Via: Owen Frager
To make it simple, branding yourself is about letting everyone know who you are and what are you specialized in. Branding yourself is part of the many things that will help you create success, because it will help you to attract people from all walks of life to be your friend, your network contact, a new client for your business, or maybe someone who wants to introduce you to other of the same type of interest. Branding yourself is a major part in Internet marketing or the network marketing industry.
VIA guest blogger Owen Frager:
Instinctively, every small business owner understands the importance of brand equity, even if they may not be able to define the idea. Marketing-speak aside, brand equity is how your customer recognizes why you are different and better than the alternative.
Brand equity is built on that customer’s direct experience with your product or service. This experience, repeated over time, creates equity or value in your brand. And it serves as a shorthand in the buyer’s mind that separates you from everyone else.
Brand equity is what creates loyalty that carries beyond price or the occasional product or service bump in the road. It is the quality that motivates your customers to recommend their friends or colleagues to you.
Everyone wants brand equity. But building it, when you are more likely to qualify for the Inc. 500 rather than the Fortune 500, can be a puzzle. Particularly when the role models for brand equity are global icons like Coca Cola, Volvo, or Sony—hardly your peer set.
The good news is that the path to building brand equity is clear. Here are six simple steps you can take to get started:
1. Clarify your position
The first step to building brand equity is to define your positioning: the single thing your company stands for to your customers. Single is the operative word here. Good positioning forces hard choices.
To define your brand position, get the key leaders in your company together. Decide what makes you different and better than your competition. This might sound blindingly obvious, but most small businesses are too busy responding to customers or making payroll to do a lot of introspection.
You don’t need an agency or consultant to get started. There are a couple of good exercises out there that you can do on your own. A simple one that I like is the Positioning XYZs:
“We are the only X that solves Y problem in Z unique way.”
X is the category of the company, product, or service or other offering you’ve chosen to own.
Y is the unmet need of your target audience.
Z is the differentiation, advantage, or key positive distinction you have over your competition.
2. Tell your story
Clear positioning is critical, but positioning statements are internal touchstones, not external expressions. Your next job is to make it interesting, to imbue the rational positioning with emotion.
All brands are stories, and a good way to get started is to document and share your best corporate stories: the founding insight of the company, the times you went to extraordinary lengths to take care of a customer, or the background behind the big product breakthrough.
The good news is that with ubiquitous broadband access and Web-based applications, it is within every company’s grasp to share these stories more broadly through rich-media video and audio.
B.Good, a small restaurant chain in Boston, has done this well. It’s a burger joint that promises “real food,” positioning itself against the typical fast-food burger and experience. The real food story begins with the stories of the “real people,” the founders whose corporate values are based on their experiences growing up at their uncle’s restaurant. You’re reminded of these stories when you’re in the restaurant or checking store hours online.
3. Bring it to life
Once you have the story, you need to bring it to life. Make sure that the way your company looks and feels to the outside world matches that truth. This leads to questions about your corporate identity: Do the basics (starting with your name and logo) make the impression you want? And your broader system for communicating to the market: Web site, brochures, your retail environment.
A client of mine talked about his Web site as a “corporate veil” that obscured what made the company special. Does your corporate identity reveal the best truth about your business, or does it hide it?
4. Start building brand before they buy
Think beyond the transaction. Brands begin at the transaction level, but the brand experience goes much deeper. The opportunity to create a brand impression starts long before the buying decision. The principle is a simple one: Give away an artifact of your brand for free. In the professional services world, this means a taste of your service or your intellectual property. Here are two creative examples:
Igor is a naming consultancy based in San Francisco. It has built a methodology—and a client list that rivals those of much-larger branding agencies. That methodology is laid bare in a 100-page guide to naming that it gives away—without any registration requirements—on its Web site.
This move is both generous, in the spirit of Web content “wanting to be free,” and also incredibly shrewd. The naming guide is rich, detailed, and outlines a very clear process for naming. Igor understands that giving away IP (intellectual property) doesn’t cost it business—but it is its lead business generator.
It doesn’t have to be just IP. Peet’s, the coffee retailer, allows customers to send their friends an “eCup,” an email redeemable for a free cup of coffee. This is an ingenious way to enable the fiercely loyal customers of Peet’s to promote the brand themselves.
5. Measure your efforts
Here are a few direct ways to measure the progress of your brand:
Ask your customers. Survey a subset of customers, prospective customers, and (ideally) people who chose a competitor over you. You’ll be surprised at how candid people will be about your strengths—and your weaknesses. Make sure you ask the most important question in any customer research: Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague? Research (check out www.netpromoter.com) has shown that the willingness to recommend is the most important indicator of brand health. This research can be done quite cheaply online, using free or near-free tools like KeySurvey or SurveyMonkey.
Check your search rankings. I don’t know all of what Igor measures, but I do know it fares very well in what is perhaps the most important measure of them all: organic search results. Type “product naming” on Google, and chances are you’ll see Igor come up in the top three listings (the earned ones in the middle, not the paid ones on the top or side).
“Last week was a tough week for everyone, as we went through the process of
laying off 8% of the Zappos family. At the same time, it was also
heartwarming hearing all the stories of Zappos employees and ex-employees
getting together for drinks Thursday night after the layoffs as well as
over the weekend.
The economic environment we’re in right now is unlike any we’ve ever
witnessed in our lifetime. These are extraordinary times, and America is
not out of the woods yet. Many people expect 2-3 million Americans to lose
their jobs before we hit the bottom of our current economic cycle.
As difficult as times may be, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life,
it’s that things are never as bad as they seem or as good as they seem. In
most cases, this perspective usually comes long after a “bad” or “good”
event has occurred.
This is actually the second time we’ve had to do layoffs across the board
at Zappos. We’ve been around for 9.5 years, and the first time we had to
do layoffs was during the early years of the company, when we laid off
about half our staff due to a bad economy and our inability to raise
funding. At the time, we still were not profitable.
However, the layoffs we did in the early days forced the team that
remained to become much stronger, and because we did not have a lot of
money at the time, it forced us to focus on servicing our existing
customers instead of trying to acquire a lot of new customers. Ultimately,
it was the catalyst for transforming Zappos from being just about shoes to
a company focused on customer service and company culture. It started a
domino effect that ultimately made us who we are today.
Moving forward, we have a similar opportunity. We have the opportunity to
make our culture stronger than ever before. It’s something that will
require everyone’s involvement and effort, but based on our history, I
know it can be done.
We also have the opportunity to make the company healthier than ever
before. As we come up with innovative and creative ways of generating
more revenue, profits, and cash flow, we will be prioritizing them based
on what will be most beneficial to our company.
One question that has come up is whether we will be doing another round of
layoffs after the new year. There are currently no plans to do so. When we
laid off 8% of our employees last week, we chose that number because we
felt that it would cut our expenses enough to get us through all of 2009,
based on our current financial forecasts. As mentioned in my previous email,
our layoffs were done proactively to ensure that we would be
profitable and cash flow positive in 2009.
As part of reducing our 2009 expenses, and to bring us all closer
together, we are in the process of moving people so that everyone in our
Las Vegas offices will be either in the 2280 or 2290 building, which are
next door to each other. The moving should be completed over the next
couple of weeks.
We’ve got a busy holiday season ahead, and while everyone will be busy and
working hard with their individual jobs, let’s also make a conscious
effort to think about how we can help each other out even more than usual,
not just within your department, but cross-departmentally and throughout
the entire company as well.
Remember, this is not my company, and this is not our investors’ company.
This company is all of ours, and it’s up to all of us where we go from
here. The power lies in each and every one of us to move forward and come
out as a team stronger than we’ve ever been in the history of the company.
Let’s show the world what Zappos is capable of.
Tony Hsieh, CEO”
What else would you call this hilarious Photoshop combination of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama?
The Katholieke Universiteit Brussel (Catholic University) en Ehsal are combining college and university. There are many ways to visualize it. I’m glad Belgium agency LDV United choose this one.
A poster campaign from the Women’s Aid Organization of Malaysia to encourage people to speak up against female abuse. The posters, portraying women of different ages, were covered in post-it notes bearing insults, and viewers were urged to ‘take back the abusive words’ by removing the post-it notes and signing the petition on the back.
Agency: Arc Worldwide, Malaysia
Source: Direct daily
VIA: Owen Frager
Interesting insight from Owen Frager:
In a new study released in the New York Times, it turns out that the typical NY police officer only hits 34% of the time she fires a gun. Even from a distance of six feet or less, it’s 43%. Obviously, Bruce Willis is the exception.
Seth Godin wonders how it changes your decision making when you discover that you’re only going to be successful one out of three times. Never mind blasting a weapon out of an assailant’s hand, we’re talking about hitting the target at all… How does a cop have the guts to even pull a weapon knowing that most of the time, it’s not going to have its desired effect (my guess is that the threat and the noise and chaos is as positive an outcome as an actual hit…). Seth knows that he would never have the guts to do that job.
Salespeople have a harder time with this than marketers. Marketers have lots of ‘bullets’ and they don’t notice the ones they miss (I usually miss 99.5% of the time online, and more than 99.999% elsewhere). We just reload and blithely continue on. But salespeople have to deal both with personal rejection and the expectation of the boss.
The poor hit rate of selling explains call resistance. Non-professional salespeople almost always wash out because they can’t keep at it, day after day, once they realize that most of the time, they fail. I guess my point is that if a policeman can risk his life doing it, we can probably find the nerve to go on one more sales call.
To ensure you hit the mark more then miss and deliver quality leads to your salespeople, consider Ted Cooper’s Never-Been-Improved-Upon Copy Formula:
1. Make a Promise
2. Prove It
3. Ask for Action
4. Leave Everything Else Out
It’s because writing copy is not just about words.
It’s understanding the core desires of the audience being targeted, the ability to create unbeatable offers to get people to buy and creating campaigns that work, create response and create loyal customers.
The promise you make in a headline needs to be about something someone already knows they want, or a problem they already know they have. And it needs to be in the same language they use themselves when they describe what they want or what their problem is.