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


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


A Tale of Two Branding Disasters

In our branding workshops for startups, I show a slide that expresses how branding requires a focus on three aspects of your business: strategy, marketing and operations. Strategy, to build a strong brand platform with a unique and differentiating brand promise. Marketing, to communicate that promise effectively. And operations, to consistently deliver on the promise. In effect, we show how true branding demands the efforts of the entire company. I go on to break down the three categories, detailing specific tasks and activities within each one. Under operations, the first thing listed is effective leadership. The last is accountability. Right now, the news is reporting on two branding calamities – one, in which leadership appears to be doing everything right and one, where leadership is doing everything wrong. I’m thinking, of course, of Samsung and Wells Fargo. Each is suffering through a branding disaster. Both brands will emerge from their respective ordeals with some wounds to lick. But one brand, if it continues to handle things well, will recover fairly quickly. The other may have dealt itself permanent damage. Read More


Who is Controlling Your Buyer’s Customer Experience?

The mind-blowing branding news, last week, was the study out of Great Britain that 80% of B2B customers base their buying decisions on customer experience (CX), not price. This has huge ramifications for almost all B2B businesses. Even if the result turns out to be an outlier and future studies confirm the mark to be closer to 50% or 60%, it still means major disruption for B2B businesses. Why? Because most B2B businesses regard the CX as beginning, only, when the first contact is made with a prospect. Once that happens, the good firms attentively manage the customer’s journey, right through to the completion of the transaction. But, we know from previous studies, that the prospective customer is 70% through the buyer’s journey before even making contact with the B2B business. That means the lion’s share of the buyer’s journey is left up to the tender mercies of the company’s online presence. And we all know that the typical B2B website is old and way behind the times. The clearly inescapable conclusion is many, many highly qualified customers are dropping out of B2B funnels before ever making contact. Think of the lost sales! Read More


Kobe Reveals the Economic Power of Branding

If anyone out there still doubts the monetary value of a strong brand, look what happened on Wednesday, April 13, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. Basketball legend-in-his-own-time Kobe Bryant played his last game after a stellar, 20-year career and, in the process, broke all kinds of records. And I’m not referring to his performance on the court, which was nothing short of miraculous. He took 50 shots and scored 60 points, the most ever for an NBA player playing his last game. He set some other kinds of basketball records too but let’s leave those for the sports pages. Today, we’re talking about the enormous revenue the Los Angeles Lakers pulled in on that one day. Read More


The Eight Benefits of Branding – Part 1, Increased Sales

A brand establishes a rational and emotional bond between a business and its market. And, if crafted with enough skill, that bond can be formed fairly rapidly with, sometimes, startling results. A certain percentage of your market will “get” your brand almost immediately and that usually drives a sharp uptick in revenue growth. Read More