by Maria Pinochet, BrandStory Expert
A vision statement can be the foundation for the story of your brand. If you reach deep into your core, reflect on the reasons for getting into business, you will find the values and passions that got your started. How do you turn that self-knowledge into a brand story that is meaningful to your clients?
How do you manage your clients’ experiences so that your clients are placed “on track” to the best possible result? How do you align your processes to ensure satisfaction during their “journey” (as they investigate or use your service or product) and as they arrive at their “destination” (become a consumer of your brand)?
Why not let your company vision serve as the “train track” that leads the client through the stages of consumption and purchase of your brand? To successfully write a vision statement that helps accomplish a “smooth ride” and ensures “arrival” to the perfect experience for your clients, make sure to include what you and your brand:
In order to create as close to 100% satisfaction at every point of contact your client has with your brand, a vision statement should answer the following questions: “In a perfect business environment, how do I want my service and/or product to perform? What kind of experience do I want to create for my client?
What makes a compelling vision statement?
A successful vision is structured in such a way that the vision causes you and your clients to think, to feel and to act. Remember, in selling situations, people usually think through their values first, are then influenced by feelings or beliefs, and finally make a decision to purchase. If your vision statement, then, helps to justify your clients’ values, makes them feel good about the connection between those values and your service or product, they will be compelled to make that purchase.
Her company, Kore Access, Incorporated produces marketing communications for online content and for printed materials. BrandStory, one of her copywriting services, delivers a script of your business story to use in digital and print media.
by Maggie Ruch, Virtual Assistant
With the technology boom, brand management has become more important than ever. Social media, blogs, websites, print media—it can get confusing for entrepreneurs who are trying to establish a consistent brand. I’ve put together a checklist of prime real estate in your brand management efforts.
1- Facebook: Your two greatest assets on Facebook are having a custom landing page on your fan page, and having custom artwork for your fan page profile picture. Your profile picture is on the top left of the fan page and shows up on every comment made by you when you are logged in and acting as a page. This should have your logo, contact info, and 1-3 statements about what you do best. If you have a company motto or tagline that expresses in just a few seconds exactly what you do, that is perfect. The idea is for your customers to be able to easily identify you when searching for your company on Facebook and for prospects to know EXACTLY what you do in just a few seconds. The custom landing page or welcome page on your fan page should be something that is fun, interesting, and entices people to “Like” you and to come back again and again.
2- Your twitter background. When people are checking out what you are tweeting, take the opportunity to establish that brand identity. I usually use the custom artwork from Facebook as a sidebar on the left of the twitter feed. Be careful of sizing issues, not all computers browse at the same resolution. Ask people to visit your profile and ask them if they can clearly read the custom image. It should be visible at any resolution. If you have a business that is fun, like pet toys, a fun background featuring your products is a great idea. If you have a very professional business, choose a business background or go with a solid color. The emphasis will be on your custom photo that you used from Facebook instead of the noise of a fancy background image.
3- Your website. Any website that does not have your logo and contact info on any page, along with social media buttons and a contact form is a lost opportunity. You want to clearly express who you are and what you do within just a few seconds of a person landing on ANY page of your website. Having a header with a short tag line and your logo and a footer with your contact info and social sharing buttons is an excellent way to do this. If you have expressed to the visitor clearly your value and expertise, they will be happy to share your site with their friends online.
4- Blog. Blogging is a great way of creating dynamic content, educating your customers and prospects about your business and services, and establishing trust. You don’t have to blog daily or even weekly. Blog when you have something valuable to say or when you see something worth passing along to your clients. Give credit when citing other articles you find, and feel free to use other people’s blogs and articles as reference material. It is seen as a form of flattery. Make sure your blog is equipped with the same key ingredients as your website: your logo, tagline or slogan, contact information, and social sharing buttons. Have fun and look for more than just written articles. Look for video and audio that you can embed in your blog as well.
These are just a few key pieces to creating a more consistent image when branding your business online. As always, do your research and listen to your customer’s feedback. Just because you are “small” doesn’t mean you have to look small. And remember, to keep it simple.
Maggie Ruch is a Virtual Assistant who specializes in assisting entrepreneurs who have an online presence with website and blog design, social media, and brand management. For over 4 years she has partnered with successful coaches and consultants as an integral part of building their businesses. Her website, virtualwebsiteassistant.com showcases examples of her website and fan page design. Visit her site to view testimonials from happy customers. Sign up here for her free course and ebook on branding.
by Laura Cardone, SOUL PATH Branding Expert.
You were so inspired and lit up at the beginning, and you couldn’t wait to get started. It was actually fun imagining what it would be like when “you finally got there”.
And then, something happened that disrupted that beautiful possibility. So you read another book, attended another seminar, or two or three or one hundred …
Or maybe you actually “got there”! You landed THE job, or bought that thing you really, really wanted, or … you launched a business, or found THE partner, and then you wondered … is this all there is?
Maybe you even wondered if there was something wrong with you … maybe you don’t have enough willpower or expertise, or it’s just not meant to be! And besides, “my life isn’t so bad”.
And this is when resignation set in, because the “it’s too hard” inner critic took over the party.
So, are you ready to hear something really interesting and refreshing?
This is a very common experience, so you are not alone here. AND, here’s the really interesting and refreshing part, it’s also very easy to remedy.
You just have to be willing to allow yourself to PLAY again! That’s it! You have to be willing to let go of the “it’s too hard story”. Because as long as you think it’s hard, it will be, and you will never take the actions that allow you to create what you really want in your reality!
What dream or goal have you given up? Is there an idea or something you want to expand in your life, but you haven’t allowed yourself to want it?
Here’s an easy way to get back on the playground!
There’ s Only One Rule; EVERYTHING that pops into your awareness, goes on the list! No censoring allowed! The list is for you and you alone. And just because something goes on the list, doesn’t mean you have to create it. Choosing comes later.
This practice is about getting back in touch with what you really want, and allowing yourself to play in the sandbox of pure creativity again! So you just allow yourself to want… for no particular reason!
This can be one of the most liberating experiences you can create for yourself! Because as you write and keep writing EVERYTHING that comes to you, something miraculous will emerge. You’ll get past the “have tos’ and shoulds” and start to discover what really lights you up. You’ll reconnect with the enthusiasm and excitement of being alive! You’ll reconnect with the creative spirit that resides within you!
Give yourself permission to really PLAY FULL OUT, and then watch the magic unfold!
Your friend and partner in the sandbox of time and space,
Your Life Is a Work of Art, Here Are Your Tools!
Copyright© Laura Cardone 2003-2011 All Rights Reserved. www.profitswithpurpose.com is for inspired dreamers in action, and adventurous souls who are just too marvelous for words!
by Sandy Dumont, THE Image Architect, and BRANDING FOR PEOPLE expert.
Branding has been a buzzword for years, but not much has been written about Branding for People™. The same principles of branding apply for both products and people. You must:
There are many similarities between product branding and personal branding, but they part company when it comes to time and money expended. Product branding is often a lengthy and costly endeavor. Fortunately, personal branding is neither a lengthy nor a costly process. Unless you are a politician, you won’t have to budget for extensive television and newspaper publicity campaigns or celebrity endorsements.
The primary investment is related to image skills. Here’s what your image must convey:
Cigarette companies realized long ago that their clients were not loyal to a particular brand because it tasted better. Taste tests in the 1940s and 1950s disclosed that no one could tell the cigarettes apart. Thus, they were among the first to learn that their clients bought the mystique, not the taste. They smoked “Lucky Strikes” or “Camels” because of the image associated with the brand.
Today, corporate giants such as Starbucks and Nike are aware that their customers are not buying products, they’re buying the experience. They know that brands exist in your heart, not in your head. Branding is about how products and people make us feel. When it comes to people, we want to be able to point proudly to our “expert” and brag, “That’s my banker.” Or, “That’s my car salesman.”
Whether we know it or not we choose our professionals the same way we choose our soul mates: it is emotionally-based love at first sight. Something about the way they look is irresistible.
Sandy Dumont is a corporate image consultant and speaker. She has served Fortune 500 companies for 30 years and has presented on three continents. Contact her at 757.627.6669 or www.theimagearchitect.com. For a limited time only, get a gratis copy of her “7-Day Makeover” book at her website.
By Becky Harmon, BOLD IDENTITY Expert
Definition: The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products
An effective brand is important for your personally and even more so as a business or non-profit leader. Why? It helps people separate you from other’s who make the same claims. Simply put, it’s your very core identity. It tells people exactly WHO you are and what you are going to do for them.
When I think of the orginal brand expert, I think of my faith. What did Christ say? I am the son of God. I am the way, I am the truth and I am the light. There is no way to get to the Father other than me (That pretty much separates him from any other religion). Come to me, all you who are heavy laden and worn out for I will give you rest. I have come to set the captives free.
Not overly complicated and he didn’t need a team of marketing experts to help him develop a logo. Although everytime we see a cross, it reminds us of one thing. The sacrifice that he paid for us individually. That’s all branding is foundationally. It’s a visual picture that helps people “get” quick your core identity.
So let’s break that down for your personal identity so we can help you develop a strong business brand. Who are you? What do people say about you? Are you an edgy leader in your industry? Or are you the experienced, reliable one? Here’s the thing about branding, you can’t be all things to all people. Who you are in essence should be your clients need you to be. Again, if it helps, think in spiritual terms. What did we need Christ to do for us? We needed to be delivered from sin. We needed someone to break the bondage of religious works off of us and reconcile us to our Father. Your brand needs to be developed out of what you provide for your clients.
First, and this has been my observation over the past decade in empowering people to move from sabotage into success that individuals HUGELY underestimate the value of DOING WHAT YOU SAY YOUR GOING TO DO QUICKLY. Might I add without prodding. I know it may sound like a no brainer, but one of the incentives people have for brand loyalty is a consistent experience.
If you say you’re going to have the service ready on a set day, be sure it is ready. Nothing leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth like you not following through on what you say your going to do. I have seen the most gifted, intellectual leaders sabotage themselves by losing the trust of their teams and employees just because they can’t seem to follow through on their word come hell or high water.
At some point, if you are going to be an owner you must have a no excuse policy. Now, if your calling from the emergency room, then you have some slack but the truth is positive experiences lead to powerful partnerships and great momentum which leads to them telling all their friends about you. But don’t forget that bad experiences work the same way and they will tell everyone that you are all talk and no walk. That makes for bad business and no profits or provision.
Next time we will be talking about some great ways to your personal “look” and also the number one way people find you these days, your website!
Becky is a certified Atlanta Life Coach and National Speaker and is passionate about equipping Christians to move from sabotage to success. She has coached hundreds of men and women out of personal sabotage and into success. Determined to become an overcomer after self-sabotaging herself with food, alcohol, rejection, depression and resentment, Becky through the grace of God, has succeeded and is paving the way for countless others to experience the best God has for them. She is a founding member of KSU Toastmasters Club and a member of the Georgia Christian Counselors Association.
“There’s clearly a Google mythology and a Starbucks one was well. We feel differently about brands like these than we do about, say Maxwell House or Random House.
Why do Santa and Ronald McDonald have a mythology but not Dave at Wendy’s or the Burger King?
Let’s try the Wikipedia: Myths are narratives about divine or heroic beings, arranged in a coherent system, passed down traditionally, and linked to the spiritual or religious life of a community, endorsed by rulers or priests.
So, if I were trying to invent a mythic brand, I’d want to be sure that there was a story, not just a product or a pile of facts. That story would promise (and deliver) an heroic outcome. And there needs to be growth and mystery as well, so the user can fill in her own blanks. Endorsement by a respected ruler or priest helps as well.
The key word, I think, is spiritual. Mythological brands make a spiritual connection with the user, delivering something that we can’t find on our own… or, at the very least, giving us a slate we can use to write our own spirituality on.”
By Harper Willis
Has your branding strategy changed since your business was in its initial start-up phase? More importantly, should it?
A recent study published in the Journal of Brand Management concludes that the life of your brand goes through stages. Study authors Mari Juntunen, Saila Saraniemi, Milla Haittu and Jaana Tähtinen of the University of Oulu, Finland looked at small- and medium-sized businesses and research in the field of corporate branding and concluded that that not only should your branding evolve, it must match your current stage of growth.
Read the full article at http://www.bnet.com/blog/smb/a-blueprint-for-branding-a-business-at-every-stage/5071?promo=808&tag=nl.e808
Often during startup or rebranding, entrepreneurs find that what started out as a simple message became muddled by the business of trying to sell the concept and piecing together all of the parts of the puzzle that make up a successful small business. Somehow a great idea became over-complicated along the way. Here are some tips on getting back to the basics to deliver your message clearly and distinctly, connecting you with more of your potential clients from the very start.
The solution? Test, test, test. When you implement something do a reality-check. Ask your friends and colleagues to take a look for you. Ask for feedback. Does it make sense? Does it work the way that it should? Is all of the information visible? (Not in this example of course) do the links work? Having a second, and third and fourth and sometimes fifth set of eyes can be an invaluable asset to any business, small large or moderate.
2. Simplify: There is a huge difference between being creative and coloring all over the walls. You might want to add a splash of personality or some artistic touches here and there, but be careful of too much clutter overwhelming the brand. No matter what the medium you want to have a very clear and distinctive focal point – so less is best. Avoid overcrowding. The eyes love white space. There is a reason why print ads with a lot of white space are pricier.
Keep your message clear, concise and always, always consistent. Having a consistent look across all platforms builds trust. It fosters a sense of consistency which is important. With a consistent message backed up with state-of-the-art performance, potential customers become raving fans!
3. State your purpose: Too often this part gets lost in the details. This is not sales copy; you’re not winning friends and influencing people. It’s simple. What do you do? Narrow it down. Bullet points are best. Stick to as few words as possible and stay focused on the brand. Somewhere towards the top of whatever you are distributing (your website, business cards, a flyer) have a simple statement that tells the recipient/reader EXACTLY what it is that you do.
Think about your target customer and fitting their needs then come up with (in as few words as possible) three statements about what you do:
Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to a more clear and concise brand that delivers a distinctive message to your target customer every time. And if you need help navigating various media types, you can always enlist the aid of your virtual assistant or social media pro.