Brandtalk - Useful insights, global news, humble opinions

This is my archive

How To Set A Marketing Budget

You’re not going to like this. No one ever does. But setting a budget for marketing is always a difficult task. Business experts and academics, all smarter than I am, have, in the past, advanced formulas and prescriptions for creating budgets appropriate to a company’s size and its marketing challenge. I have no idea if any of those recipes work. The Small Business Administration notes that a business with less than $5 million in annual revenue should allocate between 7-8 percent of that revenue to marketing. Furthermore, they suggest splitting those resources between brand development (websites, blogs, collateral) and promotional activities (campaigns, events, etc.) But what they don’t explain is how they come to that figure in the first place. Why is 6.9% too little? Why is 8.1% too much? Read More


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


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


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


What’s New With Innovation?

Innovation has been with us, if not since the dawn of time, then, at the very least, since that day somebody invented the wheel. In science, there were Gallileo, Newton, Darwin and Einstein. In art, Giotto, Da Vinci, Cézanne and Duchamp. Name any discipline, activity, pursuit or interest. You can be sure it has a rich history of contributors who have all raised the bar in some spectacular fashion. Thought of in a certain way, innovation is to be expected. Somebody, somewhere, is bound to shift the paradigm, sooner or later. That’s just how human nature works. So why does innovation – the word, at least, if not the true concept – suddenly seem in vogue, as if it had been out of favor for the last several centuries? Why this sudden obsession? Why all the conferences and summits? Why all the webinars and business books? It turns out there’s a very important reason. Read More


Three Sports Brands We Hate to Love

Some sports, like football (soccer), have tens of millions of fans worldwide. Some sports, like solo synchronized swimming (dropped from the Olympics in 1992), not so many. But even the most obscure sports have their champions, their purists, their devotees and their rabid fans. On the other hand, if you don’t like a particular sport, it’s easy to just ignore it and concentrate on the ones you do like or love. Nobody devotes much time to denigrating any single sport. I don’t think pole vault or dressage have any haters. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for sports governing organizations. Powerhouse brands like the NFL and FIFA come to mind as cozy little billionaire’s clubs, rife with cronyism, mismanagement, neglect and outright criminal corruption. But, of course, all this comes to mind this week because the master branders of the IOC and the Olympic Games have come to Rio de Janeiro. Read More


The Eight Benefits of Branding – Part 8, Higher Valuation

The man in this photo is repeating a vital truth about branding. Try saying it aloud a few times, yourself. Your brand, unlike your tangible assets, will never depreciate. Your brand, unlike your patents, will never expire. Your brand, unlike your trademarks or copyrights, will never pass into the public domain. Your brand is yours to keep and grow – forever. If you are the owner or manager of a brand asset, it is your job to define your true brand promise, to communicate it to every corner of your market, and to empower your employees to deliver on it. Do this, and your brand will grow like wild vines. Fail to do it and your brand will wither and, possibly, even die. You owe it to yourself and everyone who counts on your organization to do everything possible to drive up the monetary value of your brand. Read More


The Eight Benefits of Branding – Part 7, The Brand Lens

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’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


When Branding is not Branding

Attendees at our branding workshops are often shocked to learn that there is no universally accepted definition of “brand”. The people who work with brands – intellectual property attorneys, public relations professionals, graphic designers, etc. – all bring their own backgrounds and biases to definitions that they make up themselves. To the attorney, your brand is your trademark. To the publicist, it’s your reputation. To the graphic designer, it’s your logo or visual identity. But, lately, even the clients themselves seem intent on creating their own definitions. Or, rather, they let competing marketers, ad agencies, design firms and web developers each propose what it will take to create an effective brand for them. And, all too often, it is the lowest bidder who wins, not just the assignment, but the very definition of what a brand is. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. Read More