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Branding

Be Real, Be You or Be Nothing

Understand how branding can set your business apart from the rest.

Mick Blore

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Before marketing and advertising, there was only sales. To this day, a large number of companies (to their detriment) focus only on sales, blindly hoping their success will continue unchecked. There’s a reason you haven’t heard of many of them.

Big, successful companies (Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola etc) have put marketing at the very centre of their business, and as marketing and advertising has become more targeted and effective over the years, they have used them as tools to build loyalty and stand out from their competitors.

Company vs brand

The difference between a company and brand then, is simply the relationship that has been built between a brand and it’s customers. It’s the age-old story: Phillips makes a great MP3 player, so why do people pay 30% + more for an iPod with less functionality?

Ducati makes a fantastic motorbike, but people have been tattooing Harley Davidson on themselves for years. The difference is emotion and loyalty, and both are built through design, branding, advertising and marketing. Simply put, if you aren’t engaging and interacting with your customers on a regular basis, you are nowhere.

So now that we get that, we can implement it and everything will be good right? Wrong. The problem is that now marketing and advertising is everywhere. The clutter/wallpaper is enormous.

The average human being cannot step out of their front door without being bombarded by thousands of messages a day, all with one purpose – to sell you something. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to sell to you and they are not subtle about it. The result is that potential customers become annoyed, wary and ultimately jaded. The result is disinterest and apathy towards your brand.

The rise of social media

The explosion of social media into our lives has shown us this. Here is a place where people express themselves, mostly openly, revealing their personalities/hopes/desires to others in a format that is considered ‘safe’ because of its anonymity. Anyone, any company, trying to sell, is immediately blocked and discarded.

No-matter how many brands continue to bloody their heads against this proverbial wall, people will only ‘allow you in’ if you are authentic and genuine and add value to their lives. At the rate that social media is taking over and becoming the future, this means that all interactive communication with people will have to become real or face a fate worse than change – irrelevance.

So many companies over the years have lied, manipulated and even broken promises to people, that they have created a rod for their own backs. In a world where everyone is bullshitting you, authenticity has become a rare and appreciated quality. Companies that approach us in a real way, transparently and with empathy are the only ones we are prepared to trust anymore, and without trust there is no relationship. With no relationship, there is no emotional pull for a brand and no loyalty either.

Clever ways to sell

There’s another reason why this ‘new’ approach to people is a clever way to sell. It’s called the Emotional Bank Account. Every time you approach people as a real person (representing a company), they learn to trust you, like you and appreciate you a little more.

Each interaction is a ‘deposit’ into the Emotional Bank Account. So when a mistake is made or an expectation not met, you’ve built up some credit with them. You can afford a ‘withdrawal’ from your account with them, because they are more likely to understand, more forgiving and more open to giving you another chance. As any marketing expert in the world will tell you, it is far easier to turn a dissatisfied customer around than it is to get them back, once they have moved on from your brand.

It’s been my experience that people only buy two things anymore: People buy people and people buy ideas. The new sales environment is actually an environment of relationships. Building relationships with your customers over time engenders loyalty and as with any relationship, good ones are built on trust, empathy and with love. Which means marketing ‘manipulations’ or disingenuous messaging is a thing of the past.

The new advertising environment is no longer just about attraction or even engagement. It is about experiences, created from big ideas.

Reaching your customer at every possible touch point in a way that inspires, entertains and captures their attention, drawing them closer to your brand through honesty, genuine interaction and emotion. Then you have them for good. As the famous philosopher, Maya Angeloo said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Mick Blore is a founding partner of Original Forever, a creative agency that specializes in big ideas born of extraordinary creative strategy. For more information visit www.originalforever.co.za

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Branding

5 Ways To Make Your Personal Branding Statement Stand Out

If you have a LinkedIn account, you have a brand statement. But does it make you easily discoverable and motivate others to connect?

Mel Carson

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If you’re reading this, you likely already have a personal branding statement: If you have a LinkedIn account, for instance, you have a branding statement. But, is yours the kind of summary that makes you easily discoverable and motivates others to reach out and connect?

Maybe yes, but maybe no.

A strong personal branding statement is connected to your professional purpose, or the reason you do what you do. While your professional purpose serves as an internal compass, pointing your passion in the right direction, a personal branding statement is above all your calling card.

It’s the first impression of you that you offer on paper and the thing on which many will base their “Do I engage or not?” decision.

So, yes, your branding statement is a big deal. It’s a living statement about you, your passions and your capabilities and should therefore be written with thought and care. But, honestly, for all that’s riding on crafting a strong branding statement, it’s not that hard to do.

Here are five quick ways to make sure yours stands out in a crowd.

Move beyond your professional purpose

Do you have a professional purpose? A statement that describes the why behind your work? If you don’t, that’s step one.  A personal branding statement combines your purpose with some relevant data about your professional world to accurately describe who you are, what you do and why you do it. To gather that data, take a few minutes to free-write about the following:

  • Your education experience
  • Your work experience
  • What you love about what you do
  • What you find hard about what you do
  • Where you want to be in three years

Here’s the formula: purpose + data = personal branding statement.

Related: The 3 Biggest Mistakes CEOs Make With Their Personal Brand (And How To Turn Those Mistakes Around)

Pull out the mission

This is your opportunity to be bold and clear about what direction you want your career to go in. Look at all the information you’ve written down and use it to flesh out a mission – this should be a powerful sentence or phrase that tells people who you are.

Your mission sentence can be helpful for two reasons: It serves as a personal reminder to you and carries with it an element of accountability, but also helps prospective employers or clients quickly assess if you’d be a good match or not.

Identify your value

Within your personal branding statement, identify your professional value.

A subjective term, this “value” could be described in the following ways: Your experience, industry expertise, noteworthy clients, education level and personal passion.

At this juncture, I would encourage you to take a moment and empathise with prospective clients, customers and employers. What would be a strong value indicator in your field of work? What are they looking for? Don’t be fictitious, of course (an immediate career killer); but do be choosy. Include points of value geared toward both your professional career goals and your industry niche.

Be real

Sounds simple, right? Be real, be you, but it’s it one of the hardest things to do. Writing about ourselves is uncomfortable. It’s difficult to find the right balance between not saying enough and saying too much. Here are a couple of pieces of advice I would offer toward the goal of being real:

  • Avoid the fluff and stay away from fancy claims you can’t back up. They will bite back.
  • Stay away from buzzwords. (Here’s a list of words to avoid in your LinkedIn profile.) They will do the opposite of what you intended.
  • Be self-aware and write a statement that accurately reflects your experience, passions and capabilities. Simplicity is OK. Short statements are, too.

Here’s an example of my own personal branding statement broken down: “Focusing on helping businesses and individuals achieve success through enduring social media, digital PR and personal branding strategies …”

Next, I put the customer (my target audience) first and mention my fields of expertise: “My 18 years of online advertising industry experience and seven years at Microsoft as digital marketing evangelist, enable me to provide counsel to my clients that is truly relevant, robust and real-time.”

Notice that I make sure to draw attention to my seven years at Microsoft (a value indicator) and state my mission:  “Always striving to keep pace with the ever-changing nature of digital media and technology, I aim to improve my clients’ competitive position through partnership, tenacity and accountability.”

I continue on about my mission, but also describe my aim for achieving clarity, using my own words without sounding over-stated.

Related: Personal Brand Or Business Brand: Which Is More Important?

Revisit the statement on a quarterly basis

Your personal branding statement should grow with you.  As you rise in your career and work with new, interesting clients, take on new projects or learn a valuable skill, your personal branding statement should reflect those changes. I would encourage you to revisit it every three months or so to double-check that your purpose, mission and values still ring true in the present day.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Branding

The First Thing You Should Do When Building Your Brand (Hint: It Isn’t Pick Out A Logo)

The best way to build your brand is to start from the inside out.

Rebecca Horan

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When you’re launching a new business, it’s tempting to go straight to the fun stuff – the logo, the colours, the mood board. But, before going down the Pinterest rabbit hole, it’s important to establish the core purpose and belief system of your brand.

Indeed, studies show that companies with purpose grow twice as fast as those with a low sense of purpose. So, a beautifully designed visual brand identity without a clearly defined purpose is like an exquisitely wrapped present that’s … well, empty.

Despite this, a Gallup survey shows that only 41 percent of workers know what their company stands for and how it differs from competitor brands. That’s a problem. Because informed and engaged employees are often the front line ambassadors for a brand, this disconnect can lead to customer confusion or worse, indifference. The snazziest logo in the world can’t save the business that neglects the heart of its brand.

As a brand strategist, one of the first steps I take in developing entrepreneurs’ brands is to help them to establish their core purpose. Having a clearly defined and expressed purpose not only serves as an internal compass that guides their decision-making and strategic direction, but it also acts as a beacon for their ideal customers – making it easier to understand, relate to and remember what the business represents.

Related: Are You A Commodity Or A Brand?

The best way to build your brand is to start from the inside out. It’s like constructing a building: You need a strong foundation. The following three steps will help you to understand and articulate the heart and soul of your brand.

1. Create your mission statement

Articulating your mission is one of the most important, yet often overlooked steps in creating a powerful brand. Simply put, your mission reflects what you’ve set out to do.

What makes a great mission statement? It should be clear, provide some strategic direction and inspire. When crafting your mission, think about your business goals, the value you’d like to bring, whom you serve and how you do it. Ideally, your mission will also be clear enough for people outside your organisation to understand and concise enough for you – and your employees – to remember.

Let’s take a look at how Honest Tea does it:

“Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages. We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity we use to craft our recipes, with sustainability and great taste for all.”

The first sentence describes what’s being produced (great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages), while the second sentence touches on important elements of the value the business brings (honesty, integrity and sustainability) and who it serves (for all).

After you’ve written your mission statement, revisit it regularly as you build your brand. You might find that it needs some tweaks as your business grows.

define-your-vision

2. Define your vision

If mission is the “what,” then your brand’s vision is the “why.” Your vision is a future-focused statement that paints a vivid picture of what the world will look like once you’ve accomplished your mission. It’s not just inspirational, it’s aspirational. Rallying around a powerful vision can help everyone in an organisation stay motivated, inspired and focused on the big picture when things get tough.

A great way to approach the vision statement is to think about the ultimate impact of the product or service you provide. A good strategy is to focus on the benefit of what you offer. Then dig a little deeper … What is the benefit of that benefit? Keep going until you have a clear picture of what the future will look like when you’ve succeeded. Above all, think big.

Ikea’s vision is:

“To create a better everyday life for the people.”

It’s a deceptively simple-looking statement. For anyone familiar with Ikea, the explanatory statement that follows is unnecessary, but it explains each component of the simple vision statement:

“Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”

Related: How To Build A Community Around Your Brand

3. Identify your values

Your brand (or core) values are like the pillars of your company. They are going to help guide your organisation’s actions, influence the workplace culture, help your team to make sourcing and hiring decisions and ultimately impact customer loyalty. Why? Because it’s in our nature to want to align ourselves with people, products and organisations that share our values.

Think about what you stand for – and what you’ll never compromise on. Consider the beliefs and qualities that have a unique, direct and meaningful impact on the way you do business. While there’s no “magic number,” for brand values, more than five can be difficult to remember and internalise, and fewer than three isn’t really enough to give the full picture of your business.

Once you’ve determined your brand values, write them as statements that exemplify how they’re implemented in your business. A great example of this is Starbucks’ values:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.

Imagine the difference if they had simply listed words like “Inclusion,” “Courage,” “Transparency” and “Accountability,” instead of illustrating these concepts with these descriptive sentences.

It’s not enough to simply slap some values up on your website and call it a day. Successful business owners know that it’s all in the implementation. We must weave our brand’s mission, vision and values into the fabric of our business. Everything we do and say, from our offerings to our marketing to our hiring approach, should not only align with, but reinforce our mission, vision and values.

Once you’ve laid the foundation, other elements, like a logo, will come easier to you, your team and any outside partners.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Branding

How A Branded Car Can Boost Your Business

Below are just some of the ways a branded car can boost your business.

Amy Galbraith

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If you own a small business or you have a franchise to run, you know the power of branding. And you likely use it on a regular basis to draw in more clients and retain your current ones. If you understand that getting your brand out there in the eye of the public is important, then you will have looked into unique ways to do so. One of these is to invest in a branded vehicle for your company.

You can speak to the used car dealers in Gauteng and surrounds about which cars are the easiest to brand and move on from there. Be sure to choose branding that reflects your company or you could choose to have your logo incorporated on the vinyl. If you are looking at pre-owned vehicles, a luxury car will help to improve the message of your brand, depending on your industry.

Awareness of your brand is increased

Roadside advertisements are eye-catching, especially if they are on billboards or larger signposts. But when was the last time you actually stopped and noticed one? This is likely because, as a driver, you are paying attention to the other cars rather than advertisements on boards and poles.

Branded vehicles are much more effective at increasing brand awareness because they are noticed more often by other drivers and passengers. If you are sending your company car into the traffic every day, then your brand will be getting more exposure than it would with a billboard. This is because other drivers are noticing it and can spend longer looking your logo and contact details.

People will become familiar with your brand

Consumers would rather purchase from a brand they know or have heard of than from one they know nothing about. And by branding your vehicle, you will create familiarity in consumers, leading to trust and eventually to more customers.

If people know your brand, they will buy from you. You can breed this familiarity by branding your company car so that whenever your staff are out at meetings or making deliveries, the public will notice your brand and company details.

For example, if you sell bespoke wedding cakes and you drive around a certain geographical location on a daily basis, the next bride who lives in that area will recognise your brand and might use you to create their wedding masterpiece.

Related: 6 Personal Branding Rules To Being Popular And Profitable

It creates a positive association

Having a positive brand association is ideal for every business. And vehicle branding can help with this. Once you have chosen your company car from one of your local second-hand car dealerships, you can create a vehicle wrap with your company logo, branding and details on it.

An effective way to create a positive brand association is to ask your staff to park in front of health and wellness centres when going to meetings or high-end shopping centres. You should also always ensure that whoever is driving the company car obeys the road rules and does not cause any accidents on the road. This will show the public that your business or company values people and thus values consumers, giving them a positive association with your brand. It is a simple but effective way to garner new clients and impress current ones.

You will look professional

There is nothing more embarrassing than turning up to a client meeting in a dilapidated car. The first impression that you make on the client will not be positive and you will be entering into an agreement with someone who views your company in a negative light, which is never a good sign.

Having a branded car will make you look professional and will set you aside from the competition. You should look for cars for sale in Gauteng and surrounds with little to no rust or damage before branding the vehicle. You will show the clients that you take your business seriously and want to make an impression on them.

If you are making house calls or delivering goods to a customer, they will feel reassured when seeing a branded car pull up outside. Not only will you look professional, but you will be proud of your company and will want to show it off.

Related: The Economics of Branding

Show the world your style

Aside from helping you look professional, a branded vehicle will show the world your company’s style. You will be able to show clients that you take your work seriously and, because your car is out in traffic, you will garner familiarity with consumers.

People will become more aware of your brand and will have a positive association with your brand and image. So, if you want to boost your business and stand out from the crowd, be sure to look into branding your vehicle and making it shine among normal cars.

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