People – ya gotta love ’em!

If your brand is your reputation (and it is), then it’s important to keep it on track. Everything that you do and say will reflect on that brand. How you say it is one of the toughest tasks when trying to keep your brand image compelling over all media.

I regularly drop into blogs and business consultant’s websites to check out some tip or suggestion that I may find of use. I can’t tell you how many times, I’m confronted with a brand image that absolutely contradicts the message they’re sending. As consultants, they are by nature a people business. Their job is to help people with problems and situations in their area of expertise. What sort of message are they sending if their sites and blogs are totally void of humanity. Not a single shot of a person. I want any consultant I hire to like people.

Businesses in the manufacturing sector are also guilty of this error. Lots of shots of real estate but nothing of people actually working the shop floor. One , that made me chuckle said that it was “their people that made the difference”. Guess what was missing in their literature?

The restaurant and hotel industry are great for this – lots of shots of expansive dining rooms, luxurious guest rooms and health clubs with no “body” in any one of them. As people, we all love to look at other people. We are a social species by nature. How you position people emotes a certain attitude. Diversity among the people we use, sends a powerful message. We go where the people are. Have you ever noticed that people are more apt to check out a new restaurant or store if there are people there when they get there. Nothing is more alluring than a parking lot full of cars at a store opening. There is nothing inspiring about a health club with no sweating bodies in sight. Humanity inspires us.

In the use of people shots, one simple tip in setting up the shot is an old design rule. Never have the model looking outside of your frame. It sends the eye away from your message. They should be looking in – our eyes follow their eyes. One that I employ is cropping. In a head and shoulders shot, cropping off the top of the head sends the readers eyes downward into the eyes of the model. When ever I use pictures of people I am always careful when choosing their use. I want the message to be consistent across the board and their use must compliment my brand. Even my own picture sends messages. One shot I particularly like is to a peer of mine – not friendly enough. “You are much friendlier than that picture suggests”‘ she often tells me. When we got together, she shot one that was more appropriate in her mind. It is the one most often seen of me out there.

Use people (images) to your advantage. Have them in your corporate colors. Be sure that they are of the correct demographic. Don’t have a genX ‘er in your materials if they are not your target audience. The wrong shot can alienate as powerfully as the perfect shot. Overall, remember that when choosing people shots for your brand, they must conform to your brand message. Don’t sacrifice this important point on the alter of creativity. Your brand communicates a specific message to its audience who are willing receptacles.

Say Cheese!

Put Your Wrench On The Branding Team

So you’ve decided to to start taking a serious look at your corporate brand and you are left with the task of assembling your branding team. Your branding team is a group of individuals pulled from your brand’s stakeholders. They would be gleamed from the three essential groups: employees, suppliers and customers.

One of the issues you will have at the end of your branding process is buy-in among employees. Stand back and take a visual on your employee group. Most are your garden-variety employee, but a few, while good workers are out-spoken and quick to judge. Other employees look to them for direction. They typically see initiatives coming down from the corner office as “just more work”. They do their best to put a negative spin on the initiatives and are a drag to getting things done. We call these folks, “wrenches” because they throw a monkey wrench into everything you do.

The trick is to include the Wrenches in the branding process. The theory is simple and basic – you want the wrenches to become advocates for the brand initiatives. If they are part of the solution, then they will use their energies to push it through to the employees stakeholders. Just imagine how empowered they will feel being included in the high-level branding sessions with the leaders of the company in attendance – actually wanting their valuable input.

Now, when the brand process is complete and ready to roll roll out to the employees, you have their key mouthpiece on your team. That monkey wrench is now a brand hero – everybody wins.

Selling The Pain!

When you want to get your message in front of a target audience, you’ve got to be creative in your approach. During the last week, I was planning on attending an industry organization’s annual general meeting with my wife, Rose – who works in this industry. It was her first time taking part in such an event and she wanted me to accompany her. I pondered as to how I might leverage some business leads while attending and what immediately intrigued me was that during the day’s events was a two-hour window where companies could display their services to attendees taking a break and having a “beverage” while networking. So, naturally I inquired as to the availability of the display space. To my dissatisfaction, it was only open members or suppliers to their immediate industry.

Bummer.

Not one to ignore an opportunity to spread my message somehow, I developed an idea I think you’ll find amusing. I decided to develop “pain point postcards”. Before I elaborate on exactly what these are, let me define “pain points” first. As in any business, there are issues that keep you awake at night. These issues are the things that cause you psychological pain. These are the challenges in business that throw up barriers and irritants, holding you back from your goals, resulting in lost income potential.

Ed Roach

To take advantage of pain points as a strategy targeting my audience’s attention, I engaged in a little guerilla marketing. I am producing a series of 5 postcards roughly 6″ X 4″ in size. On the front side, the entire surface is black and the text is in white. This is where I boldly spell out the pain point. For instance: “Are you finding that there is nothing that differentiates you from your competition?”

On the back is the brand logo for “The Branding Experts” and contact info ONLY. No answer to the pain point question. My goal is to drive them to a special web-page dedicated to this effort. You cannot get to this page without having seen and picked up the postcard AND acted on it. A great way to track the effort. I will place these cards all over the event and hotel where many of the attendees are staying. The web page will provide solutions to the questions. Distributing these Pain Point Postcards is where you must also be bold. You are no doubt staying at the same hotel as your target audience. Leave them message side up on the reception coffee table. The counter in the john. The counter at reception. Anywhere that they might catch the eye. Ideally place all 5 messages in close proximity, as this is a bigger effect.

If you are even willing to invest more funds to the effort, you could see if a billboard close to the entrance to the exhibit hall or hotel is available on a 3 or 4 day basis. Here you would exhibit your most compelling statement. That and your weblink is the ONLY message here.

Prior to the show, try and get emails of the attendees and do html email blasts with the black and white messages. Expose them to the pain points in as many locations as possible within a tight period of time. I would even go so far as putting magnetic cards on the interiors of the elevators. Pain Point promotions can be invigorating as you become somewhat of a guerilla in your technique. Outside of the billboard, the expense is minimal, it is merely your effort that should be inspired. Try it yourself soon and come back and let us know how the experience benefited you. We can compare notes.

How Regulations Benefit Your Brand?

After spending years working hard for someone else, you feel that now is the perfect time to forge out on your own and benefit directly from your business experience. Here at Small Business Branding you will find a lot of good sound advice on building a successful business. My contribution to the mix is typically brand issues that I feel you should pay close attention to.

Ed Roach

The simple fact is we all have a brand whether we want one or not. Now – you can either work hard to develop and nurture a powerful brand, or you can do very little and let your competition do it for you. An area often overlooked in respect to protecting you brand is compliances. Many businesses in order to operate must conform to a at least a few Government or industry compliances. These are in place to assure your customers that you are adhering to minimum industry and community standards. If you are deficient in any way you are putting your brand at risk. (Not to mention, your professional well being). When a company is deficient, you pose considerable risk to your operation. Many times a breach of compliance will result in a costly fix. If you are guilty of compliance deficiencies to avoid costly but necessary procedures then you are a brand nightmare waiting to happen.

Breach a safety compliance, and your brand takes a hit from the negative exposure a safety accident generates. Security breaches puts exceptional attention by Government agencies on your doorstep. Brand jacking (unscrupulous use of corporate identity) leaves you exposed to myriad of potential negative scenarios – none of which you control. Industry and Governmental compliances are there to protect everyone. I would encourage you to view them as a type of brand insurance. It benefits your brand if you are diligent in their implementation. I would even suggest that you raise the bar and improve on compliances where your team sees the opportunity.

If you simply consider your brand your reputation, then you will appreciate that it takes plenty to build up a brand but very little to destroy it. There are no quick-fixes to repairing a brand that has been tarnished from a missed compliance opportunity.

I will be the first to admit that compliances are not the sexiest topic with regard to brand as compared to brand image, but ignoring it will hurt you from multiple positions – all of which have the potential to be a brand killer.

Small Business Branding Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Popular Web Business Purchased By Entrepreneur

Contact: Vera Raposo
Company: Small Business Branding
Address: 63-816-Peace Portal Drive, Blaine, WA 98230
Phone: 778-240-6578
Email: [email protected]
URL: http://www.smallbusinessbranding.com

VANCOUVER, BC — DATE – Small Business Branding, a site aimed at those interested in marketing and building small business, announced it’s under new ownership. Vera Raposo, long time brick and mortar business owner turned internet entrpreneur purchased the popular site from Yaro Starak for an undisclosed amount.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the Small Business Branding website community. We are poised to be the central resource for small businesses with big goals and a laser sharp focus on best practices in sales and marketing,” says Raposo, a Vancouver Area resident. “I have plans to expand on Yaro Starak’s success and provide small business owners with the content and information they are accustomed to under his leadership.”

Small Business Branding provides information to anyone who is interested in marketing and building small businesses through articles, audio, and resources. Website content is contributed by various authors and functions as an online magazine.

Small Business Branding writers possess a strong interest in growing small business and enjoy sharing their experiences and knowledge with other small business owners and aficionados.

Raposo is pleased to bring her own extensive professional experience as an owner/operator of a small business that grew to 5 retail locations to the mix.

For more information, go to http://www.smallbusinessbranding.com. Questions can be directed to (778) 240-6578 or email: [email protected]

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