brand you

Register for my Personal Branding Masterclass on March 17

In collaboration with IE Business School, I'll be giving a Personal Branding Masterclass in Brussels on March 17, 2011. To register, visit this link: http://www.ie.edu/alumniweb/alumniagenda/DetalleEvento.aspx?id=12007

It's the first in the series of more exciting workshops on different aspects of branding that I plan to teach in the future. Come and discover how to build a powerful brand You!

Need rebranding? Don't just change your logo, think brand strategy

Old Apple logoI am often asked to explain what brand strategy stands for. In my experience, many people still associate branding, and brand strategy, with graphic design -- logos, web sites and other elements of visual identity. Whereas visual identity is absolutely essential in branding (and SCHMOOZY FOX works with a great team of designers to take care of it!), it's just one step in a broader activity which is brand strategy.

Brand strategy is your overall business strategy that has an objective of building a  S T R O N G  B R A N D.

This may sound rather simple, but in reality, a good brand strategy is a very complex exercise.  A good brand strategy can determine your success, and no brand strategy is often a recipe for a failure (see my previous blog post Brands do not take care of themselves).

Rebranding is a good chance to sort out your overall brand strategy. Often, companies feel like getting away from a tired image, and creating something more consistent with market needs.  This "something" is often, in their view, a change of look and feel. Often, their rebranding efforts are only about changing a logo.

But the reality is, even after improving their logos, many companies don't sort out their bad customer service, or improve product functionality. It's astonishing that many companies simply do not think that these strategic elements have anything to do with their brand!

Today, I want to share with you a story  published on Inc.com, How to rebrand your business successfully. It summarizes a rebranding project that was done by Seattle's Coffee Company (part of the Starbucks group). See how the company measured the size of their market, did competitor research, re-thought their customer base, and improved distribution channels.

All of these activities are characteristic of brand strategy and should be considered within any rebranding project.

Give your brand a funky chat up line

Photo by PinkMoose on Flickr

I've already written before about tag lines, or brand slogans. To put it briefly, a successful tag line is similar to a chat up (or pick up) line: it triggers interest and the "chattee's" wish to explore the "chatter" further, without giving away too much information about the "chatter". You can also think of it as your tiny elevator pitch: it gives enough clues for what the product or service is about, triggering further interest to discover more.

Giving your tired brand a catchy tag line can sometimes revitalize your business, and spark the love of more fans.

I've already shared my list of criteria for a successful tag line, check out the blog post What's your brand's slogan?.

But what is actually the process, or technique, of coming up with a juicy brand slogan? True, sometimes you'd come up with an amazing tag line (or even a company name) in your dream, or while jogging in the park, but it's of course difficult to rely on these strikes of genius. There is, however, a bit of a nerdy nerdy way forward:

1) If you are a brand and marketing nerd, do a proper brand audit of whatever brand you are working on. Shake up the old stuff, and see what has been done to the brand in question in the past. Ask questions. Challenge.

2) If you not a marketing nerd, then you gotta find one to help you with this task.

3) The brand audit will be a good preparation before you start crafting a new brand concept, based on some concrete data about your consumers, and/or making assumptions where necessary.

4) Identify the main brand values of your freshly baked brand concept. Some companies come up with as many brand values as possible, but my advice is to keep a number of brand values to maximum 3 (this number can of course change depending on a concrete brand in question!).

5) Brainstorm a catchy brand slogan based on the identified brand values. You don't have to be direct and declare to the world that your car brand is "all about cars". This is something that your potential customers will find out anyway. Instead, flirt with your customers and communicate in a fun and intriguing way -- after all, you want to build a funky brand, right? Maybe your cars are all about giving the sense of being ultra-funky, and contemporary in an urban environment. Or, they can give us a sense of freedom each time we drive across the fields. In this way, the word "car" might not even show up in your brand slogan at all! (( After all, Just Do It doesn't have the slightest mention of "sneakers"!))

There aren't actually any exact rules of how to organize a brainstorming session. It's really not exact science, and each brand consultant will have her own set of creative boxes to tick to come up with a brand slogan.

In the case of SCHMOOZY FOX, we combine the necessary knowledge of business and brand strategy with creativity and the knowledge of linguistics.  The latter helps us to make sure that your brand name and brand slogan don't sound strange in the countries where you operate, and that the subtle associations with the desired brand values are evoked by carefully selected words.

Inertia of family-owned businesses: the Belgian distillery Filliers

geneverToday I will talk about family-owned businesses and challenges they face in turning their products or services into funky brands.


Think of this kind of company structure: a mother or father is a CEO, and all the top management consists of offspring, cousins, aunts, uncles and other “extended family” members. Occasionally, they let outsiders in, and allow them to manage their businesses, but this doesn’t happen too often.


Many family-owned companies never succeed in achieving critical mass, lose touch with modern trends, fail to reinvent themselves and keep afloat the ever-changing customer demands. Sometimes, family-owned business produce high-quality products, but fail to exploit its potential to the maximum simply because they lack the necessary skills within the family team.


Here is an example of a brand you might or might not have heard about. Filliers, a distillery near Ghent (Belgium), produces genever, an fillierslogoalcoholic beverage made by distilling maltwine and adding some herbs, such as juniper berry. Think gin, but with some added zest.

Funky gin.


Filliers has a big potential to become a great and innovative brand, but seems to be somewhat trapped in its century-long traditional thinking.

I had a chance to visit Filliers as part of a local business networking group whose members went to the distillery mostly out of recreational purposes. My own interest was mostly triggered by a bottle of sweet currant Filliers brew sitting in my fridge. A nice flavor, 20% alcohol volume content, and quite an unattractive bottle made me think that perhaps Filliers could have some potential on the alcoholic beverage market, if re-branded, re-bottled, and modernized.

fillierscurrantgenever


First, we were shown a promotional video about the company. The two things were repeated again and again: technological advances allowing to distill Filliers beverages in the best way possible, and traditional values of the family business, which dates back to 1880.


At the end, there was a demonstration of the current range of products. Unfortunately, nothing was mentioned about Filliers's customers.


Craftsmanship and tradition are certainly important in the business of producing genever – no wonder that genever produced by Filliers is quite good. But who buys these products because of their traditional manufacturing techniques?


The old-fashioned look and feel of Filliers bottles probably does have some appeal to Baby Boomers. I am not sure though that many of the sweet and creamy flavors (passion fruit, for instance) would attract a 60-something guy in a local pub.

Confusing.


And it's a pity – the spirits markets in Europe (including Eastern Europe) as well as the US are thirsty for some innovative brands.


An example of how a traditional beverage can stand out and be different is the new brand launched by Paris Hilton: PARIS HILTON RICH PROSECCO. Who would ever think of packaging bubbly into cans?

proseccocan

parishiltonproseccoad

Simply superb, Paris, great product (I've tasted it) and great ads! Read more about Prosecco Rich here.

Filliers should open up its family business to a creative team of “outsiders” with some solid business background and intuition for marketing. Given the overall good quality of the Filliers liquors, I can imagine a zillion ways of identifying new markets, creating a totally different product range and packaging. There is definitely a lucrative niche in the market to make it possible. I have a lot of ideas about how Filliers could reinvent itself, so if it (or a friendly LBO firm) is listening, get in touch!