Branding Archives

Today, I have created a video that speaks directly to the real estate industry as I am in the middle of a large prospecting campaign which targets real estate professionals.  Even if you are not in the real estate profession, this video may help you carve out a nice little niche within your market.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://smbconsultinginc.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/niche-research.swf" width="500" height="334" allowfullscreen="true" /]

If the above embedded video doesn’t show, click the link below (wow, that rhymed!):

Real Estate Niche Research

If you haven’t received an email from me about downloading your own FREE copy of “The State of Online Search for Real Estate,” please head on over to http://smb-seo.com and register now.

Let me know what you’re thinking after you’ve finished watching the video. Read the rest of this entry

Branding Trivia

By Derrick Daye on Sam Gale

We don’t have extra time, but we’ll always make some for branding trivia…

•Coca-Cola was originally green.
•Iceland consumes more Coca-Cola per capita than any other nation.
•A can of Diet Coke will float in water while a can of regular Coke sinks.
•7% of Americans eat McDonalds each day.
•Colgate faced a significant obstacle marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking countries. Colgate translates into the command “go hang yourself.”
•All hospitals in Singapore use Pampers diapers.
•Levi Strauss first intended to sell his denim material to the miners who were searching for gold in 1850, in order to make tents and covers for their wagons.
•The wristwatch was invented in 1904 by Louis Cartier
•Ben and Jerry’s send the waste from making ice cream to local pig farmers to use as feed. Pigs love the stuff, except for one flavor: Mint Oreo.
•The Ramses brand condom is named after the great pharaoh Ramses II who fathered over 160 children.
•American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each
salad served in first-class.
•When KFC first translated its advertising slogan “finger lickin’ good” into Chinese, it came out as “eat your fingers off.”
•In 1921 advertising manager Sam Gale of General Mills created fictional spokeswoman Betty Crocker so that correspondence to housewives could be sent with her signature.
•Pepsi spent a lot of money on an advertising campaign in China with the slogan “Pepsi gives you life” – unfortunately, it was translated as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”
•Over 275 different PEZ heads have been designed, with some 48 models on the market at any one time. The most popular dispensers of all-time are the Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus models.
•Inventor Joshua L. Cowen, created the first battery, which spawned American Eveready. He also created Lionel trains.

Branding: Differentiate or Die

By Derrick Daye on Sprint

What has changed in business over recent decades is the amazing proliferation of product choices in just about every category.

It’s been estimated that there are 1,000,000 SKU’s (Standard Stocking Units) out there in America. An average supermarket has 40,000 SKU’s. Now for the stunner: An average family gets 80% to 85% of their needs from 150 SKU’s. That means there’s a good chance they’ll ignore 39,850 items in that store.

The dictionary defines “tyranny” as absolute power that often is harsh or cruel. So it is with choice. With the enormous competition, markets today are driven by choice. The customer has so many good alternatives that you pay dearly for your mistakes. Your competitors get your business, and you don’t get it back very easily. Companies that don’t understand this will not survive. (Now that’s cruel.)

Just look at some of the names on the headstones in the brand graveyard: American Motors, Burger Chef, Carte Blanc, Eastern Airlines, Gainesburgers, Gimbels, Hathaway Shirts, Horn & Hardart, Mr. Salty Pretzels, Philco, Trump Shuttle, VisiCalc, Woolworth’s.

And this is only a short list of names that are no longer with us.

In this global killer economy you have to find a way to differentiate yourself–or have very low prices. To do this, here are the steps you must follow:

Step One: The Context

Arguments are never made in a vacuum. There are always surrounding competitors trying to make arguments of their own. Your message has to make sense in the context of the category. It has to start with what the marketplace has heard and registered from your competition.

The context also includes what’s happening in the market. Is the timing for your idea right?

Nordstrom’s differentiating idea of “better service” played perfectly into the context of a department store world that was reducing its people and service as a way to cut costs.

Lotus launched the first successful network on “groupware software” called Notes just as corporate America was networking its PC’s. IBM ended up buying Lotus and Notes for $3.5 billion.

It’s like riding a wave. If you’re too early or late, you’ll go nowhere. Catch it just right and you’ll get a long and profitable ride for your difference.

Step Two: The Differentiating Idea

To be different is to be not the same. To be unique is to be one of a kind.

So you’re looking for something that separates you from your competitors. The secret is understanding that your different-ness does not have to be product related.

Consider a horse. Yes, horses are quickly differentiated by their type. There are race horses, jumpers, ranch horses, wild horses and on and on. But in racehorses, you can differentiate them by breeding, by performance, by stable, by trainer and on and on.

A product or service can be differentiated by feature, leadership, preference, heritage, specialty, how it’s made and on and on. (I wrote a book on this subject if you want more ways to differentiate your brand.)

Step Three: The Credentials

To build a logical argument for your difference, you must have the credentials to support your differentiating idea. This will make it real and believable.

If you have a product difference, then you should be able to demonstrate that difference. The demonstration, in turn, becomes your credentials. If you have a leak-proof valve, then you should be able to have a direct comparison with valves that can leak.

Claims of difference without proof are really just claims. For example, a “wide-track” General Motors’ Pontiac must be wider than other cars. British Air as the “world’s favorite airline” should fly more people than any other airline. Coca-Cola as the “real thing” has to have invented colas. When it’s “Hertz and not exactly,” there should be some unique services that the others don’t offer.

You can’t differentiate with smoke and mirrors. Consumers are skeptical. They’re thinking, “Oh yeah, Mr. Advertiser? Prove it!” You must be able to support your argument.

Step Four: Communicate Your Difference

Just as you can’t keep your light under a basket, you can’t keep your difference under wraps.

If you build a differentiated product, the world will not automatically beat a path to your door. Better products don’t win. Better perceptions tend to be the winners. Truth will not win out unless it has some help along the way.

Every aspect of your communications should reflect your difference. Your advertising. Your brochures. Your Web site. Your sales presentations.

In marketing, the rich often get richer because they have the resources to drive their ideas into the mind. Their problem is separating the good ideas from the bad ones, and avoiding spending money on too many products and too many programs.

Unfortunately, without the proper resources, even the best differentiating idea won’t get off the ground. Look what happened to AT&T in recent years. They failed to differentiate themselves from Sprint Nextel and MCI. The result: A price war that ended in the ignomy of being bought by a Baby Bell.

As I said, differentiate or die.

Internal Brand Building: Living the Brand

By Derrick Daye on The Conference Board

Increasingly, organizations are finding it critical to gain their employee’s understanding and enthusiastic support of their brand’s essence, promise and personality. They know that they must achieve integrity between what the brand says about itself and how it actually behaves. The bottom line: they understand that consistently delivering the brand promise at each and every point of customer contact is critical to their success.

Organizational Support Critical to Brand Strategy Success
In 1998, The Conference Board conducted a study on “Managing the Corporate Brand.” In that study, they discovered four organizational support factors were critical to brand strategy success.

They are:

•CEO leadership and support
•A distinctive corporate culture that serves as a platform for the brand promise
•The ability to obtain support from a broad spectrum of employees
•The alignment of brand messages across functions

These factors are clearly more dependent upon the human resource function than the marketing function.

The Importance of Front Line Employees
At the Institute for International Research’s December 1999 Brand Masters Conference in Palm Beach, Florida, Sixtus Oechsle, Manager, Corporate Communications & Advertising, Shell Oil Company, indicated that in a study of sources of brand favorability, Shell Oil found that interaction with company employees had the greatest impact (much greater than brand ads or news) on brand favorability. Indeed, most organizations have discovered that the ‘moment of truth’ in the delivery of the brand promise almost always occurs in customers’ interactions with front-line employees.

At the Institute for International Research’s The Branding Trilogy conference in Santa Barbara, California, Kristine Shattuck, Los Angeles Area Marketing Manager, Southwest Airlines put it well when she said, “Enthusiastic employees spread enthusiasm to customers. Market to your employees as much as your customers. If your employees don’t ‘get it,’ neither will your customers.” This can only happen if top management aligns all of its organization’s processes and systems in support of its brand’s promise.

The 10 New Rules of Branding

By Derrick Daye on Walmart

1) Brands that influence culture sell more; culture is the new catalyst for growth.
Look at Google. They are changing the way we behave online. Nike is a brand that has become a part of all culture. If you get into that split screen, you become part of the lexicon of life.

2) A brand with no point of view has no point; full-flavor branding is in, vanilla is out.
Love or hate Fox News, you know where it stands on issues. And Ben & Jerry’s is more than just ice cream; it’s a company that stands for a cause. Younger consumers have grown up in a consumer world. They’re flexing their muscle, and they want their brands to stand for something.

3) Today’s consumer is leading from the front; this is the smartest generation to have ever walked the planet.
Today’s consumers are more discriminating and more experimental. They have very strong opinions on brands, and a lot of brands are getting consumers involved. Take Converse and the Converse Gallery, where consumers can make a 24-second film that will run on their site. It’s consumer-generated creativity and a natural savviness.

4) Customize wherever and whenever you can; customization is tomorrow’s killer whale.
The second advent of the Internet has consumers wanting something all their own. Consumers say, ‘I need something that is mine, not mass-produced for everybody.’ The best example is Apple’s iTunes Website. Instead of buying a CD, consumers are buying the tracks they want and putting them on their iPods. Look at Starbucks, which creates whatever beverage a consumer wants, and Nike, which allows you to design a shoe online.

5) Forget the transaction, just give me an experience; the mandate is simple: Wow them every day, every way.
Apple and Coach found that the best way to give consumers a brand experience wasn’t just to sell product in store but to control the entire experience. This is why they build stores in major cities. Looking for the other brands to soon be involved in the ‘experience.’

6) Deliver clarity at point of purchase; be obsessive about presentation.
There’s an “option overload” in the supermarket aisles, and anything that simplifies that for consumers is welcome. If I’m a consumer and I stand in front of a shelf, I see a wall of product. Brands are beginning to recognize that you have to be clear about what they are selling at the point of purchase.

7) You are only as good as your weakest link; do you know where you’re vulnerable?
Today’s younger consumers show zero tolerance when a brand makes a mistake. If a Website isn’t good enough, they will ignore your brand, and if you get negative PR about something, it will stick no matter what you do to rectify it. Brands like Wal-Mart and Nike are still connected to negative PR about alleged abuse of foreign workers.

8) Social responsibility is no longer an option; what’s your cause, what’s your contribution?
Consumers now expect corporations to get involved in cause marketing. Businesses are doing a better job at getting behind causes, for example, Timberland (“Take a stand against genocide”), Target (“Every day Target gives back to the community”), eBay (its Giving Works program, for starters), and GE (which this year launched its Citizenship Report, an annual report of sorts regarding the company’s environmental and safety initiatives). Not all businesses promote these efforts, however, because they’re worried their efforts will be seen as commercial.

9) Pulse, pace, and passion really make a difference; had your heartbeat checked recently?
We’re in a crazy world. We keep piling more devices upon us. The more you have, the more you need. If your business does not have a high metabolic rate, you’re not going to survive. Companies like Google move fast, and that means the older, slower companies are doomed.

10) Innovation is the new boardroom favorite.
Brands are inspired by Apple more than anyone else. They transformed the music business, and people are taking what they did seriously. Procter & Gamble and GE are driving this and have made innovation the core of their corporate strategy.

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