Can a Company Ever Fully Recover From a Branding Error?

Your brand is your identity. Your brand is an emotional representation of your company and your products. Every product you sell, every word printed on your brochures reinforces or weakens your brand.

The days of taking customers for granted are long gone. Unlike the 1950’s when brands could make mistakes and customers would still continue to be loyal, today’s customers have short memories and customer loyalty always needs to be reinforced.

I would like to share a story of one of the worst branding mistakes I have ever witnessed. The name and industry of the company involved has been changed to protect the foolish and just plain dumb.

The name of this company is ABC. ABC is a family owned business with a 35-year history. Since day one, ABC built a strong reputation for quality products. ABC specializes in a small niche marketplace, thus they enjoyed little serious competition. According to newspaper interviews with the current management team, the company was always profitable but sales were flat for the past several years.

Ironically during the time when sales were flat, the company was in transition from the original owners to the son. He took over day-to-day operations several years ago.
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Question: Why? Answer: Why Not!

During our college years, many of us probably heard the urban legend about the final exam that had only one question. The question was: “Why?” The student that received an A+ on the exam simply answered: “Why Not?”

The same holds true for your business:

Why launch that new product?

Why build your new facility?

Why move your business to Hawaii?

Why upgrade your website and sales material?

Unfortunately, in the real world, the answer is not as simple as “why not”. However, I believe the answer to that question is not “why not” but: “Is my management team up for the challenge?”
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Forget the question…Change your answer!

For years, entrepreneurs, business owners and managers have wrestled with a number of questions about maintaining and growing market share and profitability. Here is a very short list of questions countless executives have asked themselves over the decades:

–         How can I increase sales?
–         How can I increase my market share?
–         How can I increase my profits?
–         How can I increase my distribution?

The list goes on and on. Since the beginning of capitalism, those questions have plagued boardrooms and weekend retreats. Those same questions will be with us until the end of time. So I say forget the question and change the answer. The only thing that has changed and will continue to change will be the answers, so focus on the answer, not the question.

Here are a few examples of changing answers:
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Three Degrees of Separation for Creating Customers for Life

The most valuable type of customer your business can have is a lifelong customer. This type of customer provides more value than just money. A lifelong customer becomes a sphere of influence for your company and introduces your products to a whole new group of buyers.

But how do you create customers for life? For years, countless companies have wrestled with that question, and if answered correctly they will become both a profitable and powerful brand.

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I would like to share some clues that I have discovered that may help shed additional light into the darkness.

I believe there are six degrees of separation in keeping a customer for life. Yes, my six degrees of separation is modeled after the Six Degrees theory popularized by Kevin Bacon a number of years ago.

My definition for the six degrees of separation are the steps your company takes to gain a customer for life. As in the Kevin Bacon theory, you are just six degrees from Kevin Bacon, your company is just six degrees away from turning a non-customer into a customer for life. Here are the three I will include in this article.
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Is Your Company a Triple Threat?

If you don’t take advantage of all marketing and promotions opportunities available today, your company will soon give way to more aggressive and faster competitors. So let me ask you, is your company a triple threat in your niche?

To be a triple threat your business must have all of the following:

Threat #1: Online marketing plan

Threat #2: Offline marketing plan

Threat #3: Leveraged distribution

Let’s take a closer look at each of the threats in a triple threat company.

Threat #1: It may be a little surprising, but some business owners still do not see the need to incorporate the Internet into their marketing plans. It has been often said that the Internet is the great global equalizer. For example a two-person company, based in a small town in Northern Michigan can be a very strong competitor to huge national and multi-national companies.
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Is Your Positioning Statement Confusing Your Customers?

Does your company follow a broad or narrow strategy in regards to your positioning statement?

The difference between a broad and narrow strategy is vast. Both strategies are good and neither is better than the other as long as you know which strategy you are implementing.

If you are implementing a broad positioning statement for your brand, make sure the statement doesn’t confuse your customers about your offerings. In addition, if you follow the narrow approach, reexamine your product offerings to make sure they are concentrated like a laser beam.

What is a broad positioning statement and what is narrow?
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Has Your Brand Graduated From Kindergarten, Yet?

Me too, me too, me too… is a common phrase heard in kindergarten and in today’s business world. I firmly believe every single company in existence today and in the future is a “me too” company. However, being a “me too” company is perfectly okay. Let me explain.

For example, in the late 1990’s countless companies sprouted up that sold books and services teaching the “secrets of the Internet.” In fact, I owned one of these companies. I wrote two books that included all of the latest and greatest online marketing strategies of the time. I sold these books online and traveled the State of Michigan teaching online business marketing strategies and promotion courses. But despite all of my hard work, my venture failed.

One of the main reasons I failed was I was a “me too” company. My company didn’t offer anything different than my competitor’s. Like everyone else at the time, I offered a few books, a website and opt-in email courses. In essence, my brand didn’t graduate from kindergarten.
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