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A Cornerstone of Any Successful Brand Competitive differentiation. It’s something we stress a lot here, and if you’ve been following us and our work on how to brand your business, you know that we urge brands to make themselves as relevant and competitively differentiated as possible.   Sure, the product or service you are offering right now may be the only show in town, but that will not always be the case.   Past Examples Just look at Netflix, back in the day they were a footnote to industry-giant Blockbuster. They were even laughed out of the room when they proposed a partnership.   But oh, how the times change. Netflix is now ubiquitous and Blockbuster very much a thing of the past (except in

For many companies, the internal communications function is a necessary annoyance. They’re missing out. It can connect directly to the bottom line. On March 12, I will speak to a group of internal communications professionals at the Internal Comms Pro Morning Brew about the connection internal communications can and should have to the bottom line. During the presentation, I will lay out my premise, where the brand strategy can most easily support internal communications, and most importantly, how to make it all happen. [tweetshare tweet="If you’re doing both brand management and internal communications correctly, it would be impossible for the brand not to be a part of all employee messages." username="SB_Branding"]   To tease it out a bit, here are three ways internal

What are your new year’s resolutions for your brand? Sure, as we start another trip around that big yellow dot in the sky, you may be thinking about breaking up with Netflix, actually going to the gym and not just paying for it, or trying that meditation thing everyone’s talking about.   Those are all great and best of luck! But given how important your brand is to your business and career, doesn’t it deserve some resolutions of its own? Here are some suggestions. [tweetshare tweet="Given how important your brand is to your business and career, doesn’t it deserve some resolutions of its own?" username="SB_Branding"] I resolve to drive consistency. Inasmuch as inconsistency is enemy #1 of a strong brand, resolving to

Our recent white paper on making data-driven design decisions was born from a presentation I was asked to make at the 2018 HOW Design Live conference. The presentation, “From Gift Wrapper to Strategic Partner: How Creatives Can Elevate the World’s Perception of Their Work,” focused on how using data and improving the relationship between Creatives and Executives, can lead to a better creative process. Since the white paper covered the first part, data-driven design decisions, this blog post will cover the second: improving the relationship between Creatives and Executives (i.e., the people who make the final decisions on a project). In building the relationship, we talked about four main areas: Walking in their shoes Taking your seat at the table Bringing

It’s critical for everyone to understand your brand strategy and brand system, which is where brand education programs come in. But what happens after the training? How do you keep the enthusiasm alive and the learnings actionable? Here are five suggestions: Reward successes. Are there people in your organization who took to heart the brand education program? Are they embracing the brand strategy with all their might and seeing great success? Reward them! Prizes, profiles, gifts: whatever works in your corporate culture. Create brand champions. Some organizations call them brand ambassadors, some champions, but the result is the same: people within the organization whom you have deputized as brand experts. They will need a bit more training and tools to do their jobs, but having

Recently, I had the great opportunity to present a webinar to members of the In-House Agency Forum, a professional association for those companies which rely on internal agencies to meet their marketing needs. In-house agencies face a number of challenges that traditional, external agencies do not: not the least of which is balancing the client v. colleague dynamic. I especially love speaking to this group because they are in a unique position to influence the growth and support of their brands. (I also love these kinds of webinars because I get to assume that everyone is laughing riotously at all my jokes.)   The questions brand education can answer Throughout the webinar, we asked some questions, which participants answered in real time. Can you confidently

Ah, September. The psychological end of summer and the time when many students, both young and old, head back to school. In addition to typical education programs, let's also add a brand education program to the mix. Right now, we’re helping a seven-year-old brand re-articulate its brand and tweak its strategy. Recently the CEO asked me if we would also put together a training program for new employees. Absolutely! Bar none, the most important and glaring lessons I’ve learned while managing brands is the power of understanding. Once the brand strategy is explained, brand standard infractions decrease, cynicism turns to support, pride, and adulation, and employee engagement soars. A strong brand education program is best to deliver at two levels: The strategy basics. What does

A colleague recently shared with me that her company is facing an acquisition. Although she remains positive, there is always a certain amount of trepidation that comes along when merging brands. I know! I’ve been there, and helping companies face the branding challenges inherent to mergers and acquisitions is one of the reasons we’re in business. Although it’s never too late to update a brand strategy, most of the time people do think about it too late, especially in the context of mergers and acquisitions. Here are my top five reasons -- there are more! -- why any merger or acquisition must keep the brand strategy front and center from the very beginning.   Why merging brands must think ahead about their strategy It’s