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Branding. What Do You Know, Joe?

By Lainie L

While strolling along the aisles of the national marketplace, I pretend to be astounded by the myriad of products and brand choices presented to me, all fighting for my attention. I notice that attracts me visually, jingle plays mercilessly in my head and the color theme of seems to remind me of a vacation I took many years ago. So why do I select instead of or What stimulates and motivates the act of making a purchase? From indecision to the knowing smile on my face, becomes my choice and can be the beginning of a loyal relationship with that brand or product. (Every marketers dream!)

Defining reasons behind these brand preferences can be a complex task, nonetheless it is certain the common thread will always be the experiential process, often referred to as the brand experienceHowever, this article is not intended to address the customers experience, it was vital to illustrate how buying decisions are based on these interactions or relationshipsRelationships? Yes, relationships. You see, everything we experience in the world is into ourselves. That relationship, how one thing fits into a singular perception is really the key to branding. There are really two sides to this relationship. The person having the relationship, and that to whom the relationship is formed. From the human perspective it's simple to define a relationship based on complex qualities of another person, like personality, core values, style, heritage, commonalities, likes, dislikes, etc. The more you have in common, the stronger relationships you have. That's why you have strong bonds with some of your friends over the bonds or friendships you have with others.

Now if we look at this from the perspective of the business owner, brand manager and / or head of marketing, your task is really to create a human connection with a person (your target audience) with your brand. But since your brand isn't a person, you must add dimension to your brand, giving it depth to which your customer can have a meaningful relationship with. That's the complex nature of a relationship you need to create for your brand with your customer. However, a brand is NOT a person and if you think of a piece of cardboard, an inanimate object, one will have a difficult time having a relationship with that. In other words, focusing on the nature of the relationship with the intent of creating brand loyalty won't do you a hill of good unless you are clear and focused about what and who your brand is.

This article is written to help you, the business owner, create and define a winning brand and provide the steps to define just what you do and who you are in order to allow your customers have a relationship with your brand.

As we address the relationship between the brand and its audience, being clear and concise about these brand must knows are at the foundation of your success.

1. Know your Personality.

Simply stated, different personality characteristics appeal to different audiences. On a subconscious level, people connect with brands that have likable personality traits, traits they can identify with a lot of times, traits that they aspire to be. The first step in uncovering a strong brand is defining your brand personality, which leads to increasing the overall brand engagement (and attachment,) in much the same way as people relate and bind to other people. Simply put, much of the work in the area of brand personality is based on translated theories of human personality and using similar measures of personality attributes and factors. For example, your customer may identify to a product for its characteristics, for its functional, social, emotional dimensions, it's human like- traits. he says, vehicles exude Christian family-oriented values I identify with while exudes pretension and further shows off athletic and competitive qualities that recognize in myself So think of this, if the category symbolizes who you are, then you will be tempted to buy a brand that has the same aspirations. Likewise, consumer would tend to buy a Porsche rather than a family car, if he feels it symbolizes who he is. An association is systematically set up in the consumer's mind. In this sense, every brand needs to be as unique as each of its consumer. However, your personality MUST BE AUTHENTIC. As humans, we do have an inner sense about these things. Be warned, we DO reject brands that lack authenticity and those whose personality characteristics are not consistent.

2. Know what you do well.

Based upon these criteria, the objective now is to maintain and promote the brand's uniqueness. Figure out what you do well and push it. Whatever qualities your product, brand possess, spotlight it, strengthen it, grow it. It will be the factor for differentiation and consequently will offer you the opportunity to carve a niche. To be credible in the eyes of your audience, your argumentation of sale may emphasize your know-how, your level of technology if it;s a strong asset, the passion that electrifies your work, the lovemessage or the care for the environment that carries assertively your product, therefore your brandThe marketing message should transpire and respect its promise.

3. Know why you do what you do.

But wait! There's more. Knowing what you do well is not all of it, the next step requires digging deep into motivation, drive and look at purpose square in the eye. It lies somewhere behind the motivation to make moneyand reveals the core purpose for doing what you do. It's pretty liberating, and the basis for creating what's commonly referred to as the brand promise In essence, your core motivations that drive your business benefit your customers in some way by fulfilling a need. Many businesses overlook this step and think the only strategy necessary is the Art of seduction, separating your customer from their cash and overlook branding is really the Art of Creating relationships between people. Delivering the brand promise based on your businesses passion or motivation and fulfilling your customers needs IS the basis for such a relationship. Armed with this knowledge, you are as step closer to facing the marketplace.

4. Know your Competitors

Know your market, know your competition, whether they actually exist or not. To do this, simply take a look around you, your market, your business category and your specific vertical. Are their other players orbiting your stage? Chances are, you have a lot more competitors than you think. To determine if they are really a competitor, evaluate if they have similar offerings, similar products or similar services. For example, a dance studio may believe he competes exclusively with other dance studios. But if his potential modern dance students think of the local swing dance instruction as offered by the local nightclub, the dance studio owner must evaluate the way Night club that offers their Lindy-Hop classes prior to the evening entertainment. The wanna-be Dancers with the Stars you want as a new customer may just choose spending their dance dollar elsewhere. In other words, that local nightclub IS considered a competitor, even though they sit in a totally different market segment. It would be in your best interest to learn more about what makes them successful and what about their offerings entices your potential audience. If you can mange to see things from your audience's perspective, you may just learn a lot. See if you can identify how your competitors satisfy their brand promise. Look at their marketing materials and promotional tools to try to get a sense of what you are missing. You may not be offering the night club atmosphere, but you can satisfy the promise of fun and provide the vehicle to allow your audience to dream of their feet dancing in beat with their famous counter-part.

5. Know your Target.

Knowing your target really means know the people you would like to sell to. Imagine yourself throwing a dinner party in your home for each and everyone of your customers. You know who they are, welcome them as a friend into your home and have a connection with each person. But that's impossible, you say! Well we know that, that's why we said, imagine In order to define those people (not demographics or metrics) you will need to segment the market as much as possible using 'psychographics' as your guide. This includes defining your audience through:

* Lifestyle: conservative, exciting, trendy, economical
* Social class: lower, middle, upper
* Opinion: easily led or opinionated
* Activities and interests: sports, physical fitness, shopping, books
* Attitudes and beliefs: environmentalist, security conscious.

It's recommended that you do some research to find out just how they purchase. For example, uncover their buying habits, defining preference traits like seasonal, local, volume and promotional decisions. With all this information uncovered, you should have a picture emerging of your 'ideal' customer (or who you want it to be).

Follow these five steps and you will have focused brand, which knows itself and knows its audience. In your quest to uncover your brand, be inquisitive, harass and tickle. Get into it and get clear. In the end you will have an authentic brand that will rise above the rest, be noticed by the right people and establish a relationship between your brand and your customer. Brand recognition is literally your brand, company or product, imprinted into the consciousness of your audience. Powerful process, keep it authentic!

About the Author:
Jungle 8

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Are You Branding Yourself?

Are you placing your email address and URL onall correspondence?

Many people forget to add this to important mailings and even their business cards.

Today, most people prefer to email messages than make phone calls, so it is very important to have your email address on all letters, invoices and business cards.

Make sure your URL (web address) is on everything that you send out. Keep "branding" your business.Keep that URL out where it can be seen.

It's not enough to have your phone number and fax number on your business cards or letterheads. Add your email address and URL if you have one.

It's important also to have a signature on all emails that go out. There is a cool free "signature writing"service at: check it out.

Don't be left behind. Promote and brand your business every chance you get. It's the professional thing to do.

Some say it takes up to nine times for people to see yourname before they will do business with you. If that istrue, then it's very important to have your name and email address out there.

Try to encourage email exchanges. The more emails you have going back and forth, the more credibility you will building your potential clien't head.

Offer something free. Make people email you for information.This way you are opening the door to email correspondence without spamming. Your goal should be to have the person email you first asking for information or just a simple question. Once the ball starts rolling, your various email exchanges can easily turn into sales.

It's important to have a pop account or an account that reflects your company or website.

Using generic or really puts a damper on your look and makes you appear unprofessional. Plus, when you email a person with your own private "branded" email address, you are actually advertising your company just by the mere action of sending a message. sounds better than joe@aol.comOr is much better than't it?

Brand yourself. Brand your business. Do it today.

About the Author

Tom Falco is moderator of "The Swap-O-Rama" List where you
can swap anything from ezine ads to hotel rooms and more!


What's In A Name? The Six Essential Elements You Need To Know

By: Susan Friedmann

Selecting a name for your new business is not easy. A name does more than identify your company. It tells customers who you are, what you do, and more than a little about how you do it. Your name differentiates you from your peers, peaks customer interest, and invites further investigation -- if you do it right.

I didn't do it right. At least, not at first.

All entrepreneurs make mistakes, and I made one of my first ones right off the bat. Thrilled with the fledgling business I was starting, this precious enterprise so near and dear to my heart, I christened my company Diadem Communications. Diadem means crown-- a fitting name for what I felt was a
crowning achievement.

What does Diadem say to you? Does it evoke thoughts of me coming into your company, training your sales team to be the best booth staff ever, ensuring that every single trade show you attend turns out to be amazingly successful? Does it make me sound so good that you just can't wait to hire me?

No. It doesn't say that to me either. And even worse, it didn't say that to any of my potential customers. Going by name alone, no one would be able to determine the least bit of information about me, my company, or the services we offer. The name said nothing, and it did nothing for me.

The name had to go. More importantly, it had to be replaced by something effective. How do you come up with an effective name? Consider these six elements:

An Effective Name:

1. Tells Who You Are: Your name should reflect your identity. This is an essential aspect of branding. You'll be promoting this name, getting it in front of as many eyes as possible as often as possible. How do you want the public to think of you?

For some, that means integrating your personal name into the name of your business. This is very common in some professions: legal, medical, and accounting leap to mind.

Others prefer a more descriptive name. One successful small baker runs her business under the name "The Cookie Lady" because that's how her first customers identified her. It's doubtful that most of the customers even know her first name (It's Pat) but everybody in her market knows "The Cookie Lady".

2. Tells What You Do: It's incredible how many company names give little, if any indication of what type of work the organization actually does. Take the following examples:

  • Smith and Sons
  • Hulbert Brothers
  • Only One
Can you tell me what any of these companies does? Of course you can't. They're relying on customers already knowing who they are (a tricky proposition for new businesses!) or by having their name found in 'context', such as a yellow pages or on-line business directory.

3. Tells How You Do It: Words are very powerful. By carefully selecting what words you use in your name, you can convey a great deal about your company's image. Consider the names of three different massage and bodywork centers:
  • Champlain Valley Therapeutic Massage
  • Clouds Above Massage
  • Speedy Spa
All three companies are providing the same service: massage therapy. Yet the first appears to favor a more medical approach, the second, a dreamy, luxury approach, and the third focuses on fast service.

4. Differentiates You From Your Peers: Your company name is the first opportunity to tell customers how you differ from the competition. This can be done by emphasizing what makes you unique, pinpointing what aspect of your products and services can't be found anywhere else -- or that you do better than anyone else.

Consider the massage therapy example we looked at in number three. Each organization clearly has a different focus and approach to their customer base. They're attracting different types of clients, who are seeking fundamentally different approaches. All of which is conveyed in less than five words.

5. Peaks Customer Interest: Creating customer interest is an art and a science. Think carefully about your target audience. What qualities of your services are of the greatest import to your customers? What kind of words are likely to appeal to them?

Emphasize the important qualities in your name. For example, busy homeowners are drawn to the inherent promise of speed offered by "Bob's Instant Plumbing" while a reader in search of a good mystery will gravitate toward "Crime Pays Books".

Word choice is also important. Two yarn shops can both specialize in specialty fibers, but the one who labels themselves "All Hemp All the Time" will draw in a decidedly different crowd than the one named "Natural Beauty: Organic Yarns".

6. Invites Further Investigation: Customers are funny creatures. What one group finds to be funny and engaging turns another group off. You want your name to be inviting and approachable -- as those qualities are perceived by your target audience.
The best example of this may be seen in the individual investor segment of the financial services industry. Charles Schwab has spent years cultivating a classic, formal image -- but now that the consumer base is changing from 'old people with money' to 'everyone with a 401K', Charles Schwab has launched the "Talk to Chuck" campaign in an effort to be more approachable.

Make sure your name doesn't intimidate customers away! Some industries are more formal than others, but adopt pretension at your peril.

After following a series of simple step-by-step instructions to match my corporate identity with my service offering, I came up with the quintessential name: The Trade Show Coach. This name instantly tells customers what I do - assist companies with trade shows - and a little of the manner in which I do it - coach, rather than dictate, direct, guide, or organize.

See the difference? So did the buying public, some of who quickly became my best customers. The same thing can happen for you -- if you pick the right name.

Author Bio
Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author: "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies," working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. For a free copy of "10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make", e-mail:; website: 

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