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Branding Fiasco -- Better Be Who You Say You Are!
Our experience as customers offers great instruction into the concept of branding. Come with me on a recent "experience" and you'll see what I mean. Here's the situation:
I want to order an 800 number. On my AT&T bill is a customer services number. I call it. A voice mail gives four options. None of which I want. Just TRY to get a representative. I am instructed to dial another number. I am given three options. Hit 0 for operator and the disembodied voice says I have called after hours. The hours are 7am - 10-pm Monday- Fri. Eastern Standard Time.
Fine. It is now 4am Monday in California. They should be open. By 4:30am in CA I have called repeatedly and punched in all the prompts until I am ready to punch someone. I am still told by a disembodied voice that the offices are closed. I try another number. This time, I reach a computer voice.
Computer: "I'll try and help you. Tell me in your own words what you want."
Me: "Toll free service."
Computer: "I'm sorry. I did not understand. Let me tell you what services we offer?"
Me: "I want a person"
Computer: "Tell me, in your own words, what you want."
Me: "Toll free service!"
Computer: "I am sorry. I do not understand what you want."
Me: (screaming) "I want a person."
Computer: "I am sorry. I?"
I call 00 in frustration. "Operator!!"
Operator: "How can I help?"
Me: "I have been trying without luck to get someone in customer service. I have been caught in a voice mail hell with an atavistic voice. How do I talk to a person?"
Operator: "I am sorry you are having problems. You can talk to a supervisor."
Supervisor: "Can I help you?"
Me: (heatedly) "I want to ask about a toll free number. I have dialed three numbers and cannot get in. It says the offices open at 7am and now it's almost 8am EST!"
Supervisor: "Oh, sometimes they forget to turn off that message so the phones can ring through. We have to call and tell them."
Me: (incredulously) "You mean the PHONE company has employees who do NOT know their first order of business is to turn on phones to answer customers!"
Supervisor: (calmly) "I am sorry. Let me give you a different number than the one you have been calling. You need to call the office for AT&T 1-800 Easy Reach.
"Easy Reach?!??!?" Who are they trying to kid! I call this "Impossible to Reach".
Branding Lesson #1: Your name sets up an expectation. Live up to it or suffer.
There is a promise established in what we advertise and name things. Southwest Airlines had thought to create a baggage claim delivery time slogan. Then they realized that due to the configuration in a few of their terminals, to quote such a time was almost impossible. They dropped the campaign even though it would have been true in MOST of their sites.
Branding Lesson #2: Your business sets up an expectation. If you don't deliver for yourself - how can you deliver for the customer?
A phone company that doesn't answer the phones is a scary thought. We'd expect it of any other business, but the phone company!! If you own a paint store and your store is in sorry need of paint, what does that say? If the waiters in a restaurant cannot tell you about food on the menu because they never get to eat it, what does that say? Look at your business with critical eyes. Would you do business with you?
Branding Lesson #3: The past never counts. The present creates the brand.
It is the actual in-the-moment experience that creates a brand in a customer's eyes. Brand is a living entity that is re-earned, renewed, or revoked with every interaction. Advertising only creates awareness. I am convinced the very best, most unique, most competitive maker of a "brand" is the well-trained, empowered employee who can disregard systems and procedures in order to continue a human interaction. As more organizations substitute technology for people, the company that answers its own phone and get humans connected in short order will win the day.
About The Author
Eileen McDargh is founder of McDargh Communications, a consulting and training company specializing in inner and interpersonal skill development for the purpose of improving the life of a business and the business of life. Visit Eileen at http://www.EileenMcDargh.com or www.theresilientspirit.com.
© 2003, McDargh Communications. All rights reserved.
Reprints are appreciated and must include byline, contact information and copyright.
Logo Files: Versions Of Your Logo That You Should Own
Your logo is the most important graphic element in which you will invest for your business. You should own the logo in many file formats. Having a library of logo files will enable you to send vendors the types of files they need (for example, other designers, printers, or other service providers).
Brand Boring or Brand Buzz?
I heard an advertisement on the radio the other day that surprised me, not because they were saying anything noteworthy, but because it was so banal. It was a national company's ad. They pay an ad agency to write and produce their commercials. There are so many words at their disposal, so many descriptions, so many emotional statements to attract customers, why would they use the trite phrase, " knowledgeable, friendly staff to serve you"? Even if they couldn't think of anything exciting, they could have used, "if you've got questions, we've got answers", "we specialize in providing answers"?"specializing in premium products and effective solutions"."Try and stump the staff with your questions, they love a challenge". "We don't have all the answers but we'll help find solutions"
The Big Uneasy: Clearing the Clouds of Guess
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Corporate Logo Design ? 6 Keys to Success
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Branding Fiasco -- Better Be Who You Say You Are!
Our experience as customers offers great instruction into the concept of branding. Come with me on a recent "experience" and you'll see what I mean. Here's the situation:
Hiring the Right Graphic Designer for Your Small Business
Every small business needs it, but not many have it. I am not talking about cash flow, clients or even your product or services to sell. Yes, all of these things are absolutely necessary. But, what I am talking about is something most small business owners overlook. It is the need to hire an expert graphic designer.
Naming Names... How to Name your Business
Sometimes the best inspiration comes from hearing about the deconstruction of other company's names. For you, I am happy to share how I came up with "Slice A Day :: your slice on marketing"... First the purpose and vision of my site was to have people volunteer some marketing stories...true case studies of business owners and how they promote business. Then gathered the supplies for brainstorming. I had a sheet of paper, pencil and a dictionary/thesaurus. Let the brainstorming begin!I love really clever, catchy and visual names. It comes from having a web design and creative background. The AIGA.org hosts a local networking event called "Brew" with the tagline "where ideas perculate". I loved it! And to mimic it's genius, here is where that spark of inspiration took me.::: Start List :::? "grill - where ideas sizzle" ? "water cooler" ...sidenote: i thought that's where people really talk openly ? "feedbag - serving up ideas" ? "your market draw" ...sidenote: i don't know how i got here ? "evoke" ...sidenote: now i'm just writing words, synonyms ? "persuade" ...sidenote: this is where the dictionary & thesaurus come in? "convince"? "share"... a few minutes pass by... a few more minutes pass by? "Slice-A-Day.com" ...sidenote: visual images of pie and cake ...sidenote: slice is a portion of a bigger piece...hmm? "Share Your Slice On Marketing" ...sidenote: tagline that explains and supports vision ::: End Brainstorming List :::
The Big-Pay Off -- Brand Value
Many CEOs and marketing directors find their time wasted evaluating marketing opportunities instead of acting on them. When every possibility is followed, a meandering trail of hit and miss effectiveness is the result. Despite significant expenditure of time and money, marketing tactics may not produce the desired gains.
Brand Building 101
Building your brand into a brand leader isn't easy. There are 2 areas that can really help you grow your brand, passion and consistency. Passion is incredibly important. You have to understand that even if you are a start up or a one-man operation, or are well on your way, you are still a brand. You have to care passionately about the way your brand is nurtured, developed and presented to your target audience. Everything that leaves your building, every impression that your staff and your company make, is lasting. Take advantage of this opportunity to get your customers and potential customers to remember you in the way that you want them too!
Id Buy That: Getting A Brand Mindset
Feel that? The crisp tingle in the air? It's fall. Fall ushers in the promise of eating, seeing, and getting. It's my favorite time of year. By now, kids are settled into school, sweaters set free from mothballs, and it's an amazing time to... BUY.
Branding Junk Removal - He Did It, Can You?
What does it mean to be remarkable?
Branding Mistakes - Brand Identity Guru
1. It "sells itself." I don't need to market.
Power Your Word for Profit
Discovering and owning a powerful word that reflects you and your business is the true key of successful branding.
Self-Marketing: The I Focus
Ever had one of those conversations where you wondered what the topic was and the only word you could identify was "I"?
Brand Value - Brand Identity Guru
Successful Guru marketers have a secret weapon that they use every single time they communicate about their businesses. It's one of those intangibles that are easily misunderstood. It's the ability to generate excitement about what you have to offer. And when your prospects are excited about your services, marketing becomes a whole lot easier. You get more attention, more response, more sales and more referrals.
Play Your Position! - The Only Way to Win in Business
Have you ever watched 5-year-olds play soccer? It should be called "Follow the Ball," because that is what happens the entire game. The beginning of the game starts with players in assigned positions. However, as soon as the whistle blows, all the kids form into a big herd guided by a little checkered ball.
Quality and Service - Yeah, Right!
One of the critical drivers of business success is having a unique competitive advantage. Most managers understand that to attract a larger share of the market, or find enough customers prepared to pay a premium price, they must provide something of greater value than their competition. For most managers, competitive advantage boils down to providing superior quality and service. Think about it. Is this what you are aiming for?
The Positioning of Success
Many businesses of today are often driven to compete striclty on price, quality, and features of their products and services. Companies who prosper over the long term don't simply offer the best deals, the best quality, or the most impressive bells and whistles. If you want to win big in today's cutting edge world of business, you have to begin by thinking differently and by challenging the status quo. Whether you are a new or an established business owner, these ten powerful strategies will position your company for big success. (1) Adopt the philosophy of "Givers Gain." In 2003, the members of Business Network International (BNI) passed over 2 million referrals to each other. Founded by CEO Ivan Misner, BNI is a business and professional networking organization that offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and most importantly, referrals. Misner founded BNI based on the philosophy of "Givers Gain," which is the belief that in order to get business, it is important to first give business. One of the critical factors in achieving success rests in the ability to develop reciprocal relationships where two parties naturally refer business to each other on a consistent basis. "It's not what you know but who you know" has never been so true as it is in today's competitive world of business. For more information on Ivan Misner and his philosophy of "Giver's Gain," access an interview here: http://www.cvcommunity.com/utility/showArticle/?objectID=1452 (2) Focus on Soft Innovations In today's competitive marketplace, the old equation of spending more on advertising to increase profits it not working as it once did. In his latest book, Free Prize Inside, author Seth Godin, makes a strong case for using soft innovations as a way to get noticed in this crowded and noisy world. Soft innovations are the small yet insightful ideas that can take your product or service from good to remarkable. They are often hidden, and they usually solve a problem that is " peripheral to what your product is ostensibly about." At first glance, you think the soft innovation does not mean much, but once you have it in place, it becomes an essential part of your product or service. Examples of soft innovations include Starbuck's Cards, Dinosaur-shaped pasta for kids, and Amazon.com cutting its ad spend and offering free shipping with the money saved. For more information, read an interview with Seth Godin in Today's Coach here: http://www.cvcommunity.com/utility/showArticle/index.cfm?objectID=1524 (3) Re-groove! How do you operate when the heat is on? How do you respond to chaos? When new skills or new behaviors are needed, how do you respond? Knowing what to do and how to do it is one thing but being able to respond effectively and to keep your cool under pressure and on a consistent basis is a very different ballgame. As leaders in today's world, it is crucial to learn how to work differently and how to be able to shift and bend to meet expectations which here one day and gone the next. The half-life of a great idea or a new product or service has never been shorter, and it is up to you as a business owner to become masterful with reshaping strategies, adding new perks to old products, and to stay on top of your game in the face of dramatically changing circumstances. You may find that your strength of achievement was required to get your company up and running but that same strength is now squelching the creativity of your team. It's time to Re-Groove! It's time to unlock the incredible potential that is inside of you that is required to get the job done under present day demands. If you are dedicated to re-grooving (getting past the old worn out grooves of your past conditioning,) it is essential to work with a coach or trainer who can coach you through the new behaviors quickly and in real time. By learning to re-groove, you will be able to create incredible opportunities for your company and for yourself. (4) Make your brand a "state of mind" Are you winning when it comes to style, a smart and accessible mix of products and services, and first rate customer service? If so, Bravo! However, this is just a part of the equation of what it takes to truly succeed. In order to create a brand that is truly memorable, it is crucial for you to live an inspired life and to make your brand a "state of mind" for your customers. This state of mind could be a feeling of trust and confidence, a sense of well being, or a state of knowing that you are buying from a company who has your best interests at heart. This state of mind cannot develop behind the confines of the walls of your business. It grows and develops when you are in the middle of your potential buyers?in restaurants, traveling, checking out the competition, playing sports, tinkering with a hobby, having fun and lots of it! If you are living fully and in relationship with others, you will be re-energized every day and you will give your customers a vision of what an inspired life actually looks like, because you are living one! Your brand will become much more than your trimmings...it will become the connection that others feel when they think of you as a valued person in their lives. (5) Become masterful at mobilizing resources The ability to galvanize resources, both human and monetary, and to build effective and efficient projects with them is a critical component of success in today's marketplace. We are quick to look first at the monetary costs of a project and quickly get cold feet, when the reality is that we have valuable resources hidden in our personal and professional lives which may not cost a dime. Social capital is one resource that is one of the most valuable assets available to business owners of today. The term social capital emphasizes that very specific benefits are made available from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks. The value of social capital is that people can draw on the wisdom of each other to solve common problems, especially as it relates to money, time, and resources. (6) Buck conventional wisdom In 1971, Rollin King and Herb Kelleher decided to start an airline that you might say?was different and a little bit quirky. They began with one simple notion: If you get your passengers to their destinations on time, at the lowest fare possible, and make sure they have a fantastic time doing it, people will choose you over a competing airline. This is the story of Southwest Airlines, who chose to move beyond the status quo by offering services and a sense of style that bucked conventional wisdom. With their focus on fun, games, and "Love Southwest Style," Southwest has made its mark with its strong focus on stellar customer service and conveniences such as allowing customers to proceed to their departure gate without stopping at the ticket counter, skycap, or self-service kiosk. Most importantly, Southwest has honed in on searching for important personal qualities in those they hire-- the perfect blend of energy, humor, team spirit, and self-confidence to match its famously offbeat culture. Southwest was once dismissed as a maverick, as their strategies seemed strange to the "airline powerhouses." These same powerhouses are now looking in awe at what this "maverick" has built. The strategy of originality worked?It had the sticking power required for success. (7) Become a Talent FarmWhen recruiting new employees, what are you looking for? Raw talent? Raw communication skills? Intellect? Athletic ability? Commitment? Skills? Flexbility? What about all of this and more? If you are a company who wants to operate at the leading edge, where change is the greatest and success is the goal, you will want to recruit the most talented group of people you can find?those people who are self- starters and who are living boldly in the world. By developing a "talent farm" culture, you can instill a mindset of excellence from the top to the bottom of your organization. This culture encompasses a deeply held belief that having high caliber people is crucial to your success. With this "talent farm" approach to recruiting, your company will also be required to recruit great talent every day. Successful businesses and organizations have a strong sense of what they are looking for, and they are always on the look for new talent and ways to retain them for a lifetime. (8) Embrace your core values What is it in life that you most value? Do you value beauty, leadership, creativity, stability, or family? You can choose to orient your life around your wants and needs or the list of things you feel you "should" be doing, but if you embrace your core values and build your life around them, you will find experience inspiration and joy at a level you never thought was possible. Whole Foods Market is one of the fastest growing supermarkets of today, because its commitment to fresh, nutritious products is a value that keeps customers coming back for more and employees happy, hard working, and committed. When you focus your business on doing what feels right and what fulfills you, you will have no regrets, because you have been true to the very core of your being. (9) Become a "white hot center" of influence A "white hot center" of influence is an organization or group that you most want your company to be aligned with tightly and in a relationship which is reciprocal. One connection into a strong center of influence can position your company to attract a stream of qualified opportunities. (Example: You are an interior designer, and you want to be in the middle of Southern Accent or Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.) In order to attract a "white hot center" of influence, you have to become what you want to attract. Be well educated, highly skilled, experienced, trained and innovative in your product development. Fill your network with other business owners who are up to big things in the world and who are experts in their respective fields. Attract talented people into your company, and tap each and every talent and skill available in your company. As you begin to raise your bar in all areas of your business and enhance your network, you will eventually become a "white hot center" that will attract others by the thousands. (10) Just Begin! Start where you are, and begin today to create success in your life. Drop the excuses, reasons or people to blame, dis-empowering attitudes and behaviors and get on with the business of living the life you know you were born to live. Do what you know you want to do, and do it with passion. Begin today to create the tomorrow you want. As Peter Drucker said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it"
Multi-Brand Franchises in the QSR Sector
Well not everyone is aware that McDonalds also owns several other bands such as Boston Markets; 650 stores in 23 states, Chipotle Mexican Grill; 230 stores in 10 states, Donato's Pizza 200 stores in 10 states, Pret a Manager 140 stores in 4 countries, Fazoli's 400 units in 32 states and two countries. Of this the company derives 2 Billion in annual sales, this is not even counting McDonalds. Many people are unaware of this because McDonald's has not connected the dots. However other franchise companies which franchise and have multiple brands have.
Brand Strategy - Brand Identity Guru
If you could have the secret recipe and all the manufacturing facilities of Coca Cola but not the Coca Cola brand-or have its famous brand but no facilities-which would you choose? It's not a trick question. But it demonstrates the power of the brand. Walk into any bank and say "hi I'm Coca Cola, how about a loan"!
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