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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in branding

Branding is more than just a logo.

We talk a lot about branding: brand awareness, brand reputation, brand storytelling… But what is a brand to begin with? A logo? A product? A font set and some fancy style guides?

All of these things make a brand, but a brand itself is more than the sum of its parts.

What does your company stand for?

Does your company hold transparency and efficiency as core values? Is environmental sustainability an intrinsic part of your organization? Maybe you believe in giving back to the local community, or lowering technological barriers through open-source software.

Whatever your values are, they should form a key part of your brand. But they won’t if they aren’t embraced by your company, because your customers need to see these values to believe in them.

In other words, you may say you’re an honest person. You may even care very much about honesty. But if you don’t behave in a honest fashion, then no one will perceive you as being honest. If your company says it values transparency, but isn’t actually transparent, then transparency isn’t part of its brand.

Your relationship with your customer defines your brand.

At the end of the day, you can’t define your brand as any single, concrete element of your company. It’s more of an abstract concept: anytime anyone interacts with your company, they experience your brand. That means they experience your brand when they:

  • look up your website
  • receive an email from a member of your company
  • enter your office building or brick-and-mortar store
  • make a customer service call
  • see you on social media
  • hear about your business from a friend

So if you want to build your brand and incorporate into it the values you hold dear, then those values have to be present in each of those interactions:

  • If you value transparency, your customer has to be able to find the information they need when they look at your website.
  • If you value efficiency, your emails should be clear and to the point without leaving out crucial information.
  • If you value environmental sustainability, your customers should be able to find recycling bins when they walk into your location.

Your brand is defined by how a customer feels whenever they interact with your company. Have you made that relationship a positive one?

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"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person." —Jeff Bezos

How well do you guard your reputation? If you're like most of us, you care what people say about you. You want to leave a positive impression, and you want to be remembered for your good qualities.

Your brand represents your company in the same way your reputation stands for you as an individual. How well do you care for it?



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How a small airline stands out from the crowd

When was the last time you flew with a truly memorable airline?

Anyone who flies regularly will be very used to the routine of airline travel. In spite of their best marketing efforts, very few airlines seem to differentiate themselves from their competitors, unless it's due to infamously strict baggage policies or a reputation for cheap-as-you-can-get, "no frills" service. The most any of us can expect from the majority of airlines seems to be a slight variation in the quality of in-flight entertainment, the amount of leg room, or the standard of food service (if there is one). 

This is why, on a recent flight with Icelandair, I found myself both surprised and delighted by a completely unique experience.

What makes Icelandair so special?

 The moment I stepped on the plane to find my seat, I knew I had a winner. Although the plane itself appeared a cut above average in terms of technology (it came equipped with obviously new high-resolution screens on the back of every seat), the touch which first charmed me came in the form of little conversational tips on the headrest of each seat. They said things like:

Good night is "góða nótt" in Icelandic. It has a soft and cuddly sound.

"Hraun" is the Icelandic word for lava. It sounds strong and durable.

The throne of Ó∂inn was named Hli∂skjálf. We just call this one: your seat.

My blanket came with a similar message: Missing the hot springs? Warm yourself with this instead. Even the pillow came with an Icelandic lullaby printed with an English translation. 

Once I turned on the display on the display screen, the start-up played through several advertisements for Iceland, as well as a small boast from Icelandair itself: instead of frequent flier miles, Icelandair will allow you to extend your stay in Iceland for up to seven additional nights at no extra cost (and they encourage you to tag your pictures with #MyStopover). They even filmed the standard safety announcement to tell the story of a woman hiking through the Icelandic countryside.


Perhaps what I found most special about the airline was that very few of these little touches promoted the airline itself, but rather served to showcase the natural beauties of Iceland and the quirks and accomplishments of the Icelandic people.

This is what, in Internet hashtag terms, could be known as a "humble brag": something which manages to be both proud and self-deprecating at the same time. Although these can take on an obnoxious tone when used wrongly, because Icelandair chose to employ their boasting toward the benefit of Iceland the country and the Icelandic people, it felt more like a person boasting about their best friend rather than themself. 

Icelandair's strategy works well for them, because promoting Iceland as a great travel destination indirectly promotes their own airline as the best means of reaching it. Meanwhile, their humble-bragging strategy succeeds because it plays into your psychology: we're more likely to trust what someone says about another person's merits than what they say about their own.

So if you happen to have a business that might benefit by promoting others, don't be afraid to #HumbleBrag about your friends. 

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Achieving high quality service requires knowing your customer. Only then can you structure your organization to serve effectively. Developing Customer Personas helps not only focus your service offerings, but also helps market your services to attract the market segments you serve best—effectively coordinating your quality improvement and marketing strategies. 

Customer Personas are fictional representations of specific kinds of customers. Personas allow you to personalize and target both your services and your marketing and sales efforts to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different segments of your actual and potential customer base. Personas help focus your Brand and keep it successful, improving the future for your organization, your staff, and your customers. 

Here is a simplified example of a Customer Persona:

Name: Marlene

Description: 75 years old, widowed, living alone, good cognition and memory, but declining physical health.

Situation: Marlene's married daughter has invited her to move in with her and her husband. An old friend recently moved to a Senior Care facility, and raves about it, but after visiting, Marlene decided to accept her daughter's invitation in order to remain in a home setting.

Need: Marlene wants to explore senior services available in her area in case she needs care that goes beyond what her family can provide.

Personas can be "Personas for Pursuit" or "Personas for Referral." Personas for Pursuit describe people your organization is designed (or being re-shaped) to serve well, people you want to attract, who are likely to become very satisfied customers. Marlene would be a Persona for Pursuit for in-home services providers.

Personas for Referral describe individuals whose needs don't match your organization's strengths, and are unlikely to become satisfied customers. They are the ones you would refer to another organization. Personas for Referral can help you understand where not to spend your marketing and sales dollars. A campus-based senior living facility would consider Marlene a Persona for Referral. 

In a future post, we'll discuss how to use Personas to help you tune everything in your marketing outreach to the Buyer's Journey. 

If you have questions about how to leverage your Brand to achieve your sales and marketing goals, please contact us at dhart@movecommunications.com. And to learn more about Personas, please download our free eBook available here.

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Brand is driven by culture, content, and connections. Let’s begin today with culture: How does your Brand get expressed in your culture?

Culture is really about how you treat people within the boundaries and purposes of your mission. Building culture has two indispensable parts.

I. Defining “Your Way” of doing things. “Your Way” expresses itself in service behaviors. Of course, there are certain non-negotiables – your facility must be safe, tasteful, clean, with no smells. Your staff must be technically and professionally competent. But what are the things that make you distinctive?

For example, do your people care enough about your clients to know some details about each one before they come to your facility or before you enter their home? What do your customers and their families and friends feel when you enter their home? When they walk into your facility? When they engage with someone from your campus either in person or on the phone? From admissions to daily interactions to discharge, what do these experiences communicate to clients about themselves?

• Do they feel that they've been welcomed as a friend, or that they've interrupted someone who's busy?

• Do they feel that their thoughts—whether positive or critical—are respected? Taken seriously? Enjoyed?

• Are family members confident that they can trust—truly trust—their loved ones' care to you, or is there a nagging, perhaps unconscious, concern?

This is all about your staffing and customer service.

But defining your culture is not enough. Even carefully implementing your culture is not enough.

II. Sustaining “Your Way” of doing things. You must also sustain your culture. Your corporate infrastructure must include an ongoing learning management component.

Who regularly instructs your supervisors and holds them accountable to your cultural standards (things like how to confront someone if their behavior is inappropriate)? What helps your staff see their work not just as a job or a career, but as a calling? Who helps your team understand that everyone who works in your organization is involved in the healing process?

You must keep the culture conversation alive. Without one or more people diligently encouraging and training staff to consistently implement your cultural values, the culture will gradually but inevitably change in ways you may not want.

We will talk about the content component of your Brand in our next article. In the meantime, if you have questions or want to learn more about the importance of brand, and how culture, content and connections work in helping you achieve your sales and marketing goals, please contact us at dhart@movecommunications.com.

Additionally, you may also be interested in our Buyer Personas eBook, which which will help you target your ideal customers in the senior living market. To get your free copy, click here.

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What can baseball teach us about branding?

Possibly the greatest closer in baseball history, Mariano Rivera made his career on one pitch: a cut fastball with such a reputation for shattering bats that opposing hitters dubbed it "the razor." They used to face him with backup bats to spare their best from utter destruction. Rivera refined his signature pitch to devastating effect—so much so that at the peak of his career it comprised over 80% of his pitches.

Find your one pitch

As in baseball, so in life. A successful brand strategy doesn't require you to be all things to all people. Instead, it's about finding the signature characteristic that sets you apart from your competition and marks you as a leader in your field. 

Concentrating on one skill also provides a clear story about your brand that can be easily transmitted through your marketing efforts. Rivera once summarized his job as "I get the ball, I throw the ball, and then I take a shower." That's the kind of succinct messaging you build your marketing around.

The Mariano Rivera Principle

Rivera's dominance set records for over a decade, gaining him the respect and admiration of his bitterest rivals. But he didn't need a broad repertoire to achieve this feat; he only needed that one pitch.

Focus your effort on establishing a key message about your brand. Let it become your trademark. Have one thing you're good at, but be better at it than anyone else.

That's the Mariano Rivera Principle.

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You are constantly communicating your brand to your audience. How people feel about your company may arise from your traditional branding efforts, but it's likely they will be influenced by more than your intentional branding efforts. Your customers' views of your company will be affected by their interactions with your employees, the actions of your leaders and how you're portrayed in the press. If you're not managing the messages you're sending, all of the branding in the world won't make a difference. In addition, if you're sending positive messages at every level, it will reflect positively on your brand. 


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Last night, Scott Hauman of NewFoundry gave a spectacular presentation on branding. He explained that many brands are trying to put themselves in their customers' shoes in order to better understand and connect with them. While this is a noble idea, the truth is, your customers don't want you to be in their shoes. They want you to solve the problems they're having and give them an idea of where they want to be. Then all you have to do is point them there and they will follow. 

If you are interested in hearing more related insights, consider attending the Michigan Marketing Minds events at Ann Arbor SPARK. 

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Successful branding isn't what your customers tell you they think about your company or your product, it's what they tell their friends. Give your audience an excuse to say good things about you when you're not around. 

#weeklyword #MOVEahead

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It’s the holiday season; lights adorn trees, children (and secretly adults too) are perfecting their Christmas lists and holiday cards are piling up. In the midst of all of this, there’s one man that seems to at the middle of it all: Santa Claus.

Now, let’s imagine Santa in a new light. Let’s set aside our childlike adoration for the jolly man and imagine him as a business offering a product. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to commercialize the season any more than it all ready is, but why shouldn’t we learn a little something from good ‘ole St. Nick?

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The Weekly Word for November 12th is all about branding! 

Share your most influential words about branding with the hashtag #weeklyword!

Don't forget to share!

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