Archive | marketing strategies

Brand Identity Crisis

I have worked with many companies suffering from a brand identity crisis. It usually does not start with a phone call that says “Hey, Janet can you help us out with our brand identity crisis?”

Generally it’s the bottom line that speaks up first and gets everyone’s attention. Underperforming products, missed targets, and poor launches are all warning signs.

Sometimes it’s noticed in HR where a growing discontent leads to turf wars and the start of a toxic culture.

Generally there is just a deep confusion that feels chaotic, and a sense of being rudderless. People become very busy but the results don’t change.

The natural inclination is to fix what is broken. People look at the micro level, fix, and tweak, but when the results don’t change, it’s a long and drawn out death until capital runs out or clients simply run away.

For those not willing to let that happen they usually need to take on the elephant in the room.

It’s usually brand.

We are not talking about poor font choices  (but don’t pick ugly fonts).

Somewhere along the brand chain something is not aligned; and it can send your company quickly in a downward spiral.

Ask the following five questions and see how your brand stacks up:

  1. What are your corporate values? Do you live them everyday with your team, with your clients? Don’t think this is just the light fluffy stuff. This is the core of success. Don’t settle here for words that sound good but don’t mean anything. Your values should light you up, and everyone you work with everyday.

  2. Do your corporate values show up in how you answer your phone, send an email, or do a presentation? Can you see it and hear it? Can you pinpoint and say “Yup, that is us. Nobody does it like us.”

  3. Do your values resonate with your clients? After all, this is all about them. Would your clients recognize your values?

  4. Who is your top customer – today, last year, next year? Can you name them by first name? (You can’t imagine how many companies cannot do this. So if you can’t answer this question you are not alone, but it is not who you want to hang with.)

  5. Are you doing the work, making the products, selling the services that are deeply connected to your corporate values? The struggle is real on this one so don’t just tilt your head and say, “I think so.” Get your sales team together, do the math and see if there is a match with your brand values. You will be glad you did.

There are many aspects about your branding statements that will propel you to success and I will write about more of them. But none of them will be as critical as understanding your core values.

Ignoring branding statements will affect your bottom line.

Embracing branding statements will also affect your bottom line.

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How to Be a Brand Within a Brand

As a marketer I look for gaps where opportunities lurk. It took me 20 years to find a glaring gap.

As a brand strategist, (although the most endearing title I was given was brand therapist!) I have built many strong, insightful and actionable brand strategies. Most met or exceeded the goals and objectives set.

And those are the best of times!!!

Some failed miserably.

That broke my heart.

Why would some thrive and some flop? The work was sound. Sometimes it was resource based, or commitment, or leadership. Maybe they just weren’t ready, or was that an excuse not an answer.  I had this gnawing feeling that there was something else at play. 

I dug deep into research, read, and listened to podcast after podcast. I surveyed clients, and talked to business owners. It wasn’t until I came across the work being done on personal branding that it all came together. The missing link: unless you understand your own personal value proposition, you can’t further along the corporate value proposition. 

Unless you can confidently stand up and say, “here is what I do best and this is why you need me on this project” and conversely be able to say, “this is not what I do best and I will likely not be successful on this project.” Personal branding is not for the faint of heart and has nothing to do with the car you drive. It has everything to do with the engine that drives you forward and the values of your personal dashboard .

Challenging times can result in businesses wanting to be all things to all people. Suddenly that means employees have to be a jack-of-all-trades too. Blending in becomes a much safer option than standing out; and as we all know, safe is never where success thrives.

However, when people connect and stand up for their unique personal attributes it is a game-changer. Engagement is real. Morale skyrockets, strategies that flopped became strategies that sail.

Finding, defining, and communicating your personal brand will transform you, your work, and how others see you.

Want to create your personal brand? Click here.

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Millenials + Brands

The Story Co markting and branding regina Emily Brenner Collaborator

As a millennial I’ve always recognized that my generation is “different” than those who came before us. These differences have made us unique in terms of the business world, and especially in regards to marketing. Forbes says that 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. We have left marketing departments scratching their heads, wondering “how do we reach them!?”

I actually don’t think it’s that complicated!

According to Forbes, millennials value authenticity over anything else. Adage says that millennials want a personal connection with brands, they want to be spoken with, not to. Entrepreneur.com says nearly a third of millennials are more likely to buy a product if the brand feels less “sales-y” and feels more authentic and truthful.

This all makes sense to me! We are a generation that has grown up bombarded with advertising. In a sea of companies trying to make us loyal customers, of course we are going to look for a brand that is authentic.

We are looking for a company that allows us to make a personal connection, even if “personal connection” has been redefined to include twitter conversations and Facebook likes.

So how does one keep a brand authentic in the eyes of a millennial? Well, simply put, don’t try to be something you’re not! Communicate with us, tell us your story and your beliefs, and embody those beliefs. We want to believe you!

The Story Co. helps companies communicate their authentic selves to their community through the power of story. There is a universal truth to this approach that resonates with all age groups – millennials included. This is why I could not be more excited to have the opportunity to help companies communicate their authentic selves.

Hello world! My name is Emily Brenner, and I am a Story Co. co-collaborator!

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1440

1440

That’s the number of minutes we have in a day. Seems like so many doesn’t it?

One of my goals this year is to remove from the phrase “Where has the time gone?” from my life. I want to know what I have done with this very precious thing called time. (Last year I removed the word “busy” from my vocabulary so it seems to be a trend.)

After I made this declaration I walked into a client’s office and she had a small post-it on her desk that just said 1440. Of course I was curious and wanted to know the significance. She explained that it is the number of minutes in a day and reminds her to make every minute count.

I loved the idea!

Turns out I wasn’t alone; research by Forbes indicates that the most highly successful people think in terms of minutes not hours. Many people would agree that most hour-long meetings could really be 15 minutes. Changing your daily schedule into 15-minute blocks rather than hour blocks is a total game changer. Because you can honestly do a lot with a minute!

Be prepared that if you ask me “where has the time gone?” I will have an answer for you. And FYI this blog was written in 15 minutes.

Onwards, I have 1425 minutes to go.

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Stay Focused On Plan A

PlanA

Here is the truth – I always have a Plan B. So this concept scares me to my core. But stick with me and see if you can dare to eliminate Plan B from your business planning.

The concept came to mind recently when my son was applying to medical school. In that anxious time between interviews and getting “the” letter I asked him in my most casual voice “Hey sweetie, have you given any thought to a Plan B?” I will never quite forget his look or his words. Steely eyes, strong, steady, determined voice and uncharacteristically, an immediate response: “There is no plan B.” How exactly do you reply to that? So I did my best and said, “Well okay then, what do you feel like for supper?” I know it was a mother-fail moment but the whole concept shook me.

phil knight and the meaning of plan a.

I devoured Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s memoir. The book is a perfect example of story telling at its best. I became more loyal to his vision with every page. Then again, even way back when I was an early adopter, and in a pair of waffle trainers as soon as I could get them – so likely I was a shoe-in to read the book.

Nike’s success was not an easy road or a straight road (which brought even more appeal.) Many, many, times even with sales well past the million-dollar mark Nike was still courting bankruptcy. In fact a re-occurring conversation in his book were the countless times his wife would ask, “what will happen if this doesn’t work?” and repeatedly he responded “I don’t know.” (There should be a special shrine for the spouses of entrepreneurs.)

Phil Knight had no Plan B. His “crazy shoe idea” as he calls it, was never, not going to work. After each crushing setback and each triumph he did the same thing. He just kept re-committing to his vision. That takes back breaking, soul-sourced courage.

plan b zaps your energy.

Plan B takes so much work! The “staying up all night, what-if worries”, the “maybe I should” moments, that never generate action. The dizzying spin of “if this happens, then I will do this and if it doesn’t – then …” thinking. Honestly, it is so exhausting and such an extravagant waste of energy. The good news is we don’t have to go down this path. We can simply eliminate Plan B and illuminate Plan A. Get really clear on what Plan A means to your customer and to you. Shine the light on where you are going and dissect how it aligns with your vision. Not easy stuff, but neither is worrying all night long.

all in with plan a?

What if we put every ounce of our energy into Plan A and not take one sneaky peak at Plan B, what would happen? Seriously, what would happen?

I am going to give it a whirl. Care to throw your hand into the pile and declare: “I’m all in with Plan A”?

*This is not a paid for or solicited review of the book Shoe Dog. They usually get people like Michael Jordan to do stuff like that.

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