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Brand Development

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4 Ways to Strengthen Your Brand Today

By | Brand Development

The brand is the entire experience that a person has with your business’ purpose. 

Most brands start with their product/service and sell based on their features and benefits—which is important—but in doing so, leaves them only to compete on the product’s understanding, not its why.

“Brands have become the global currency of success.”
– Brand Atlas

At each touch point, your brand must be integrated for maximum efficiency that drives your prospect to your goals that simultaneously solves their needs and wants along the way.  

If you’re interested in building a strong brand rather than just a product-based company, here are four points to keep in mind when thinking through how to strengthen your brand in 2018.

 

1. Map your brand’s touchpoints

When thinking about what a brand is, you need to understand that it’s not just 2-3 pieces like your website, logo or catalog—but all the pieces. It’s your dealer sheet, the way your product feels, your customer service, your influencers, content, email signature, Facebook and Instagram page—everything.

Here is a simple representation of what brand looks like: 

 

What is a brand?

Each touchpoint is an opportunity to increase awareness and build loyalty.

 

2. Align your brand

Ask yourself and your key stakeholders (the people with invested interest) what your brand means and write it down. Then go ask your customers what your brand means to them and then 10 or so of your employees. If they all say the same thing—congrats, you have brand alignment! If they say something different, then you may want to rethink your brand and figure out why there are inconsistencies.

Brand inconsistencies take away from your marketing’s effectiveness and create confusion among your prospects. 

Common problems that cause brands to be out of alignment is clarity of the mission, customer service, brand identity and broken promises.

  • Brand Strategy AlignmentBrand promise – If what you’re promising isn’t being delivered on, then your brand isn’t trustworthy. Today, trust is everything in the age of #fakenews. Make every effort to fix and make good on what your brand promises to its customers.
  • Brand identity – Does your brand’s look and feel (color, shape, format, type, imagery, texture etc.) accurately convey the it’s key emotional and visual attributes? If not, it may be time for a redesign or invest in lifestyle photography.
  • Customer-centered – Is your customer service receiving high-marks? Without strong brand alignment between your employer brand and corporate brand you will not be able to deliver customer-centered service. 

3. Connect your brand to your customer

How do you connect your brand to your customer? In the past, most brand development processes solely focused on the product and what the marketer wanted the customer to think and feel. Today, every marketing brand strategy should start with the customer first.  This can only be done by defining what is called a buyer persona.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

By defining your buyer persona, you will be able to develop a strong brand foundation to help guide you when you get lost in the day to day activities of marketing and running your business. Keeping regular tabs on what your customer is feeling will help you build brand loyalty more quickly.

The fastest way to connect your brand is to communicate how you solve your customer’s problem. Track these data points through your online forms, Facebook insights, analytics and artificial intelligence programs. It doesn’t hurt to survey your customers every once and while either.

“Solve there problems and be empathetic.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk

4. Brand is built on consistent, helpful service

Are you using Facebook Messenger, Drift or Intercom on your website to answer customer questions? These new tools allow you to communicate in real-time that have become central in providing an excellent customer service experience online. One bad customer experience, late delivery or rude response can tarnish your brand—especially when the person on the receiving end posts what happened on Facebook for the whole world to know.

The hard truth about your customers today is:

  • They want to help themselves, not call you.
  • They learn from friends, not salespeople.
  • They trust your customers, not your marketing.

According to Harvard Business Review: Evidence shows that customers will no longer tolerate the rushed and inconvenient service that has become all too common. And now with voice chat, chatbots and AI hitting the web, customers are more empowered than ever and demand answers to their questions faster than before. For example, 61 percent of participating Baby Boomers say a potential chatbot benefit is “getting an instant response,” while just 51 percent of Millennials say the same. (Source: Convince and Convert) The total chat volume in 2016 nearly tripled that in 2015. Both statistics can back up the conclusion that the demand for live chat has been steadily growing. (Source: Comm100)

Our recent research demonstrates that when customers contact companies for service, they care most about two things:

  • Is the frontline employee knowledgeable?
  • And is the problem resolved on the first call or chat?

Yet these factors often aren’t even on customer service manager or business owners’ dashboards. Most service centers continue to measure time on hold, time to respond and minutes per call, as they have for decades. Such metrics encourage agents to hurry through calls—resulting in just the kind of experience customers dislike.  

According to HubSpot, The key to growth in 2018 is:

  • Happy customers who recommend your company to their friends
  • Successful customers who share their results with the world
  • Modern customer support that matches how people communicate

More than half of the customers we surveyed across industries say they’ve had a bad service experience, and nearly the same fraction think many of the companies they interact with don’t understand or care about them. On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company. (SOURCE: HBR)

In conclusion, to strengthen your brand, you must map every touchpoint, align for consistency, connect with your customers problems by putting them center and focus on delivering helpful, consistent service. Once these touchpoints are built out and set, then you are able to provide a great experience built on the standards of today’s empowered consumer that will reward your company with future sales growth.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the outdoor, tech, health/fitness industries who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and grow in the digital era of marketing.

Firearm Brand Development

Do You Really Need A Firearm Brand Strategy?

By | Brand Development, Firearms Marketing

Maybe you’ve just come out with some disruptive technology, game-changing accessory or new firearm platform.

Or maybe your business has been around for a while and you’ve realized that to compete in today’s environment, you need to focus more on your messaging and how your company and/or products are understood.

But, do you really need a brand strategy?

The truth is… a brand already exists, even if you’ve never taken the time to develop it.

Your customers, dealers, distributors, employees, and partners already have some kind of feeling, thought or understanding of you or your product—negative or positive.

Below are 10 surprising facts that you may not have considered in regards to your brand development strategy and why its important to have one—if you intend to leave your mark on the firearms industry.  

1. Make it easier for the customer to buy

Customers make decisions on products they know and trust. If a customer is not familiar with your brand, they are less likely to buy it.


Think of the last time you were in the gun store and you had to pick up some ammo. Hornady—a ammunition category brand leader—was not on the shelf. Do you buy the “I’ve never heard of you” brand of ammo—or forgo the purchase altogether? Most likely, you’ll wait till the next trip or drive across town to another store. Brands help us make buying decisions.

Photo credit: Business Insider

2. Make it easier for the sales team (and dealers) to sell
Having a strong brand reputation in the marketplace will allow your dealers and sales team to close more sales based on brand performance alone. A reputation for service, quality and the ability to solve your customer’s problem will be more likely received and sought after.


3. Brand clarity and delivery spurs employee motivation

Brands give your employees purpose. Having a clear cultural direction, goal and mission based on your brand values will create higher performance and productivity. A strong brand will turn your employees into brand advocates versus people who just show up to collect a paycheck. It will also give you and your stakeholders a clear understanding of your vision, mission and purpose.


4. Increase the value of your company over time
Brands are line items on today’s most valued companies. The Coca-Cola brand alone accounts for 51 percent of the stock market value of the Coca-Cola Company (Source: Brandchannel). The same could be said for Ruger or Smith & Wesson.

By developing a strong firearm brand—especially for companies with/or seeking investors—brand development aids in building a successful exit strategy. 

5. Brand definition brings clarity to your business goals and direction

If you have a good product that everyone is excited about, alot of times you just have to stay out of your own way.

A brand strategy will save you from making costly decisions.

A recent example is Vista Outdoors’ Black Hawk product line of silencers. Black Hawk a gear supplier for military and law enforcement agencies—ventured into the silencer market and after just eighteen months pulled out.

brand strategy extension failures

Photo credit: Recoil

In May of 2016, when the silencers were first announced, many were musing if this was too far a departure from Blackhawk’s bailiwick. When asked why the line was being dropped, a Vista representative put that musing to rest: “After completing a strategic review of our product lines, we determined that suppressors did not align with our core business. In order to streamline our products more efficiently, we felt it was best to eliminate suppressors from our current line-up.” (Source: Recoil)

Millions of dollars would have been saved if brand managers would have practiced “brand discipline.” Read more on The 5 Rules of Brand Extension.

6. The brand development exercise creates innovation

Most of us are so busy we sometimes just go through the motions in our businesses day after day with the mentality of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it attitude.” By purposefully sitting down and thinking about your brand, product and business you will give yourself and your team time to create new processes, products, components and other ideas that will drive innovation. This is time well spent and the life blood of successful firearm brands.

7. Saves money on future design and advertising costs
Instead of reinventing the wheel every time that new ad needs to be placed, trade show booth or package redesigned—your brand standards will provide a guideline for consistency that creates visual recall and recognition.


8. A strong brand creates preference which, equals profit

By consistently delivering the same value, service and quality—along with the same visual identifiers—you begin to create preference and repeat customers. This is called “branding.” The goal of brand development is to create preference, branding is to create recall.  


Photo credit: Guns.com

9. Attract talented employees
In today’s war for talent—companies are struggling to find talented and skilled workers. Those with strong employer brands coupled with a strong corporate brand will win.

10. Provides the foundation of all your marketing efforts
Without a brand strategy, it will be very difficult to focus your influencer or inbound marketing efforts. The absence of your customer’s buyer personas, key messaging and brand-centric visuals will make any marketing effort less effective. 

So, do you need a brand strategy?

Well, if any of the above points appeal to you—I would say yes—brand development is a business necessity for business owners serious about growth and leaving their mark on the firearm industry. Even if competition is non-existent—you eventually will need to develop your brand to pre empt competition as Magpul has done, who by all measures dominates the magazine market.

firearm-brand-strategy

Photo credit: Magpul

 

We have in any given category 10-20 of everything (ammo, handguards, holsters, ARs, shotguns etc.). By having a well-defined brand, you will be able to compete at a higher level than your competition, stand head and shoulders above the rest and build a valuable asset for the future.  

One last thought to end on: Brand is the last remaining business currency.”

Photo credit: F4 Defense, Jason Swarr, Straight 8

 

 

hunting-outdoor-firearms-brand-interview-guideFree Download:
Brand Development Interview Guide 

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the questions to ask your customers/clients to uncover your brand.

Download eBook

 

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

how much does a brand cost

How Much Does a Brand Cost to Build?

By | Brand Development

 

A month or so ago, we were prospecting a new client. Like most entrepreneurs/inventors he was extremely passionate and highly persuasive after we invested an hour to hear about his product. We left the meeting with a good rapport and plans to follow up in a week or two with a proposal to market their product that we felt had potential.

What was planned to be a normal discover-proposal-execution process turned out to be a series of emails, phone discussions and follow-up meetings. You’re probably saying to yourself, you guys must be doing something wrong in qualifying this client. Perhaps, but maybe not… please read on.

We scheduled another meeting to present our approach on how we would take this prospects’ product from concept to retail and the brand development program we would utilize for a successful go-to-market strategy. As it turned out the client fibbed about their relationship with potential “guaranteed” retail buyers and did not disclose that he was not the real decision maker.

Our planned proposal meeting was planned and as the meeting got started, the man who had ultimate authority to say “yay” or “nay” on the project ended up being 30 minutes late to the presentation.

Anyone who does sales for a living knows that this is the ultimate “deal-breaking” scenario. He (main decision maker) joined us and as expected we had to start all over again from the beginning and rush through the main points of understanding (we only had an hour) on how developing the brand first and then conducting marketing tactics like inbound marketing, responsive website design, advertising and infomercials was the best-practices approach to standing out in a cluttered marketplace. The alternative approach — a infomercial company out of Iowa — was to storm to market with just an infomercial costing the prospect $100,000 to produce, not including the media buy.

Years of experience has convinced me that every product or service needs to develop a brand to be successful.

Whether it’s a cheesy product like the Snuggy or a weight loss product – everything is a brand.  A brand is the gut feeling you get about a product, service or person the good and the bad. Without understanding what the brand is, any business risks hanging their investments on the precipice of failure or mediocrity.

How much does it cost to build a brand?

  • When 64% of the market value of the world’s most valuable brand (Apple) is intangible – shown on the balance sheet as $104.3 billion* in “Brand Value” – there’s something very important here. Think about it – $104.3 billion in real dollar value – this does not include their stores(bricks and mortar), inventory, equipment, factories or people etc. – but rather the economic power of the Apple name and what it stands for – the power to think differently.For revolutionizing the way we work, play, and communicate—and for mastering the ability to surprise and delight—Apple has set a high bar for aesthetics, simplicity, and ease-of-use that all other tech brands are now expected to match, and that Apple itself is expected to continually exceed. (Source: Interbrand) 
  • The total intangible Brand Value on the balance sheets of the companies that own the world’s top 100 brands is more than $1 trillion!* But this is not just about megacompanies. This is about building intangible brand value in any-size company or organization – building the power to differentiate your brand with such clarity of competitive value that selecting your brand over others is an easy choice. (Source: Interbrand)

How long does it take to build a brand?

The answer lies in the importance, need and positioning of the product to solve a very real problem. Brands like McDonalds, Disney, Coca-Cola, Nike and Microsoft took many years to build – were brands like Google, iPhone, and Facebook took only 1-3 years. No one knows exactly how many millions of dollars were spent on advertising and other business activities, but the fact is if you have a product or service that is truly unique — that essentially creates a new category — chances are you could build a multi-million or billion dollar brand very fast.

For the rest of us – the iPhones, Googles and Facebooks don’t happen every day. That is why we continue to advocate brand understanding and positioning as the first step in building any kind of business. It starts with who your customers are or buyer personas, SMART goals and how that translates into a vision, mission and ultimately a purpose. This platform allows businesses to attract and speak to their customers with clarity and authenticity and creates the story to propel your brand. 

We believe in the brand development process as we have seen what a strong brand can do and how much value it can bring to its customers, brand owners and shareholders. Typical brand development programs can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000 depending on the size or the stage your company is in.  

Today’s consumer behavior demands your brand stand for something. Your brand must stand out from the phonies and make your customers believe that what you offer is authentic, special, unique, and trustworthy. 

A typical brand development process looks like this:

Brand Development Strategy Proicess

 

By building a strong brand your business will achieve the following:

  • Reduction in turnover costs
  • Generate more sales leads
  • Acquire more customers
  • Attract talent
  • Foster innovation
  • Enhance your company culture
  • Delight your customers
  • Makes it easier for the customer to buy
  • Makes it easier for the sales team to sell
  • Brand clarity spurs employee motivation
  • Increases the value of your company over time
  • A well-developed brand works for you 24/7
  • The brand development exercise creates innovation
  • Saves money on future design and advertising costs
  • Creates preference which equals profit

At the end of meeting, we presented our price, shook hands and left knowing the project wasn’t going to move forward. I don’t know where this company or product is now, their website is still not updated and have yet to see any infomercial.

Most entrepreneurs don’t take the time to adequately understand their audience and develop their brand based on the people who they want to sell to.

pcmatic old brandA recent example is PC Matic. Founder and CEO Rob Cheng started PC Matic as a software that improved speed and spent millions on television advertising—only to find out that PC Matic was indeed so much more. Millions could have been saved if PC Matic took the time to understand their brand in the beginning and chart its course. Now they are spending millions on switching course with their rebrand. 

pcmatic-new-brand

In today’s cluttered and attention deficit society, developing a strong brand is key to business success. Without establishing trust and authenticity, you will be just another face in the crowd and spend thousands or millions going in the wrong direction. 

Interested in learning more about brand development? Contact us today for a free 30-minute evaluation.

  

Buyer Persona Inbound Markeing Guide

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to building a strong brand starts with your buyer persona

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer/client is. This will enable you to focus your brand and marketing with laser-like focus. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.

Download Template!

 


 

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principle at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, tech, and firearm industries who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels to grow in the digital era of marketing. Contact Josh  for a free consultation. 

 

Brand Loyalty Customer Retention

7 Ways To Build Brand Loyalty Through Customer Retention

By | Brand Development

Business owners of small-mid sized B2C companies—or entrepreneurs getting their enterprise off the ground—know that there are certain things that must be done in order to guarantee long-term success. The things that have brought success in the past must continue—and improve over time. This typically revolves around acquiring more customers and retaining the ones you currently have.

However, we sometimes—in the hustle and bustle of running our businesses—loose sight and take our eye off the ball of managing our customer retention programs. We tend to rely heavily on our products superiority, thinking that if we deliver a great product, customers will follow. When this type of thinking occurs, it’s easy to get off track. And before you know it—customers begin to bail.

According to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. And if those numbers don’t impress you, Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. 

Still not sold on customer retention?

One final statistic provided by Lee Resource Inc. should give you plenty to think about: Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer. (Source: Forbes)

In order to retain your customers and build brand loyalty, here are 7 things to keep in mind.

1. Do not over promise
It’s really easy in your marketing communications to bolster your value propositions that make your audience think that what you’re offering is the next best thing to sliced bread. Take extra care not to over promise your products key differentiators in an attempt to make your packaging and marketing more powerful. Focus on creating a brand image and supplement that with a message that doesn’t over promise to your customers.

If you can’t deliver on it, don’t promise it. And remember the old adage: “Under promise, over deliver.”

customer retention blackberry2. Cutting corners can be disastrous
In 2011, Blackberry’s (RIM) entire network of 70 million customers went down. This happened because Blackberry did not adequately prepare for their customers increased demand for video streaming.

Industry insiders and former RIM staff say the company has been storing up problems for years through its approach to its system – and the outage was only to be expected.” (Source: The Gaurdian)

At some point, someone at RIM decided not to invest in new system upgrades most likely in attempt to save some money.

This cost Blackberry its brand and plenty of marketshare (10% in 2011 now down to only 1% in 2015) (Source: Business Insider)

Blackberry’s demise could have been avoided by not cutting corners and keeping a better eye on what their customers wanted.

3. Keep it simple
We all love Apple because their products are simple. In our fast-paced, I have no-time, gotta-run world—you must simplify your products and services in order for them to be relevant. Anything that requires an extensive learning curve, or a lot of time to figure your product out—will be given up on and lost in the noise. 

Keep your products simple. By removing as many extra steps as possible—you will provide a better product experience to your customer. It will also help you simplify your communications. 

brand loyalty4. Invest in your brand 
I bought a GPS/heart rate monitor a few years ago for $500 plus tax—a big investment for my triathlon training requirements. Through the course of my use, the face got scratched making it unreadable, the watchband broke several times and I had to replace the heart rate monitor strap 4 times. I decided to keep reinvesting in it, because to replace it would have cost me even more money. I logged onto to the products support site and found people having the same problems, but I still hung on to it. 

When I initially purchased the watch—I thought the brand was superior to that of its competitors and that it would give me an edge in my training. I knew I was buying the Mercedes of training watches—but in the end, I was disappointed and worse of all—angry. If the watch came with guaranteed product support and replacement, it may have sat a little better with me, even though I felt cheated, I didn’t desert the brand, and gave it three more chances. 

brand loyaltyThe lesson here is, by investing in brand development that positions your brand as superior—you can potentially retain your customers, even if they become unhappy. If you asked a Mercedes owner why they keep driving a car that needs to go to the shop for repairs every other month, they’d tell you: “because Mercedes is the best.” 

5. Provide over-the-top customer service
If you’ve ever been overcharged for something you know that it needs to be resolved right away. If you have to make your customers search for a customer service number and then give them a foreign speaking service rep who could care less about your problem, this will definitely cause customers to become angry. Over the top customer service must be provided at all times.

A great example of a company that provides over-the-top customer support is an enterprise hosting company called Rackspace. Their tagline: “Fanatical Support” says it all. They give their customers the assurance they need that when something goes wrong—you can get someone on the line right away and get an answer on the spot. Because of companies like Rackspace, the customer service paradigm has shifted. Everyone expects great customer service. 

6. Utilize social media to stay in contact
If your customers subscribe to your Facebook feed, they want to hear from you. By implementing an inbound marketing strategy you’ll have plenty of interesting content to share that keeps your customers engaged, informed and delighted. See the free resource below on more information about attracting customers with Facebook. 

If you’re not utilizing social media to build a following for your products, you’re missing a huge opportunity to drive traffic and increase revenue.

7. Let them know you’re thinking about them
It also doesn’t hurt to budget some perks for your customers from time to time. Not all marketing spend has to be on advertisements, direct mail and tradeshows. A great example happened to me a few months ago. I received a letter from Southwest Airlines for 4 free drinks next time we fly—that don’t expire till the end of this year. Next time I fly—guess who I’m booking with? Southwest.

It’s the little things that can make your customers very happy.

In conclusion, to build brand loyalty and retain your customers, don’t over promise or cut corners. Keep it simple, build a brand that holds on to them, provide over-the-top customer service, utilize social media to stay in contact and let them know you’re thinking about them once in a while.

How to Attract Customers with FacebookFree Download:
How to Attract More Customers with Facebook

Believe it or not, Facebook isn’t just for cat photos, news articles, selfies, and ads. Businesses like yours can actually generate customers from Facebook – as long as you’re using the right approach.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Indianapolis inbound marketing brand

3 Tips to Growing Your Brand in the Age of Inbound Marketing

By | Brand Development, Inbound Marketing

The age of inbound marketing is here, and the rules have changed in regards to growing your company’s brand.

With so much content being created at break-neck speed, it’s important for your brand to have a clearly defined position so that your content is relevant, speaks to the right audience and achieves your business goals.

Marketers are shifting their budgets away from “interruption” advertising, and increasing their inbound marketing budgets (Source: HubSpot). Inbound marketing is changing how brands communicate.

Consider these statistics: 

  • 86% of people skip television ads. (source: Mashable)
  • Because 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, they are also more likely to buy from that company. (Source: Custom Content Council)
  • 90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them. (Source: McMurry/TMG)
  • 4% more leads are generated by inbound than by outbound. (Source: HubSpot

In the age of inbound marketing, here are 3 tips to help grow your brand.

Tip #1: Establish yourself as a visible expert.

What is a visible expert? A visible expert is someone within an industry who focuses on a particular niche that he/she is known for. Studies have shown that 62% of visible experts accrue brand building benefits for their companies. (Source: Hinge Research Institute) Through specialization, content marketing, speaking engagements and book publications—you can boost your visible expert profile and attract more clients and customers.

visible expertExamples of some visible experts include: Darmesh Shah (Inbound Marketing, HubSpot), Karl Rove (Political Consultant, American Crossroads), Gary Vaynerchuck (Social Media, Vayner Media) and Warren Buffet (Investing, Berkshire Hathaway).

By establishing yourself as a recognized visible expert within your industry—you are able to charge higher fees, attract more leads and grow your company faster.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]LinkedIn is a highly effective channel to building visible expert status for the purpose of distributing your content and building your company’s brand.[/box]

Tip #2: Help. Don’t sell.

By creating relevant and valuable content that answers your customers most burning questions first—you build trust and credibility that earns you their interest, time and attention.

According to Marketo, 93% of B2B buyers begin their buying process using Internet search. By optimizing your blog articles, downloadable ebooks and whitepapers for search engines and social media networks, you pull customers to your brand through your content. 68% of consumers are likely to spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in. (Source: The CMA) By optimizing your content for search engines you have greater opportunities to attract customers, build your brand and promote your content through social media shares and likes that educates your prospects faster and can potentially shorten your sales cycle.

Tip #3: Perfect your messaging.

One of the greatest challenges in marketing is crafting the right messaging. How do you know if your messaging will resonate? Most companies don’t have large marketing budgets to test market. In the age of inbound marketing, you can dial in your brand messaging faster by conducting A/B testing—easier and cheaper—to find out what messages resonate with your target customers. By finding out what title or blog post gets the most traffic and social shares, you can begin to dial in your brand messaging that makes your marketing more effective.

In conclusion, by utilizing the above three tips of establishing yourself as a visible expert, helping—not selling, and utilizing A/B testing to dial in your messaging—you’ll have greater success in growing your brand more efficiently in the age of inbound marketing.

Interested in learning if Inbound Marketing is right for your business? Please contact us for a free inbound marketing assessment. 

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Growing your brand in the age of inbound marketing is all about having the right tools. This guide will dive into which tools you should use to conduct inbound marketing.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

U2-brand-development

6 Things You Can Learn From U2’s Brand

By | Brand Development

I’m not going to lie. I love U2. And if you ask me—they are thee biggest band of our generation—I’m talking to all of my GenXers out there.

There is a reason why U2 (founded in 1976) has kept rocking for almost 30 years. U2 has done a number of things right that we as business owners and marketers can learn from to maximize our own success and longevity when building our brands.

Whether you’re a U2 fan or not—below are 6 things you can incorporate into your own brand strategy that can potentially provide the wherewithal your brand needs to go the distance.

Product
It goes without saying that U2’s signature sound delivered by The Edge’s “airy” guitar rifts, Bono’s larger-than-life vocals and disorienting lyrics and the strong back-up accompaniment from Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton on drums and bass, respectively—make U2’s “music product” unique. They have consistently delivered their product—album after album to their loyal followers—each on a grander scale than the last. All great brands start with a great idea. U2’s music has propelled the band’s brand over the years. 

Purpose
U2 has always been devoted to helping their fellow man. From Band-Aid, Live-Aid, World Vision, ONE, Music Rising and as of late, RED (Bono’s personal foundation devoted to the Aids epidemic in Africa)—U2 has always made giving back to humanity a priority, and it’s reflected in both their powerful music and their generosity in giving back. With each new effort comes forth a new song to bring awareness. Here are a few examples:

  • Do They Know It’s Christmas – Ethiopian Famine
  • Bullet the Blue Sky – San Salvador Civil War
  • Miss Sarajevo – Bosnian War
  • New York – for 9/11
  • Sweetest Thing – Chernobl Childrens Proejct
  • Walk On – Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi
  • The Saints are Coming – Hurrican Katrina
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday – Irish Massacre

Their purpose for existing goes beyond just making millions of dollars making music. Like most startups—the product (music) may have been their sole driver in the beginning—but now they use their music and fame to build awareness for various global atrocities and humanitarian crises that demand the attention and action of their followers. This purpose has made U2 a band to be admired and respected. And with admiration comes interest and more sales. 

u2 brand experience concertCustomer Experience
U2 has consistently created fresh songs and content, not to mention their ability to always push the boundaries on what can be done in stadiums. They are highly committed to their fans, which in turn has cultivated a cult-like following. They express their thankfulness to their crowds and bring them into their story through their purpose. Every concert by U2 is intertwined with some kind of political action that allows the concert-goer to be apart of their cause. Every brand should strive to incorporate their customers into the brand’s purpose and story.

Authentic
The band members’ personal lives are aligned with their purpose and product as well. They tend to be the same on camera as they are in their off-camera day-to-day lives. From the design of their album covers, merchandise and music, U2 is just different.

Branding
Their branding is always on target. Although the brand’s visuals have changed through the years, their core essence has not. If I had to guess, I would say U2’s brand essence would go something like this:

Create music that moves, relates and heals the world.

A brand’s essence is what creates purpose and answers the question: “why”? It is the center of all that you do that gets you out of bed in the morning. What is your “why”? 

Innovation
With more than 150 million albums sold, $700 million dollars in ticket sales (Source: Forbes)—their latest album, Songs of Innocence, is another example of what U2 does best: innovate. Every album released brings higher expectations from their fans than the previous one. They have consistently created billboard hits over the past 30 years because they continue to innovate. They do this by surrounding themselves with the best people and utilizing their unique talents and skills.

To wrap up, brands that start with a good product, possess purpose, experience, authenticity, maintain consistent branding and who can continually innovate can expect long term success. So go out and rock your brand!

 

Brand Interview Guide

 

Free Download:
Brand Development Interview Guide 

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the questions to ask your customers/clients to uncover your brand.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Do I Really Need A Brand Strategy?

By | Brand Development

Maybe you’ve just come out with some disruptive technology or game-changing gadget.

Or maybe your business has been around for a while and you’ve realized that to compete in today’s environment, you need to focus more on your reputation or brand. 

Do you really need a brand strategy?

Your customers, clients, employees, partners already have some kind of feeling, thought or understanding of you or your product/service—negative or positive.

The truth is… a brand already exists, even if you’ve never taken the time to develop your brand.

Below are 9 surprising facts that you may not have considered in regards to your brand development strategy.

1. Make it easier for the customer to buy

Customers make decisions on products they know and trust. If a customer is not familiar with your brand, they are less likely to buy it.


Think of the last time you were in the grocery store and you had to pick up some pickles. Vlasic—the pickle category leader—was not on the shelf. Do you buy the “I’ve never heard of you” brand of pickles—or forgo the pickles altogether? Most likely, you’ll wait till the next grocery trip or go to another store. Brands help us make buying decisions.

2. Make it easier for the sales team to sell
Having a strong brand reputation in the marketplace will allow your sales team to close more sales based on brand performance alone. A reputation for service, quality and the ability to solve your customer’s problem will be more likely received and sought after.


3. Brand clarity and delivery spurs employee motivation

Brands give your employees purpose. Having a clear cultural direction, goal and mission based on your brand values will create higher performance and productivity.


4. Increase the value of your company over time
Brands are line items on today’s most valued companies. The Coca-Cola brand alone accounts for 51 percent of the stock market value of the Coca-Cola Company. (Source: Brandchannel

5. Brand definition brings clarity to your business goals and direction

Having trouble getting along? The brand development process will get you and your key stakeholders on the same page that will align and foster greater cooperation.

6. The brand development exercise creates innovation

Most of us are so busy we sometimes just go through the motions in our businesses day after day with the mentality of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it attitude.” By purposefully sitting down and thinking about your brand and business you will give yourself and your team time to create new processes, products, services and other ideas that will drive innovation. This is time well spent.

7. Saves money on future design and advertising costs
Instead of reinventing the wheel every time that new ad needs to be placed or package redesigned, your brand standards will provide a guideline for consistency that creates visual recall and recognition.


8. A strong brand creates preference which, equals profit

By consistently delivering the same value, service and quality—along with the same visual identifiers—you begin to create preference and repeat customers. This is called “branding.” The goal of brand development is to create preference.


9. Attract talented employees

In today’s war for talent—companies are struggling to find talented and skilled workers. Those with strong employer brands coupled with a strong corporate brand will win.

10. Provides the foundation of you marketing efforts
Without a brand strategy, it will be very difficult to focus your inbound marketing efforts. The absence of your customer’s buyer personas, key messaging and brand-centric visuals will make any marketing effort less effective. 

So, do you need a brand strategy?

Well, if any of the above points appeal to you—I would say yes—brand development can help. Even if competition is non-existent—you eventually will need to develop your brand, if not direct it in some way. We have in any given category 10-20 of everything (toothpaste, cars, shoes, dishwashing soap, law firms, construction companies, healthcare providers etc.) by having a well-defined brand, you will be able to compete at a higher level than your competition and build a valuable asset for the future.  

 

 

brand-interview-guideFree Download:
Brand Development Interview Guide 

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the questions to ask your customers/clients to uncover your brand.

 

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Brand-Development-Interview-Guide

How To Create A Brand Development Interview Guide

By | Brand Development

To discover what your brand stands for—you must start by asking your customers/clients the right questions.

By asking the wrong questions, you can completely miss the most important insights of how people view and feel about your brand.

As a marketer, you may have been tasked to rebrand your company or improve your brand’s performance. Within the brand development process one of the best ways to understand if your message and reputation is where you want it to be—is to interview your stakeholders and customers or clients.

In this article, I’ll share six points that will help you ask the right questions to accurately identify your customers/client’s perceptions, beliefs, feelings and motives. Your findings will give you a rich insight into how your brand is perceived and will equip you to build a more effective brand.  

 Brand interviews should consist of the following: 

  1. Basic demographic information
  2. Brand experiences
  3. Brand understanding
  4. Frequented marketing channels
  5. Feedback on how to improve the brand’s product or service.

The interview should only last about 30 minutes and consist of 10-15 questions (max). It may be necessary to create three different questionnaires depending on whom you’re interviewing. As an example, customer questions will be different than partner or internal stakeholder questions.

So let’s dig in…

1. Understand your industry’s challenges
To begin forming your questions, begin by looking at your industry. Every industry has some kind of challenge. Identify what those challenges or pain points are. Here are a few examples: 

  • Healthcare — regulation
  • Medical Device  — limited creative
  • Estate Planning — customer retention
  • Construction — antiquated processes
  • Retail — customer interest
  • Utilities — customer service

To get some background, start by doing some internet research to familiarize yourself with common industry obstacles and category imperatives. Twitter is a great place to start to locate industry news sources. This will give you a good foundation and help you in drafting your initial list of questions.

2. Interview your brand’s key stakeholders
The second step is to benchmark your investigation. Start with your company’s key stakeholders. This may include the CEO, COO, CTO and Sales Director. A lot of times, they will have insight that you may not have known or realized. Make sure to schedule your time via email well in advance. Try to pick a day where they are not too busy. Be aware and prepared to answer any potential skepticism. Their answers will give you a foundation of knowledge to test against.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]Interview Tip: Occasionally, you’ll encounter a cold facade that you’ll have to break through to get to the real truth. Don’t accept just any answer if you feel the answer given is too shallow, rephrase and ask it later on.[/box]

3. Interview your brand’s customers
To begin the customer survey, get buy-in from your stakeholders to conduct the interview and get feedback on the questions you want to ask. The best place to start is with your social media followers as they have already opted in to receive communication from you. Depending on how large of company you are, you may be able to personally email your customers to arrange the interviews.

Don’t rule out those passive-silent customers/clients. Their experiences with your brand are just as important to understand as those following you on social media. Make sure you have a variety of people to draw from. Interview your happiest customers as well as the ones who have constant complaints.

Interview Tip: You will encounter difficulty with scheduling.  I suggest asking 2-3 interviewees at a time over the course of 2-3 days. Use a tool like Sidekick to ensure your emails are received.

Interview 15-20 people (or as many as you can as time allows) and make sure to follow the same format throughout. If you are a bigger company, you may want to hire a marketing research firm. Remember, the better the questions, the better your investigation will be.

It may be necessary to send out an online survey through Survey Monkey for larger samples. 

Interview Tip: Don’t ask leading questions, focus your questions on getting a specific answer, don’t interrupt and try to transition naturally.

4. Analyze your answers
After you’ve completed each individual interview, write your responses on a whiteboard of what stood out to you and begin to look for potential trends.

5. Create your buyer personas
What is a buyer persona? Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what your customers/clients say it is.

By creating buyer personas, you will be able to focus your brand’s messaging, content and visuals to your customers/clients more effectively.

6. Brand alignment
As your interviews come to conclusion—your brand should begin to rise to the top. You should begin to see differences between what your company says versus what your customers say about your brand. 

The interviews will prepare you to conduct an educated and insightful brand discovery session where you will drill more into the internal side and business strategy of the brand. More to come on this later…

In conclusion, to begin the development of your brand, start by conducting industry research online, interview your key stakeholders, interview your customers, analyze your responses for misalignment and look for trends. Create your buyer personas to laser focus your messaging, visual and content.

Download a sample interview guide below to get started!

 

 

brand-interview-guideFree Download:
Brand Development Interview Guide 

Discovering your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the right questions to uncover your brand.

 

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

 

How To Brand A State

By | Brand Development

Earlier this year we were asked to submit an RFI and an RFP to help in the branding of a state. State meaning—the United States of America.

Being asked to development a brand for an entire state was an exciting opportunity. After all, how many branding agencies get a chance to brand a state? We corresponded with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in attempt to help them generate ideas on how to accomplish colossal task.

If you’re a governor, deputy/executive director or director of tourism considering a state branding initiative — I want to share with you 5 take-a-ways we learned through our experience in approaching state branding that may help you in attracting the right branding agency.

1. Clearly define your goals
Most state branding initiatives start with some kind of economic goal. However most of these goals tend to be broad and ambiguous. Having a goal like “Strengthen and grow existing business, both urban and rural.” is good, but too vague; or “increase innovation, entrepreneurship & investment” tend to create confusion amongst your constituents. Create and define your goals with actual numbers and implement the methods to accurately measure and track it. Use the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable and timely) method to set goals. Focus on the methods to achieve the goal along with its desired economic impact.

2. Identify negative brand images and what it will take to overcome them
The state we worked with had a great business environment, low taxes, beautiful scenery and a host of outdoor activities to attract young, single professionals. However, the state had a negative reputation. As we dug more into the problem, it seemed to be an obstacle that would need an immense advertising/branding budget to overcome.

“The strongest, most powerful brands in the U.S. are state brands because they encompass forceful emotions of pride and self-identification—and everyone has a say in it.”

State branding is inescapable. Think of how many times you notice your state’s license plate on the way to work? — state flags on public buildings, utility bills, businesses named after states and the list goes on and on. Apple, voted the world’s #1 brand doesn’t even have that kind of exposure. Any attempt to brand a state must address what brand already exists.

Take Michigan.

As a business owner, I’m constantly being wooed to move my business to Michigan. I have nothing against Michigan. I love visiting the great lakes and would definitely consider moving there—until Detroit went bankrupt.

Texas State BrandingThe public feud between governor Rick Perry of Texas and Andrew Cuomo of New York is a great example of two state brands battling for economic brand equity based on negative state brand impressions. Governor Perry has been enticing businesses in New York to move to Texas for lower state and corporate taxes with the:Texas is Calling, Your Opportunity Awaits campaign. Every business owner knows that taxes are a constant hindrance in achieving growth goals—especially if you’re in one of the highest taxed state in the union like New York. (SOURCE: Taxfoundation)

Cuomo countered with the start-upny.com campaign that cost 15.2 Million dollars to reverse the negative perception, but it was too late. Perry successfully rebranded New York as the highest taxed state in the union. For a business owner, this doesn’t bode well for attracting businesses to New York.

Colorado State BrandingColorado recently legalized marijuana. People and businesses opposed to the drug and the culture, have had their once pristine brand image of Colorado’s mountains (John Denver singing “rocky mountain high” in the background) and miles of endless skiing tarnished—not to mention its vibrant economy and workforce. Now living in Indianapolis—a more conservative statethan Colorado, I now have reservations about telling people where I’m from, as most people view Colorado’s unconventional culture somewhat taboo.

Colorado Logo

In every case, don’t overlook what negative brand perceptions exist, they determine the entire course of your state brand development project.

3. Get budget approval and funding in advance
We were told that the branding agency selected would have to go 6 months without pay until the state legislature approved the budget. This was the nail in the coffin for us. How could they expect us to work for free for 6 months without guarantee of pay? We were also told that any travel on the agencies part would have to be self-funded. Some of this we were willing to do, but in the end the requests where a non-starter.

4. To attract business, you must play by business rules
The government sector is much different than the private sector. When working with private sector businesses—part of the process is getting to know each other to see if the right chemistry exists to work together. A good client/agency relationship is key to any successful outcome. It’s all about people. And the branding process can be very long (9-12 months). Don’t submit an RFP out for bid and expect to attract the best agency for your state branding project without taking the time to get to know them first. The typical government process circumvents what could be—in most situations—a great working relationship.

5. Reconsider the RFI and RFP process
We where requested to submit an RFI (Request for Information). I’m always somewhat skeptical of an RFI, but decided to spend the time exploring how to go about branding a state just for the exercise.

Our ideas earned us attention as we were then invited to submit an RFP. When we received the unorganized RFP, it was vague on budget, timeline, goals. It was also poorly written.

The biggest frustration was that our questions went unanswered. Most state governments are required to post the RFP for bid on cumbersome public procurement websites.

In the end, the requirements were unfeasible, and our ideas listed in the RFI where stolen. Not to mention that no business was generated through spending hours on the RFI and RFP.

In conclusion, almost every state branding project is a rebranding exercise where you must work against entrenched negative brand impressions. In order to be successful, set clear goals, identify negative brand impressions in advance and learn how to address them, change them or go around them. Do not take the typical RFI to RFP approach to attract the best branding agency, get the budget and funding figured out in advance and be willing to work with your branding agency candidates to create a good working relationship out of the gate.

Interested in learning more about our Indianapolis or Denver branding agency? Contact us today to learn how we can help your state.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

service brand development

6 Secrets To Building A Great Service Brand

By | Brand Development, Small Business

As a new business owner, start-up or consultant looking to break through the clutter, developing a strong reputation for your service is job one. To develop a great service brand, not only do you have to provide an outstanding “service”, you also have to deliver outstanding “customer service”. Done consistently over time—you will begin to frame a strong reputation and build a brand that stands for quality.

If you’ve done your due diligence in identifying what makes you different in the marketplace through the brand development process and have created a professional website, here are 6 secrets to keep in mind when developing a great service brand.

1. Show some enthusiasm 

As a service company, customers come to you looking for answers. No matter what their product or service is, showing a little enthusiasm at the first point of contact can go a long way. Remind yourself or your employees to smile when taking calls. The smile comes through on the other line. Laugh a little, have fun and make a friend. Be excited to talk to them! Your enthusiasm should also come through in your social media and blog posts.

70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated – McKinsey.

2. Be proactive 

When a project is underway and your customers are asking for things, get ahead of them by thinking through next steps. For example, don’t wait for them to ask where things are, send an email first thing in the morning letting them know where you’re at and how things are going. We use a project management tool like Basecamp to communicate with our clients on a daily basis. The calendar feature allows the client to know exactly what is going on and when they can expect their deliverables. It keeps everyone’s communication documented and organized. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.

3. Be responsive

Don’t wait three days to get back on a request. This goes without saying. Respond to your customers as fast a possible or within 24 hours. Make sure to set expectations on what your office hours and typical response times are. The single biggest problem in any given relationship is poor communication. Communicate well and you will build a great service brand.

55% of customers would pay extra to guarantee a better service
– Defaqto research.

4. Anticipate needs

If a customer or client emails you a question, respond not only with the answer but with whatever they may be asking for. It may be a file or a document. Think a head. This creates a positive impression on your customers and shows them you’re on the ball and reminds them why they spent top dollar on your service firm.

inbound-delight5. Delight your customers

To delight your customers and turn them into promoters of your service, continue to solve their problems long after the project is ended. This is a key aspect to a methodology we follow called inbound marketing. By continuing to solve their problems through relevant content, you remain top-of-mind which helps when they are asked for referrals or have other work for your service company to do. It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing oneBain & Company. By delighting your customers, you preempt the competition and save on marketing costs. Do some industry research and provide them with insights they will find helpful. By continuing to answer their questions, you will delight your customer and turn them into promoters of your brand.

6. Meet your deadlines
I hear of so many horror stories from clients who’ve worked with a service companies in the past that didn’t deliver on what they promised. Shocking as it is, most consultants and service firms miss their deadlines. If you want to create a successful service brand, stop missing deadlines.

A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. – White House Office of Consumer Affairs.

To build an outstanding service brand, show some enthusiasm, be proactive, be responsive, anticipate your customer needs, delight them by continuing to solve their problems and above all else, meet your deadlines!

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

Brand Rollout

Why Your Brand Rolled Out The Back Door And Down The Street – Part 2

By | Brand Development

In my last post, I talked about 4 things to keep in mind to make the most of your brand development investment when rolling out your new brand to your employees and how to create lasting brand change. I discussed the importance of getting your employees’ buy-in early and introducing the brand correctly.

In this post, I’ll give you 4 things to remember when rolling out the brand externally to your customers. Depending on what kind of company you are, changing your brand can be minimal to very complex.

1. Release brand standards to employees, vendors and partners

Instruct your branding agency to create brand standards and guidelines. This will contain rules on how to use the new brand’s visual elements for efficiency. Make sure to publish and deliver the guidelines to all brand ambassadors in the company—especially the sales and marketing folks. Make the brand standards accessible via a password protected website or a downloadable document. Announce the brand standards by email and who to contact for brand approvals.

2. Make it all about your customers
Unlike your employees who will typically push back on the new branding, your customers will typically welcome the change. Once again, make the external rollout all about them. Communicate why the change was made. Utilize social media, email and other channels to reach your customers. Invite your customers to visit the new website. Careful planning must be made so that there is no disconnect. If your brand includes product packaging, make sure to communicate the old and the new so no brand equity is lost in the transition.

3. Pick the right media mix
Larger companies will conduct million dollar multi-media campaigns to announce their new brands. They may hold special events or create a Q&A hotline. Create targeted messaging and repeat it over and over again for at least 9 to 14 months.

UPS BrandWhen UPS rebranded in 2007, their television ads showed their old logo changing from the drab 2-dimensional package icon to the more stylized 3-dimensional shield icon for at least a year. Their trucks seemed to be changed over the same amount of time. But who could forget their brilliant whiteboard commercials? They coupled their new branding with a new ad campaign communicating the company’s new positioning and tagline – What can brown do for you? (Which was later changed to We love logistics.)

For small to medium sizes companies—a typical press release will suffice that corresponds with the launch of your new website, email announcement. You may want to consider a soft launch of your website to work out any bugs before announcing it to the masses.

4. Pick the right time
Be sure to schedule plenty of time to conduct all the necessary activities. Think through the rollout by starting with the end in mind. What is the goal, who needs to know, how will they find out and where? Look at this as you would an advertising campaign, because that’s exactly what it is. Pick the right time to introduce your brand, either at a planned customer event or trade show. Time it to maximize your message and marketing dollars.

In conclusion, next to your people, your brand is your most valuable asset. Create and deliver the brand standards and guidelines, make the new brand all about your customers, pick the right media mix and time it with an upcoming customer event for maximum benefit.

For more information on how we can help you create real brand change within your organization, contact our Indianapolis or Denver branding agency for a complimentary brand assessment.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

Brand Development Rollout

Why Your Brand Rolled Out The Back Door And Down The Street – Part 1

By | Brand Development, Branding, Business

Completing the brand development process is a major milestone in any company’s history. After months of work it becomes time to introduce and roll it out to your employees and then your customers and the public in general. However after the party is over and the smoke has cleared, the brand is usually forgotten and your people return to status quo and it’s business as usual. Why?

In the first of two posts, here are 4 things to keep in mind to make the most of your brand development investment when rolling out your new brand internally and creating real brand change.

1. Get employee buy-in early
To make your brand rollout successful, get your employees involved early in the process. Identify the people in your company who are the centers of influence. Create a team of brand ambassadors. By getting your employees feedback and input—you will give them ownership of the new brand. Their feedback will provide the framework and direction of the changes that need to be made. When they see that the changes they suggested have been incorporated, they will be more likely to embrace the new brand. They will also act as advocates and defenders of the new brand when and if water cooler discussions turn negative about the coming changes.

2. Introduce the brand correctly
Also begin thinking about the brand rollout event early in the process. It can sometimes take months of planning depending on your budget. Each company is different, but you typically want to start by creating some buzz. Try to think of ways to get your employees excited about the new brand. Communicate some of the key benefits and changes coming and how they contributed to the new direction. Make the brand rollout party all about them. This will be your first chance to introduce the new brand and you’ll want to take some time to really think through how to best present it.

3. Leadership does the honors
The new brand should be introduced by the CEO or president. The brand development process is a top-down initiative and you’ll want to utilize the C-Suite’s influence. Take the steps needed to educate your employees on what a brand is and why it is important. After a little branding 101, go through the main communication points of the brand. Especially communicate what has changed and what will stay the same. Remember to communicate the purpose and the “why” behind the “what”. Seek to inspire through purpose.

4. Create “the change” through your employees

Lets face it, change is hard. Most companies—after the brand is rolled out—return to status quo. To create real brand change, new standards must be communicated and implemented within your workforce. To move the culture, changes must be made at the people level. So for example, you may want to consider the following:

  1. Through natural attrition, begin to replace the employees who leave with people who adhere and align with the brand’s new values.
  2. Use assessments to accurately determine the “jobfit” and “brandfit” of each candidate.
  3. Invest in employer branding to attract top talent.
  4. Train tenured employees to adapt to the changes being made.
  5. Pay employees to leave who are not adopting the change (See Zappos and Amazon examples)

The company with the best people wins. To create real brand change and to make the most of your brand development investment—start with your people early in the process and continue to build a culture based on your customers. Anything else is just pretty words and pictures.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the external rollout process.

For more information on how we can help you create real brand change within your organization, contact our Indianapolis or Denver branding agency for a complimentary brand assessment.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

how to write an awesome tagline

How To Write An Awesome Tagline

By | Brand Development

Coming up with a tagline for your business can be a little difficult—but it isn’t as hard as you might think. A good tagline can influence customer behavior and give them an understanding of what your product, service or brand is about. Here are a couple ones you might recognize:

  • Just Do It.
  • Think Different.
  • The Ultimate Driving Machine.
  • Like No Other Place On Earth.
  • We Bring Good Things To Life.


Taglines influence consumers’ behavior by evoking an emotional response. A tagline is a short phrase that captures a company’s brand essence, personality, and positioning, and distinguishes the company from its competitors. (Source: Defining Brand Identity)

In this post, we are going to write a tagline for a fictitious pen company called Penly. We’ll go through 6 steps using Penly as an example that you can then use to craft your own tagline.

branding tagline1. What makes your product or service unique?
To start, you first need to understand what makes your product or service unique. Does it contain some kind of unique material? Does it have some kind of competitive advantage? Is it shaped differently? Does it take a different approach than your competitors? Write down 1-3 things that makes your product or service unique.

For our pen company, it is 1. design, 2. ink color and, 3. balance. Our pen is slightly heavier in the middle so that it is perfectly balanced. Our pen slows the writer down that helps them to write better and clearer. Studies have shown penmanship is affected because people write too fast. Yet, it’s not too heavy to cramp the users’ wrist after long periods of note taking.

2. Write down 1-3 value propositions
A value proposition is a promise of value you intend to deliver or provide to your customer. It is the value or benefit they will receive from using your product or service.

For our pen, our value propositions are: 1. smoother writing, 2. classy design and, 3. darker more prestige looking inks.

3. Position your product or service
Positioning is a brand’s attempt to occupy a market niche, idea or a distinct impression in your customer’s mind. Positioning is one the most critical elements in the brand strategy development process.

It starts by understanding points 1 and 2 and your competitor’s positioning—because two competitors cannot occupy the same position. In our pen example, there are three main competitors in the category. Go Pen positions themselves as an everyday “get-the-job-done” kinda pen. They’ve been in the pen making business since the 1940s and hold most of the market share. Our second competitor, Big Pen positions their pens as the “industrial pen”—and is pitched towards the working man. It’s got a thicker grip and is used with metal casing to show its ruggedness. The third pen company—Lil’Pen positions their pens as a cheap, buy-in-bulk pen. Nothing fancy about Lil’Pen —a pen is a pen.

As a marketer or business owner you want to try to figure out where the “whitespace” is within your market and how to provide a better product to an audience who has a need. What niche or space are you going occupy? What makes your product different and viable?  Typically, you’ll want to conduct some customer research, look at industry trends, conduct some test marketing and other activities to determine where the logical place is to position your pen.

After conducting our own research, we’ve found that there is a segment of the pen market that is vastly underserved. That segment is the professional segment: ages 35-50, male or female, typically college grads, holds an executive position or has a professional degree like an C.P.A., M.B.A., M.D., J.D. etc. and who tend to write a lot. For the most part it seems this segment may benefit from our pen’s unique characteristics.

We will define our positioning statement next, but first we need to take a look at our buyer persona and what makes our pen the “only”.

4. Define your buyer persona
Next, you must understand your customer—or buyer persona. You must know how to best talk to your customers and where best to reach them. You must seek to address their pain points and solve their problems. You must find a way to appeal to their aspirations, character qualities and understand what motivates them. For our pen, it’s about giving them a fine writing tool that makes them more productive, take better notes and feel a bit smarter when they are holding our pen. It may even lend them some status when they lay their pen down at the meeting table.

5. Define your only.
According to Marty Neumeier, the author of Zag, an onliness statement is something that no one else can say about you. Using our pen as an example, our onliness statement looks like this:

Penly is the only pen company that helps professionals take better notes, be more productive and write smarter.

Notice our onliness statement contains who our customer is, what the product is and how it is different in the marketplace. You can replace the words that are highlighted and add in your own company name, customer and value propositions.

brand development tagline6. Distill your tagline from your onliness statement
Now, we must cut the onliness statement down to its bare essence. Using some of the words above, try to distill the overarching theme into a few words. Play around and try to come up with something that is smooth, a bit clever and catchy. So for example:

  • Penly, The Professionals Pen
  • Penly, Better Notes
  • Penly, Write Smarter
  • Penly, Write Better
  • Penly, Now You’re Writing

Attach your tagline with your name to see it and hear how it sounds.

Those are a few off the cuff…but for this example, I think we’ll go with Write Smarter. It captures the essence of our pen, tells something about what our pen does and how it helps our buyer persona and how we want them to feel when they use our pen.

So you see, coming up with a tagline isn’t all that difficult—right? You just need to take the necessary steps to think through it by boiling down your product or service to its essence. By identifying what makes your product or service unique, what value it delivers to your customers, what position it holds in their mind, who your buyer persona is, what your only is, you can distill your message down to a simple mantra that connects your product to your customer succinctly and clearly that creates value.

Struggling to connect your brand to your customers or looking for a unique tagline? Please contact our Denver and Indianapolis Branding Agency for a free brand consultation.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

how to rebrand

The 7 Factors For Rebranding

By | Brand Development

There are many factors to consider when evaluating the decision to rebrand your company. Typically you’re gripped with a sense of bewilderment as the word ‘rebrand’ typically means ‘change.’ This is always difficult, especially when you’re the one responsible for the success and longevity of your company.

Faced with undulating marketplace circumstances—a rebrand may be the only viable option you have to remain competitive. The entrance of new competitors, commoditization, internal changes and changing customer attitudes may have weakened your company’s ability to accurately articulate your unique value proposition. Perhaps you’ve been knocked off by faster, more agile competitors with more aggressive marketing tactics than your own or you let things get away on you by not keeping up to date on massive disruption that is taking place across various industries.

Whatever the case, re-branding can be a good thing. It signifies a stage in your business’ maturity and growth. It is an opportunity to more closely examine your mission, purpose and the betterment of your company.  

Brand development can be a catalyst for innovation—an opportunity to develop your current processes. It can bring clarity and alignment to you and your stakeholders and spur employee motivation. In the end this tunes up your company’s internal engine where the end result is customer satisfaction and increased profitability.

To help you understand the main reasons most business owners choose to rebrand, we’ve listed 7 factors that will help you determine if now is the time to consider a rebrand.  

Famous Corporate Rebrand

Famous Corporate Rebrands

1. Name change
Our name no longer fits who we are.

Naming is a long and difficult process. Most viable domain names have been taken or are listed as premium listings because of their necessity and acclaim. Be prepared to pay for a high-quality name or be prepared to make one up.  Start at Name.com to check out the availability of your domain. Work with a branding agency to help you come up with a meaningful, memorable and viable choice. Your name is the most important branding element of your business. A recent example is when Anderson Consulting became Accenture. Anderson Consulting changed their name due to global market expansion. “On January 1, 2001 Andersen Consulting adopted its current name, “Accenture”. The word “Accenture” is supposedly derived from “Accent on the future”. The name “Accenture” was submitted by Kim Petersen, a Danish employee from the company’s Oslo, Norway office, as a result of an internal competition. Accenture felt that the name should represent its will to be a global consulting leader and high performer, and also intended that the name should not be offensive in any country in which Accenture operates. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

2. Revitalize a brand

Our identity does not represent us any longer.

Due to the natural development, evolution and innovation of your products and services new vertical markets and channels will emerge that prove profitable changing the course of your company. You may have received feedback from your customers or have seen a decline in web traffic. Perhaps you were a packaged product company that has now evolved into a virtual product.  The move to the virtual environment will need to communicate a different message then one sold in a brick-n-mortar. When in doubt, interview and survey your customers to understand if your brand is still connecting to deliver value.

3. Revitalize a brand identity
Our identity is outdated.

Brand identity is a mixture of the visual representation of the product and service you provide and about how that product/service relates to, characterizes and represents your customers. Have your customers changed? Once again when in doubt, interview and survey your customers to understand if the brand is still connecting to deliver value.  Does it need a new look or a whole new service offering. In a recent example, Walgreens completely changed its course to remain relevant and to remain true to its brand values by completely eliminating tobacco from their stores and redesigning the customer experience and adding clinics due to the sweeping health care law.

Logo swooshes gone wild

Logo swooshes gone wild

4. Create an integrated system
Our visual materials do not look the same.

Over the years as marketing managers and designers have come and gone, they’ve left their own interpretations of your company’s brand on your materials. If standards were not put in place at the initial development of your brand—chances are your materials look inconsistent, scattered and unfocused. 

BRANDING TIP: Still using swooshes and drop shadows? These were hot design trends in the late nineties and early 2000’s. Today, flat design is ‘in’ lead by top global brands like Apple, Windows and Google.

5. When companies merge
We need a new brand to represent the new company.

Perhaps the #1 reason to rebrand is when two companies merge. Think Disney and Pixar. Sirius and XM Radio. Exxon and Mobil. When two cultures collide, key staff members are let go, leadership styles and philosophies change, everything is turned upside down and inside out. This especially takes a mental toll on your employees. Not knowing what is happening in the C-Suite, guesses,  estimations and imaginations run wild that result in anxiousness, worry and loss productivity. Communication is key in this time of transition. The brand development process will help you align and get your new team on the same page quicker.

6. When internal teams lack clarity

Our employees lack direction, engagement and purpose.

One of the most important outcomes of the brand strategy process is employee clarity and understanding of the company’s mission and purpose. The brand development process will allow you to re-discover the purpose of your brand—the why behind the what—providing direction, increasing employee engagement and purpose.

7. Attract Talent

We are not hiring the right people.

A strong corporate brand is helpful to attracting talent. However an employer brand must also be taken into consideration when rebranding. You must also define the values of your culture and why someone would want to work for you. This can only be fostered by the corporate brand’s values and how they relate to your customers.  The key to delighting your customers is to delight your employees. Outside of the normal perks, you must also communicate the purpose through your employer branding to attract the right talent.

BRANDING TIP: Delight your employees and you will delight your customers.

In conclusion, when faced with the possibility of a rebrand, always start with your customers and employees. Their responses to your inquiries will give you the understanding you need to intelligently make the decision to rebrand. If your name needs changing, your brand image is outdated, your materials are scattered, you’ve merged with another company, your internal teams are off center or you are not attracting the necessary talent to meet customer demand, it may be time to rebrand.

Interested in learning more about rebranding and brand development process? Our proprietary brand development approach—Brand+People™ —believes your people are the key differentiator in a marketplace full of identical competitors. We focus on brand alignment through employee engagement, customer experience and brand perception to create authentic human connections for business growth and success. As a seamless extension of your marketing and sales team, we blend branding, inbound marketing and creative design (professional web design, brochure design, logo design, infographics, package design and advertising) to maximize your business goals. Contact us today to learn more.

brand-interview-guide

Free Download:
Brand Development Interview Guide 

Discovering your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the right questions to uncover your brand.

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

4 Questions Every Brand Must Answer

By | Brand Development

“The brand is your product”, said Lee Clow, Chief Creative Officer at TBWA/Worldwide, responsible for Apples’ 1984 commercial. When you think about it, what he said was absolutely true.

In today’s cluttered marketplace and economy, consumers demand an experience from the brands they buy. They also want brands that appeal and align to their lifestyle, character and personalities. The old cliché, “you are what you eat”, now also applies to “you are what you buy“. If you consider for a moment the brands you buy, you would be able to compile a list of things that make you – you. Here’s mine:

  • I drive a Jeep – Jeep stands for freedom/adventure
  • I work on an Apple – I think different
  • I drink Coors Light – I grew up in The Rockies
  • I root for the Broncos – I’m from Denver

If you were to write out a list of the brands and things you like, would someone be able to get an idea of who you are – I bet they would…

This same kind of thinking applies to brands. Below are four questions every brand must be able to answer to be recognizable, memorable, favored, distinctive, preferred and ultimately adored.

1. Who are you?

How would you describe your self? How would your company describe itself if it were a person? The inability to answer this question in a short succinct sentence that people can easily remember diminishes your brand’s potential and ultimately its profitability.

2. Who needs to know?

If your brand were a person, who would they hang out with? These are your customers. How would your brand talk?  What would it wear? In today’s digital, disconnected world where people would rather shoot an email than pick up the phone, brands need to be authentic, understandable, personable and reachable.

3. How will they find you?

Where would your brand go? To the mountains? To a football game or Nordstrom? These places is where your brand needs to be. What sites are they hanging out on? Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest? Make it a point to be there also.

4. Why should they care?

How do you make someone care? Typically, caring involves being friends or having the same interest as another in some altruistic endeavor.

For friendship to happen, you must initiate a conversation or some act of kindness to kindle a conversation. After the conversation you figure out if you have anything in common, then you can move on to the next step.

For shared interests like sustainability, health, conservation etc., you have to come to that interest with the same ideals and values which also sparks a friendship.

Same for brands. Be a brand that is authentic and that exhibits trust and shares a purpose with your customers. Be personable and real. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. For a long time, companies have been driven by their profits, prestige and who has the biggest building as their main focus and have not put the customer center. Customers want to be center!  Make a great product that helps us survive, look good or feel good, save us money—or all four. Back it up with a promise and some great looking/feeling branding, provide great customer/client service and you’ll have customers/clients coming back again and again. It’s that simple and that difficult.

Ultimately, in the end as Clow said — the brand is the product. It’s about standing for something – anything other than the status quo, providing an experience for the brand to carry out a real world function that encourages its customers to aspire to do more.

To learn more about how to create a real, authentic and trustworthy brand that your customers will love, contact us for a free brand consultation.

 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.