Category Archives: Branding

Networks and Tribes, oh my!

There’s been a lot of Internet marketing gurus, including Jack Humphrey at Friday Traffic Report, that are espousing tribe-gathering.

As a traffic building and customer retention process, I absolutely endorse the concept. But it’s nothing new.

Just ask Harley Davidson owners.

In fact, if you get right down to it, isn’t that the purpose of branding, either on-line or off?

That might even develop the shortest and most accurate definition of branding ever devised: gathering a tribe.

Branding for Bucks: what every entrepreneur should know

Icons are important for brandingThis is more than a single blog. I envision a series of about 12 to 14 different posts before it�s all over. But don�t worry: for the most part they will be posted each and every day so those of you on the cusp of beginning a business or launching a product will get a pretty intense and compacted set of guidelines to developing a strong brand right from the start.

That�s why the title. What I mean by that is two-fold. Continue reading Branding for Bucks: what every entrepreneur should know

Blockbuster Brands: Five Characteristics

Brand blockbusters, John Quench concludes, are good things.

Blockbusters has sizzle, speed, size, scarcity and sustainability

Writing in the Harvard Business Discussion Leaders blog, Marketing Knowhow, Quelch has also identified five attributes of a blockbuster brand.

You can read his full blog at the Harvard Business Publishing website by clicking How to Create a Blockbuster. Ive lifted his five attributes in the next several paragraphs and added my own comments on each.

In a few words they are: Continue reading Blockbuster Brands: Five Characteristics

Historic Brands: Goodyear

With this post Ill be launching a series of articles about historic brands. Im launching this feature with Goodyear, the tire and rubber company founded in 1898.

So why this series? Ive blogged before about heritage being a differentiator for a brand. So here are examples of some companies using their heritage to good advantage. Also, in this series I hope to demonstrate how brands evolve. They do. They must keep up with the times.

And though Goodyear (I initiate this series with Goodyear because they were the first example that came up on a Google search for historic brands) does not demonstrate much in the way of their brand evolution, the Goodyear website does point out three elements that have served them well over time.

1901 Goodyear logoThe first is the use of the winged foot in their logo. The winged foot has been part of the logo since 1901. Modified, yes, but still recognized after 107 years.

Second is a tagline it adopted in 1916, “More people ride on Goodyear tires than on any other kind”. Its still used today.

And finally, there are the blimps.

The first was commissioned in 1925, and since then, it has served the company well. Note the recent commercials featuring two pilots.

Goodyear has been flying a blimp since 1925

Additionally, Goodyear is proud of their innovations over time. They tout being the first to

Earn a patent for a tubeless automobile tire 1903…
Introduce the first all-weather diamond tread non-skid tire 1908…
Produce the first pneumatic rubber airplane tire 1909…
and the list goes on.

All these innovations and other events of which Goodyear is proud can be found on their heritage site.

So the lesson here: plan your initial brand as if it will be serving you for many, many years with only slight modification. That means not adhering to fads and trends while developing brands, but to express the fundamental core of the brand.

Martin Jelsema

Brand Development: Elements and Sequence

The order in which many entrepreneurs tackle the elements of branding can cause major brand weakness.

Many have picked a name and registered it even before theyve written a mission statement. Theyve written a tagline before theyve identified target markets. Theyve developed a brand story after all the obvious elements are created and in use. And theyll not have provided writers and designers with a brand platform on which the creative structure is to be built.

This is restrictive because once invested, financially and emotionally, in several brand elements, entrepreneurs dont want to backtrack or invest in a re-do. So they limp along with a semi-effective brand, or perhaps a brand just not suited for the offering or the market.

The diagram below depicts the recommended sequence of creating branding elements.

Brand Development Sequence

First thing first should be the rule

There is a sequence to developing a brand, just as there is to developing the business itself. When you get things out of sequence you find you need to start over which is expensive and time-consuming, or even worse, you live with a brand with weak elements that become more burdensome as time goes by.

I suggest anyone starting a business or introducing a new product follow the simple process outlined below:

+ Write a vision statement
+ Write a mission statement
+ Write a value statement
+ Write down the goals of the business or product
+ Describe the business model you are planning to implement
+ Identify the market segments you will serve
+ Identify the product category in which you will compete
+ Identify and assess your major competitors
+ Write your business plan

Now, the business plan is the basis for your brand and much more. But for our purposes, we will just suggest that those items in the list above should be transferred from the business plan into a new document the Brand Platform.

Building the Branding Platform

At this point, you may want to consider bringing in a branding consultant to help you fashion the brand strategies upon which the brand platform is constructed. He or she should be able to translate and integrate the vision, mission, goals, business model, and the information concerning markets, product categories and competition into a brand platform. Upon completion of the platform, and not before, you can begin to think of names, logos, taglines, color palettes, etc. Then, the process of branding the business or product can begin.

Now you can, and probably should, create your brand story. This might be an expanded elevator speech that concentrates on how your business will differentiate itself from competitors. At the same time, you might want to craft a brand creed, or you might call it a customer bill of rights. This is primarily an internal document to guide employee interactions with the public and decision making concerning customers and prospects.

Name Development

The name is the single most important branding element. So creating the name, and then assuring it fits the product, differentiates you from competitors and resonates with your market members is critical.

+ Generate name candidates
+ Screen name for availability, obscenity and adverse connotations
+ Select three to five name candidates
+ Develop name preference questionnaire
+ Survey members of relevant market segments
+ Select and register name

Once the name is selected, other branding elements can be initiated, probably in the order below:

Other elements fall in line

It is possible some of the elements below can be established concurrently. However, at this stage be flexible. The entire assortment of elements must mesh so there are no conflicting or confusing messages being given. Therefore, nothing should be set in stone until the brand itself is completed and reviewed for consistency.

+ Determine if a tagline needs to amplify the name.
+ If so, generate tagline candidates
+ Select several candidates for evaluation by market segment members
+ Select final tagline.
+ Bring in graphic designer with branding experience
+ Create logo candidates and color palette
+ Select several candidates for evaluation by Market segment members
+ Select a final logo design
+ Develop a graphic standards manual documenting the standards for logo usage, selection of colors and type faces, and other graphic elements. This manual should be available to all who will have the need to produce brand collateral materials. It should also be a component of the master Brand Style Guide.
+ Create or revise brand story
+ Create or revise brand creed (principals)

At this point, materials can begin to be prepared for use in soliciting investors/bankers/partners. But there is more to do as outlined below.

+ Document color palette, type fonts, illustrative styles and other visual elements of the brand
+ If audio signature is desired, brainstorm and then create appropriate sounds, music, voice using professional talent
+ If a video/flash signature is desired, brainstorm and them create appropriate clips, commercials, presentations using professional talent
+ If a web site is desired, brainstorm and then create your website and/or your blog using professional talent
+ If packaging, signage, marketing materials are required, brainstorm and then create the required materials using professional talent
+ If trade dress (physical style of facilities, uniforms, vehicles and signage associated with the brand) is required, establish and document specifications.
+ If promotional literature, data sheets, application notes, etc. are to be part of the brand presentation material, establish and document the standards by which they will be developed. Usually this will take the form of templates.

There may be additional items and requirements to address. There certainly will be as time passes. But for a business or product launch, the materials above will suffice.

Document and distribute brand standards

There is one more vitally important component of the branding process that needs to be developed at this point. To ensure employees, channel members, the press and others use your branding elements consistently and with accuracy, develop and distribute brand standards.

+ Develop a Brand Style Guide/manual. The materials it will contain will come from the Brand Platform, the Brand Story and Creed, the Naming brief, the Graphic Standards, and the guidelines and templates for the additional brand elements.
+ Hold meeting(s) with employees, and possibly supply chain members, to provide them an understanding of the brand and their part in communicating and representing the brand
+ Distribute the Brand Style Guide to all suppliers, distributors and employees who will be producing materials, or in any way representing the brand
+ Post the Brand Style Guide on the Internet, along with logos so suppliers can access the approved designs without needing to reconstruct them.

So theres a sequence that builds from idea through launch of a potentially strong brand whose elements are integrated and meaningful. There may be variations on this theme, but for an entrepreneur beginning the branding process, the basics are outlined here.

Summing up: Brand Smart from the Start

Youll save money and energy by doing it right the first time. No re-dos or living with a crippled brand. Faster start from beginning to positive cash flow. Touch point groups becoming aware and active on your behalf sooner and with more enthusiasm. Better relations with investors, suppliers and the press.

The benefits are almost limitless.

So please, please, brand smart from the start.

Differentiating your brand: heritage

Last week I blogged about nostalgia and it’s power as a brand reminder.

In Differentiate or Die by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin, a brand’s heritage is identified as a strong differentiator. So if you have an old brand (a relative term based upon product category) you might consider heritage as the differentiator for your company or product.

A symbol of a simpler lifestyleActually though, the age of the brand is not the only determinant for a brand differentiated by heritage.

A brand can “borrow” a heritage just by being true to a culture or principal associated with the past. For instance, Smuckers uses an apocryphal and bucolic remembrance of the founders childhood to illustrate the “hominess” of their jams and jellies. Vanguard Mutual Funds has long associated itself with the lure of the sailing ship. Continue reading Differentiating your brand: heritage