Branding Interview With Ed Roach

VERA: You’ve been helping companies for 25 years with their branding experience, can you tell me how you got started?

ED: I am a graphic designer at my core and through this profession I molded the images of companies and have always had a healthy respect for marketing and sales. I never viewed graphic design as an art but a communications profession. Selling through image. From here I spring boarded into helping companies develop positioning strategies that allow them to compete from a point of differentiation. As what I did came to become known as branding, it allowed me to adopt consulting as another way of assisting companies with their positioning strategies. One way I market consulting is, “Ed Roach by the hour”.

VERA:What do you like most about helping companies discover branding?

ED: I love how it invigorates them. I think fast on my feet. When we capture that A-ha moment, it is a real joy to suddenly hear the tone in their voice change. This tells me that they recognize the true value that I bring to the table. It is also very rewarding to see that visionaries are more than willing to make the necessary changes to their companies if they believe 100% in the positioning strategy that we develop together. This shows confidence and satisfaction in the process.

VERA: What are the biggest mistakes you see companies make?

ED: Number one – they mistakingly believe that their brand is the logo and marketing materials. They are missing the entire picture. By focusing solely on image to fix a brand problem, they are just putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. Initially if feels that the problem is fixed, but the core to the brand issue is still festering inside, and it will show at some point. That is when many company’s state that branding didn’t work for them. The sad truth is they never addressed their brand problem, they just spent good money on a pretty mask.

VERA:Please tell us why branding is so important.

ED: Branding is so important because it is what your company stands for in the marketplace. It is your reputation and everything about why a customer loves you. Your brand can also be why you constantly fight a commodity battle – your brand is drowning in a sea of sameness and there is nothing to compel your market to your offering. As I’ve often said, “you have a brand whether you want one or not”. You can choose to define yourself or allow the competition to do it for you.

VERA:What is personal branding?

ED: Like your company, you personally ALSO have a brand, (again whether you like it or not). I always tell people and companies to flip the word brand for reputation and they quickly realize what I’m getting at. Think of people who have a strong identity with you. What is it about them that helps to quickly identify them in your mind? Is there some people that you love to be around? These people have strong brands that resonate with you. How do you resonate with others? Do you stand out in some unique way?

If you are looking to move up in your job, that last thing you want to do is blend in, so you want a personal brand differentiator. It is no different than with a company-same principals. I have a pretty good article here in the SBB archive, that compares the similarities between corporate and personal brands.

VERA:What is compliance branding?

ED: Compliance branding is brand new:) It takes the concept that compliances that in many cases are mandatory in business can be leveraged to benefit the brand and self-administered compliances can allow your brand to raise the bar in your industry, thus leading the way instead of following. This can be witnessed in the move toward green with many companies. If compliances are not administered properly, they will affect your brand in a negative way and cost you money short and long term. A thorough compliance brand audit will flush out areas of deficiencies and benefit to give your brand a more powerful position.

VERA:What are the first steps to branding your business?

ED: Understand just what your brand stands for, what the stake holders think about your brand and how you are truly different from your competition. Analyzing these three areas will give you a good basic feel for your brand and tell you if you need to address anything.

VERA:Are there any discoveries you’ve had over the years?

ED: Every branding project brings a different solution of course. I marvel at where each solution is hiding. I have come to learn that great positioning strategies are just below the surface and exposing them is very satisfying. Less is more rings true here. I enjoy pushing and challenging the client to REALLY look at the reality rather than the perception of their brands.

VERA:Do you have any funny stories to share?

ED: Not really. As much as I find branding fun, and sessions are funny (amusing) not funny (ha-ha). I guess I am darkly amused when I ask a client to truly go out on a limb and brag about their difference developed. Typically clients are more humble in how they promote their difference – where as – I want them to take a stand. This leads to some (amusing) comments back at me.

VERA:Do you have any advice to a business owner who has a tarnished reputation?

ED: Find out why it is tarnished and what can you do to make it right. It is how we handle the problems that define who we are. Our brands can really shine if a problem is dealt with in a stellar way. People enjoy a train wreck but will always give the engineer the benefit of a doubt. Hoping it will go away will bury your brand.

VERA:How can someone expand their existing brand?

ED: Essentially your core brand is build on a strong set of brand values. For every new service you offer your customers (brand extensions), so long as they too live up to your core values, then they too will add to the strength of your brand. As Walt Disney always said, “Plus the show”. With every thing that you do, always give more than expected. It will make your brand glow in the eyes of your customers.