Brenda's Blog

All articles from the 'General Branding, Positioning and Marketing' Category

The Top 10 Branding Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

Mistake ErasedWhen you’re growing your own business, every error you make means money out of your pocket. So, why learn the hard way (which is also the expensive way)? Why not learn ahead of time which pitfalls to avoid?

Below are the Top 10 most costly branding mistakes that I have regularly seen entrepreneurs make.

  1. Getting creative with your company name. Clever names may be fun, but if your target market cannot easily tell who you are and what you stand for, they will simply pass you by. Your customers won’t take the time to figure out your business. So, make it easy for people to “get” what you do! Would you rather spend your marketing dollars explaining the purpose of your business, or let your company name do that for you? Why not spend your limited funds to explain more clearly how you can make a difference in the lives of your customers? A well-named business simply makes your job much easier. Our company name is Brand Development Associates International, and we are a group of associates who develop brands internationally. No one has to guess who we are or what we do.
  1. Forgetting that you are your brand. Building brandNo matter what you sell – and whether you like it or not – YOU become the masthead for your business. Everything you do represents the brand of your company. I knew a business owner who lost a multi-country contract because he arrived at a morning meeting with alcohol on his breath (he had gone out the night before to celebrate the assumed-signing of the agreement!). His potential partners worried that he might have a drinking problem, and it was enough to break the deal. But you don’t have to do something extreme to undermine your company’s brand. Maintain a character 24/7/365 that is in keeping with your brand, and it will do both you and your company good.
  1. Not confirming that a need for your product or service truly exists. Many entrepreneurs put products on the market like they’re throwing darts. They don’t have the funds for market research, so they just wait to find out what will work and what won’t. What they don’t realize is that they’re spending much more money creating products that won’t sell than they would if they had spent just a little bit on market research. So, get creative!  You don’t have to conduct fancy, expensive market research. If you’re selling a new toy, for example, go to the nearest day care center, and volunteer to have their children play with the toys. If you’re selling a new beverage, invite people on the street who are in your demographic to try out your product, and ask them what they think. Offer a potential new service for free, and see how your target market responds. In other words, find out ahead of time if you have a viable product or service. It will save you a lot of money and time in the long run, and it will keep your brand’s image intact.
  1. Not making tough choices to target your marketing. The bigger your  market, the bigger your business, right? NO. You cannot be everything to everyone. Your brand won’t be able to truly reach your target market unless you can deliver a meaningful point of difference. If you’re targeting all women 18 and older, you will not be able to show that entire age group how your product or service will help them because, let’s face it, an 18-year old has different needs than a 55-year old. So, segment and separate your target markets. Perhaps your offering is appropriate for women ages 22-35 who have children ages 4-10. Find out what will appeal to your specific market, and communicate your product or service with that in mind.
  1. Not being realistic about your competition. Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing their company has no competitor. This is never true! Even if there is no product that directly competes with yours, there is always something else on the market that your customers can choose over what you offer. Your target market literally has dozens of alternative choices to what you offer. So, get to know your competition well, and look at it realistically. What will differentiate your product or service from your competitors and fill your market’s needs better? Focus your brand on those differences.
  1. Not being consistent in your communications. If the DNA in your hair were different from the DNA in your fingernails, you’d be a mutant. The same is true for your brand. Power positioning means that you’re consistent across everything you do. If your positioning stands for one thing, but your website or Facebook page or tweets stand for something else, your brand will mutate! Your target market can only get to know your brand if every single touch point is 100% consistent with your brand’s image.
  1. Not choosing the right team membersteam working on a project to reflect your brand. Small entrepreneurs often believe they must be “grateful” just to have people work for them. Not true! Just as you represent your brand, so does every single one of your employees. Make sure the people you hire have the same character as the one you want your business to communicate in the marketplace.  Find the best possible people to join your team, and spend a little extra to get them. The effort will pay back ten-fold.
  1. Forgetting that your brand extends to your employees, not just to your customers. Do you treat your staff as well as you treat your customers? If you treat your team poorly, the word gets out, and it damages your brand. On the other hand, if you treat your team very well, the best candidates will want to work for you, and it will become well known that your company is a great place to be employed. Think what that kind of image can do for your brand!
  1. Not making choices about your brand’s offerings/benefits. Just as you cannot target your product to everyone in the marketplace, you must also  choose what your brand will stand for, too. Don’t fall victim to scope creep! Here’s an example: My first week in business, I was very nervous. I had left a highly successful 6-figure job, and I worried about getting enough work. I received two exciting phone calls right away – one from a very large company in the region, asking me to do Human Resources work, and the other from a great connection who wanted me to do some Sales work. The truth is that I could have done both of these engagements, and I loved the idea of landing two great clients in my very first week. But I knew I had to stick to my guns. Branding was my passion – what I stood for. So, I took a deep breath and said “no” to both offers.  Two days later, I received a call from my first branding client, and we’ve been able to successfully maintain that branding focus ever since.
  1. Not making your business something you love to do. You will be eating, sleeping, and breathing your business for a long, long time. If you don’t absolutely love it, you will burn out quickly. So, don’t choose to do something just because it’s what you’ve always done. You’ll spend way too many hours of your life miserable, and your heart won’t be in it. For example, many coaching clients come to me because they aren’t happy in their jobs. They may be “successful” in the eyes of others, but they know in their hearts that they aren’t “happy.” Case in point: A few years ago, I coached a woman who tried to create a brand based on her past experience rather than on her passion. When I asked her what she loved, she said “horses.” Through our work together, she eventually realized she could combine her love of horses with the skills she had acquired in her past jobs. The outcome? She created a training program that brought corporate executives to her ranch to learn leadership skills through working with horses. Learn from her example, and find a way to embrace and leverage your passion. You’ll be much happier for it.

Every entrepreneur makes a misstep now and then.  So if you have fallen prey to any of these branding mistakes, pick yourself up, and do what you must to get back on track. The more you steer clear of these 10 branding blunders, the faster you will build a powerhouse business and enjoy the success you deserve.

 

When Risking Failure is a Good Thing

How can failing ever be a good thing? The best leaders know that if you aren’t risking failure at least part of the time, you’re playing it so safe that no one on your team is learning and growing. “Failing small” can be a great way for everyone in your company to learn. After all, isn’t that how you learned the best lessons in your own career?

Sounds intriguing but not sure how to put this into action?

–          Allow enough leeway in projects so that if small failures occur, you have time to recover, learn specific lessons from the failures, and get back on track.

–          If you’re concerned about your employees making costly mistakes, determine the points at which you need to influence the project’s outcome the most. Then, set up specific times to meet with your direct reports, either by date or by completion of certain steps (check out the “metered with milestones” delegation style in Would YOU Want to Work For YOU™?). In that case, if something is truly off track, you can realize it, say something, coach them through it, and have enough time to make a correction.

Playing it 100% safe in business is not how the most successful companies have gotten where they are today. You have to step out and take calculated risks now and then in order to get big rewards. What risks will YOU take today?

Brenda Bence Bio

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Powerful Questions

The best way to develop your team is by asking powerful questions. Yes, it’s true that this can take slightly more time than immediately telling employees what to do. But, if you don’t make the time to ask questions of your team members, you will end up being the one answering all of the questions and doing more work than necessary — a sign that your team has become dependent on you. And once that happens, you’ll never step out of that never-ending cycle unless you make the decision to change your behaviors and begin asking vs. telling.

In fact, I believe that asking instead of telling is a fundamental behavior of great leaders. In my shadowing experience, I see that the strongest leaders are those who don’t respond to queries from their staff right off the bat—that is, they don’t tell an staff member what to do and then send the employee away to implement the plan. Instead, they ask powerful questions that get team members to stop, reflect, grow, and challenge him/herself. Read the rest of this entry »

The Anatomy of a Successful Brand Slogan: Lessons from the “One Pound Fish” Man

Last month, PSY’s “Gangnam Style” became the most viewed YouTube video of all time, and now, another video wonder is making it to the top of the site’s charts. This time, it’s the unsuspecting “One Pound Fish Man,” a fish stall seller named Muhammad Shahid Nazir, who works at Queen’s Market in East London’s Upton Park. In its first week since the video was posted, it accumulated over five million hits.

From a fish monger to an overnight sensation, Mr. Nazir has now been profiled on CBS in the U.S. and Australia, and on BBC World News in the U.K. Parodies have been created of his video, remixes of his song featuring President Obama are hitting the airwaves, and people from all over the world are visiting Queen’s Market to seek out Muhammad and get his autograph. He now has more than 30,000 followers on Twitter.

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Brands Meet Bond

Not long ago, I saw the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. Am I a big James Bond fan? Honestly, not really. But, I had heard that there were a lot of brands featured in the film – that advertisers were using good, old-fashioned “product placement” throughout the 007 movie — a marketing method where advertisers pay big-time to have their brands in the film in order to benefit from the positive association with the movie and its characters.

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Low-Cost Marketing Lessons from My New Favorite Brand

It’s not that often that a brand truly blows me away.  So, when I recently discovered a brand that not only earned that description but also demonstrated an important branding lesson, I just had to share it with you.

As a speaker and a trainer, it’s not unusual for me to be on my feet all day, every day, for days on end. As a result, the soles of my feet and my piggly-wigglies are pretty much in a constant state of ‘hurt.’  For years I’ve looked for solutions to this problem, but I had never run across one that really worked for me.  That is, until last month…

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How to Build Your Brand “Gangnam Style”

More than three quarters of a billion people – Over 880 million as of this writing – have watched the #1 YouTube video “Gangnam Style” since its release on July 15, 2012. That means that more than a third of all people on the planet who are on the Internet have laid eyes on that one video. Talk about powerful, low-cost branding! What marketer wouldn’t love to reach that kind of awareness and engagement with their own brand message?

If you’re one of the few people who haven’t yet watched this video, it’s a song by a Korean rap star called PSY who had, up to now, only been well-known in his native country. This single four-minute video has launched PSY into international super-stardom in a matter of weeks. So, what can marketers and brand builders learn from branding “Gangnam Style?”

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Five Ways to Build a Successful Coaching Brand at Little to No Cost

Here is a link to my latest article that outlines five powerful assets you already have to build a successful brand as a small business owner or solo-preneur, at low cost or no cost at all.

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Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank – my new online course!

Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank Online Course

“The definitive guide to buiding a brand on a tight budget.”

Big news!  My new online course, Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank, is now “live” on Udemy.com. And, for the next 48 hours, it’s on sale for 50% OFF!

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Do You Have a “Bug” In Your Branding Chain?

As you may have heard by now, Starbucks certainly found a bug in its branding chain … or rather, in its Strawberry Frappuccinos. Ground-up cochineal beetles are government-approved food coloring used by a number of brands in the food industry, so why was it a problem when Starbucks added the ingredient to its frappuccinos?

Starbucks has long branded itself as “green” and safe for vegans, so when people who eat plant-based diets caught wind of this beetle-based ingredient, their organizations went … well (forgive the pun), buggy. And understandably so. It goes back to a fundamental principle that I always talk about: consistency in branding. The minute you do something that goes against who you say you are, you have created a brand disconnect. The damage can be significant and difficult to recover from. In Starbucks’ case, if their brand stands for environmental- and green-consciousness, the last thing they want to be known for is “beetle juice.”

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