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describe the imageAs marketers, we talk a lot about branding. But what does that mean? It's not a question of sticking your logo on every correspondence and product that comes out of your business. It's about how people view your products and/or services, the interactions they've had with your employees and everything they're heard from family and friends. It's your reputation. And too often, it's neglected or poorly executed.

I just read an interesting article by Paul Dimodica on Green Industry Pros. He made a great point: You should sell value first and brand second. Why? Because people don't care who you are - they care about what you can do for them. While I agree with this idea to a point, I think that companies need to find a way to work value into their branding. It shouldn't be hard for customers to figure out how you can help them - you should make it easy. 

At Fonality, we built the idea of telecommunications right into our name. And when you visit our website or talk to our customer service department, the value we offer – cost-savings, improved efficiency, innovation - is one of the first things you'll see and hear.

Boost the value of your branding
Whether you're an insurance company or a florist, there are some definite do's and don'ts when you're branding your business. Here are four things not to do:

  1. Don't go big - or your customers will go home. You don't want to make your marketing message so esoteric or abstract that people don't understand what products you stock or what kinds of services you offer.
  2. Don't talk like your competitors. Make sure that you get personal and that you appeal directly to your customer base (for SMBs, that's the sweet spot). Don't repeat the rhetoric of your competition. Don't use empty clichés and phrases.
  3. Don't be vague. Tell your customers exactly how you will save them money and how much you'll save them. Tell them exactly what services you offer. Emphasize value that could increase income, save them time or money and minimize risks or consequences.
  4. Don't be boring. There are so many amazing ways to engage your customers that there is no excuse for a boilerplate marketing campaign! Try social media or eBooks or event sponsorship or other innovative ways to show that your brand stands out from the crowd.

One company that did this effectively was an insurance company in Madison, Wisconsin. The company created its own YouTube channel and developed a series of videos that have been viewed by more than 4 million viewers to date! They have also sponsored comedy shows, which they filmed and later posted on their YouTube channel to further grow their audience. Before each video clip, they incorporated ads about their insurance services. The idea was to paint a more fun view of their brand while communicating its value to customers - and it worked!