Post about "Branding"

The Layers of Your Brand

Branding is a hot topic in marketing these days, but it’s defined in different ways and looked at from different angles. There are many components that make up a brand, and we call each component a Brand Layer.Here are our definitions of some of the most important Brand Layers:Brand FoundationThe base from which all brand elements will be created and measured against for accuracy. This layer consists of the following elements:- Brand Vision is your company’s plan for itself-how your company wants to appear to the world, and how your company wants to grow and change in coming years.- Brand Mission is what your company wants to create in the world, through its products or services.- Brand Values are those ideas that your company brand stands for and that you believe in-and also what you don’t want to and won’t do. These values help your potential clients to decide whether you can help them, and they also help you decide who you will help and what you can’t offer or deliver. Brand Values are largely an internal measure against which you can process incoming jobs, but they will also be communicated through all of your marketing materials.Brand BasicsThese components of your brand form your business’s “face” to the public. Brand Basics shape and direct your customers’ views of your business. Telling your customers how you want to be perceived is an essential piece of a Brand Strategy for any small business, and the easiest way for you to do this as a small business owner is through your:- Brand Identity, the suite of visual elements that are used consistently in your marketing, including:- Brand Names of your company and product or service lines- Logo- Visual Vocabulary- Collateral system/stationery set (business card, letterhead, envelope, and so on)- Marketing materials (brochure, postcard, flyer, and so on)- Website- Brand Content, the way you write and talk about your brand, including your:- Marketing Copy- Tagline- 30-second Pitch or Elevator Speech- Brand Marketing that integrates both visuals and text about your brand, and that gets your message out to your audience. This is made up of your:- Advertising- Trade shows- Public Relations- All other outreach/marketing programs- Brand Offerings, the products or services that you present, along with the quality, warranties, and value that you include with your products and services.- Brand Experience, the process of working with you as seen from the clients’ perspective. But in order to create a positive experience, you have to have a strong foundation of systems, procedures, and processes built in to your business-this is a basic level of professionalism that’s expected of every business. Things that factor in here include:- Returning calls- Availability- Turnaround time- Professional interaction and communication- ProcessThese Brand Basics can also help to shape your Brand Personality, which is the persona that your business projects to the world. This is defined through the way that your brand expresses itself-the characteristics that give your business a life of its own, outside of your own personality.Competitor ComparisonThese components of your brand speak about your business’s relation to the competition:- Brand Positioning is basically how your brand compares with that of the competition. There are probably many businesses that provide the services or products that you provide: Brand Positioning determines where your business falls in the continuum of businesses in your field.- Brand Differentiation is another, more specific piece of your Brand Positioning. Your Differentiators are those things that make your business stand out from your competition-the things that you do or offer that are unlike anything your competition offers.You can control these Competitor Comparison factors through careful market research, market monitoring, and your definition of both your Brand Positioning and Brand Differentiation.Internal MeasuresThese components of your brand are defined largely through your business’s actions:- Brand Environment is the atmosphere at and within your company.- Brand Promise is the underlying guarantee or benefits that you offer as part of all of your services. These promises can be of quality, service, greatness, affordability, or speed of delivery; regardless, every business presents a Brand Promise to the public, promising what the experience of doing business with them will be like or what benefits the consumer/client will get from doing business with that company. While your Brand Promise is often initially shaped by promises made in your external communications, it must be fully realized through the internal execution of your services.- Brand Values, which are an important part of your Brand Foundation, are also helpful in decidingExternal MeasuresThese components of your brand are defined by the public’s perception:- Brand Awareness is the level of public awareness of your brand-who knows who you are and what you do. This is influenced by the strength and effective distribution of your Brand Basics, as well as by word-of-mouth.- Brand Gap is the difference between your Brand Positioning and Differentiation and how your consumers and clients actually view these things.So, what is a Brand?Your brand is really the combination of all of the above Brand Layers. A brand is both your presentation and public’s perception of your business. It’s the way that people think about your business, and it is shaped through all of the layers described above.Once you’ve established your brand and started putting your Brand Basics before the public eye, there are some other branding issues you should consider:- Brand Alignment is the biggest challenge in building a brand comes from creating alignment across all of the Brand Layers described above, and in creating that same alignment between your audience and your message: making sure that the message that you’re presenting is the same message that your customers and contacts are walking away with.- Brand Management is the process of managing all of the Brand Layers and achieving or maintaining Brand Alignment. It is a constant process; you should check up on your Brand Layers and Brand Alignment from time to time.When all of your Brand Layers are working together, you’ll have a strong Brand that will help your business to grow and prosper.

Work-Life Balance Tips for Small Businesses

People involved in small business get a bad rap for their workaholic ways. You know because you either know someone who is involved in small business or you are that person. Let’s look at some facts about small businesses in San Diego and then ways people involved in small business everywhere can a better create work-life balance.According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.9-percent of the 27.5 million businesses in the United States are considered small firms with fewer than 500 employees*. According to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the majority of companies in San Diego County are small businesses with 50 employees or less. One out of every five small businesses in San Diego County are in the business services segment which includes consulting, engineering, accounting, research and management. The additional types of business segments in descending size order are wholesale trade, manufacturing / repair, transportation, consumer services, specialty construction, builders, retail, finance/real estate/insurance and an “other” segment (the unclassified small businesses in the county). In San Diego County, the average number of people employed by a small business is 7.3 people.Everyone related to small business – the owners, the employees, the people who cater to and support small businesses – here are three tips for more balance in your life:1. Schedule time off. Small business owners value the importance of sticking to a schedule and deadlines. Decide how much time you can schedule to relax, be social or spend time with family in the next week and also how much time you would ideally like to have for such activities in the future. Then, schedule time away from work. Maybe this upcoming week you can only dedicate one hour away from everything work related; block out that hour on your calendar immediately. Knowing that your ideal amount of time is two full weekdays per month, a small business owner can set aside those specific dates in February now. Once those days are on the schedule, they must be respected as if they are meetings with the most valuable client. Commit to taking the time off for the things that matter most outside of business and protect that scheduled time.2. Turn off the cell phone. This goes for small business owners and anyone who has ever thought about work outside of the workplace. Especially when spending time with others outside of working hours, turn off the distractions of business. By removing the distractions of phone calls, text messages, instant messages, e-mails and phone alerts for a short time, you can truly relish in your time away from the office.Do you (or the small business owner you know) feel anxiety rise up inside of you when you merely consider turning off your phone? What if you took up the challenge of turning your phone off for one hour next week? Maybe it’s turning off the phone for the hour you’ve scheduled for yourself and your family. Maybe you turn off your phone before you fall asleep or leave it off while you get ready in the morning. Another suggestion is to shut off your phone during your commute if you drive. Since you shouldn’t be on it if you are driving, turn it off and turn up your favorite tunes. Whenever you decide to turn off your phone, you are claiming that time for yourself, which is a crucial piece of the work-life balance equation.Once you’ve turned on your phone again and realized that your business or work hasn’t imploded or exploded, your anxiety will be less the next time you cut off this type of communication. And what if your business does start to implode or explode? If you are not the sole person in your business, then someone will get ahold of you through your significant other, neighbor, friend, coworker or someone will show up where you are to tell you. If you are the sole person in your business, find another business owner in the same situation and work out a trade where you ensure each other’s businesses don’t go awry. Which brings us to the next point.3. Appoint a second-in-command for when you are inaccessible. You will take time off whether it’s an hour next week or a full month next year, and you don’t want to worry about your work during that time. That would eliminate the balance. Select a second-in-command and let the person know in what circumstance they will be in charge and how to reach you if a true emergency arises. (You may want to clarify what you consider an emergency with this person.) Let everyone in your company and important vendors know who is in charge in your absence moving forward. That way if something comes up in the hour you are in a business meeting or at your child’s play or in the month you are on vacation abroad, all employees and important vendors will know who to go to. Your second-in-command acts like the gatekeeper to your time away and assesses when he or she needs to contact you. Finally, when setting up your away messages with the times and dates you will be out of pocket, list your second-in-command’s contact information. Your away message may be on your website, in your social media messages, in an e-mail bounce-back message, on your store’s door, and on the phones in your business. If you’d like that breath of fresh air without the worry, then take the steps needed to prevent work from finding you unnecessarily while you are claiming more life in your work-life balance.With the majority of businesses in United States and in San Diego County operating as small businesses, work-life balance is necessary to continue and grow. By scheduling time off, turning off the cell phone and choosing a second-in-command, you can protect and freely enjoy your time away from the small business you run, work for or support. Here’s to work-life balance in small businesses everywhere!* The U.S. Small Business Administration sources data from the Office of Advocacy estimates based on data from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, and trends from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Business Employment Dynamics.