.

And don’t make ‘em work at trying to figure out your marketing message.

We’re talking too much play on words, “insider” jokes, copy that doesn’t know when to quit…anything that’s confusing, muddled, unclear, or even worse, boring.

Make sure your advertising is simple, to the point, and is conversational in tone. Cut out the cleverness if it gets in the way of the clarity. As a quick test, write your entire message in a ten-second script, being sure to clearly state your brand promise in that time. It’s a great starting point to develop a complete, concise message people can quickly understand.

Give your customers the chance to get close to you – without having to work at it.

*ignore at your own peril

An Inconvenient Truth* #2: Know Thyself   Leave a comment

I’ve spent far too much of my time and limited mind space thinking about this rather inane question:

What on earth is Allstate thinking?

For the last couple of years, they’ve had the Strong Soothing Black Man as their spokesperson in their TV spots.  Don’t know his name, but it doesn’t matter.  The SSBM exudes what we all need right now:  quiet strength, unwavering confidence, the feeling that no matter what may go wrong in your life, the SSBM will make it all go away.

Are you in good hands?  We sure are, Strong Soothing Black Man.

Then inexplicably, it all changed.

Like a child wrenched from Daddy’s arms, my safety and security were suddenly blasted from me.  Because, without warning, the Allstate commercials began featuring the uber-creepy Mayhem.   

Mayhem’s your basic Psychotic White Guy, posing as every threat you’ve never thought of.  Your everyday life, your most basic and innocent acts – such as cruising to Vons to pick up bananas – are made sinister.  Because Mayhem is lurking everywhere. 

He’s the tree smashing your windshield, the teenage girl texting her way into the back of your head, the ghoulish fool howling through the sun roof in a parking lot – as he careens into your back bumper.

I watched in horror.  I waited for the Strong Soothing Black Man to appear and make it all go away. 

But he never came.  And I was afraid.

Because this sudden, crazy shift in Allstate’s marketing freaked me out.  I wondered, who IS this company?  And why do they suddenly want to scare the living crap out of me with this Psychotic White Guy?  Allstate’s bipolar positioning shift left me confused – and wary.

Which leads us to Promobabe’s Inconvenient Truth #2:  Know Thyself

Does your company project a consistent brand identity?  Do your customers have a clear idea of who you are and what you stand for?  Here are Promobabe’s basic guidelines for making sure you know thyself:

  • Resist the urge to be all things to all people
  • Understand your company’s “core personality.”  Use research, customer feedback, etc to help determine how your target market sees you. Are you the smart guys?  The friendly helping hand?  The cool, sexy alternative?
  • Be consistent in your marketing.  Remember you can change and freshen your creative, just like we all change our clothes.  But your basic persona still remains the same.
  • Customer confusion = frustration = marketing death!

 Clearly, Allstate was having a crazy, whirlwind of an identity crisis. Played out in expensive TV spots to confused viewers.

 While I don’t have the inside skinny on whether or not the Mayhem campaign worked for them, I’m betting it didn’t.  Because a few weeks later, the Strong Soothing Black Man appeared in new spots again.

 Is your marketing message in good hands?

*ignore at your own marketing peril

Made in America?   Leave a comment

As midterm elections draw closer and closer, here’s a quick question for you:  What’s the brand of the United States of America?

The answer is a powerful example of the truth about any brand, including yours:  It depends on who you ask and sometimes it will be the “wrong” answer.

That’s because brands are not tangible or carved in stone.  They are not the product (or the policy in the case of a country) or the service being offered and delivered.  Your brand is the story being told about what you have to offer.  It’s the reaction you get and sometimes the one you hope for.

And it’s never really the “wrong” answer.   If the brand story you hear back from your target audience isn’t what you expected, find out where their experience differs from your promise – where you might be going “wrong.”  The listening is what keeps your brand strong and growing.

 Also, have the discipline to hear what’s being said by those who are not your audience without reacting.   They may not like your story even though it’s perfectly authentic and exactly what you offer.  That’s why they’re not your customers!

But the most important lesson about the American Brand may be this: the more confusion there is about your brand internally, the weaker your story will be to those on the outside.

So quick: what’s the Exceptional Promise that now defines the U.S.A. brand for you?  What’s is it for your brand?

If you’re interested in more discussion of the intersection of politics and branding, join the debate.

Posted September 20, 2010 by Don Wells in Branding

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Trust Me. Sometimes.   1 comment

What is the single most important aspect of any brand strategy?

If you answered quality, customer service or even consistency you were a little off the mark. There are hugely successful brands that don’t promise high quality or great customer service but do offer inexpensive, no-frills and “do it yourself” as their compelling story. Consistency is closer to the core of what’s essential for effective positioning but that still must go beyond simply repeating your message or creating a reliable experience.

So what’s the single most significant thing in your Brand strategy? Be authentic.

If you’re thinking, I talked about this last month then you’re paying attention which is good. The reason I’m repeating myself is simple. Too many brand managers still take their authentic foundation for granted and go on to concentrate on dressing up the brand story with clever copy, cool graphics and a great pitch to sell the staff. But then no magic happens. And branding becomes a daily battle.

That’s because an authentic brand takes on a life of its own. It is who you really are so it’s easy for staff to remember how to create the essential experience for customers. It’s what your company lives so there is no confusion about the brand being just the latest slogan the marketing department came up with. It’s so much a part of your essence that it’s almost effortless to get your target audience engaged.

Someone once said “Tell the truth. It’s the easiest thing to remember.” The same notion applies to your brand strategy and brand experience. Be authentic and your customers will learn to trust you and that makes longterm relationships possible. Your staff will trust as well. After all, they’re the first know if the brand is real or just a sometime thing.

So are you telling the truth about your brand? Sometimes?

Posted August 2, 2010 by Don Wells in Branding

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