Every business has a brand. Good, bad or indifferent, every business has its market. And that market has opinions, perceptions and feelings about the business. That relationship is the brand. But it’s easy to forget sometimes because very few businesses actually work their brands to add value. Most small and middle-market businesses just stick to their knitting and let their brands “just happen”. They spend little or no time figuring out how to make their brand relationships better and more valuable. They feel they don’t have the resources to review their brands and make them stronger. They feel that is the domain of much larger companies. To an extent, that’s true. Larger companies do have more resources. But part of the reason they’re large companies now is because they devoted resources to brand-building when they were smaller. It’s no accident that market leaders in every sector have strong, well-managed brands. At this time of year, when businesses are planning their investments for the coming year, let 2019 be the year you finally leverage your brand for competitive advantage and economic gain.
When companies reach a certain size, they do well to set aside one day of the year to take everybody, or at least a key group, away to a different venue. There, with everyone assembled in a casual setting, and away from ringing telephones, it’s possible to focus. The group can bring its collective mind to bear on big-picture issues that face the company. Because of the lack of distraction, offsite assemblies are usually more productive than the everyday meetings back at the office. Getting to know one another in a different setting allows team members to, well, become more of an actual team. Taking people out of their routines allows for socializing, camaraderie and more creative thinking. And there are exercises and games that promote all of the above. To be successful, offsite meetings have to have clear objectives. Otherwise they become disorganized and a waste of time. But, for those meetings where it makes sense, offsites are a brilliant opportunity to get the team to refocus on the company’s brand promise.
This subject has come up frequently in the last couple of months so I thought I’d pull up an old blog post to see if it still holds up. It does, more or less. Branding, marketing and selling are three distinct professions that require completely different mind sets. I grow apprehensive when I see titles like VP of Branding and Marketing because those are two completely different jobs! It may be manageable if there’s only one brand at stake. But, if there are two brands or more to manage, two professionals will be necessary. Same thing with VP of Marketing and Sales. A marketer does not think like a salesperson. And a true salesperson is built for sales, not marketing. Still, at the end of the day, commerce requires somebody to sell something to somebody. Let’s look at how branding and marketing set the stage for that to happen.
Like many people, I’m a little leery of voluntarily placing a listening device in my home. I don’t care if it has a cute name like Siri or Alexa or even if it looks like Alicia Vikander. I don’t want it around eavesdropping on me. Earlier this year, we got a prelude to the kinds of damage these devices can do. A Portland, Oregon family reported that their in-home Alexa recorded family conversations and sent them, without any sort of authorization, to an apparently random name in their contact list. The recipient was one of the husband’s employees, in Seattle, who immediately warned the family and recommended they unplug poor Alexa. (Funny how sad it is when this happens. Remember Hal singing “Daisy, D-a-i-s-y … “ in 2001: A Space Odyssey?) When learning of this techno-error, I immediately affected a smug, told-you-so attitude. One more battle won in the war to stave off The Singularity. But as I pondered it a little more, I sensed a nagging kernel of doubt in my self-congratulation. And, before long, I realized I had completely misunderstood this Alexa. I was looking at it in an absolutely incorrect way.
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Best Branding Reads
Week of December 10, 2018
Why Brands Are Crucial To Innovation
A fascinating and compelling reversal of the adage: Innovation is crucial to brands
Brands once used elitism to market themselves. Now inclusion sells.
Exclusion still works for very high-end luxury experiences.
No more Mr. Nice Guy: why every brand needs an enemy
V-e-r-r-r-y interesting, Mr. Bond.
How B2B Brands Succeed With Thought Leadership
“But only when … others can benefit…”. That’s the key.
Queen logo: Who designed it and what does it mean?
Never knew they even had a logo. Guess I’m just a casual fan.
New Logo for Drinkworks
In the future, every household will have a robotic bartender that will have “the usual” waiting for you when you get home.
How this veteran’s company found profits in Trump-era patriotism and polarization
“Polarizing topics create brands.” says the entrepreneur. How I wish this wasn’t true.