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Charting A Course To Brand Performance

What is a brand strategy, really? When one does the research and analysis required, and then writes the final report, one is actually making a business case for why a product, service or company should be positioned in a particular way, vis-à-vis the competition. This is an important first step in any branding or rebranding effort. First of all, the report a vital tool to get buy-in from senior management. With a written brand strategy in hand, one can assure nervous execs that the branding initiative they’re funding will have some basis in fact. It can be made evident that this is not a change-for-the-sake-of-change situation. Any changes will be driven by actual needs, as indicated by market feedback, and not by someone’s whim or individual need to make a mark. Secondly, when the brand strategy is fully articulated, it serves as a guide for all the creative work that is to follow. All the names, logos, websites, etc. can be designed to be integrated with one another and “on-brand”, presenting a unified, consistent face of the business. The products of all the creative will actually work for the business and not be mere decoration.
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Topics: Strategy

Invest In Your Brand Before The Next Crash

The stock market has been a little volatile over the last week. Hopefully, it will settle into a healthy market correction. Two years ago, I wrote about the importance of investing in your brand before the next market crash. I’m not predicting anything dire is about to happen this month or anything. And I don’t want to contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy. But, traditionally, we experience an economic turndown every ten years of so. By that reckoning, we’re about due. It’s not a subject I dwell on but I was reminded about it when I read this recent Forbes article. Readers should rely on professional financial advisors to make their business and investment decisions. But we have had ten years of robust economic growth. Now the Fed is starting to tap the brakes, which is probably a good thing. But who know what effect our new trade wars will have once those dominoes begin to fall? Just sayin’. So now’s the time for small and middle-market businesses to ask, “What, beside price, will bond our customers to us once everyone starts to feel the pinch?”

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Topics: Strategy

Leveraging Your Brand For Eight Economic Benefits

Every business has a brand. Every business has relationships with customers, employees, vendors, etc. Every business has its reputation. It is perceived by the market in a certain way, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, that perception is usually left unexamined. Management just decides that their brand “is what it is” and leaves it at that. Typically, the brand is given a brief moment of consideration at the birth of the company. Someone designs a logo and prints up stationery. And the brand is never given a moment’s thought for rest of the company’s life. It’s a sad state of affairs because these neglected brands could be leaving a lot of money on the table. Tending to your brand is tending to your relationship with the market. And tending to that relationship is always a profitable endeavor. A marketing consultant friend once told me he had a client who claimed “Branding won’t increase my sales.” While that may be true (it isn’t), there are eight economic benefits to branding – and increased sales is just one of them. And, because these are eight economic benefits, they all lead, one way or another, to more business success. Which, of course, means more sales. But a neglected brand will never be able to leverage these benefits. To reap the rewards, management teams have to become active stewards of their brands. Let’s take a look at the good things that happen when you give your brand a little care and nurturing.

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Topics: Strategy

A Brand Strategy Of Likability

This post originally appeared in Brandtalk on April 2, 2018. – People like doing business with people they like. That’s why people join clubs or networking organizations. To some degree, that’s even why they join churches, civic organizations and the boards of nonprofits. The point is to meet people who share similar views and values. So, when an opportunity to do some business comes up, they know just who to call upon. They already know the lawyer, dentist, banker or tree surgeon they want to hire. People will even pay a little more if it means getting to collaborate with someone they like. Or they’ll go out of their way to support a friend’s struggling business. People also refer business to people they like. So, in joining these social groups, people try to make themselves as likable as possible. It’s all very civilized. As they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. We’re living, now, in the Information Age which means everybody knows everything about everybody. Everybody knows everything about businesses too and, more and more, they’ll only do business with businesses they like. So how does a company, or any organization for that matter, make itself likable? How does it demonstrate to its market, “Hey, yes! We’re just like you. We share your values.”?

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Topics: Strategy

Brand Strategy Doesn’t Cost As Much As You Think

Business people often neglect their brands because they believe it will cost a fortune to leverage its strength and maximize its value. If you work with a professional brand consultancy, of course, you will need to pay its fee. (We don’t apologize for our fees here at Boardwalk because we’ve seen the value we deliver.) Once the strategy work is done, you may even have to invest in a new name, new visual identity, new packaging or new website – all of which can get pretty pricey (But well worth it if they get your brand really working for you. See here.) But what most people don’t realize, is many of the brand-building actions we recommend don’t cost anything at all or very little. Often, businesses can strengthen their brands just by changing the way they do the things they’re already doing every day. It’s just a matter of always being mindful of the brand promise.

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Topics: Strategy

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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.

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