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Archive for the Branding Category

USA is #1 in Country Brand Ranking

USA is #1 in Country Brand Ranking

worldThe U.S. is the #1 brand on planet earth.  Odd statement, but according to Bloom Consulting who just issued the2012 Country Brand Ranking it is true.  The company implements a unique methodology using variables in order to position the countries based on facts and mathematical algorithms.

I’ve taken a cursory glance at their website to try and figure out how these figures are amassed and analyzed but I’ve not been able to get any great insight.   Data certainly does push the world these days.  Politicians and marketers love to quote numbers.  And much of it is poorly conceived and coarsely analyzed.   I post this study in solidarity with the big and small data out there that is being misquoted and mis-characterized as you read this.

I hope that your reaction will be like mine.  For me, just knowing that Luxembourg wasn’t able to grab out #1 spot will help me sleep much better tonight.

 

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Brandify Yourself and “Create a Business People Love”

Brandify Yourself and "Create a Business People Love"

BrandifyBrandify is an amazing tool for businesses who want to strengthen their online branding.  In addition to a range of services they offer for a reasonable monthly charge, they also offer a fantastic range of free tools.  No credit card.  No promises to pay on “Tuesday for your hamburger today”.   Walking through a few simple steps, you can submit information about your website and your online social network.  They will evaluate it all and give you clear, concise steps for improvement.

Here’s Brandify‘s vision in their own words:

Our vision is to build a robust set of tools that enables a small business to enhance its brand, reach more customers, and better engage those customers.

We believe the speed at which information is transferred in today’s digital world gives small businesses a tremendous opportunity to reach and engage more customers simply through enhancing their online presence. We became convinced of this when we read a BIA Kelsey study stating 97% of consumers research products online before buying local. And on average consumers use 7.9 different online resources to review information.

For these reasons we created Brandify to provide insights into how well your business shows up online. And we use this analysis as the foundation for simple, straightforward guidance to enhance your social media, online listings, and search engine results. The outcome of all this is that you’re able to reach and engage more customers, making it more likely that those customers will believe in your brand and ultimately spend their money with you. So get Brandified today!

Brandify yourself and “Create a Business People Love.”  www.brandify.com

Small Business Branding from Costco…Aisle 12

Small Business Branding from Costco...Aisle 12

When small business owners find out that I’ve spent a great deal of my corporate life at large companies, they all say the same thing.

“You don’t understand.

We’re too small to have a brand.

We don’t have time for strategic plans.

We don’t do that.”

 

Truth be told, they don’t understand.  Most of the business rules that apply to multi-national, multi-tiered, multi-billion dollar businesses also apply to small and mid-sized businesses.  And yes, even to start-ups.  Here are the Big Four:

  1. Mission statements matter.
  2. Meaningful core values matter.
  3. Respecting the market and your partners matters.
  4. Living 1 , 2 and 3 above creates your brand foundation

 

Costco

I went to Costco yesterday after a long hiatus. I walked through those doors and I swear I heard angels singing and harps playing.  Heaven!   Not only did I save $300 on my new eyeglasses and $75 on the Vitamix 5200 but the store was clean, Costco employees were all quite professional and well spoken … and I got a huge frozen yogurt for $1.35.  In many ways, Costco hasn’t changed in the last few years.  But, what does this have to do with small business branding.

First thing to understand is Costco’s mission:

“To continually provide our members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices. In order to achieve our mission we will conduct our business with the following Code of Ethics in mind:

Obey the law
Take care of our members
Take care of our employees
Respect our vendors”

 

Many people believe that missions and strategy and core values only live on paper.  There are billion dollar companies who do just that.  Sad, but true.  But, those who take the time, thought and energy to create mission statements and core values that are meaningful to the company and the market put themselves in the game.  Those who have the focus and discipline to live and breathe their mission and values are far ahead of the game.  They will build a firm foundation for their brand, an operating code for employees, differentiation from competitors and a connection to their customers.

Branding? We Don’t Need No Stinking Branding!

Branding? We Don't Need No Stinking Branding!

Branding

What is a brand?

Here’s a hint.  Don’t check Wikipedia.  Their definition (and many others) is wrong!

Wikipedia: “Brand is the name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”  However, they go on to include the following in their definition – “name, logo, tagline, graphics, shapes, colors, sounds, scents, tastes, movement, and customer relationship management.”

 

We don’t know what a brand is…but we can’t afford it!

I hear it all the time.  “We’re a small company.  We don’t have money to brand our products.  We don’t do branding.  We don’t need it. “  Too late folks.  If you’re in business and interact with anyone in the real or virtual world, you are branding.  You may not be doing it intentionally and you might not be doing it well…. But, you’re branding.  In fact, I’ve seen people who are developing great brands without even knowing it.

 

A few years back, I was working with a multi-billion dollar multi-national.  Markets were changing faster than we were and, although the company was involved in a broad range of products, they were largely known for only one.  A conclave of key executives met to develop a new strategic plan.  I was new to the organization but surprised that branding wasn’t part of the plan.  I raised the issue and was quickly shot down with “we really don’t have the money for big ad budgets”.  Heads were shaking with the smirk of “she doesn’t get it”.  In spite of explanations that I was talking about branding and not advertising, I was unable to change the group’s thinking.  I must admit I was pretty shocked that this highly regarded organization didn’t get branding.

 

Brands live everywhere

On Day 3 of the meeting, I made my last impassioned plea.  When countered with the “we don’t have money for big ad budgets”, I responded.  “Brands exist without advertising.  When Sam the Salesman meets with the buyer of Mongo Mart and spends an hour explaining the new fru-fru technology … that’s branding.  When Rita the Receptionist gives an astoundingly warm welcome to each person who crosses the threshold of our corporate offices… that’s branding.  When Carlos the Customer Service Rep helps someone figure out what’s wrong with their product…. that’s branding.  And, when Cheryl in Collections screams at a customer who’s past due … that’s branding.   Our brand exists at every touch point in the company.  Brands do not just live in logos, brochures and advertising.  Brands live in people.  The way we interact with the world defines our brand more deeply and more honestly than any advertising will.”  I took a deep breath and sat down.  I turned around to sit down and heard the applause of 150 executives who, only days ago, thought I was crazy.  Life was good.  We refocused the corporate brand from the inside out and then embarked on one of our most successful advertising and branding campaigns.

Brand is evoked by the things you do, the way you behave and how those actions are perceived.  Although you can create symbols and messages that communicate what you believe to be your brand, you need to be true to who you really are.  Advertising, PR and social marketing can communicate a brand.  They can’t change the reality of your brand.

 

Brand is the world’s reaction to the perceived truth of your company.

It is created and re-created every day by everyone affiliated with your organization.  It evolves with the intention communication of advertising, PR, social marketing and even product development.  It is ever changing.  Nevertheless, in this world of transparency, your brand cannot live as a figment of someone’s imagination.  Branding done right can help shape your future in a consistent, persistent way that ads, tweets, press releases, logos, videos and Facebook pages cannot.

 

“If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.”
David Ogilvy

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Susan is a marketing leader who understands the creativity required to insure enduring success. She is smart, innovative and committed to getting it right.

K. SharpeC.E.O.Sharpe Partners

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