About Ed Roach

For more than 30 years, I have worked with hundreds of successful small businesses by helping them develop unique brand positioning strategies that differentiates them from their competition. I appreciate working with companies who see the value of going beyond mere slogans and have a desire to sell from compelling positions. I consult predominantly with businesses facilitating my proprietary branding process. This branding process effectively focuses a company's brand delivering a positioning strategy that can be taken to their marketplace.

I have international speaking experience and am the author of "101 Branding Tips," Practical advice for your brand that you can use today. I'm also a "expert panellist" with Bob Proctor (from The Secret)'s Matrixx Events in Toronto.

I have been interviewed in all media and I also blog extensively and uses the digital realm on the web to connect and promote my services world-wide.

I have international speaking experience including a recent event in Prague, in the Czech Republic and is the author of "101 Branding Tips," Practical advice for your brand that you can use today, the book is available on Amazon.com and the Amazon Kindle store.

My clients are from Canada, The United States, Ukraine, India, United Arab Emirates and Tanzania.

I recently facilitated a workshop in San Diego aimed at teaching Graphic Design companies how to build brands for their customers.

Here are my most recent posts

You Can’t Build A Brand On Today Thinking

A few years ago I pitched my branding process to a mid-size Canadian City mayor. Suffice to say he loved the presentation and the opportunities it would open up. The one item that buried the project was his short-sightedness. Knowing upfront that there were deficiencies in the brand, he didn’t appreciate my comment that those deficiencies would have to be fixed so that their brand had a better chance of being authentic to it’s target audience. The fastest route to failure is to tout something powerful and then have your buyer discover it was all just advertising spin. The city can’t walk the walk. Today they’re still just doing advertising but labelling it branding.

You Can’t Build A Brand On Today Thinking-043015

Here in my community we have a city market. The bylaws people saw an opportunity. They showed up early on a saturday morning and went booth to booth gathering business cards from the grannies selling biscuits, young people selling items from their hobbies and other micro entrepreneurs. Satisfied that they spoke to everyone, they went back to their offices and proceeded to send out notices to all these people that they’d all have to buy a business license or shut it down. Their phoney smiles hid the reality of their intentions – more fees for the the city. They didn’t care what happened to these individuals and their dreams. What they failed to see was the long-term benefits of city market vendors. Many of these folks are testing their ideas and planning for the future. A local furniture store just turned 90. It all started with one guy peddling furniture door-to-door. Where would the 4 locations and hundreds of employees be today if the city had shut them down because they didn’t have a $XX business license?

Another new grocery business in Ottawa, Canada ( Farm Boy ) started in their city market and now have multiple locations and are spreading across the province. That equates to property taxes, bricks and motor leases, employment, and investment all started in a small city market. What our city should have done was gone in, introduced itself and offered to help them in any way they could to succeed. They should provide mentors, and business incentives to go beyond the cookies in wax paper to opening a small bakery in an area the city would like to re-new. But, this involves long-term thinking and long-term branding.

Place brands like any other thrive on long-term thinking. Bureaucrats have to start understanding that short-term gains CAN and DO suppress long-term growth. Being smug about shutting down the painted flower pot booth today changed the future that might have been – namely a unique gift shop in a wanting downtown area. All this is branding folks. Doing it with vision creates log-term wealth. Short-term advertising spin is just that.

How Your Brand is Sucking the Life Out of Your Business

Your brand is this – your brand is that. Some would have you believe that your brand is this OR that. The fact is your brand is everything. I enjoy speaking with businesses on branding and helping them to understand the what their focus should be in branding. It is almost without exception that business people assume that a brand doesn’t extend much beyond the visual elements. Most think your brand is your logo and marketing materials. When you think of it, that’s a lot of pretty heavy lifting for something visual. If that perception were true, brand problems would be a cinch to resolve – just change your image. Don’t like that soft drink – change the logo. Do you think it will taste better? Not likely. I’m guessing you’re going to have to tweak the recipe to lure you to buy.

How Your Brand is Sucking the Life Out of Your Business-041615Sales are flat? Maybe the problem goes way beyond a tired logo. Perhaps the sales staff have aged to the point that they’re not hungry anymore. Maybe your business culture has deficiencies. But chances are strong that it’s a little of everything. You’ll discover (if you’re brave enough to look) is that slowing sales is a symptom of an overall slowing of the brand. As Auston Powers might say, “You’ve lost your mojo!” And in the marketplace your mojo is your brand.

A re-brand if handled properly is absolutely more strategic than visual. But both are joined at the hip. The strategic side involves all experiences of your stakeholders. Those experiences are those that exist on line and off-line. From the way reception answers the phone to how an employee might talk about the company at a church picnic. Stupid things said on social media has in numerous cases taught business brands to react publicly where in the past it was handled behind closed doors and often ignored. Today you can’t ignore anything. Everything affects your brand.

The solution to a happy brand is to get your brand strategy in shape, then tie it all together with relevant visuals that represent your brand values and personality. This essentially boils down to defining your brand and reaping the rewards company-wide. Companies that do this right go on to raise the bar in their industries. They are the companies that inspire others to emulate them. They are the leaders. Of course it’s not for everyone. You have to be bold and willing to believe in what makes your brand great. Steve Jobs had it when he said that Apple had to develop products that were – “insanely great.” Most companies are followers. Followers embrace price over value. Followers copy smart brands. Followers allow the marketplace to define them. Followers never reach their potential or attract top talent.

And followers think that their brand is their logo. If it were only that easy.

How to: UNSELL. BRAND!

If you’re out there selling something – stop it right now!

Stop selling and start branding. Your brand has a story to tell. Educate your buyer so they have all the knowledge they need to make an intelligent decision. If you start selling, they’ll just roll their eyes and try to get away from you. They won’t trust you. Find out where their anxiety lies, and show them a way out with knowledge. Encourage them to compare. You’re approach will be refreshing to what they see.

I take myself as an example. I position myself as the branding expert. I have an 8 page brochure that educate’s my customer on “How to give their brand a boost.” The whole point is to help them position their company as the first choice (of their buyer) rather than just more of the same.

SNAFU Branding Brochure

You often hear that people don’t like to read much anymore. It’s not that they don’t like to read, it’s more that they don’t like to read copy that benefits you more than them. Give them information that makes you the first choice. You have to show your confidence and give away information that empowers your buyer.

Branding as an empowering tool draws to you customers who also value knowledge. It drives away buyers who fixate on price alone. These are not the customers you can grow on. You’ve heard of “price wars,” well this is a battle that only deep pockets can win. If that isn’t you, then it’s time to change the game to one of an intelligence strategy.

Don’t concern yourself if the competition starts to copy your model. That means they have their eyes off the ball and squarely on what ever it is you’re doing. You can’t control them, so keep your brand out front. Their ignorance can only help you.

It’s like I always say: “Lead don’t follow.”

The World Of Brand Awareness has Changed – Sort Of.

There was a time when you started a business and the first thing you did after putting up the shingle was to start building brand awareness. The first order of the day was to find a location. If it was a business that met with consumers you chose a location that was convenient for them to visit you. If you had a services business you like chose a location that was prestigious and would immediately impress those who crossed your threshold.

Next order of the day was to decorate. If your budget for decorating was several hundred or several thousand it was all to make you look competent and professional.

Brand Megaphone Advertising Product Awareness Build LoyaltyThe on of course came your logo and marketing materials that you would distribute manually and using direct mail. You’d hire a professional graphic designer to help your brand image look like the large players in your category. It was key that a prospective customer have the right gut reaction when they first came into your circle. Brand image was recognized as essential for business success.

Then came along the “advertising budget.” How much were you willing to spend to build awareness of your new business? The marketing plan. Who are these people who will make your business a success? How do you reach them? What will it cost? I used to look at it from an individual cost perspective. I’d ask the question – “How much are you willing to give someone so that they become aware of you? Are you willing to give them a dollar, 50¢ or 5¢?” This was of course determined by the budget. If you had an audience of 10,000 people and a budget of $20,000 then you’d expect to pay 50¢ each and so on. How you spent that 50¢ was key. Was that 50¢ a one-time thing or would it have to spent over 6 months or more. No matter the size of the business it was an expensive process. But done well and by those who were well seasoned in the exercise, it could prove very effective over time. Brand awareness was and still is a long term strategy.

THEN, every small business played that game. Some were great at it and some sucked. It made brands and killed brands but the common denominator was brands had to spend money building awareness or fade away and their dreams with it.

TODAY, every business can play on the same playing field to some extent. Thanks to the web, businesses can build brand awareness for free. They can join other players on dozens of social media channels and build incredible opportunities. Free is a relative term on the web though . Free as far as parting with coin but not free in dedicating time. To run socially takes an enormous amount of time and coordination. Many businesses are dedicating their whole existence to web-based promotional efforts. And, of course they can also engage the services of seasoned pros who can help assist them at their web efforts and achieve goals in a quicker time-frame.

What astonishes me and influenced this post, are the businesses who in the face of free choose to do absolutely nothing about building brand awareness. Nothing. Then when nothing happens, they blame the economy, their customers (or lack there of) – never the fact that their frugality and lack of confidence is killing them. They continue to dream of course – that’s really all they have. You see them all around you.

Go to any live networking event – they’re the ones swimming the room, politely smiling but have nothing to add to conversations. They view networking as showing up and trolling the attendees and desiring new bodies each time they go – failing to understand that when all the same people keep attending the better it is to build relationships that will extend to referring you to their networks. Most of these events are free or close to it. They only want to do business with those attending. BIG brand awareness mistake – short sightedness.

To make brand awareness really work for you, you have to have a dynamic on AND offline exposure. They need to compliment each other. Together they are like a 1-2 punch. You have to be flexible enough to see opportunities and be willing to engage them. Don’t base your planning on what’s free or not. If you won’t invest in yourself why should you expect your customers to? As a friend of mine says, “If clients witness a lack of confidence they couple that with a lack of competence.”

Oh, so true.

How Branding Debt Ratios are Determining Factors in Your Brand’s Success!

Over many years a business’s brand accumulates dreaded branding debt. The more branding debt accrued the bigger the challenge to come out from

The Branding experts, Branding Debt

The Branding experts, Branding Debt

under it’s weight and move your brand forward. The more branding debt you own the harder it is to differentiate yourself and grow your marketshare. If you haven’t figured it out yet, “Branding debt” is real and it’s damaging your company from the inside AND out. Branding debt is all the negative things that is dragging your company down.

Branding debt can include but is not limited to:

•Image inconsistencies.
How many times have you seen one sign on the building, another different one on a sign or vehicles, and yet another different logo on the web and stationery. An inconsistent identity confuses your customers. Sometimes it looks like entirely different companies.

•You’ve been reduced to a commodity.

You’ve aligned yourself so close to the sales leader in your category, you’ve reduced your brand to commodity – selling on price.

•Internal communications lacking.
You’ve allowed your staff to keep abreast of company news through the rumour mill. They hear directly from management so little, they’ve lost trust it what they say.

•Corporate culture.

The cultural well is poisoned. Staff are disenchanted with company direction and are hungry for solid leadership.

• You’re a follower brand.
Your brand follows at the heels of the competition falsely believing that if it’s good enough for them, who are you to change up things.

• Failure to engage the competition.

Your brand is lacking the confidence to stand for something, being content with the mediocre.

•What is your brand?

Failing to define your own brand and exploiting it’s uniqueness.

• False differentiation.
Failing to see the true differentiator, excepting that it is the low hanging fruit such as employees.

•Using a crutch.
Looking at a re-brand as changing the logo and slogan. Lipstick on a pig. These changes do nothing for the fundamental branding debt you are carrying.

•Paying down branding interest and hoping the branding debt principal will take care of itself.

This is a wish and a prayer. Succumbing to this strategy will send confusing messages to your stake holders.

•Lack of Confidence.
How many entrepreneurs don’t see themselves as the experts they are. They fail to center attention on their achievements and benefit from the attention.

•Discrepancies in brand values.
Not living up to your brand values or even compromising them adds to your branding debt.

Just like financial debt, branding debt is a liability. Knowing how much branding debt your company can withstand, will help you to determine what resources are needed to put your brand in a healthier position. Your branding debt ratio allows you to compare your debt to your branding assists. What items are contributing to the success of your brand and how much debt is holding it back. A brands goodwill is defined by its branding debt. Through proper analysis a bread with 10 brand assets and 4 brand liabilities could be said to have a branding debt ratio of 40%. This important ratio is the benchmark or limit that will allow your brand to thrive or suffer. The strength of your brand will best determine if a high ratio is sustainable or not. The stronger the brand the higher the branding debt ratio it can withstand. If the brand is weaker a lower branding debt ratio is all it could support. If the weaker brand has a high branding debt ratio then it is much harder to sustain negative market conditions and that results is a loss of market share. Branding debt ratios are common sense. The more things your brand is doing wrong directy infringes on its ability to succeed. More assets than debts means the brand could withstand some devastating blows that a weaker brand would succumb to. Like financial debt, branding debt is best when there is very little of it.

5 Things That Determine Your RETURN On Investment?

When companies of any size spend money they expect (or at least) hope to get a rerun on that investment. It’s not too much to ask. Of course the trick is to determine “what” will bring in the greatest return. You have to be honest with yourself and recognize that that return isn’t always about the money. We know the end game is money but the road to getting there – the motivator, is often times something entirely different. It’s usually some event that motivates brands to take a hard look at themselves and determine whether or not a brand needs an over-haul.
ROI?
Five influencing facts might be:

ONE: Low hanging fruit – let’s say it is the money.
They want more of it. They want to increase the brand’s market share. A tell-tale sign is that sales are flat and the sales staff have hit a wall. This happens when brands follow perceived industry leaders and the sales staff are having the same conversations with their clients that their competition is. They have no differentiator. Sales needs a reason to sell, to draw their customer base to them. This attraction would be their ROI

TWO: Succession.
What becomes of a brand when the leadership decides to retire or there is a death? They chose to re-brand to make sure the brand is seen in it’s most desirable light. This makes it to be more desirable to a buyer. It doesn’t matter whether this new owner is from inside or outside of the company. Desireabiility is the ROI here.

THREE: Buy-out.
If someone approaches them to sell – the decision makers choose to re-brand so that they are ready to sell if that sale becomes an actuality. They want to be perceived as powerful. Perception is the ROI is this case.

FOUR: Culture.
This comes up if the staff are not so motivated anymore. Internal communications are lacking and the general atmosphere needs an energy pill. Each company’s culture is unique and affects the mechanics of the brand – it works in unison. That energy would be their desired ROI.

FIVE: A negative Event
Maybe the brand was recently part of a scandal, the stock nose-dived or some other catastrophic event. The leadership wants the brand to regain it’s power position. If the brand is powerful, it is able to withstand these overwhelming events. The ROI hoped for here is power in the comeback.

There are whole number of reasons why you and many other companies like you might desire a closer look at their branding. These reasons each carry with them an expectation for ROI. Addressing them is the sign of a very pro-active brand. One that refuse to accept the mediocre and strives to be the best in their category.

Get Real! Brand Authenticity and You.

Today’s marketplace is a great place for brands and their advocates to exist. Traditionally, prior to the web, all a brand could do was to make their consumers “aware” of their brand was using advertising channels such as bill boards, transit, radio, TV and public relations. Once a consumer got wind of the brand that interested them, they would have to physically visit the bricks and mortar location for more information. Or they could look in their mail boxes for flyers, or their daily newspapers for inserts and printed ads etc. The entire buying cycle was initiated by the brand and reacted to by the buyer. Very straight forward and not very deep.

Get Real- Brand Authenticity and You-012815

In today’s marketplace the consumer has a limitless access to the brand’s environment. Brand’s can more easily form strong relationships with their customers. Some would say today’s digital environment makes loyalty tougher. I believe it to be easier, so long as you’re willing to engage customers with a genuine brand experience. If the brand chooses to try and manipulate the experience based on an unrealistic expectation, they will more likely be viewed as not being authentic. That authenticity is a hallmark of proper branding.

But if your brand strives to provide an authentic persona, it’s a great platform to engage customers. You’re able to feed them your expertise on many levels. This acceptance allows you the potential to charge more for your services. If you’re a services based brand this open environment allows you to properly exhibit your expertise and this draws customers to you. Your are perceived as the expert your brand touts you to be.

The bottom line is to embrace the opportunities the digital world is serving up. You make think that there’s no space for you to play or that it’s over your head. Toss those barriers aside and embrace the web. You will be shocked with the results of your efforts over time.