Archives for April 2005

Logos Aren’t What’s Important

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

People often confuse logos with what’s really important – the brand image (what people think and feel about the company). Whisper Blog uses Ricoh as an excellent example of such confusion. By definition, the logo is merely the brand (i.e. the symbol).

"A logo is not a brand strategy. A logo is instead a graphic symbol of a
brand. Nothing more. A logo becomes layered with meaning only after
invested with the emotions of the consumer. Understanding how a brand
becomes invested with emotion to create market movement is the science
of brand strategy.
" (emphasis mine)

How does your brand – logo, name or other symbol – become invested with the thoughts, feelings and emotions of your network?

Using Blogs to Help Your Search Engine Rankings

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

Denise and Patsi are doing it again this Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. EST. Their guest expert will be Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World.

Using Blogs to Help Your Search Engine Rankings: Achieving high search engine rankings in Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search is a goal of almost every online business. Getting to the top of the search rankings is often a difficult and seemingly impossible task for many people. Adding a business blog component to your search engine marketing efforts can provide a fast track to the head of the search engine rankings class, without the endless hours of stress filled work.

Prototypical Savvy Solopreneur Kevin O’Keefe

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

I’m thoroughly impressed with Kevin O’Keefe and his company, lexblog.

His message is simple and clear: "Real Lawyers Have Blogs." And, in true barrister fashion, he makes a compelling case for why, if you’re a lawyer, you should be blogging.  He even takes it a step further and suggests "lawyers have a social obligation to blog."

His design is clean, simple and professional.

His network is well-defined – duh, lawyers – and he offers products and services that feed his network’s wants and needs.

Take some lessons from this guy. I need to get him on SavvySoloCAST.

My only minor complain, Kevin, is that you should make your logo graphic available for other bloggers to post on their blogs. Right now it looks like it’s a background image and, hence, unavailable for righteous borrowing.

Otherwise, bravo Kevin!

Do What You Love And . . .

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

Some sobering wisdom from Curt Rosengren writing in Worthwhile Magazine:

"DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND THE MONEY WILL FOLLOW

"Sorry folks. This is actually the Readers Digest version. The full
quote is, ‘Do what you love, work really, really hard, be patient, be
persistent, be open, work really, really hard some more, and the money
will follow.’ Not quite as catchy, I know, but much more accurate.

"When you set things in motion in the direction of your passion,
things do have a way of happening. Doors open you would never have
known were there. Opportunities come up you would never have imagined.
But it’s not a magic carpet ride. You have to get there the hard way,
just like anyone else."

How Do You Keep Them Buying?

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

There are many proven and time-honored strategies for generating consistent revenue. The simplest one involves gathering contact information from people in your target market, and then bombarding them with product/service offerings. The underlying assumption is that since they’ve given you their contact information, they’ve also given you permission to market to them. All you have to do is continue developing products/services and offer them to your list of contacts.

It’s a good strategy. However, a problem exists in the intial question, "How do you keep them buying?" The question relegates one of your most valued assets – your network – to the position of cash cow that you can milk for all they’re worth. Have you ever felt like one of those cash cows? If so, how did that make you feel about the company who was trying to milk you?

I’m not meaning to sound self-righteous here. I realize we’re all in business to make a living and take care of our families. However, the companies who execute this strategy most effectively do so from a foundation of respect and genuine concern for the people in their network. They don’t start by asking: "How do we keep them buying?" They start by asking: "How do we continue injecting value into our network?"

Forget marketing. Think: feed your network.

What Exactly Is Small Business Branding?

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

As I define it, small business branding is a strategic business paradigm – a set of
assumptions, behaviors and practices – grounded in the results of
successful solopreneurs. It’s a way of assessing the current business
climate and articulating which skills and practices are necessary and
most effective for building a successful solo-enterprise in the 21st
century.

Small business branding is the process of building your business via building your brand. This is not necessarily the only approach available to build a solo-enterprise, just the most comprehensive and effective in my opinion.   

What Is a Brand?

When we talk about the term "brand" as it’s used today, we really need to look at three different, but related, definitions.

1. Brand – defined by the American Marketing Association (AMA) as:

"A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that
identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other
sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify
one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller. If used for
the firm as a whole, the preferred term is trade name."

2. Brand Image – defined by the AMA as:

"The perception of a brand in the minds of persons. The
brand image is a mirror reflection (though perhaps inaccurate) of the
brand personality or product being. It is what people believe about a
brand – their thoughts, feelings, expectations."  

3. Brand Personality – defined by the AMA as:

"This is the psychological nature of a particular brand
as intended by its sellers, though persons in the marketplace may see
the brand otherwise (called brand image). These two perspectives
compare to the personalities of individual humans: what we intend or
desire, and what others see or believe." 

As
an example lets look at Nike, the company. When you see the well-known
Nike "swoosh" logo, that symbol/logo is the brand. When you see the
Nike "swoosh" or hear the Nike name, your thoughts, feelings and
expectations about the company are the brand image. The thoughts,
feelings and expectations that Nike marketing executives want you to have when you see their "swoosh" or hear their name is the brand personality.

As you can see from the definitions, what really matters is your brand image.
You and/or your company name and logo are merely the shorthand symbol
for the thoughts, feelings and expectations that others have about who
you are, what you stand for and what you offer.

In his recent book, The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier captured the importance of brand image when he wrote:

"A
brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.
It’s a GUT FEELING because we’re all emotional, intuitive beings,
despite our best efforts to be rational. It’s a PERSON’S gut feeling,
because in the end the brand is defined by individuals, not companies,
markets, or the so-called general public . . . When enough individuals
arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand .
. . a brand is not what you say it is. It’s what THEY say it is." (emphasis his)

Small business branding, then, is actually the process of building your business via building a successful brand image.

Components of a Successful Small Business Brand

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

As the Venn diagram illustrates below, there are three
interdependent components to a successful small business brand. Those
components, when sufficiently developed, result in:

  • meaningful relationships – personal and professional – among you and your network.
  • revenue for you and your network.
  • personal and professional growth for you and your network.
     

1. You – your energy, spirit, values, quirks, skill sets, etc. – all of who you are. The more you develop yourself, the stronger the
brand. The more of yourself you put into the mix, the stronger the
brand. In business, real value – it was once thought – was about just the product or service. Just the features and benefits. Just the slickest widget for the best price. Just the client’s results. Those days are gone.

Real value is still about all that PLUS who you are. What you re-present to others. The spirit and energy you express and
thereby give permission and validation for others to express.

"It is not possible that this unity of knowledge, feeling, and choice that you call your own should have sprung into being from nothingness … rather this knowledge, feeling, and choice are essentially eternal and unchangeable and numerically one … in all sensitive beings." (emphasis mine) – Erwin Schrodinger, Nobel Prize-winning Physicist

Not to get all mystical about it, but your heart and soul is the heart and soul of the brand, which is the same heart and soul of the folks in your network. Put it out
there. It has real value toward and beyond the bottom line. It’s liberating

2. Your Network – their needs wants, desires, values, etc.

"Our value as individuals is vested in the web of connections we are able to build up over the course of our lives. We thrive in proportion to their power." – Sally Helgesen, Thriving in 24/7

Doc Searls (Cluetrain Manifesto) remarked recently: "By the way, the next step after Cluetrain, IMHO, is Markets are
Relationships." One could make the argument that business has always been about relationships to some degree. After all, without a customer, a product/service is useless. But today, in 2005, for us solopreneurs with limited/non-existent advertising budgets, we live and die by our connections.

You work to feed yourself and your family – mentally, physically and emotionally. You need to "feed"  and nurture your network, who in turn feed and nurture you. Remember 8th grade science and that fancy word, symbiosis. A relationship of mutual benefit. Interdependence. That’s what it is. Get this. Embrace it. It’s simple, yes? No network. No brand. No business.

3. Shared Value – Commerce has always been about value exchange. I.e. money in exchange for a product or a certain result, etc. And like everything else – in 2005 – that’s no longer enough, right? Now it’s also about caring. Empathy. Sharing your passion.

"… PASSION (aka EMOTION, aka CARING, aka DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE) … has finally become recognized as the Staple of Successful Business. Not a poor second cousin to the "quant stuff" that business school still thrive on. Not an ‘option.’" (emphasis his) – Tom Peters, Re-imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age   

Yes, products and services are still a great way to exchange value. And when you infuse everything you do with genuine concern … genuine empathy … genuine passion … the whole system – you, your network, your brand – everything gets "ratcheted-up" a notch or two.

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