Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Branding is more than a Logo

The Importance Of Branding

In a competitive market a business must have a brand to stand out. Branding is highly important whether the business operates on a small or a large scale and whether it is a retailer or operates business to business. No matter who the customer is, he has to have something to identify with and recognize.

Any branding should be chosen very carefully. It is the image with which the business is associated and needs to convey the appropriate message to the customer. A logo shouldn’t be picked at random, instead it needs to be professional and reassure the customer that the business offers quality products and services. Once chosen the logo appears on everything from packaging to websites and needs to create a feeling of trust.

Branding is a marketing and advertising tool. The business will garner attention and attract customers with a professionally designed, well thought out logo. Before deciding on the branding a business must define its aim, as well as the features and products of its services. The opinions of current customers need to be taken into account, as well as their future needs and desires. Potential clients should not be forgotten. Once settled, it is advisable to hire a designer to get a professional, polished look that will be a part of the business’s identity forever.

The defined and professionally designed brand can, and should be used everywhere and anywhere. It should be on letterheads, packaging, websites, staff uniforms and badges to name but a few. Wherever it appears it is seen by existing and potential customers, who come to recognize it and remember it. Branding extends to employees and the message they give to customers. It incorporates how a business answers the telephone and signs its e-mails. The brand is a company’s ‘voice’ and has to be consistent to build up a good relationship between the business and its customer.

It takes hard work and dedication to build up a brand, but the rewards are worth it. A customer base that trusts a business and what it stands for is priceless, as is the repeat business and the power of word of mouth. Once established, however, a business can’t afford to rest on its laurels. The brand represents quality, reliability and much more and the services or products have to live up to this reputation to survive and prosper.

The Brand Building behind Food Network

Behind the kitchens at the Food Network, they’ve been cooking up some vey savvy branding – for the Network as as well as for its individual hosts.

Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee are the two biggest brands. The way they are mareketed provides a good branding lesson: you can occupy the same positioning within a niche, yet own a distinctive brand that sets you apart.

Distinct Brands with the Same Positioning:

The positioning these two stars occupy is one of dominance in home-making convenience: swift and easy, calibre meal preparation for busy women (mostly). Yet apiece has been healthy to carve out a separate and distinct brand within that same space.

Taglines that Build Brands:

Rachel Ray’s empire is build on the foundation of her very emphatic tagline – “30 minute meals.” The study states it all. Sandra Lee’s tagline is “semi-homemade meals” – preparing meals with the aid of pre-packaged ingredients.
It is essentially the same positioning, but without the exact time period that Ray uses. The implication is the same: you’ll be healthy to prepare calibre meals at home faster.
While both have been healthy to establish an dominance position within the convenience field, interestingly, their dominance does not come from industry credentials. The sense of dominance they have been healthy to build comes from their one-of-a-kind personalities and presentation, as well as their individual stories.

They learned how to cook on their own, either because they had to (in Lee’s case) or as in Ray’s case, her mom was in the food service business, and an avid cook

Leveraging a Brand Into Multiple Products:

Both have been been healthy to leverage their brands to create and promote multiple products. Some of Lee’s branded products include: Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Desserts, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking II, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Grilling … she even ventures into Rachael Ray’s turf with Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade 20-Minute Meals.
Rachael Ray’s branded product line includes cookbooks, such as 30-Minute Meals, 30-Minute Meals 2, Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals: Cooking ‘Round the Clock,Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals for Kids: Cooking Rocks!, Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Get Real Meals: Eat Healthy Without Going to Extremes, among others.

And because both of their brands have been established in a highly scalable niche – home convenience, they have been healthy to easily grow their product lines beyond food, into the further reaches of home-making, on TV, in print, etc. (Lee actually started her brand in the home-making field and then went into food).

Finding Different Marketing Angles Within the Same NicheIn their products as well as in their shows, their distinctive personalities, look, and style etc. further differentiates their brands from one another. But the difference is built on a foundation of strong taglines that embody one-of-a-kind marketing angles within the same niche: 30 minute meals vs semi-homemade.
The lesson here is just because someone else might have established an dominance positioning in a niche you want, doesn’t mean you can’t create a different, yet successful brand within the same space.
However attempts to copy or merely imitate a brand within a niche position will not only fail, it will mark you as inauthentic. You need to be healthy to take one-of-a-kind angle so you can carve out your own space within the niche you want.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What if Starbucks.....

What if Starbucks charged a monthly fee, but you could drink all the "basic" coffee you wanted? It cost Starbucks only a few cents a cup. It might even become cheaper for them if you had your own mug up on a shelf to pull down each time you visited. Think of all the paper they would save by not giving out a paper cup with each order?

My Condolences to Traditional PR....

It is a cliché that the Internet revolutionized our lives but as far as Public Relations are concerned, this is more than true. Thanks to the Internet , in general, Social Media in particular, old-school PR is becoming history. Of course, nobody forbids you to use old PR tricks to promote a site but if you haven’t discovered yet, social media are more efficient in doing so than traditional PR approaches. In a sense, social media are the upgraded version of public relations. Welcome to PR 2.0!

When I say that social media is better than old-school PR, I really mean it. Social media excel traditional PR channels in many ways, some of which are:

1.Social Media Is Cheaper

Most, if not all of the major social media sites you can use to promote your site for free. Even those sites, which offer a paid membership aren’t very expensive and they are still many times cheaper than, for instance, publishing a paid press release in a local newspaper or paying for the hosting of a PR site of your own.

2.Social Media Allow Better Targeting

Another advantage with social media is that it allows for better targeting. For those social media sites, where you have to approve people to get access to your profile (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.), you have a lot of control over who are connected with. What is more, if you join a group (or create one) in your niche, you can get even more targeted in your messages.
3.Social Media Is Fashionable
Nowadays, everybody is on social media. Even President Obama and other top politicians are on Facebook and Twitter. Many experts believe that the skillful use of Web 2.0 sites was one of the main reasons why Mr. Obama won the elections. Some like to say that social media is just a trend that will pass, which just isn’t true. Social media is much more than that and it is certainly here to stay.

4.Social Media Have a Wider Reach

In comparison to traditional media, social media reaches a wider audience. Add the incredibly low costs to that and you will realize why social media is many times more efficient than traditional PR. With social media you can reach your audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (if of course, the hosting of your social media site doesn’t go down now and then).

5.Social Media Gives More Flexibility

Last, but not least, social media gives you more flexibility. If you have to broadcast an important piece of news, you just post it on your profile and the people in your network will see it right away. With traditional PR, it is not always possible to have such short reaction time and very often updates to an already prepared press release are not possible at all.
The list of advantages with social media over traditional PR could continue indefinitely but it is obvious that even to mention of a few of these advantages is enough to convince any old-school PR expert to jump on the social media wagon.