Posts in ‘Branding’

Branding – What’s the point?

by Laura Lowell on October 1, 2009

whats the point brandingWe’re all bombarded with thousands of messages each day – personally and professionally. Maybe it’s because of new media like Twitter, LinkedIn or FaceBook. Maybe it’s the internet in general.  Whatever the cause, the effect is the same. The volume of marketing messages is overwhelming to most Americans. In fact, 60 percent have signed up for the do-not-call registry; 33 percent have installed Web pop-up blockers, and nine percent have signed on to a do-not-e-mail list (and 40 percent may want to). So the question is: “How do you break through in this environment?”  One answer: Branding.

Everyone has a different definition of branding – everything from your logo, your message, to your visions and personality.  Each of these is correct in a way.  My definition (just so we’re clear) is that a brand is a promise; a promise of authenticity and value and sets our expectations about the product or service we associate with the brand.

That’s all well and good, but here’s the real question:  What’s the point of having a catchy slogan if it doesn’t strengthen or support your business? Why invest in PR if it doesn’t translate into increased awareness and recognition? Why go to trade shows if they don’t produce high-quality leads? Branding, or a promise to your customers, is a way to differentiate yourself in a crowded market so your company can sell more stuff.  Short and simple.

Independently, without a coherent brand strategy, these tactics do little to attract customers and drive revenue. However, as part of an integrated brand and marketing strategy, these and other tactics are the foundation that will deliver results for your business. Sounds simple, right? Well, often the simplest things are the hardest to do.

Here are three things you can do today to make sure your brand is doing it’s job – helping your company sell more stuff.

  1. Look at your website: Is your brand consistently applied on your website?  Do you use the same logo, or do you have multiple logos scattered about the place?  What about your messaging, are you delivering similar yet different messages and confusing your customers?
  2. Ask 10 people what they think: You want to know what they think your brand stands for.  Hopefully you get similar responses, and hopefully they are right on target.  If not, well, you have more work to do.
  3. Step out of the box: Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  Step outside your company and look at what’s going on around you.  Is your brand relevant in today’s market?  Are you linking with current events and trends?

Marketing should get people’s attention, and convince them to consider your company’s products or services over the competition. An integrated brand including strategy, messages, visual identity, and other marketing tactics extends the impact of your marketing investments. You can more efficiently and effectively improve awareness, produce leads and ultimately drive revenue. After all, isn’t that the point?


Manage Your Brand Online Like You Would Manage Cancer

by Guy Ralfe on September 9, 2009

brand erosion

As a follow on from last week’s article Be Socially responsible with your Social Identity, this article focus’s on Brand Protection.

According to Jakob Nielsen a leading usability expert and author of several books

“When we let users loose to go anywhere they wanted on the Web, they went to a search engine 88 percent of the time. Only in 12 percent of cases did they go straight to a Web site. In 93 percent of searches, the users in our study only visited the first SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which usually held ten search results plus a number of ads. In only seven percent of cases did users page on to a second SERP. Only 47 percent of users scrolled the first SERP, which means that 53 percent saw only those search hits that were ‘above the fold.’ “

You may be wondering what this has to do with Brand protection? What this shows is that the way people use the internet to research, particularly for Brands and Products, means that it is increasingly important that your Brand or Product’s message shows up to users the way you intend them to at the top of the first SERP.

This may not seem much of a concern but when you think that today there are 150+ main stream social media sites with large user populations there is an ever increasing chance that the results showing up for your brand or product were not crafted by you. You know the saying – “A happy customer tells one friend, and unhappy customer tells everybody”. So the chances are the social messages about your brand produced by others are unlikely to be positive and can wreck havoc through the viral nature of social media,  if not constantly screened, monitored and mitigated.

There are two main concerns when considering brand protection:

  1. Brand Impersonation – as with all sites there is some sort of name/username required when setting up an account. You need to ensure that you have these accounts for your brand and product in the main applicable social sites as a priority. Your competitors will be just as anxious to secure that account name as you are! There are companies that provide services to help secure usernames and URL’s across social media sites, such as Usernamez, Knowem, UserNameCheck.
  2. Brand Search Results – it is vital you ensure your website is search engine optimized. On top of this you have to perform regular checks of what is being returned when you perform searches on your brand or product. Not only searches via search engines, but also within the large social media sites such as facebook, twitter or within interest groups where users can post relevant opinions.

I share my recent experience in the power of social media, in this case a hotel booking. Hotels have harnessed the internet in a great way to market their product via multiple internet channels and this has come with a benefit to both hotelier, in reaching wider audiences and for guests, in the information available and ease of booking.

Around a year ago I stayed in a hotel while traveling. It was a reasonable hotel that was fair value for me when I stayed there last. I now found myself needing to book a hotel in the same area so I decided to book at the same hotel. I knew the standard of the hotel from my last stay there so it seemed an obvious choice. Just before booking the hotel I decided to read the reviews. The reviews were mostly negative and even though I knew about all the issues described in the review, the comments triggered enough concern to make me book somewhere else.

Like older women are advised to have their breasts screened regularly as it rewards with a significantly higher cancer survival rate when diagnosed early, the same can be said about managing your brand and products identities online. Screen them  regularly and deal with threats quickly and efficiently.

The New Socioeconomy

by Deepika Bajaj on August 21, 2009

Socioeconomy choice pic1Social media is not for the weak of heart. It requires a certain level of risk taking and willingness to experiment. The success of social media is based on contribution, connections and community. There is no one way to identify what tools within social media are relevant to your business objectives. This has not stopped companies and individuals to adapt to these tools and some have successfully harnessed the raw power of social media. No doubt, there are many people and companies who are still resisting this new social phenomenon. Like it OR not – this is here to stay.

I have spoken to many people in different organizations and some have shared with me their concerns of using social media.

Here are a few that I want to share with you all:

1. We can’t have a Youtube video. If the advertisement on RHS of the video is of adult content, it will dilute our brand.

2. We can’t open up Facebook to our employees since we are a Financial services company and have to protect client information.

3.  We really are interested but don’t know the best practices around what works and what doesn’t work.

These are all valid concerns. Just recently, an article in the wired blog mentioned that Military may ban Twitter, Facebook as security ‘Headaches’.

And yet there are other companies who have transcended to leverage social media in a compelling and effective manner. In my previous post, I committed to sharing some stories of companies who are using social media in a creative and innovative manner.

Here are a few stories:

  • How EMC used social media to recruit, re-brand and rebuild.
  • COOL factor: Held a series of highly effective recruiting fairs in Second Life, a 3D virtual world,  that showed EMC the undeniable power of social platforms for business.

    ROI: EMC’s employment brand operation has a zero spend budget. The number of followers on EMC Careers Twitter channel and Facebook are growing. There is a spike in the number of resumes per job opening. Therefore, ROI is positive.

  • JetBlue’s ” All You Can Jet” Promo shows Power and Peril of Free Media Channels.
  • COOL factor: A unique JetBlue promotion called, yes, “All You Can Jet” offering people a $599 ticket for unlimited travel between Sept. 8 through Oct. 8 to 57 cities where JetBlue flies. Main promotional components appear to have been a release over PR Newswire and a tweet sent out by JetBlue at around noon that day.

    ROI: Total PR buzz of the effort at 31 million search results and 10 million blog posts in seven hours.

    I believe that we live in a new world where we are all connected. We can  leverage these connections to create new possibilities. Truly, there has never been a time when things changed so dynamically. This does not mean that traditional media is dead. It is a great resource for mass distribution – like selling a book, launching a product or a career. The idea that your competitor has more connections and has the ability to hurt your business has driven companies to adapt social media. I believe it is the new Socioeconomy (study of the relationship between economic activity and social life) – a shift more profound than the launch of an automobile or the cell phone.

    DD-new-pic-headshot Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC. Invincibelle helps women who live and work in a multicultural world to accelerate their professional growth. You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle

    What’s In The Name

    by Robert Driscoll on August 20, 2009

    2008-01-28-domain-real-estate-istockphoto572188-400x300Many different areas of business have been covered in the past several weeks on Activegarage.com from the dance of entrepreneurship , creating and protecting your intellectual property, to protecting your company’s data .  Our goal is to help people transform their world by coming up with uncommon offers in the marketplace. 

    So, now you’ve come up with the next breakthrough and are ready to take your first step as an entrepreneur.  You’ve come up with a name for your company and have set up a corporation.  You’re excited.  Financial freedom is just around the corner.  You go to register your company’s domain name and you come to find out…someone already owns it.  Don’t give up. 

    Here are some simple steps to help you to continue moving forward.

    1.     Change Your Domain Suffix

    If .com is not available, look to see if any of the other domains are available (.net, .biz, etc…).  Be careful though as you might be in violation of a possible trademark infringement if the other domain in use is a legitimate business.

    2.     Change The Name Slightly

    Work on finding variations of the name you want until you find one that is available.  Again, be careful with this option as well as you could also be in violation of a possible trademark infringement. 

    3.     Buy The Domain Name

    Domain names are bought and sold all the time at sites like GoDaddy.com or BuyDomains.com.  Having the right domain name online can help establish your company’s identity.  Determine what the value of building your brand without being able to use the company name and domain you desire and compare that to what it would cost to buy the domain you want.  If the latter is less, simply buy the domain and continue moving forward. 

    4.     If You Already Own The Trademark

    If you already own the trademark to your company’s name, you have some options.  If you are dealing with a cybersquatter, the first, and less expensive, option is to contact ICANN and file a dispute under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy.  The cost to go this route varies as it depends on the number of domains filed in the dispute and the number of panelist required.  You can also send a cease and desist letter to the party that is “squatting” on your desired domain.  A sample letter can be found here .  While this process might be time consuming and cumbersome, it is considerably less expensive than the final option. 

    5.     Seek Legal Advice

    When you’ve exhausted all of your options, this might be the only one remaining.  Before going down this path, consider the time and money it might take if you try to resolve this matter with the “help” of an attorney.  If this goes to court and you win, you could have all or part of your legal expenses paid for by the other party, but be careful as you could very easily lose and incur legal expenses and still not have the name you wanted for your business. 

    Unfortunately there is no one way to resolve this issue, but it is important to understand that you do have options should you encounter this problem.  It is just as important to determine how much time and money you are willing to invest before you go after the name you want.  Sometimes it’s just easier to come up with a new name.

    UpbeatAt a recent barbecue a typical social situation permeated where the women spent time together talking about fashion trends and must have accessories and the men huddled together to discuss the goings on of corporate America and sport. While as a social gathering it was a great time and everyone enjoyed themselves it reminded me of some wise words I had read in Rajesh Setty’s book Upbeat.

    The chapter in the book that came flooding back was what Rajesh calls the Trap. He describes this trap as the daily conversations we are in that have absolutely no bearing on our daily lives, rajesh-jul2009-01 yet, we get engrossed in them, unknowingly, as the media bombards us with the “drama” of these sensational stories. These stories then become the background that controls our moods and permeates all our engagements with others in social and business settings. Take, for example, (as pointed out in Upbeat), how many of your interactions start with ‘How is the market treating you?’ or ‘The Economy is very bad…’ You get the point.

    Rajesh wrote the book about his learnings from starting his first company in late 2000, right at the start of the dot-com recession and it is very opportune that he has published this work for the current market that we are ‘told’ we are in today. While the book can fall under the broad business book literature, Upbeat is far more focused on the individual and exposes the flaws in the thoughts and actions adopted by the average person in the marketplace. What I liked so much about the book is that it was extremely simple to read, immensely practical and filled with actionable items that help change your thoughts and actions immediately.

    There are so many things that we do automatically because we see so many other people doing them, that we never stop and question why we do them or what the consequences are of acting in such a way. Rajesh has taken the time to include in the book a ‘How to’ section which takes the guess work out of some of these less often thought of questions. One that I particularly liked was in the Tenacity and Discipline section – ‘What Assets are you building that will pay back in the long term? If there are no assets that you are developing , it will only be “YOU” that will have to work for you. There will be absolutely no leverage and this will hurt you.’

    Upbeat is filled with great thought provoking insights and self assessments, and is easy and quick to read. I have given a number of my friends copies of Upbeat, so it goes without saying, I think this is an essential read for anyone wanting to distinguish themselves from the pack and to start acting for their future.

    You can pick up your own copy of UPBEAT by going to Amazon. You can also follow Rajesh on Twitter @UpbeatNow or read his current posts on his blog Life Beyond Code. Raj also maintains a Q&A called (rightly so) TH!NKsulting.

    Here is a four part video where Rajesh discusses Upbeat with Steve Piazzale

    Photo Credit: Craig Williams

    Part 1 (9:39 min)

    Part 2 (7:46 min)

    Part 3 (4:56 min)

    Part 4 (6:22 min)

    I would also like to thank Rajesh on behalf of the Active Garage team, who, without Rajesh’s help and vision, would not be where they are today.

    Win one of the five copies of Upbeat

    This is the 50th blog post for ActiveGarage… and the fact that Active Garage was started just 3 months ago calls for a celebration! To commemorate this milestone, we are giving away five copies of Upbeat. If you want to win one, all you have to do is to share your own Upbeat story in the comment box. Here’s some help to get you started: Through your story, answer two simple questions “What are you doing to stay upbeat when the odds seem to be against you? and What do you think others should do stay upbeat?

    Go ahead and share your story. Make it inspiring. You might just make someone’s day and win a copy of Upbeat.

    The Likability factor

    by Himanshu Jhamb on August 3, 2009

    ilikeyouI’m sure you’ve heard this many times: “The first impression is the last impression”. The good news is this is not entirely true; the bad news is its not entirely false, either. Though first impressions may not be the last impressions… they do matter and what really matters is what the other person is thinking after they just associated with you – Are they thinking “I didn’t like him” or “Hmmm…. I really liked him”? The difference in these two might seem trivial but it’s not. The difference is that one side of the coin opens possibilities for you and the other side does not… Perhaps even shuts them down in some cases… and the tricky part is that all this happens “Silently“. People usually do not make this assessment loudly in public. They usually show up in conversations where you are not present.

    Here’s a little example of how this once worked for me. A friend of mine arranged for me to meet up with a friend of his, who was a powerful person, and I was going there to talk to him about enrolling him in my vision of what I was doing. The meeting went fine (though I was, admittedly, a little critical of myself at the end of it) and I did not hear back from the person I met for a while. Then, one day, my friend called me and asked me “Did you see the email from the person you met?” I said “No” and checked my mailbox. It was very much there and he had accepted my offer… so, then I asked my friend that it did not appear to me that the meeting went all that well – so how come he accepted? My friend’s response was “Well! He thought the meeting was alright but the reason he accepted to work with you is because he said he liked you!”

    That got me thinking and a question came to my mind: How do you assess someone as likeable… or not?

    What I have found is what’s important is how people leave me … that is, to say, if someone leaves me in a better mood that I was in, when I met them, I make the assessment that they are likable!

    … and then I came up with a more powerful question, for myself: What thoughts and feelings do I leave people in; after my interactions with them?

    I’ll leave you with a term, a few resources on how you can show up as more likable and a couple of questions on likability.

  • The Term: The term you can use to think further on this is the “Likability factor (LF)“. Incidentally, there’s a book titled “The likeability factor” by Tim Sanders. The concept is really simple: If your likability factor is high, you usually come across as a likeable person and if it’s low, then you don’t.
  • How to increase your Likability factor:

    1. A short video by Rajesh Setty, our very own deeply respected “Active” mentor at Active Garage:

    2. A short real-life example by notable author and speaker Robin Sharma.

    … and finally,

  • The questions to think about (answer these immediately after reading this post, to get the maximum benefit from having read this)
  • 1. What do you think is your likability factor?

    2. If you do not think its high enough, what are you going to do about it?