Brandtalk - Useful insights, global news, humble opinions

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Do You Really Need A Brand?

From time to time, someone will ask me whether they really need to worry about branding their company. It’s usually asked by the leader of a B2B enterprise that markets to a select few customers and where the sales relationships are one-to-one, very personal. If I’m basically selling to my golfing buddies, goes the reasoning, why do I need to spend money on a logo or a website or whatever? Well, that may be true but improving sales is not the only advantage to having a brand. In fact, there are eight economic advantages to developing a strong brand. See link at the end of this article.A variation on the question is: Do I really need a personal brand? The reasoning here is: The people I work with know who I am so why should I have to formalize it in any way? But personal branding, as a deliberate activity, sprang from the need to be noticed in the first place. It is difficult to gain recognition in a working world where people have been commoditized. Bankers, lawyers, accountants, carpenters, nurses – anybody – seem interchangeable on the surface. It’s not till you get to know people that you appreciate their strengths and weaknesses. I wrote about a perfect example of personal branding in A Brand Of One. Again, there’s a link at the end of this article.But how to answer the original question? The best way to determine if you really need a brand is to first review what, exactly, is even able to be branded. Read More


How To Use Brand Positioning To Future-proof Your Business

Jay Gould is a noted businessman, a turnaround specialist who takes on troubled business lines and brings them back to profitability. He’s worked his magic at Newell Rubbermaid, Graco, Pepperidge Farm and, most recently, at American Standard. Gould is first to say that his successes come, in large part, from “viewing all … decisions through the Brand Lens”. What is the Brand Lens? It is the lens through which you view your brand positioning. It’s nothing less than a vital management tool that helps you make the correct strategic decisions – every time. Use it to “future-proof” your business. Read More


The Rapid-Growth Purpose Category – Key To Successful Brand Positioning?

In his incredibly valuable book, Grow, ex-Procter & Gamble Global CMO, Jim Stengel, identified the 50 fastest-growing companies worldwide – now, known as the Stengel 50 – and sleuthed out the one characteristic they all held in common, the one thing that explained their phenomenal growth. After a decade-long study, he found these businesses crossed all sectors and industries, originated from many continents and countries, subscribed to all manner of management philosophies, sourcing, hiring, manufacturing and distribution practices. In the end, he determined they shared only one trait – they all rooted their company values in what Stengel calls the “Five Fields of Fundamental Human Values.” That is, all 50 of these businesses declare, as their originating purpose, a dedication to one of five categories of values. Stengel purists may object, but we’ve found it helpful to simplify the assertion. Let’s just say every business has a purpose and there are five categories of purpose that can be associated with rapid growth. So the question then becomes, can your brand be positioned in a way that aligns with one of these five rapid-growth purpose categories? Read More


Storytelling – How To Make Your Brand Promise

Once you’ve developed your brand strategy and understand your brand positioning … Once you’ve articulated your unique, differentiating brand promise in a formal positioning statement … you have, essentially, created the foundation for your brand, otherwise known as the brand platform. But that’s just the beginning. You don’t have an actual brand yet. A brand is a promise kept. Just because you know what your brand promise is, doesn’t mean anybody else does. Now, you have to make that brand promise. You have to make it to your entire market, all your constituencies. That means you have to tell your story in a clear, concise and consistent manner. And that requires a little bit of planning. Read More


The Coming Brand Architecture of Cannabis

After last Tuesday’s election, 28 states plus Washington DC have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. Of those 28, seven states, plus DC, have also legalized recreational use. And of those seven, one is California with it’s huge population and habit of setting trends for the nation. Marijuana is now big business and it looks like the dominoes are falling. Soon most, if not all, of the states will have gone green. States will enjoy a significant new tax base. Marijuana abuse, if such a thing actually exists, will be seen as a health issue and not a criminal issue. That will decrease prison populations, easing overcrowding and freeing up even more budgets. All this will put enormous pressure on the federal government to legalize the “demon weed” as well. Federal legalization would mean the banks can service the industry for the first time, letting it shed its cash-only stigma. And once that happens, giant, multi-national companies like British American Tobacco and Philip Morris will want to buy a seat at the table. Finally, when the big guns get involved, you know what happens next. Branding! But what will that branding look like in the complex world of cannabis? Read More


Appearances Matter – For People And For Business

If clothes make the man then visual identity makes the business. In an ever-accelerating world, decision-makers use your brand’s identity as a short-cut to make instant judgements about your business, your offerings, your values and, ultimately, your worth to them. That’s why it’s so important to understand, exactly, what your brand is saying about you in any given moment. Read More


Positioning – Staking Your Brand’s Claim

Every business (or product, service, campaign, event, project, nonprofit, whatever) that needs to be marketed, has to do what it can to minimize competition and maximize income. This requires the organization in question to position itself properly within the vast landscape of brands that are out there. The world is full of other brands, competing, commanding attention, cluttering up the minds of buyers. In such a world, no brand can succeed for long if it is not positioned in a way that makes it most attractive to its best prospective customers while also putting its competition at a disadvantage. Proper positioning takes some effort. No one person can be in command of all the competing narratives in the world, so you can’t just trust your instincts alone. Every brand needs a formal positioning statement. Read More


Strengthen Your Brand Before The Next Recession

Want to kill the festivities at your next party? Ask for a show of hands. How many in the room think there will be an economic downturn in the near future? You’ll see a lot of hands go up, however reluctantly. You’ll also see a lot of moods come down and you’ll probably be asked to leave the party. Don’t expect to be invited next time, Debbie Downer. China. North Korea. Syria. Terrorism. The less-than-inspiring election in the US. The fact that Wall Street is still too big to fail and still operating with very little adult supervision. There is quite a bit of instability out there and just about anything could set off another recession. That’s bad news for all of us but it should be especially alarming for any business, B2B or B2C, that has been neglecting its brand(s). Weak brands suffer disproportionately during a downturn. When budgets get tight, decision makers and purchasers start looking for two things: Safety and bargains. Read More


Why Brands Have Values and Why That Matters

Oh no. It’s happened again. Another major brand has been caught stealing from its own customers. This time, it’s Wells Fargo, the massively huge banking juggernaut that uses, as its logo, the iconic, horse-drawn stagecoach, symbol of one of the few institutions that could be trusted in the old west. The Wells Fargo message? You can trust us. When all you’re selling is trustworthiness and then it turns out you can’t be trusted, well that just stabs you in the back and then puts salt in the wound. This betrayal of trust does serious damage to the Wells Fargo brand. Because trust … well, actually, that’s all a brand really is. Read More


The Eight Characteristics Of A Strong Brand Promise

The positioning statement is a vital document for any business because it describes how a company wishes to be perceived by its market. Actually, a good positioning statement answers the question: “How do we want our market to feel about us?” In the heart of any good positioning statement there is, or there ought to be, a brand promise. The brand promise articulates that one, unique, differentiating feature that sets the business apart from its competition. It reveals the company’s true competitive advantage.That differentiator can be anything from Google’s original algorithm to KFC’s original-recipe eleven herbs and spices. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, it needs to be expressed, as a brand promise, through the positioning statement. There are a lot of brand promises out there and some of them are pretty strong. Unfortunately, there are some weak ones as well. Here are eight characteristics shared by the strong ones. Your brand promise has to be … Read More