How to Brand Your Company

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  • 'You gotta brand your company!'
  • 'Warren Buffet loves brands!'
  • 'You're a nobody if you don't brand your business!'

True words; but what-in-the-mofo-soko?

How do you brand your company?

Conventional wisdom thinks it's this:

  • 'Get a nice logo. Get nice letterheads. Get nice business cards. Get nice ad templates.'

BAM!

But-that-ain't-branding; that's-just-Corporate-Identity.

Corporate identity != Branding.

What is Corporate Branding?

Why do you go to Doctor Bob despite his higher prices?

  1. You have a positively strong relationship with him.
  2. You've built the relationship with Doctor Bob over X years.

Branding revolves around one question:

  • What relationship does Bob have with your company?

The stronger the relationship, the stronger your brand -- and the likelier Bob will choose you over competitors despite your higher prices, your slower service, your yaddas.

Branding is about one $^^@%^@%@^%^@%^ thing:

  • Relationships.

Why So?

The more you see somebody, the more you like that somebody.

  • The more you see a friend, the more you like the friend.
  • The more you see an ad, the more you like the company.
  • The more you do business with a company, the more you like the company.

For instance, you're more likely to prefer Geico over another competitor because its crazy commercials have steadily solidified a long-standing happy relationship with you.

Building a relationship doesn't simply involve a financial transaction; it involves everything where a customer gets in contact with your company:

  • It can involve your after-service relationship (e.g., support, warranties, etc.).
  • It can involve your pre-service relationship (e.g., ads, presentations, etc).
  • It can involve anything and everything that connects you to the customer (e.g., blogs, newsletters, etc.)

The more you connect with the customer, the more you solidify your brand to that customer.

Relationship, Relationships, Relationships

Why do big-time brands rarely change their corporate identities?

  1. Bob builds a relationship with a certain corporate identity over X years.
  2. Like a human relationship, because he's been in contact with the corporate identity a freakish number of times, he likes it more.
  3. As a result, he subconsciously prefers the identity over any new one presented.

(Think Coke vs. New Coke; blind tests said New Coke; yet, people still claimed they preferred the original Coke.)

Changing your identity/product/mission/yadda constantly erodes any long-standing relationship -- making your incessant reinventions pretty-fricking-fruitless.

Think of Cousin-Vinny-Who-You've-Never-Seen in Years

  1. You last saw Vinny 15 years ago.
  2. You meet him for the first time since then.
  3. You kind-of-sort-of-like the new Vinny -- but you still prefer the Vinny-15-years-younger edition, because you have a stronger relationship with the younger one than the new reinvented one.

So:

  1. Keep a unifying, consistent X.
  2. The longer a customer builds a relationship with X, the more he or she likes/hearts/loves it.
  3. If you're going to change something, do it subtly/cautiously/gradually -- while keeping what they like/heart/love intact as much as possible.

(X is everything your customer touches -- e.g., products, colors, uniforms, telephone numbers, customer service, etc.).

Warren Buffet Buys Brands for a Reason

Branding is absolutely crucial because it prevents you from competing directly on prices, features, smarts, technology -- which destroys your profit margins, and makes you likelier to see bankruptcy.

  • It's impossibly difficult to compete on prices.
  • It's impossibly difficult to compete on smarts.
  • It's impossibly difficult to compete on technology.
  • It's impossibly difficult to compete on features.

The high maintenance of even attempting those things drastically increases your expenses -- eroding your margins.

  • Low margins = less room for error (which can destroy you if a bad economy hits).

If you're going to do just one thing to improve your company this year, do this: Brand your company.

Say it together now:

  • 'Branding is critically important for my company.'
  • 'Branding is critically important for my company.'
  • 'Branding is critically important for my company.'
  • 'Branding is critically important for my company.'
  • 'Branding is critically important for my company.'

BAM! HOORAY! HIGH-FIVE!!!!!!111one

The Cardinal Rule:

  • The more people build a relationship with X, the more they like X.

Relationships.

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Posted on September 29

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