Archive for

Corporate Branding and Identity – Story Matters Here

Great branding, at its core, is nothing more than uncovering and revealing the truth behind the facts. Ronald Reagan once said, “Facts are stupid things.” Even though it was a misstatement, it was certainly true. Think about all the commercials and advertisements you have seen where they tell you some fact or facts about the product or service. Do you care? Of course you don’t, because the facts, by themselves, are stupid things. They literally have no life in them, so they make no impression on your heart. They may impact your mind, but the impact won’t last – and it certainly won’t change your behavior – because it’s in the heart where we make those kinds of choices.

The only thing that can make that kind of impact on our hearts is story, and story emanates from the truth behind the facts. What do I mean by this? Let me give you an example.

From The Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2007 by Sarah McBride, comes the following two paragraph excerpt from “Internet Radio Races to Break Free of the PC.

In January, a recreational vehicle in remote West Texas suddenly started blasting the Steve Miller Band’s “Space Cowboy.” It was a triumphant moment for Slacker Inc., a start-up trying to move Internet radio out of the computer and into the car.

Parked on the side of a road near Fort Stockton, Slacker’s 36-year-old founder Celite Milbrandt uncorked a 1982 Chateau Lafite Rothschild to celebrate. A few hours later, he pointed the RV toward Las Vegas. There, Mr. Milbrandt demonstrated the mobile service for the potential investors at the annual Consumer Electronics Show and ultimately raked in an additional $40 million in investments for his company.

Now that’s story. The facts of this account are simple enough. It could have been rendered thus: Slacker, Inc. has proven the feasibility of Mobile Internet radio, and thus has managed to secure an additional forty million dollars in capital at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Nevada.

Talk about uninspiring.

The story version, on the other hand, reveals the heart piercing truth behind these stupid facts; namely, that Celite Milbrandt, the founder of Slacker, Inc., has an incredible passion and dedication, evidenced by his willingness to drive to remote West Texas to test his radio’s signal, and that he received a forty million dollar vote of confidence from investors. These are the kinds of details that bring the facts to life, and they are the kind of details that are sadly missing from most marketing messages being churned out by today’s businesses.

Think about your company’s attempts at marketing, or at branding itself in the eyes of your customers and prospects. Are you creating story for them, a story they can relate to in their hearts? Are your branding and marketing messages speaking to them on a level that the facts by themselves simply aren’t capable of reaching? If not, maybe you need a little help.

That’s OK, because even though you may be the president, the founder, or what have you, and all the passion may have originated with you in the first place, that doesn’t mean you are ideally skilled to communicate that passion. There are specialists for that, and those are the people you should turn to. People with the dedication, persistence, and skill to uncover your passion and what drives you, and then reveal it to the world through story in such a way that it makes a life changing impact on your prospects and customers.

Ask for help, and soon you’ll see how powerful story can be when it comes to corporate branding and identity.

Should You Buy a Franchise That Is In the Process of Upgrading Its Branding and Logo?

Over the years, I’ve studied the franchising industry, and I’ve been involved with it intimately. You see, before retirement I founded a franchising company. One thing that’s important for companies with strong brand names – and franchisor’s do have to watch their brand name very closely, as that is what helps drive new franchise sales, and that’s what brings consumers and clients into those franchised outlets – is that franchisors occasionally need to upgrade their logos and branding image to fit the changing of the times.

However, there have been some absolute disasters with major franchising companies who lost their identity, and in doing so diminish the value of their brand name in the minds of their greatest and most profitable customers. It’s very easy to do. Now then, let’s say you are considering buying a franchise, and you recognize a very strong brand name, which you probably see every day in the marketplace. Perhaps that’s what attracted you to consider purchasing a franchised outlet from that company in the first place. Well, what would you say if they were getting ready to change their logo, their marketing, and all of their branding?

In some regards you might think this is good, because you won’t have to buy all the new signs, and change all the logos in your store because you will come in with the new branded logo. Yes, that’s totally true, and that would be a wonderful thing if they were going to change, as you wouldn’t have to go through the additional cost that all the current franchisees are going to have to bare. Generally in the franchise agreement there are stipulations that the franchisor may change the logo and brand at any time, and the franchisees are obligated to pay the cost for their local outlet to make sure it matches.

Now then, what happens if the franchisor botches these changes, what if the new brand and logo is not accepted by the customers, what if it turns off their top clients? In that case you will be buying a franchise from a franchisor who has severely diminished their brand name. In that case what you think you are buying, a solid reputation, logo, and branded franchised outlet is all of the sudden no longer the case. This means when you go to sell your franchise in the future, there will be fewer buyers, and you aren’t getting the benefit of that brand name on the way in. In that case may I ask; why you are buying the franchise?

Indeed, I hope you will please consider this, and look very carefully at what a franchisor is doing and if they are moving to transition their current logo and brand prior to investing in a franchise. Look at it very closely, make sure it makes sense, or you will be paying the price for it later. Please consider all this and think on it.