Defining your brand

5 reasons why defining your brand is good for business

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a very insightful presentation about defining your brand by Marty Neumeier, author of many great books, including The Brand Gap, Zag and The Brand Flip. Marty is the one who coined the often quoted phrase “Your brand is not what you say it is. It is what they say it is.” He’s right.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any influence over what they say. Spending valuable time defining your brand and managing the communication of that brand, will go a long way to getting ‘them’ say what you want them to say.

As Steve Forbes, editor in Chief of Forbes magazine once said, “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” He’s right too.

Brands are not the sole domain of large multi-national businesses. If you own or run a small or medium-sized business, it makes commercial sense to put some serious thought into your brand.

Here are five reasons why defining your brand is good for business.

1. DEFINING YOUR BRAND PROVIDES FOCUS

Whether starting a new business, or taking an established business to the next level, there plenty of ‘shiny things’ vying for your attention, and your money. Software packages that promise to simplify your world. TV and radio stations guaranteeing eyes and ears. Newspapers and magazines claiming to have your target audience’s attention. Online marketing deals promising you clicks through to your website. Business advisers and training courses claiming to transform your sales. SEO, social media channels, exhibitions and events, affiliate marketing. The list is endless.

All so tempting. Where do you start? Where do you stop?

Going through a brand workshop will help you to better understand who you are, how you differ from your competitors and why you are relevant to your customers.

Once you have defined your brand, you will have a much better idea of whether those temptations are ‘on brand’ or ‘off brand’. If they are ‘on brand’, then they are worth considering. If, on the other hand, they are not ‘on brand’ then you should steer clear.

I get some of my clients to create an ‘on brand’ checklist, to check any activities they are considering fulfil a list of ‘on brand’ criteria.

So, the investment you make in defining your brand soon repays itself many times over, by saving you time, money and effort on things that aren’t going to work for your business.

2. DEFINING YOUR BRAND GETS EMPLOYEES ON BOARD

The people within your organisation are usually the DNA that makes your business unique. Involving them in everything you do will make your company better.

As Zig Ziglar, one of the all-time sales greats and author of more than 30 sales and motivational books, once said; “Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.”

Defining your brand and communicating it with everyone within the business, provides employees with an understanding of what you want to achieve, direction on how you plan to achieve it and the motivation to help you achieve it.

Take your employees on the journey with you. You never know, they may even lead the way.
If they are shown the moves and taught the words, your employees will become the cheerleaders for your business.

Defining your brand is also good for HR. It will help the business retain staff, attract new talent and create a stronger sense of community.

3. DEFINING YOUR BRAND GIVES YOU CONSISTENCY

Unlike the big multi-nationals, your exposure to your customers is probably very limited. So, it is really important that when your customers are exposed to you, they are given the same experience every time.

Defining your brand will help you tell your story. Combine consistent brand messages and storytelling with consistent visual branding and customers will find it much easier to recognise what you do and what you stand for.

If your target audience becomes familiar with your brand, you will need to spend less money getting them to recognise you in the crowd of messages they are exposed to every day.

Familiarity also breeds trust. When something becomes more familiar to somebody, they are more likely to trust it. And trust is the biggest reason people cite when they talk about their favourite brands.

I’d like to quote Zig Ziglar again; “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

4. DEFINING YOUR BRAND CREATES CONFIDENCE

Defining your brand is all about giving you, and your customers, confidence.

You will have a clearer understanding of what, how and why you are doing what you are doing.

During the brand creation process, we will help you identify and analyse your key target audiences.
Understanding who they are, and why they should be interested in what you have to offer, is an extremely valuable exercise. It will give you the confidence that you a saying the right things to the right people.

So, conversations with customers, presentations in client pitches, elevator pitches at networking events and posts on social media will be delivered with confidence and consistency.

And, confidence is infectious. If you have more confidence in your business’ brand, your customers will have more confidence in your brand too.

Confident customers are more likely to buy from you, more likely to want to come back and buy from you again and again and, ultimately, be prepared to pay more for what you offer.

5. DEFINING YOUR BRAND TURNS CUSTOMERS INTO ADVOCATES

I have asked the best until last.

The best reason for creating a brand is that people get passionate about brands. Creating a brand will help customers to fall in love with you. And what do people do when they are in love? They gush!

People in love can’t stop talking about the object of that love. To their friends, their work colleagues, on social media channels. Basically, to anyone who will listen.

Passionate consumers become willing referrers. Doing the hard work of selling your business to new customers for you. Word of mouth is more effective than other forms of marketing.
I started with a couple of quotes, so I would like to finish with a couple.

As David J. Greer, author of Wind In Your Sails, said; “A customer talking about their experience with you is worth ten times that which you write or say about yourself.”

And Ken Peters, owner and Creative Director of Nocturnal Graphic Design Studio, said: “If you want your brand to benefit from word of mouth, you’d better give consumers something worth talking about.”

That’s exactly what defining your brand does!

Brand before Branding

Why you need to think about your brand before creating your branding

Your brand is the story you tell and the connection you have with your customer. Define this first and powerful branding will follow.

Think your brand and your branding are the same thing, right? Wrong.

This is a mistake that many start-ups and small business make. They go out and get a logo designed before they have thought about the brand that logo needs to represent.

Brand versus Branding

Your ‘brand’ and your ‘branding’ are two very different things.

Your brand isn’t the nice logo and pretty colours that the term is often, incorrectly, associated with. A brand is about creating a personality for your business.

Your brand is the DNA of your business. It should be present in everything you do. From your logo to the way you answer the phone. From the stories you tell on your website, in brochures and social media posts, to how you deal with an inquiry or complaint.

Your branding, on the other hand, is the visual side of creating a brand. This includes the logo, colours, typefaces and imagery your brand uses to tell your story. Branding is everything you do that your customers will see.

Your branding needs to complement your brand. That’s why thinking about your brand first is so important.

Let’s get emotional

People make decisions using the emotional part of the brain. You can give them loads of rational reasons why they should do something, but if you haven’t ‘connected’ with them, they may dismiss these for some unexplainable reason.

But, if you can connect with them emotionally, they will use rational reasoning to validate their decision. Or even ignore rational reasoning altogether. That’s when you know you have really got them.

This isn’t opinion; it is backed up by science. The latest catchphrase in the pursuit of getting ‘buy-in’ from your target audience is ‘neuromarketing’. Over the last decade or so, neuroscience research has shown that emotions play a much more important role in decision making than most people have thought.

Businesses who believe they can build a rational case for getting someone to buy something often fail because they haven’t understood the real factors that are driving the other person to come to a decision. Driven by emotions.

Our brains process much of their sensory input subconsciously. Signals that don’t generate positive or negative emotions are filtered out (seen as unimportant) and never reach our conscious mind. So, for you to get your customer’s attention, you need to trigger some sort of emotion.

So, for you to get your customer’s attention, you need to trigger some sort of emotion. Creating a successful brand is about creating that emotional connection with your customer. This is done by defining what your brand is. The values, personality

Creating a successful brand is about creating that emotional connection with your customer. This is done by defining what your brand is. The values, personality and stories the brand lives by.

Emotional versus Rational

The Independent Practitioners of Advertising (IPA) analysed data from some 1,400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns submitted for the IPA Effectiveness Awards over three decades, to compare the profitability boost of campaigns which relied primarily on emotional appeal versus those which used rational persuasion and information.

Campaigns with purely emotional content performed nearly twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those with only rational content, and those that were purely emotional also did better (31% vs 26%) than those with a mixture of emotional and rational content.

People buy people. And people love stories.

One of the easiest ways to get your brand across is to tell your story. We have been telling stories since prehistorical people gathered around the fire to share tales.

Everyone’s lives have a journey and that journey is the reason why you have got to where you are now. Tell that story. If people like your story, they will like you, which means they are much more likely to like, and, buy what you are selling.

But, it’s not all about you

It is important to remember that your brand is more than what you say it is. Your brand is also what others think and say it is.

One of the best definitions of a brand is: A brand resides in the hearts and minds of your customers. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions. Some of which you can influence and some you can’t.

You can influence how you portray your business. And it is only once your business has a personality, or brand, that customers can decide whether or not they like it. If your business can portray a personality that complements theirs, they might just invest in your brand

So, how do you go about defining your brand?

Your brand is your DNA. It is what makes your business unique – and every business has something unique.

That uniqueness can’t always be described as a USP (Unique Selling Point, or Proposition). You may provide the same products and services as your competitors, but there will always be something different in the way you do it or why you do it. People are more likely to buy into why you are doing something than what you are doing.

Defining your ‘why’ often needs help. Most start-ups are normally engrossed in getting their business started and far too involved with the day-to-day responsibilities of running the business.

Get some help from a brand expert that specialises in start-ups. Someone who has the experience of asking the right questions and extracting the right information from your answers.

They will help you to identify your ‘why’, why it is relevant to your customers and how to communicate it in the most effective way.

Defining your brand will give you focus and confidence as you start and grow your business.

‘On brand’ checklist

Once you have defined your brand, you should create an ‘on brand’ checklist. This is so you can check that everything you do – whether it is copy for your website, a post on social media or an advertisement – is on brand.

If it ticks all the boxes, then you are portraying a consistent brand. If it doesn’t, you should seriously question whether you should be doing it; because if it is not ‘on brand’, your customers will be seriously questioning why you did it.

So, brand first, then branding.

Only once you have defined your brand should you think about getting your logo designed. You can use your brand as the brief to the designer. That way, you are much more likely to get a logo that portrays your brand.

Getting your brand and your branding working together and working consistently has great advantages. Consistency breeds recognition. Recognition breeds familiarity. Familiarity breeds trust. And trust breeds confidence.

If your customers have trust and confidence in your brand, they are much more likely to buy from you. And, more importantly, they are much more likely to become advocates for your brand

#DontWasteDecember

#DontWasteDecember

Today is the 1st of December and I am on a mission to make sure this December isn’t wasted.

Far too many people and businesses start to wind down for Christmas and put off the important stuff until next year. That’s a 12th of the year being wasted!

Brand Satellite and Brands Start Here are offering special #DontWasteDecember offers (see below), to make sure you, well, don’t waste December.

Defining your brand, what makes your business unique (your DNA), really understanding what it is about what you offer that engages your customers and planning for the year ahead are all the important stuff you shouldn’t be putting off.

As Simon Sinek articulates so well: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Your brand is your ‘why’. Identifying ‘why’ will give you the focus and confidence you need to ‘smash’ next year!

If you have already defined your brand, you will know how focused it makes your business activities. But, I can bet you know someone else that would benefit hugely from defining their brand. Please forward this page on to them. You will receive an early Christmas present from us, for anyone you refer that takes up an offer. And, a massive thank you from them, once they have gone through the process.

I hope you have a very productive December, oh and a Merry Christmas at the end of it.

Giles

20% OFF the Brand Satellite Brand Workshop

This is the starting point for any business wanting to establish or develop a brand.

A Brand Satellite Brand Workshop will take a strategic look at your business and ascertain where you are, where you want to go and how you might consider doing things to get there.

It will help you position your business in a way that your customers will find engaging. It will help you attract new customers, retain existing customers and turn customers into advocates for your brand.

It will give you a focus, for all business activities and confidence that what you do is helping to develop your brand and grow your business.

Book a Brand Workshop during December and get 20% off this investment in your business. Complete the Brand Workshop day before Christmas and we will guarantee your Brand Workshop report is sitting in your inbox the day you get back from the festive break.

10% OFF the Brands Start Here 1-2-1 Brand Creation Package

BRANDS START HERE is our new service offering 1-2-1 brand advice for startups.

We have created BRANDS START HERE because, we believe, no-one is offering 1-2-1 brand advice to startups.

The 1-2-1 BRAND CREATION PACKAGE has been specially designed to help startups to start their business as a brand. To help them understand what it is about your business that is attractive to your customers.

Purchase the package during December (using ‘#DontWasteDecember’ at checkout) and get 10% the price of the package.

start-ups or startups

Start-ups or startups? Should your communications be grammatically correct or findable?

I recently spent an evening changing every ‘start-ups’ to ‘startups’ on my new website – BrandsStartHere.com. As the website is all about promoting 1-2-1 brand advice and branding packages to startups, this was no mean feat.

The reason for this change was initiated by a tweet I was in the process of writing. As I typed #start Twitter offered me #startups as an option. But as soon as I got to #start- Twitter stopped offering me options. On Twitter, hashtags and hyphens don’t mix.

So, I left Twitter and went to Google. I typed ‘start-up or startup?’ into the search box and pressed ENTER. Lots of interesting stuff came up, but a very informative blog by Liam Collins at Nesta caught my attention: http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/startup-or-start

Now, I could have taken all his information and written my own blog, claiming to have done loads of research on this. But, that’s not what the internet is for. Use it to find stuff, to learn stuff, but don’t use it pinch stuff and claim it to be your area of expertise.

So, the aforementioned blog was enough evidence to get me to change the way I communicated the word startups. It wasn’t easy. It went against the grain for me to ignore the spell check and the dictionaries and choose an alternative spelling.

But if startups are putting startups into Google, or typing #startups into Twitter and Facebook, what was the point of me taking the grammatical high ground by adding a hyphen.

It is all about understanding your marketplace and your target audience. If they don’t use hyphens, then don’t give them hyphens.

Last night, I did another search on google.co.uk. I typed ‘1-2-1 brand advice for startups’ into the search box and pressed ENTER (I had changed the search settings to ‘Do not use private results’, so it didn’t take into account my previous searches or browser history). I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first four entries on Page 1 were all about my new website. This meant one of two things: 1) I had done a pretty good job with search engine optimisation, or 2) No one else was offering the services I was offering.

This, in turn, meant one of two things: 1) I was offering a unique service that no one else was offering, or 2) I was offering a service that no one wanted. The latter being the main reason why nine out of ten startups fail: http://fortune.com/2014/09/25/why-startups-fail-according-to-their-founders/.

I have been providing a very similar service to the one I am offering on BrandsStartHere.com through the Cultural Enterprise Office (in my role as their Industry Associate for Brand & Branding). This has been very well received by everyone that has taken it up so far. I have three sessions booked in for this week and a waiting list for my availability for further sessions. I recently ran a Brand Workshop for the Cultural Enterprise Office which was sold out (and received very positive feedback).

So, 1-2-1 brand advice for startups is clearly a service startups can benefit from. It’s just that most startups don’t realise they need it, don’t know it is available, or simply haven’t found it yet.

LinkedIn

20 tips to help you create an All-Star LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn profileLinkedIn profilelinkedin-profilelinkedin-profileLinkedIn profileI have been preparing my LinkedIn profile in readiness to use LinkedIn as one of my social media platforms of choice in 2017.

This preparation has included reading many blogs and ebooks, attending a few workshops, attending seminars and one-to-ones with LinkedIn experts, watching videos and researching other profiles.

I don’t now profess to be an expert, but I have learned a lot which you might find useful when creating or improving your profile.

Below is a list of 20 things I either already knew or have learned, that have made my LinkedIn profile more effective. Hopefully, they will do the same for yours. Some are little things. Some are things you should be thinking about way beyond your LinkedIn profile:

1. Decide why you are creating a LinkedIn profile

Seems obvious, but I bet most people haven’t thought about it. For example, I want my profile to position me as an expert in creating and developing brands and therefore hopefully attract new clients. Your purpose may be different. You might be using it to find a new job. Or, you might want to use it to stay in touch with old friends and colleagues. You might be using it for new information and insights, to help you do your job better. By deciding what you are using LinkedIn for will help you create the best profile for that purpose.

2. Think of yourself as a brand

As a brand expert, this is how I think about most things. If I want the readers of my LinkedIn profile to, at some point, use me to help them create, develop or communicate their brand, then I want them to a) believe I am the right person, and b) like me. I use words like ‘believe’ and ‘like’ because creating a brand is about creating an emotional connection between you and your customer. Neurologists have proved that people make most of their important decisions using the emotional part of their brain. One of the strongest emotions you can get on your side is trust. Being believable and likeable is a short cut to instilling trust. Think about what emotional connection you can make with the reader. Dr. Tiffany Watt Smith, author of The Book of Human Emotions: An Encyclopedia of Feeling, from Anger to Wanderlust, says there are over 150 emotions and counting (like one of the latest ones: FOMO – fear of missing out). So, you have plenty to choose from.

3. Make your Professional Headline search engine friendly

My Professional Headline used to read ‘Owner at Brand Satellite’. OK, that is true, but what use is that information to potential clients? At least Brand Satellite sort of describes what the company does, but imagine if the company was called Etherington & Associates. It now reads: ‘Branding expert helping start-ups and SMEs with brand creation, brand development and brand communication.’ Much more useful. These are all terms that a) clearly describe what I do, and b) are search terms that potential clients may be using.

4. Use a professional looking Photo – of your face

Rightly or wrongly, first impressions count. LinkedIn is a professional network, so make sure your profile Photo oozes professionalism. Save your action shots and fun selfies for Twitter and Facebook. Also, don’t use avatars or logos. This is an opportunity to make a human connection with your human customers. Your LinkedIn profile picture should be a head shot that represents what you look like now. A lot of people I spoke to during my research told me that they use LinkedIn to find out/remind them of what people look like before meetings and networking events (saving them from that embarrassing nonplussed look in reception, or at an event without name badges).

Claire Watson Photography offers a very reasonable profile photo service.

5. Make your Current Experience, Previous Experience and Education relevant

The Header section might be as far through your profile as some people go. Below the Professional Headline, LinkedIn only shows three Current, three Previous experience listings and one Education listing. Are they relevant? If your education has absolutely no relevance to what you do now, consider leaving it off.

6. Make sure your Summary is talking to your target audience

This is essential to all marketing communications. The Summary section is one of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile. Think about who is reading it (or who you want to be reading it). What do you want them to learn from reading your summary? How are they going to benefit from what you say? Most people won’t read any further if you haven’t ‘grabbed them’. Don’t talk about what you do. Talk about what you can do for them.

7. Remember it is a single human being that is reading your Summary

Your LinkedIn profile is visible to three billion internet users worldwide! But every viewing is one, single human being. Make your Summary conversational. Imagine they are standing in front of you. Talk to them in the first person. ‘I can help you…’ is better than ‘Giles can help you…’. Being professional doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly.

8. Put a ‘Call To Action’ in your Summary

Finish your Summary with a call to action. Yes, there is a contact section on LinkedIn – which you should fill in too – but that is another click away. Make it as easy as possible for someone to get in touch with you by adding your contact details.

9. Add images and video to your Summary

You know what they say a picture is worth? Well, currently your LinkedIn profile will be a whole lot of words. Make it stand out from other people’s profiles with images and video. I know it’s easy for me to say because can just add the latest brand identity I have designed or the latest client video I have created. But you might have some product images or website images you can use (if you don’t, I would seriously consider getting some). As well as adding some much needed visual interest, images can portray more about what you are about than words alone. You can also add video to LinkedIn. Have you got ads, how to videos, video testimonials you could add? If you haven’t, you should think about adding video to your marketing mix for 2017 (but that is a whole different blog). If you do add video, then you will probably do so by uploading it to YouTube first. Which is good news – after Google, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so another chance of you and your business being found.

10. Make your Experience relevant to now (and make it interesting)

This might feel like I am repeating Tip No. 5. That was about making your Current and Previous experiences relevant in the header section. Now, I am talking about the Experience in the Background section. Remember what you are on LinkedIn for and tailor your Experience to help you achieve that. This section isn’t about everything you have done in your life. It is about everything you have done that is relevant to where you are now. The fact that I used to work at Little Chef when I was at college, or packed lawnmowers as a holiday job is totally irrelevant to what I do now. So you won’t see it in my profile. Also, people aren’t going to spend ages on your profile, especially the further they go down the page. Keep it concise. You can be more descriptive and expansive in current positions, but the further you go back time, the more concise you should make it. Just highlight the highlights.

11. Your Experience doesn’t have to read like a CV

You can be creative with the Experience section. It doesn’t have to be a list of places you have worked. My experience of working at some of the world’s best advertising agencies, working on some of the world’s biggest brands and working in London, San Francisco and Amsterdam is crucial to positioning me as highly experienced at what I do. Your career path may have been very different, with the early part not being relevant to where you are now. For example, with one of my clients, we summed up 30 years of her career into one Experience section and then created four different sections, all for her current business. One section was an overview of what she offered and the other three sections each related to a separate process she takes you through when you work with her.

12. Show examples of what you do

Similar to adding images and video to your summary. You can add examples of your work under each Experience entry. This gives you the opportunity to feature stuff you did years ago (if it is relevant), without people thinking, ‘Why is he still showing stuff he did years ago?’

13. Remember you can add sections and move sections around

Your LinkedIn profile will come in a default setting. There are lots of other sections you can add (check out the ‘Add a section to your profile’ link). Adding Courses, Organisations or Projects might be really relevant to you. And you have some control over reordering sections. Your Summary might be more important that your Posts. Your Skills & Endorsements might be more important than your Experience. Rearrange these sections so that the most important are at the top.

14. Repeat Tip No. 2

Take a moment to look back at everything you have just done. Does everything fit with the brand you created for yourself? Are you connecting with the emotion you wanted to connect with? If you’re not, think about changing it so you are.

15. Use the Skills & Endorsements section to your advantage

Here’s a section to keep the rational part of the brain happy. Creating a list of skills on another part of the profile, may feel cumbersome, or be ignored. Here is a section specifically designed for you to show off your Skills. But choose wisely. It is very tempting to add more and more skills (some of the predefined options are very similar). But you want people to endorse your Skills, and they probably won’t endorse you for every variant. For example, I have 32 Endorsements for Corporate Branding, but only 5 for Branding & Identity. 37 endorsements for one of those would probably have been better. Don’t make my mistake, make sure each skill you add is clearly different from the other.

16. Ask people to Endorse you

Once you have added your skills, ask people to endorse you (I’m sure your parents have said ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ to you at least once). Ask people you have worked for, or with, to endorse you for the skills you used when you worked for/with them. Before asking, I had organically received around 250 endorsements. By asking, I now have over 400.

17. Ask for Recommendations

The same theory applies to Recommendations. Ask existing clients, past clients and employers for a recommendation. The great thing about Recommendations on LinkedIn is that they have to be posted by that person. Testimonials on websites and in brochures could have been written by anyone (including the person who’s website it is – but don’t get me started on people that do that!). So, Recommendations that can be trusted could become the most powerful part of your profile.

18. Post stuff

Now you have got your profile to a state that you are happy for people to be visiting it, you need people to start visiting it. Your profile is you telling people what you are good at. Your Posts are providing people with evidence that you are good at them. You might already be blogging on your website, or writing press releases. Post these on your profile. If you don’t, think of things you know about (or like this blog, things you have just done) and pass on that knowledge and experience to a new audience.

19. Keep improving – there is still plenty more you can do

The advice above is just scrapping the surface. There are lots more things I still have to do to improve my LinkedIn profile: add a Company Page, join Groups, follow more Influencers. Like any social media platform, you need to keep working on it, keep everything up to date, look active and be relevant. I also haven’t tried upgrading to LinkedIn Premium yet – something I might update you on in the New Year.

20. Spread the love – press share

Thanks for reading this far. I hope you found what you have just read useful. If so, please Share. This is a social media platform after all!

John Lewis Interview

The people make the brand: The John Lewis interview

John Lewis interviewWhen the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce put on one of their Premier Business Dinners with Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis as the keynote speaker, I was going.

John Lewis is a brand I very much admire. And it’s not just me. John Lewis has remained one of the UK’s most cherished brands, even through the huge changes that have occurred in retail over the last couple of decades.

I went to the dinner with high expectations and I was not disappointed. Andy was entertaining, informative and inspirational.

During the evening I engineered myself into a seat next to one of the other John Lewis attendees at the event. He very kindly answered my barrage of questions and put me in contact with Barry Blamire, the Head of Branch of John Lewis Edinburgh. In turn, Barry very kindly agreed to be interviewed by me.

The John Lewis interview

Armed with a few dozen questions, I made my way to the Customer Services department at the St James Square store.

I was very keen to find out about how they indoctrinated new staff into the culture of John Lewis. I asked how the brand was articulated? Did they have a staff handbook or brand guidelines? I was expecting a three inch tome to be dropped on the table. I didn’t expect the answer I received. They don’t have any sort of brand induction. The brand is so deeply rooted in the culture of the business, new staff, or partners as they call them, are immersed in the culture on the shop floor from day one.

Barry stressed how important recruitment of new partners was. Getting the recruitment right. And recruiting people with the right values was paramount. If they got that right, then getting them to ‘buy into’ the culture was easy.

The power of partnership

Another benefit of the right recruitment and the right culture is staff retention. The partnership culture creates a bond between people. By providing a working environment that is based on the importance of individuals, you have a work force that a) want to do the best for the business (after all, if the business does well, they do well), and b) want to stay.

Barry has been with the company for fourteen years and Andy Street had been with John Lewis for over 35 years. Paula Nickolds, the incoming and first female Managing Director, has been with the company for 20 years. Andy has decided to leave the company run for mayor of the West Midlands.

To hear someone talk about their primary purpose being to create happiness for the people working within the company makes a refreshing change. Most retail businesses mantra is the customer is king. At John Lewis they understand that if their employees are happy, they will make the customers happy.

We talked at length about the relationship between the management and the partners. How important is was to keep them informed and, equally, how important it was to listen to them. They have Partner Voice meetings four times a year, were the agenda is set by the partners.

This posed another question. Why don’t more businesses work this way?

Our conversation also included how they review their branding roughly every 10-12 years, how they review their brand messages every 4-5 years, how they have recently introduced paid-for advertising and printed catalogues (while many other retailers are doing away with them). We also talked about their huge success moving online (the UK’s fourth largest online retailer with £1.5bn revenue – Source: RetailWeek) and, of course, the John Lewis Christmas ads.

Brand v Branding

Brand v Branding

Brand v BrandingDo you know the difference between your brand and your branding?

If the answer is ’no’, don’t beat yourself up. There are many within our industry that don’t seem to either. I have lost count of the amount of websites I have visited where someone is offering to design your brand. Brands can’t be designed. They can be created, extracted or defined, but not designed.

Here’s my attempt at distinguishing between your brand and your branding.

Your Brand

Your brand isn’t the nice logo and pretty colours that the term is often, incorrectly, associated with. A brand is about creating a personality for your business.

Your brand should become part of the DNA of your business. It should be present in everything you do. From your brand identity to the way you answer the phone. From the stories you tell on your website, in brochures and tweets, to how you deal with a complaint.

Creating a successful brand is about creating an emotional connection with your consumer. This is done by defining what your brand is. The values, personality and stories the brand lives by.

But your brand is more that what you think and say. Your brand is also what others think and say about you.

It is only once your business has a personality that customers can decide whether or not they like it. If your business can portray a personality that complements theirs, they might just let you become their friend.

Scientists back this theory up. The latest catchphrase in the pursuit of getting ‘buy in’ from your target audience is ‘neuromarketing’. Over the last decade or so, neuroscience research has shown that emotions play a much more important role in decision making than most people have thought.

Our brains process much of their sensory input subconsciously, generating affection toward or against objects. Signals that don’t generate positive or negative emotions are filtered out (seen as unimportant) and never reach our conscious mind.

So, for your brand to get attention, it has to trigger an emotion.

Your Branding

Your branding is the visual side of creating a brand.

This is the brand identity, which includes the logo, colours, typefaces and imagery your brand uses to tell your brand story. Branding is the tone of voice you use in your communications. Branding is everything you do that your customers will see.

These all need to complement the brand and be consistently used.

Branding consistency has one huge advantage – recognition. With recognition comes familiarity. With familiarity comes trust and confidence.

If done correctly, consistency brings clarity and purpose, which consumers will buy into.

Do you have a brand?

So, now that you have a better understanding of the difference between your brand and your branding, can I ask you one question? Do you have a brand?

Brand Satellite can help you create a brand (and the branding) for your business.

If you would like help with defining your brand, check out our Brand Workshop. We will identify unique values, traits and stories behind the business that, when communicated, will help customers make that emotional connection.

If you would like help with designing your branding, or rebranding, check out our Brand Identity service and our Brand Identity portfolio.

For more information, contact giles@brandsatellite.co.uk

How to blog

How to blog

An interesting infographic about how to blog, courtesy of First Site Guide.

How to Blog - First Site Guide

Google search engine optimisation

What does Google consider a high quality site?

Google's thinkingGoogle’s aim is to help searchers find the most relevant site for the search word, or search term they type in.

The emphasis on the most relevant site is increasingly being based on the quality of the content of that site.

So, what can small businesses do to help them get to the top of searches?

In their own words, these are the kinds of questions Google ask themselves as they write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality. Think of it as their take at encoding what they think their users want:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognised authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognise this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

Google encourages you to keep questions like the ones above in mind as you focus on developing high-quality content rather than trying to optimise for any particular Google algorithm.

Right Impression

Is your company’s image giving customers the right impression?

The new year is a great time to think about your business’ brand.

Are you portraying the right image? Are you using the right messages? Are you talking to the right people, in the right places?

Well, for a bit of new year fun, here’s how to get it wrong…

Turkish Airlines Ad Placement Fail

Starbucks design fail

Pen Denis Design Fail

South Bendon ad fail

Supermarket design fail

Always open ad fail

McDonalds ad fail

The Computer Doctors design fail

Joining Fee message fail

Sale sign fail

Alcoholism ad placement fail

Church logo design fail

OGC logo design fail

Wendys sign fail

Bethany Baptist Church message fail