Okay…It’s Finally 2010…Now What?

Unfortunately last year many business’s pulled back on their marketing and advertising efforts. “Well, something had to give”, a business owner told me. Unfortunately, marketing initiatives may have been the last thing he wanted to pull in a bad economy. Study after study has shown that during down times, the companies that continued marketing came back to “the black” quicker and stronger than those who pulled the blanket over their heads and waited for the storm to pass. However, money is money….and when you don’t have it….or want to keep what you have as much as possible, you try to focus on the most effective method for creating ‘awareness’ without breaking the bank. Many of our clients are saying their objective this year is to create awareness of their company and product and grow the business.

“All I need is a new brochure!” my business friend cries. But that approach is tactical. A new web site, a couple of print pieces, maybe a new logo—those are only tactics that need to be driven by a strategy—a marketing plan—and that plan HAS to be driven by brand. Without brand strategy, his brochure is just a waste of a good tree.

It’s all about the brand. At Force 5, we believe that to increase awareness and business, it’s essential to establish a powerful and consistent brand image.

So why is brand development so important, and why now? Brand development is an investment – a proven investment. A good brand sets you apart from the crowd. Your brand is your evidence of distinction, what makes you different and unique from your competitors. Without distinction, you’re just another vendor, brand X. Without distinction, you could be just a commodity. And we all know how commodities are traded—price-the lowest price. When price is the only measurement of value of your company or product-you lose. If you are fighting in the trenches with only the lowest price, you are fighting everyone in the marketplace. And in today’s economy, when everyone is looking to get back on track—the low price game is being played hard.

However, when you have distinction, a proven and defensible brand, you rise above the fray. You can command higher prices, you are a leader.

A good brand means equity –true value to the company. There are examples of proven brand equity on a national and local scale. Coca Cola is ranked number one on Interbrands top 100 global brands of 2009, a spot they’ve held for nine consecutive years, and their brand alone accounts for 51% of the company’s stock market value. That’s millions and millions of dollars. What would it cost you to buy the name Coca Cola—not the plants, not the product—just the name??…That’s brand equity.

Your brand differentiation carries more weight today than ever before.

Fortunately, no matter how young or old your business is, you can still bring your brand to life. You can help an existing brand evolve or you can develop strategies to re-establish your brand.

At Force 5, we ask our clients—Who are you, What do you do, and Why does it matter? On the surface, these are easy questions, but sometimes tough to answer…

Our brand discovery process, called “Soul Searching,” provides the perfect insight into a company’s distinction. When we facilitate a session, we recruit the CEO, VP marketing, marketing managers, sales managers, folks from operations and sales people with the clear pulse on the buyer. We spend hours in a process of distilling information. From simple facts, to identifying unique value propositions, we build in a delivery mechanism by empowerment and incentives like training, technology or new customer service guidelines to assure that the newly created brand distinction is delivered constantly and consistently. The outcome is the foundation for the new or revisited brand strategy and a crystal clear and memorable internal and external brand communication. Why involve the CEO? Because brand development is not a marketing initiative, it is a corporate initiative. It must start at the top, and permeate from the President down to each and every worker. When everyone has shared in the authorship of your brand’s unique distinction, then it becomes the foundation of all production, marketing and sales initiatives.

So, It’s 2010—What’s your brand?