Monday, October 27, 2008


Who has the responsibility to promote your brand?

The answer is easy.....

Brand must permeate all aspects of the organization, re-affirming the core personality.

The implementation is much more difficult.

Let`s take the classic conflicts. Sales and marketing (not-for-profits call it fundraising and communications). Sales has one goal... to sell the product or service. The sales team doesn`t really care if the brand presence is there, they just want to have a quick and easy entry point to sell. Marketing builds a case for support, brand messages and images that define the personality of the company, product or organizations.

Add customer/donor service and your brand message may be squashed in a phone call.

A couple of years ago I responded to a post card from a local credit union. It was just starting up and the brand message was clear: "We're here for the little guy." On a lark, I gathered my most recent financials and popped around to visit the manager of the branch located just around the corner.

He smiled nicely at me and looked at my financials --which were decent, but small -- and said: "Our marketing company came up with the slogan. We really aren't interested in companies as small as you."


Truly, he actually said that.

The trust factor scurried down to nothing. I have little doubt that the "brand" message drew blood, sweat and tears from the marketing team. But they really should have got their sales team and customer service guys in on it. At the very least, given them some key messages to shuffle away unworthy customers like us and our couple of million dollar business.

Building a brand promise on a hope and dream is not a good idea. Your product must live up to the brand promise.

In non-profit organizations there is a tug-a-war between brand and fundraising. That's why I still see a label package that looks like the other organization's label package. You see -- the label package like the other organization does works. Interestingly, it works when I put my logo on as well. That is called Direct Response theory.

BUT if I am going to grow my organization I need to grow beyond simple DR tactics and take it into brand direct -- that means I integrate the foundation of my brand promise right into my direct response mail.

We work with a TV personality that has a significant draw. We work hard at building the Direct Mail we produce for them. Each piece is integrated with this person's innate brand -- his personality. We don't offer a package that we tweak -- we offer a long term strategy for increased overall growth.

The impact?

They have grown over 30% in 12 months. The change in focus from "proven" direct response to strategic brand-direct has increased their overall income tremendously. PLUS it has converted many of the one-time supporters to monthly. A huge income boost.

Your sales or fundraising tactics must fit into an overall strategic plan.

Do one-offs work?

No question. One of my clients purchased a proven package guaranteeing them 3% response in acquisition. The story was not theirs, the offer was really not one they made and the brand was no where near their actual brand. But they did recieve 3% response from the Direct Mail package. However, the retention rate was almost 0. Did it work?

You tell me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What colour are you?

Personality tests amuse me. Just for fun, go to Discover the real you!

It's amazing, eh? Just from one click I can be totally analyzed! Imagine that.

Just like your uniqueness is based on your personality, brand is the essence of your corporate or organizational personality.

When we were outfitting our office, the office design consultant suggested a sleek, steel look. We were confused.

Barefoot -- on steel?

Not really reflective of our overall brand identity. (I'm trying to convince Larry we should install a sandbox in the reception area...)

Brand is the overarching personality of the company. When you are building brand, remember:

Brand is not an icon, a colour, a font type or a product. It is the underlying personality expressed by various communication components.

Start with the overarching brand statement. Who are you? What do you look like? What colours represent your brand the best? If you are using images or photos in communication and marketing pieces, what kind of photos are you using? What is the mood of the photo?

UNICEF has a great brand. The brand colours are primary - reflective of their overall mission: unite for children. Their photos focus on children with dignity, opportunity and honesty. Perfect to capture the overall brand of an organization. They have a unique UNICEF lexicon that defines their communication materials.

Think about the difference between Please Mum and Baby Gap. Both retail outlets show their personality in the complete communication package: name, logo, store front, products, advertising and communication pieces. Please Mum is about active, growing babies in jeans, t-shirts and running shoes. It's about the basic functionality of the clothing. Baby Gap, on the other hand, is about babies made for the designer world -- a cut above perhaps. Moms at Please Mum wear running shoes and t-shirts, their babies are dressed similarly. Moms at Baby Gap wear designer shoes and labels; their babies wear designer shoes and labels.

Both retailers sell baby clothes -- but they have built their brand personality around their unique selling points.

As you are going through the process of brand, consider outsourcing the discovery process. A consultant or agency specializing in brand can often articulate your core brand personality more effectively than the internal team. They are not as embedded into the business model or organizational/corporate services.

Remember, brand is not your business plan -- it's your core personality. It's who you are: the make-up, the clothes, the language, the friends, the photos. When you're working on brand, play a little. Imagine creating your face book -- what would you post? Who would you invite? What would you write?

Great personalities attract others -- it applies to the business world as well.