Archives for March 2008

Brand Values In A Recession

I recently attending a breakfast discussion at the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor. It was facilitated by Dr. Fritz Rieger. The subject being discussed was how to anticipate the outcome of two companies joining forces, through Acculturation – a model of cultural adaption.

Ed Roach

He essentially outlines four directions the corporate cultures would go. First of all they would either assimilate completely into the new culture or the opposite, separate themselves and the stronger entity would continue their home culture. The other two directions are the softening of the model and probably the more desirable positions. They are that the companies would integrate and benefit from their mutual contributions or they would de-culture and assume an entirely different model unique to either side.

Dr. Rieger then gave real-world examples of this and their outcomes and where they fit into the diagram. His best model was the American company Chrysler and the German company Daimler. Each company has a traditional cultural difference. It was a great example for his model. A question from those assembled intrigued me. It was asked,” Where might a company typically fall into the model, when their motivation to partner is desperation due to a down-market?” – the key word (to me) here was “motivation”.

When desperation is the motivator, how clear is a company in making rational decisions that may in the long term be detrimental? There may be some immediate return in moral support (strength in numbers) but what is the potential damage to your brand, if you are even able to maintain your brand or will it be absorbed into the other partner’s culture? The Dr.’s acculturation model is a good one if one is considering a move to partner but maybe hasn’t thought through the possible brand impact due to differing corporate cultures. The model nicely takes into account egos and maturity.

If your brand is a strong one, but numbers have slipped across the board due to the economy, many companies in their war rooms entertain many solutions. If partnering is considered – the fit is naturally one consideration. Invariably one of the candidates will be the stronger company with the deepest pockets, but lets say that this company has actually the weaker brand at this point in time. Which brand will rise to the surface in the partnering? If both parties can put aside egos, would the resulting corporate make-up see an opportunity in attempting to grow the stronger brand as opposed to the one of the richer company, which may actually be the weaker brand. Would they recognize that the stronger brand has a better chance of returning bigger profits in the long run and benefit more from the combined strengths of the partnering or would the relationship implode?

Ed Roach

I contacted Dr. Rieger and shared my thoughts with him. He proposes the following scenario would probably happen based on his research:
“At the end of the day, the stronger (takeover) partner (with the deepest pockets) will be the one to decide how the “acculturation” will take place. If the stronger partner believes that adopting the brand of the weaker has commercial value, then it may indeed choose to adopt that brand name and identity. However, in much the same way that the incoming settlers may choose to “go native” in order to survive in a new land, over time, the conquering settler will seek to modify the “native” culture to better fit their own customs. Often the only aspects that survive of the native culture, or brand, are the external commercial trappings and everything else (management) reflects the takeover partner. Over time, there will be little left of the stronger brand, since all of the “culture” that supported that brand has been stripped away.

A good example is the Sears takeover of Eaton’s (in Canada). Eaton had the stronger brand and Sears kept the name in hopes of retaining the customer base but ran it much like Sears. Customers noticed the difference and the customer base shifted. After a while, even the name was abandoned and takeover Sears became Sears in name as well.

While it is possible to “assimilate” in one aspect, to remain “separate” in another, it is really quite difficult. The result doesn’t last because cultures (and companies) are holistic. Management affects operations affects morale. ”

So, in the world of corporate branding, Dr. Rieger’s scenario adopted the brand image but NOT the brand values. They maintained their own values, which of course would work against the company with the stronger brand recognition. That brand being built on “their specific values”. Without those unique brand values the conquerer fails because a brand is the sum of it’s many elements. (Values are not interchangeable)

When I discuss branding with companies, one key element in our discussions are the company brand values. It is commonly understood and agreed that with out them the company would cease to exist. They are the foundation of the company. So then Eaton’s had to fail. Sears were not prepared to just be a silent partner, and the customers were not prepared to accept the altered brand – it was not what they had grown to love. Once you change the brand values the customer loves, the brand withers. This betrayal of values is what Starbucks is going through this very moment – they moved away from the customer which was the core of their brand values – the customer moved on – now they are back-pedalling as fast as they can.

5 Effective Ways To Put Passion Back Into Your Business

Passion In Business

Passion is one of those potentially arbitrary words that is difficult to define. Passion, as defined by the dictionary, is “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.”

Having passion for your business is critical to your success. Why? Without passion and enjoyment for your business you won’t be motivated to make it the best company it can be. Sadly your customers will get very bored of you and what you have to offer.

Without passion and joy for the work that you do, it’ll show in your company’s personality and have a direct effect on your branding. Yes, passion for your business is that important.

So the question is, do you have passion for your business? Do you get up most mornings looking forward to your day? If the answer is no, if you’re finding that you’re lacking passion and joy for your business consider a few options.

If there is no passion, you need to make changes…

1. Eliminate The Tasks That Drive You Mad

Make a list of the current work related activities you do enjoy and find pleasure in. Now make a list of the work related tasks you don’t enjoy. The tasks you really despise and procrastinate on and simply don’t do. Looking at your two lists, what can you do to make list number one, the list of activities you do enjoy, more a part of your day? In many cases the answer is simply to outsource the tasks that you dislike.

2. Refresh Your Memory

Think back to why you started your business in the first place. What were your motivations? Goals? Passions? Write them down and take a look at all that you’ve achieved. If you’re far from your goals, if you’ve yet to achieve them, what can you do to get back on track? Often times, goals can serve to re-motivate and re-excite your passion.

3. Gratitude Helps

Think about all that you have to be grateful for. Make a list. In fact, many business and success coaches recommend creating a gratitude journal and writing in it every day. Remembering all that is good and right in your life can really reinvigorate your passion for your business and your life.

4. Work With Passionate And Motivated People

Being the owner of a small business can be a lonely job. Surround yourself with passionate and motivated people and you’ll not only find it’s contagious, you’ll find that your business success will improve as a direct result. Like Ed mentioned recently, “Start A Moob Group.”

Mastermind groups, business coaching, networking with enthusiastic and like minded professionals, and even outsourcing with people who are passionate about their business are all excellent ways to become part of a winning team.

5. Integrate

Integrate your current passions into your business. If you’ve found that your passion for your business has simply waned, consider what you do enjoy and brainstorm how you can integrate your current passions into your business.

In my experience the only passion I had in my business was the customers I loved over the years. To this day I miss them so dearly, I miss all the families, the kids, and the fun we had chatting together. In a business that I didn’t like anymore, I found passion in the people I served.

Passion breeds profits, if your passion is lacking or altogether missing, spend some time finding it. It’s important not only for the success of your business but the happiness of your life.

The Internet Levels The Playing Field

The Internet Levels The Playing Field

One of the most intoxicating aspects of the Internet is the power and reach it extends to even the smallest businesses.

For this article I was inspired by Yaro’s post Using The Internet To Grow Your Business. He makes a very good point when he says…

“There is no good excuse for not initiating some form of online marketing. Even simply having a website listing your contact details is a start and should be leveraged using other marketing methods, such as including your web address on business cards, letter heads and brochures.”

Just ensuring that you have a professional presence on the web in the form of a website, automatically puts you in contact with thousands of potential clients.

Whether or not those site visitors become buying customers is another issue. As smart small business owners you want to execute a marketing plan that attracts visitors who are interested in the products or services you offer and you want to do it affordably.

In this post I’ll point out two traditional big biz marketing tactics that through the power of the Internet are now almost standard practice for even the smallest businesses.

Traditional Method #1: Surveys

The concept of giving your customers what they want is a sure way to build loyalty and sales! We all know that, but not all companies take the time to survey clients on a regular or thorough basis. Some even think that the exercise is something that is beyond their expertise or budget. That’s a very pre-Internet way of thinking.

Only a few years ago the cost of conducting thorough and professional market research would have been out of reach for many small firms. Online survey tools and data analysis have now put that kind of quality market research within the grasp of even the smallest business budgets. There are many survey sites out there that are a low monthly fee.


Traditional Method #2: Customer Relationship Management

Another great traditional marketing tactic is Customer Relationship Management or CRM. CRM use to be pretty well associated with the sophisticated activities of big businesses that could afford it. CRM involved splashy colored brochures, call center contact and other labor intensive initiatives.

Those initiatives are still used by many firms, but so is the relatively easy to execute email marketing campaign. In its earliest days email marketing was considered a god send and a necessary evil that turned off many potential clients.

Now that there have been regulations put in place and clients have the choice of choosing to receive your emails (opting in), email marketing is a far more respected and cost effective format of communicating with customers.

Regular communications through emails to your customers helps to show your appreciation of their loyalty—especially when your messages are not just about sales.

Savvy small business marketers offer free quality items to members on their email list as an expression of appreciation for customer loyalty. Things like information packages, discounts on future purchases, advance notice of sales promotions and other services help your list to feel appreciated for their loyalty and that translates into future sales.

Not only is email marketing effective – it is very affordable.

For a relatively low subscription fee you can keep in contact with hundreds or thousands of your potential clients using an automated system that would have required additional staff in those pre-Internet days.

Whether you do your business primarily online or offline, the Internet is a resource to be embraced as an integral part of your business.

A small business owner can now affordably and easily:

– Access valuable market research data;
– Implement a sophisticated customer relationship management program
– Promote across the world—all through the convenience of the Internet.

Take the time each day to review the most respected and proven tips, resources and practices available to marketers today. Read over the posts and archives on our site—Small Business Branding features the insights and tips from some of the internet marketing industry’s most respected thought leaders.

Marketing costs shouldn’t be an inhabiting factor to growth anymore—not when access is so affordable and the pay off so great!

How Bad Do You Want It?

I had breakfast with a friend recently who wanted to discuss personal branding. They felt that if they determined what their brand was or could be, it would change everything. But the truth is the real problem wasn’t necessarily their personal brand but their passion.

Ed Roach

Right of the top we put cost on table. “How much might this cost me Ed?” they asked. I just as quickly threw $5,000. at them, knowing the reaction – “5 grand, whoa that’s way to much.”

Think so?

Here’s the thing, 5 grand was not the issue. $100 might be too much, who knows. The issue here is passion. How bad do they want it. I know that they just went out the week before and dropped 5 grand on a flat screen TV. It didn’t take much too thought either, as a matter of fact they went out “just to look” and came home with the baby.

I asked them at this point – “How much is your personal grow worth to you?” and of course they said – “A lot”, this is where I jumped it an retorted – “Obviously not as much as a big screen TV.” That last comment was just for fun. The truth is they were passionate about their entertainment, not so passionate for personal growth.

At this point in the conversation it got pretty SELF-analytical. My friend wanted to know what might be wrong with them, that they just can’t get their act together as far as their personal growth aka personal brand. My opinion was there is nothing “wrong” with them, they simply didn’t want it bad enough. They love talking about it, they loved planning it, but they don’t really want it, or they would do it. They replied ” no way, of course I want it.” “If that is the case,” I asked, “why is it that for the last few minutes you told me several reason why you CAN’T do it instead of why you CAN?” You can’t find the time to work out in a gym because there is no passion to work out, BUT if your doctor say’s you will die if you don’t, then guess what, your passion to live opens that gym door.

YOU DON’T WANT IT BAD ENOUGH, YOU DON’T HAVE THE PASSION.

Not having the passion to improve your brand, personal or corporate is not really a bad thing but a personal determination of goals. What do you want out of your personal and corporate life? What is your overall definition of success? If you are passionate about a goal, then money is not so much of an issue. What is more important in your life, professional growth or the big screen TV? There is no right or wrong answer to this. It is what is important to you right now at this point in time.

The one thing you have to come to gips with is the truth. Don’t lie to yourself about where your passion lies. If you truly want to grasp greater things then you have to come to grips with your own personal demons and ignite your passion to obtain it. Stop talking about it and DO IT! If the big screen TV is where it’s at right now, then embrace it and enjoy the sucker with everyone you love.

Passion is why we do the things that are truly important to us. To say you are a procrastinator is just a crutch to not have to come to terms with the fact that there is no passion in doing tasks set out in front of you. Find out what motivates your passion and embrace it. If you feed your passions with positive energy, you will do it. Even if you fail in the attempt, the approach is re-directed but the passion doesn’t die, as a matter of fact it is stronger.

Passion feeds on our efforts, just as little effort starves passion. How bad do you want it?

How to Start a MOOB Group!

There is safety in numbers. There is also a great deal of knowledge that can be had if you take a sharing attitude. You don’t have to be an island. There are good people out there who would love to pick your brain and in return allow you into their inner sanctum of experience.

Ed Roach

I have been involved in a group exactly like this going on five years now. We got together after a design conference in Phoenix and had a burning desire to carry on the conversation . We are a small group of four companies within a 6 hour drive of each other. I am the Canadian in southwestern Ontario, we have a member from Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois. We meet quarterly on a friday for a full day (8-5). We discuss everything that has to do with our businesses and how to make them better. We harbour no secrets and after all this time we have become very good friends. It is also a fantastic way to network and to expand the breadth of services you can offer. How can you get in on something like this? Here are 10 points to consider if you want to start your own MOOB (Mind Our Own Business) group:

1) Decide what kind of group you want to start. Ours are companies in the same industry: Branding/Graphic Design. You can build a group of varying industries, what is important is defining what your group is striving to accomplish by forming.

2) Choose members who have the same success values as the other members. They don’t have to be at the same stage in their growth, as a matter of fact it is more productive if they are not. It is important that each member is a self-starter, as attendance is important to carry on the momentum in order to last more than one meeting.

3) Choose how the meetings will be structured. Our MOOB group has an agenda, we meet where we can be uninterrupted. We have rented meeting rooms, and even met in a park setting over-looking a lake – very relaxing. Other than the agenda, the conversation in left unstructured and is governed by the host. We each hold a meeting in our city. We also assign ourselves homework sometimes between meetings. Also, we have a segment where we discuss recent books read. The conversation is non-stop and the day flies by.

4) Complete openness if absolutely key to the group’s success. Anyone who is not honest with regard to how they do business is a BAD FIT! Times are not always good. The group cannot help you if you are not completely open with your issues. If you cannot feel secure in opening up in your group than it is a BAD FIT.

5) We do not charge anything. The host covers the expenses of their day. We do not have dues. You can, it is really dependent on your objectives.

6) Sharing in the value of discovered revenue streams. In the course of our sessions, we have developed products that we each sell in our own markets. We have found our MOOB group to be lucrative in terms of ideas and motivation. We are currently trying to develop a monetary website where we can sell recordings of our sessions to our industry. This is a big cookie to bite into, but it will happen.

7) When should you meet? As I have mentioned, we meet quarterly for an entire day. If your group is from the same region, then perhaps you can start with half a day. You will be amazed with how fast time flies by.
The important thing is to give yourselves enough time so that everyone can get the value out of shared experiences. If one member is struggling with issues, you want to allocate enough time to satisfy their questions.

8) Decide who you don’t want in the group. And determine how new members are chosen. The make-up of the group is extremely important. If there are members who are just takers, then as in networking – they will not be productive members and they will alienate fellow members.

9) What happens if there is conflict within your group? Decide on a course of action if this unfortunate situation occurs. It is equally important to have an exit strategy that can be imposed on members, if it is deemed by the group, that the relationship has soured and they are adversely effecting the group.

10) Make it fun. All of our members really look forward to our meetings. We are passionate about MOOB. We were even written up by HOW magazine during our first year. We either have lunch in, or go out to some cool place in the host city. We also typically, go out for supper also. We don’t use Robert’s Rules but just freely jump from topic to topic. We laugh it up alot.

That’s about it really. If your group’s makeup is different types of companies, it can easily be developed into a networking group as well. Peer groups are sometimes called “best practices groups”. No matter what you call them, they are an excellent way to help you grow personally as well as professionally. You could develop a virtual group over the web as well. It doesn’t really matter so long as your group values are sound. I have found it another great way to further develop my personal brand.

Because we are called MOOB, I suggested we wear those cow-horned hats that Fred Flintstone and Barney wore at their lodge. It’s not important to note the reaction my suggestion earned.

New Owner Small Business Branding Introduction

When I first heard that Yaro Starak from Entrepreneur’s Journey was planning to sell this site, I felt like my own entrepreneurial journey was about to take another exciting and successful leap. It didn’t take long for me to decide to become the new owner of Small Business Branding.

I started my first small business when I was 20 years old selling products from a booth at the local mall. So strong was my desire to be an entrepreneur that I ran my booth while working full-time as a District Manager for PCA International. As District Manager I was responsible for 24 studio locations in BC and Alberta.

At 22 I negotiated a lease for my very first retail store in that same local mall. It was very tiny, but it did the job and my business flourished. I ran my business and continued on in my District Manager role for 2 years before quitting my job with PCA.

Within a little over a year my retail business grew to 5 locations. If that wasn’t hectic enough I had other priorities to manage as well. Like many entrepreneurs my life is multifaceted and as my business grew so did my family.

Often my husband and 2 children were off in one store while I was in another. Our weekends were unique. I spent most Saturdays in the van with the kids picking up products from wholesalers and dropping those products off at each of our 5 stores.

The biggest problem for us throughout this period was that the business was consuming our lives. I chose to be an entrepreneur for the control and the quality of life it potentially offered. We came to the conclusion that while we were able to actually exceed our financial goals, the quality of life aspect was seriously lacking. Mostly because of the time and dedication it took to run 5 locations with a husband that wanted to be there constantly.

Decisions had to be made.

Building up a business for me is a personal and professional endeavor that becomes difficult to let go. But we decided that the best choice for our family was to close out and sell our retail business.

Beyond the physical work of unloading inventory and store fixtures from some stores and selling others, was the emotional impact of this decision. It was very hard to say good-bye to loyal customers—some of whom had been coming to us for 12 years.

In May 2007, we sold our last store. We threw a party to mark the end of one entrepreneurial journey and the start of another.

Our retail business had an online component that had served us well and continues to do so. I took my considerable online business knowledge and merged it with my love for one of the fastest growing hobbies in the country—the $3 billion scrapbooking industry.

Today, my Scrap Venture brand includes information products, individual consulting and a premium membership site. In addition to the business sites, I host an enthusiasts podcast called Scrappers Talk Radio. I am living out an entrepreneurs dream having successfully turned a hobby I love into a profitable business!

There’s no question that I am driven by the whole notion of creating and building successful businesses, particularly small businesses. I discovered that I have a skill set that helped me develop a thriving offline business and that will serve me well now as an internet based business owner.

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.

There are some exciting plans and features that will be incorporated into Smart Business Branding in the year ahead, but I’ll have to share that with you in an upcoming post!

Thank you for letting me share and I look forward to the future here at Small Business Branding.

How To Cure WhirlyBrand!

Ed Roach

Is your brand in a whirl? Many a CEO have ignored the signs and are afraid to contact their brand doctors. Some fear the embarrassment of having admit that they have long ignored the obvious and suffer from denial. Many simply have no idea why they are suffering and are just confused and anxious. If you are uncertain, here are a few things that might alert you that your brand is suffering from WhirlyBrand:

Symptom: Your business completely blends in throughout it’s category. There is nothing to distinguish you.

Diagnosis -WhirlyBrand: People confuse your company with that of your competition? I’m afraid you’ve become – a commodity.

Treatment: The dreaded “D” word – differentiation. Yes, you have to discover what it is that used to make customers love you. Why were they willing to pay more for your services as compared to today’s situation where you have been reduced to a price and easily replaced. You must discover ways to put your company back on top defining you as the leader in your category. What makes you absolutely different. What is your difference that no other company can lay claim to. Nobody said this was going to be easy.


Symptom: Your staff are withdrawn, they seem uninspired, gloomy.
Diagnosis – WhirlyBrand: You’ve played it safe for so long, your most prized assets, your employees are disillusioned by the company. They no longer understand what it stands for. They too have lost their direction. Your company is no longer attracting great talent.

Treatment: You’ve got to give the team something to live for. As the visionary, you must step up to the table and inspire them again. Develop a positioning strategy that has the competition shaking their heads. Don’t carry on business-as-usual. Get their input and carry out their recommendations. It will empower and motivate them. They will become super advocates – they are a part of what makes your company great!


Symptom: Your brand image is all over the map, even you are confused by what you represent.Diagnosis – WhirlyBrand: You have multiple versions of your brand logo. Your corporate colours change depending on use. The blue on your signs is different than your stationary and website. Your brand image is very similar to the current leader in your category. You have multiple brand icons, none of which are exploited to the benefit of the company.

Treatment: You’ve been playing follow the leader for too long. Identify icons and images that compliment your brand values and personality. Develop a brand strategy for your brand image components. Make sure that nobody goes against this strategy and even assign a person to patrol its use. Your have got to take back control of your image.


Symptom: Your at a loss for words at networking and sales opportunities. This sudden loss for words has you nervous and concerned.Diagnosis -WhirlyBrand: You don’t quite know what you stand for. Your company has a mission statement, but frankly it is milk toast. It says the same cozy things most mission statements say. You can list off all of the things you sell, if given the time, but you don’t have a compelling position.

Treatment: Develop a statement that says exactly what you do that distinguishes your company. It must be compelling enough to ignite conversation. Perhaps it is in the form of a question. Whatever the structure the cure here is to compel.


Symptom: Your personal brand conflicts with that of your company. You are never called upon for your opinion. You feel withdrawn.Diagnosis: WhirlyBrand: You haven’t defined yourself as an expert in your category. People around you may like you but don’t necessarily consider you to be an expert at anything in particular. You’ve lost your edge.

Treatment: Assert yourself. Start doing speaking engagements on your area of expertise. Write articles, “start a blog”, engage people with your wisdom. Define who you are and what you stand for. Ideally it is an extension of your corporate brand, each complimenting the other. Don’t assume people know what you do – tell them!

Don’t panic if some of these symptom sound awfully familiar. If your company has WhirlyBrand – take notice, it is serious. If it goes unattended it can be terminal. BUT the good news is WhirlyBrand can be cured. Once you’ve had a brand physical, you will then be on the road to recovery. Nobody has to suffer from this troublesome malady.

The cure does take determination and resolve, but the best news is, NO RUBBER GLOVES ARE NEEDED IN THE TREATMENT!

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