From time to time, someone will ask me whether they really need to worry about branding their company. It’s usually asked by the leader of a B2B enterprise that markets to a select few customers and where the sales relationships are one-to-one, very personal. If I’m basically selling to my golfing buddies, goes the reasoning, why do I need to spend money on a logo or a website or whatever? Well, that may be true but improving sales is not the only advantage to having a brand. In fact, there are eight economic advantages to developing a strong brand. See link at the end of this article.
A variation on the question is: Do I really need a personal brand? The reasoning here is: The people I work with know who I am so why should I have to formalize it in any way? But personal branding, as a deliberate activity, sprang from the need to be noticed in the first place. It is difficult to gain recognition in a working world where people have been commoditized. Bankers, lawyers, accountants, carpenters, nurses – anybody – seem interchangeable on the surface. It’s not till you get to know people that you appreciate their strengths and weaknesses. I wrote about a perfect example of personal branding in A Brand Of One. Again, there’s a link at the end of this article.
But how to answer the original question? The best way to determine if you really need a brand is to first review what, exactly, is even able to be branded.
Jay Gould is a noted businessman, a turnaround specialist who takes on troubled business lines and brings them back to profitability. He’s worked his magic at Newell Rubbermaid, Graco, Pepperidge Farm and, most recently, at American Standard. Gould is first to say that his successes come, in large part, from “viewing all … decisions through the Brand Lens”. What is the Brand Lens? It is the lens through which you view your brand positioning. It’s nothing less than a vital management tool that helps you make the correct strategic decisions – every time. Use it to “future-proof” your business.
Once you’ve developed your brand strategy and understand your brand positioning … Once you’ve articulated your unique, differentiating brand promise in a formal positioning statement … you have, essentially, created the foundation for your brand, otherwise known as the brand platform. But that’s just the beginning. You don’t have an actual brand yet. A brand is a promise kept. Just because you know what your brand promise is, doesn’t mean anybody else does. Now, you have to make that brand promise. You have to make it to your entire market, all your constituencies. That means you have to tell your story in a clear, concise and consistent manner. And that requires a little bit of planning.
After last Tuesday’s election, 28 states plus Washington DC have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. Of those 28, seven states, plus DC, have also legalized recreational use. And of those seven, one is California with it’s huge population and habit of setting trends for the nation. Marijuana is now big business and it looks like the dominoes are falling. Soon most, if not all, of the states will have gone green. States will enjoy a significant new tax base. Marijuana abuse, if such a thing actually exists, will be seen as a health issue and not a criminal issue. That will decrease prison populations, easing overcrowding and freeing up even more budgets. All this will put enormous pressure on the federal government to legalize the “demon weed” as well. Federal legalization would mean the banks can service the industry for the first time, letting it shed its cash-only stigma. And once that happens, giant, multi-national companies like British American Tobacco and Philip Morris will want to buy a seat at the table. Finally, when the big guns get involved, you know what happens next. Branding! But what will that branding look like in the complex world of cannabis?
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