Choosing The Right Color For Your Brand

50sColorsNothing is more striking visually in a brand than its colour palette. It can move people, calm people and agitate them. Colour has meaning and can be historically relevant. An example of what I mean by this is – let’s say you have an antique store or modern store for that matter that sells 1950’s era goods that are original or retro. You would be wise to use the pastel colour palette from that era (shown here). On doing this, your audience would immediately relate to the environment you are trying to create.

Color also can help the customer feel a certain way. Red for instance is a power colour. It motivates. This is the number one colour used in retail sales to get customers to react to a sales statement . Act Now! Call Today! Up to 50% off – these are things you see every day and colour sells them.

I also like to analyze what colours the competition is using and use a palette that is completely opposite which is currently being used. Think UPS and brown. This is a leadership approach to color selection. How ever you choose to pick your corporate palette, don’t just make the choice based on your personal taste. If mauve is the proper selection to help you sell, don’t ignore it just because you may not like mauve.

It’s 2013 And I’ve Got Nothing!

photoI’m sitting here trying to be profound and write something great about the coming year’s branding efforts. I’ve got nothing. Not to say I’m pessimistic about the coming year, but I’m drawing a blank about what to write about. Since I’ve started blogging (2006) I have written several hundred articles on branding. Now, during the first week of a fresh new year I can’t think of a single thing to write about except this description of my dilemma. I try to write an article a week as a minimum. Sometimes the inspiration flows and I’m able to bank them and other times (like this week) I can barely conjure up more than a paragraph.

So this week you’ve got my apology as I like to deliver quality content. Maybe next week I’ll be more on top of my game. All the best to your brand this coming year!

Download The Kindle Version Of My New Book FREE!

This week only I’m giving away the Kindle version of my new book, “101 Branding Tips – Practical tips for your brand that you can use today.” This offer has no strings attached. What I would love is that you return to the Kindle bookstore and leave a review.

My goal is to give away a thousand ebooks by this Friday the 16th of November. As of yesterday I handed out over 350 Kindle versions. Get it HERE.

Get Your Expertise Out There

We are all experts in something. You might be humble in your discussion of your expertise, but be assured that you ARE an expert. I think that it’s imperative, that you share that expertise with your audience and allow them to benefit from with their exposure to you.

October has been a good month for exhibiting my expertise. On Tuesday past I spoke to 120 women leaders when I presented to Athena International in Chicago. Yesterday I was interviewed on List Builder Tele-Summit, an initiative spear-headed by Donna Ward and Rodney Rich. Next week, I’m featured at the grand opening of The new Windsor Small Business Centre at the University of Windsor signing my new book, 101 Branding Tips.

All three events were opportunities to expand my reach and profile my expertise. In all cases, it’s a great way to meet new people and see how I can potentially help them with their brands. In every case I am providing opinion free of charge to help those in attendance. It defines my brand, and in turn provides me with the opportunity to develop new leads. What do you do to share your opinion? It’s a great way to show your expertise in your category. It’s very much a three dimensional form of marketing your brand.

Challenge yourself to stand up and express your leadership topic. Put yourself out there and I can assure you that you WILL benefit from the effort. Outside of self-promotion another worthy effort is to mentor younger people with your expertise. It takes a leader to recognize the value in helping others grow. It’s rewarding on many levels.

How To Deny Your Competitors The Opportunity To Define You

Has your competition ever accurately described what you do to a potential customer? My guess is not so much. Most promotional activity among small businesses in my experience does little to define a brand but does plenty selling clever slogans, flashy images, real estate and special offers. To ignore your brand position is to deny yourself the corner of your customer’s mind that tells them why you are the go to people for what they are looking for. Without a defining brand position you are among the gray matter all of your competitors are fighting for. The quick fix, the sound bite, the mediocre message, the viral anything that everybody in your category embraces.

A competitor can only define an opposing brand when that opposing brand denies themselves the opportunity. Most brand positions when done correctly puts a brand out on a limb. The differentiation is clear and often intimidating to a competitor. Your goal in positioning is to resonate with your audience. First you must discover why they love you, then deliver a position that compliments what they love, builds on it and surpasses it. Positioning is not a slogan, it’s a promise to deliver and if you’re good at it – over-deliver.

Embrace The Limb

brand positioningConsidering all the words I write on branding, essentially all I’m saying is that if you’re not playing, you’re losing. That’s not to say that you’re not successful, but that you’re not being the best you can be. I’m saying that marketing can be a little easier when you compete as a leader not a follower.

Most companies advertise by using campaigns to inspire consumers to buy in the moment. They use any number of proven techniques to get the attention of you the consumer. A number of these techniques have even taken on a life of their own. Ie: When something is new and improved, or there’s 50% more etc., you see these statements contained in a burst, or a banner, or a peeled back page – these visual gimmicks are called violators in the industry. There are violator companies out there, who do nothing but generate these cues. Color is used for its psychological effects, sound and smell are often brought into play. Tantilizing visuals are also used to stir those emotions. As this paragraph outlines, there are any number of tried and true ways to advertise and they are consistently used by everyone who advertises.

The one thing that every advertisers does not use is positioning.

Why?

Because to position wisely, you must be a leader. As we see in life, not everyone is cut out to be a leader. There are vastly more followers than leaders. Many businesses like the tried and true. They don’t enjoy going out of their comfort zone and they pay a high price for this. It is much easier to do nothing and be content with what you have. A lot of people are afraid of “Leader” because they fear being called out on it. This is a just fear if they’re really not a leader, but are pretending to be. It’s not enough to say you are the Leader, you must BE the leader. Act like one and win like one. Without knowing it, we all lead in some way. It’s within all of us. Maybe it’s the ‘no brag rule’ that our Mother’s instilled in many of us, or a childhood shyness we never quite outgrew. If you ache for your brand to lead, then positioning should be a must-do in your business bucket-list.

This is where I typically come into the picture in the role of Brand Consultant. I take heads of companies through the maze of their business environment and deliver an awareness of their brand. This clarity provides the fuel that satisfies their hunger to lead. Often times, the positioning developed accurately reflects an area, they currently dominate but have not articulated effectively. I inspire them to “bold-up” as it were. If you couple the Leadership Positioning with traditional marketing, then you have a very powerful message to resonate with customers. Without positioning you are simply one of many. Your competitors are many as well. Without Positioning, everyone is saying the same thing in different ways. All the slogans while inspirational, don’t resonate. Leading gives the customer something to embrace and understand your value.

As a category leader, you must embrace the limb. That is to say, you have to climb out onto the limb first, then with all confidence embrace it. To benefit from this precarious location you have to put in place processes that encourage and sustain your leadership. Brands grow or decline with time. Depending on the foundation laid out, your brand will go in one of these directions. Establish a strong set of Brand values and stick with them. The leadership position you embrace, must where to these values as they are the foundation defined.

Is Your Brand Believable?

I’m struck lately by large companies who say one thing but clearly speak out of the other sides of their mouth. It strikes me that some PR person or ad agency is advising them to put a great spin on everything. Say it enough times and the masses will believe them. Reality has nothing to do with it. It’s all about the spin. It’s also timely that it’s election season in the U.S. and many of the negative ads are also following this pattern. It doesn’t matter that Anderson Cooper is “Keeping them honest,” drive it home enough times and it sticks. Sometimes.

Oil companies are incredulous how, on one hand their spin tells us how much they care about us and their beloved homeland (whether that’s Canada or the United States). They proudly outline how many jobs they create, how they support community, how much they influence innovation and on and on and on. Then they jack up the price at the pumps and collectively drive the economy into the ground. Everything comes from oil. If they “really” cared, they would charge a fee that allows them to make an honest profit, but not hold the world economy hostage. They would be an honourable citizen partner. But greed is really their brand. Wait until gas is $15 -$20 a gallon, wow, just think of all the great things they’ll be able to do for us.

Airlines too are heavy into speaking out of two sides of their mouths. Siting in your seat watching the CEO of the airline on the video spew out how much he appreciates your business, and then rambles on about how great they are and how wonderful they are – blah, blah, blah. What is incredulous here is that while you listen to this tripe, the hostesses are trying to sell you a pillow to use. A few dollars more for a headset. Earlier in your trip you were subjected to: pre-boarding fees, extra luggage fees, long lines and the humiliation of security. I had a friend recently who clicked the wrong button by mistake when purchasing a ticket online, only to be told it would cost $250. to make a correction. Today the worst part of any trip is the flight. They have sucked the pleasure out of it.

None of us can afford to have a brand that relies on spin to try and fool our customers. Airlines and oil companies know that for the foreseeable future we have no choice. They can play their games and win. BUT, there will come a time where they will fall, and fall hard. When faced with a choice our customers will show their dissatisfaction with their feet. You’ll get no second chance. If it is your intention to make your brand shine for years and decades to come it has to be built on authenticity. Your values have to be rock solid. Thank heavens most brands do exactly that.

One thing that greed brands do is is serve as an awesome mirror for everyone else. They reflect on how not to do it. Holding your brand up to them, allows you the opportunity to do the polar opposite and be great.

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