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Branding for your company is bigger than just creating colors, patterns and strategy.
Shakespeare said; "This above all, to thine own self be true."
It is about integrity and connecting with your customer.
Branding is your master plan, your vision and how you want to make the unique connections with your customers.
Brand attributes - are logos, fonts and colors.
Before you spend any money on a website, colors and logos, educate yourself through books, seminars and mentors.
If you act small now, you will be small when you rollout your business.
You need to act big and connect with people who can help you get your business off the ground in a larger entity.
Develop the message of the promise that you want your customers to benefit from.
Develop identity guidelines - what are your standards?
Do you align your brand with your dream and how you want your customers to see you in 5 years?
Naming your brand - Try to identify your connection to the customer via your name. Some names will not work, what would you call the Ford Mustang if you were to name it today? Fords sports car? Muscle Car? Mustang works well.
What would you rename "Preparation H"? You don't even want to go there...
Naming must support your brand promise and company vision.
If you have several products, use one single brand if you can.
Color - When you think of IBM you think of Blue.
McDonald has golden arches and the same look in every store.
When you walk in, you know what to expect. Customers like that.
Attributes - What attributes would you associate with Caterpillar?
What would a Caterpillar bicycle look like?
What would a Porsche bicycle look like?
Analyzing these thoughts and visions shows the power of brand attributes.
Some companies Brand by personality and employee culture - IBM, Southwest Airlines, and Apple Computers.
Make sure your employee behavior and decision making is consistent with the brand and strategy.
This strategy will allow employees to work around problems and obstacles because they are fully aware of the brand strategies, positions and goals.
Even more importantly, Brand strategy gives the employee a sense of purpose, ownership and loyalty.
With an effective brand strategy, there will be less internal conflict and more focus on external results.
Get your people hooked on your vision.
As a CEO you must "BE" and "ACT' your vision, it backs up the philosophy.
Talk to your people and constantly remind them of the vision.
Select people during the recruiting process that will align with your corporate vision.
If you are a pre-startup company you should not be branding.
Your business is going to change and you will need to spend more money to develop where you will be in your market.
If done right, your brand will be a big part of the monetary value of your company.
Websites - Your website should make people feel like they want to stay there, like they have been given a gift.
If you require someone to view a Flash video to get to your information or home page, you are losing customers.
You have 8 seconds or less and if you take up too much of the viewer's time, you will lose the prospect.
Speak your customers' language, not your own internal lingo.
You do not need to try to impress your prospect, you need to "cut to the chase" and sell your product or service.
Your website is your customers' window to your company.
If you confuse, delay gratification or speak a different language, your prospect will leave the website and never come back other than by mistake.
Use the language your prospects use to help search engines to find your company.
Keywords in the context of the customer mind and entered in their search are your ads on the search engines.
It's like sending the cinnamon smell out to attract people in the mall to your cinnamon roll store.
They can't resist! Have the web experience match the store or place of business you work from.
Create an environment where you get maximum return on the energy expended. Maximum Consistency and full alignment creates no resistance to profits and ROI.
5 steps to building your brand;

  1. Align you brand with your vision - do not delegate the dream and vision.
  2. Establish a unique connection with your customer - if everyone else is blue, be red if your research says that red is best identified with your target market! Be part of your customer community. Harley connects with its motorcycle owners. If you analyze your competition, you will become like your competition. If you analyze your customer, you will identify and market to their needs and develop equity in them.
  3. Build relationship equity - a sum of all the experiences compel the customer to always do business with you and to tell their friends and coworkers about you.
  4. Sometimes prospects will perceive that you are not being honest, it is more likely that you are inconsistent in your vision through the levels of your organization that makes the customers feel that you are not being honest.
  5. Adapt a consistent brand for every function of your company - the message comes out through the natural filters always as it came in and is consistent with the corporate image. Develop the same look and feel at every level of your corporation so that the customer sees the consistency no matter who they talk to or what place of your business they visit. Make sure the customer always sees your integrity and vision no matter who they talk to in the company. Your website, sales, customer service, executives, call centers, warehouse; every aspect of your business needs to hold the same philosophy. Have an accurate interpretation of continuous, clear and open communication with your company team.
  6. Leverage your brand - consistency in alignment saves time and money.

Adopt elements that are important to your target customer. Look for things that are similar in language, in color and represent them.
Become a part of the natural symbols and events. Show up at their events, your competition is likely not showing up there.
Integrate your identity into your client's identity and mindset. Own the relationship with your client so your competition has a very difficult time infiltrating your market share.
Become a raving fan of your customer and they will become a raving fan of yours!
Manage your customer experience.
Create a positive perception so that your clients think of you first when it comes to advice, a product or experience.
People remember experiences good or bad. This is your equity in your client that you develop and protect.

"Good leaders create the vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion." Jack Welch

"We are what we repeatedly do; excellence is not an act but a habit." Aristotle