Which Little Pig Had the Better Marketing and Business Development Plan

Straw, sticks or brick: which little pig had the better marketing and business development plan?

Los-Angeles-branding-consultant-copywriter-Scott-Silverman-the-three-little-pigs-marketing-analogy-Linked-In

Los Angeles branding consultant, brand strategist and copywriter Scott Silverman recently posted a condensed version of this “Three Little Pigs” marketing analogy on LinkedIn.

The straw business thinks in the immediate, and only in terms of the transactional and incremental. He/she most commonly asks, “Which marketing, sales and business development tactic should we be employing right this minute?” Chances of ever owning any meaningful marketplace position or identity are blowin’ in the wind.

The sticks business may exhibit more of a planning and building mindset, but “brand” is defined in terms of “who we are” and vanity exercises instead of the more mission-critical “what are our points of customer overlap.” The company enjoys a solid track record, boasts an enviable reputation among those who know it first-hand and entertains an optimistic vision for the future. It often finds itself under-noticed and relatively indistinguishable in the marketplace because its core messages don’t captivate, resonate or differentiate. It certainly possesses both values and a story, but nobody seems to have the time to take them out, dust them off and translate them into a rapt, cohesive, target-centric narrative.  In a sticks environment, the founder-entrepreneur or CEO’s vision and the company’s Unique Value Proposition have yet to be articulated in a way that resonates both internally and externally and so that it’s strong enough to withstand the huffing and puffing of tomorrow. Often, the company has become complacent, a victim of its own operations successes… but this alone won’t grow market share.

If the creation of customers doesn’t sit at your company’s core, I’d like to join you in asking the company’s leaders: what does?

The brick-solid business-grower, often a marketing performer or the founding entrepreneur him or herself, takes the time to ask the big, foundational questions and reverse-engineer both present and future marketplace success: why do we exist (see the Simon Sinek TedTalk, if you haven’t already), does our differentiation exist at a point of target relevance, what opportunities and future problems has drinking our own Kool-Aid® obscured from view, have we truly built Sales and our Sales Truths into the organization’s DNA, how do we better connect with the people that matter most to our sustainable success?

Brand-cracking isn’t about tools of reach. It’s about unleashing your power to reach.

When you’re a little pig hungry (hunger, humility & people smarts – see Lencioni’s The Ideal Team Player) for increased leads, revenue and market share, it doesn’t take long to recognize that you’re first going to have increase interest, understanding and enthusiasm. To do that, you can take a myopic approach – thinking only about the next so-called “miracle” marketing tactic or your next campaign. Or, when what the company truly needs is far-reaching, sustainable interest, understanding and excitement, you can do what that wise third little pig did… and build your house in brick.

1.        You need to know your position is robust, salient and sustainable.

2.        You need to know you are defining the business in the way that best leverages your history while opening up maximum opportunity for your present and future.

3.        You need to know your key points of target intersect have been identified and that your core messages have been articulated.

4.        You need to build your vision, values and other sales truths into the brand’s foundational framework.

5.        Last, but certainly not least, you need to know every aspect of your brand has been processed through the lens of pragmatic business development, with a careful weighing of lower-hanging fruit in relation to big picture possibilities.

Genuine brand strategy (versus superficial cosmetics alone) is more than a proactive, contemporary way of viewing and growing the business; it’s a defensive hedge against dollars spent chasing the wrong, less than optimal position. And in a world teeming with competition, the thoughtfully-engineered brand also serves as warm and cozy shelter from the storm.

We, as marketers, are our organizations’ best and brightest hope when it comes to being best- in-category connectors and collaborators. We need to support each other when we encourage our employers and clients to join us in asking the tough questions, so that we can be equipped with the heavy-lifting tools we need to do our jobs growing the company.

Sharp, sophisticated people know that a business that is not engineered to sell is a business not engineered to grow. Building in brick means utilizing genuine branding to ensure the entire company operates as an engine of customer creation. Just as a great salesperson needs more than a come-on to run on, a company needs a brand. The straw and sticks of this or that tactic or this or that plan often only serve to create the illusion of action. They don’t endure, and they always wind up costing you a whole lot more in the long run. Building in brick means your unique promises, vision and values aren’t seasonal; you’ve taken the time to understand your target connections and your differentiators.

Stuck in a straw environment? Of course, we can empathize and identify with the need to create real-time results, but, should you ever get there (most don’t), will your structure ever support a second story? Communications tend to be arrested at the “what” of what we do and are often me-centric in their approach.

The sticks business-builder is both bright and engaged. But in the area of brand, he/she is often forced to think more in terms of creative executions (logos, websites, digital campaigns) than the relevancy of the company’s Unique Value Proposition, the finer points of creating a true brand personality or increasing marketing impact and efficiency simply by opening the company up to a fresh, objective perspective. They operate without a singular, commanding, charismatic voice with which to vivify the organization and breathe life into their unique promise. “Brand” tends to be viewed as a line-item or a marketing project, and not as a synonym for the business itself… as it ought to be. If there have been prior “branding” endeavors, they operated at a massive disconnect from pure and simple business development. Every day that passes as it continues to fund a fuzzy brand position or fails to stake proper claim to its hard-earned reputation, it leaves big money on the table. Worse, it compromises its future possibilities and also risks being eclipsed by a brand-savvy competitor.

Sticks communications may have even begun to address the “how” – the qualitative differences in our offerings, which is far better than straw, but results are still fleeting as no consistent resonance formula has been articulated. The position is off, soft or unclear and the emotional and experiential benefits have yet to be addressed. The brand often suffers from a fragmented, soulless, confusing marketplace identity. The company operates, sells and markets without a strategic brand framework in place; absent adequate briefs and a personality matrix to inform an engaging marketplace presence, no consistency or relatable human emotion can be expected. For too many startups and small businesses, dreams of a penthouse view over the competitive landscape, absent reliable soil studies, brand engineering and marketing architecture, remain dreams of a penthouse view.

But the brick-sworn business builder refuses to settle for Band-aid® solutions, insisting on a strategic foundation for the company that will withstand the tests of time (and wolves.) It is only at this level that a company can truly come into its own, galvanizing its customers, employees and other audiences by genuinely spelling out what’s in it for them, and by authentically celebrating their vision & values commonalities. Authenticity, transparency, values? It’s all very Millennial, right? Nope! Building relationships based upon vision and values resonance is Sales 101, and it has been, for quite some time. My bet: it ain’t going away anytime soon.

A business is its message. Is what you’re saying what your targets need to hear?

Building your house in brick means you’ve had sufficient marketing and general business experience to understand how perception management and the creation of customers truly happens. You know what you really want is not a series of one-note, one-off marketing tactics but an orchestrated concert. That’s why my job as a branding consultant isn’t simply to make you look pretty; the real challenge for the consummate brand strategist is to build the seeds of your customer connections into your brand’s every fiber. This way, every organizational action and every piece of communication can do a better job in helping you sing your company’s song.

Sing. This time, with feeling.

Not only does having a strong brand behind you increase performance on each initiative, but the cumulative impact is that you have established brand equity you can trade on in the future. When I say “trade on,” I mean anyone who thinks sales are made in the moment is simply kidding himself or herself. To be able to “trade on” accumulated brand equity means you understand that a Sale is not a moment in time, but a culminating event. What is the event? The transfer of trust. They have heard your uniquely beautiful song; your personality reinforces your credibility, your consistency bespeaks your integrity, your shared values bubble up in every piece of communications. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt! Your name is their name, too.

Should we, as marketers and business owners eager to accelerate growth and performance, settle for anything less than whip-smart, insightful strategy and marketing that is consistently grounded in positioning, operative messaging and the timeless truths of Sales? Not by the hair of our chinny-chin-chins.

 

Scott Silverman helps you brand because he wants to see you shine. He once read “The Three Little Pigs” cover-to-cover.

© 2018 Articulated Brands (310) 826-8518

The Catch-22 of Financing Brand Strategy Initiatives

Dream: A Breathtaking Brand.

Nightmare: Getting Your Company to Understand The Need, The Costs and The Timelines.

The Catch-22 of Financing Brand Strategy Initiatives

For innovative, progressive companies, it’s a relative no-brainer. The competitive need for curiosity, discovery and the path of exploration (R&D) are already in the bloodstream. And certainly, no business area presents as much potential than engineering the entire company to be a stronger engine of customer creation. But in an era of tactical, today-only thinking and historic corporate myopia (wherein CMO and agency tenure average under 4 years), what gets eighty-sixed or left in the dust? Strategy and planning. Shame, too, because these are the very things that would enable these companies to get off the incremental performance crack.

(Did you know that almost 40% of clients cite a lack of strategic direction as the primary reason they can their agencies? Doesn’t happen here. Not ever.)

Worse yet, how can you get a line-item approved for a brand assessment, brand discovery or brand strategy and brand development when it’s really only after commencing that we begin to realize both the true need and the enormity of the benefits? Tough nut.

Brand-budget-branding-costs-strategy-development

Branding is the one marketing activity that influences everything else, both inside and outside your marketing budget.

Begin Before You’ve Begun!

Because genuine branding is something that benefits each and every department but its costs are typically borne by Marketing alone, it’s important for environmental leaders to do (at least) three things:

  1. You’ve got to make sure the organization isn’t still hanging onto old-school notions of branding as logos and other cosmetics… as if it didn’t strike directly at the heart of all of your company’s other business development opportunities and challenges.
  2. Beyond the cumulative impact, there are tangible benefits for every stakeholder – opening up a broader conversation about how the organization has come to define strategy, planning and branding helps create “lightbulb moments” even before you’ve begun the process. Go boldly, but don’t go it alone. Just as branding’s victories will be shared throughout the organization, the onus of making the sale needn’t rest on your shoulders alone. You can turn to your peers throughout the organization (and me!) to help you make the case. Beginning with a formal brand assessment (health check) can often be the best way to increase the entire organization’s understanding of its own brand, helping you create greater team buy-in.
  3. You may not be able to quantify missed opportunity costs (we are only human, after all), but you can certainly use brand strategy as both a catalyst to improved tactical results and a hedge against ineffective marketing spend. If your organization is slow to move or embrace new thinking, start with what you’re already doing and show them how working without a defined brand strategy in place is like working with one arm tied behind your back.

 

Brand is simply too important a thing, to the organization as a whole and to your marketing effectiveness, to be ignored. You may be wary of the costs and fees associated with genuine brand strategy. You may be nervous about treading into uncharted waters. You may have questions. You may be concerned about obtaining full buy-in. At the very least, the topic deserves a conversation. I invite you to have that conversation… with me. No commitment. No joke. (Okay, maybe one or two jokes, but then I’m drawing a line.)

8 Business-to-Business Branding Tips From A B2B Branding Consultant

B2B branding is quite a bit more challenging than B2C… maybe that’s why I love it so much!

As a Los Angeles branding consultant and the owner of a branding agency, I may not be able to simplify branding into a DIY project, but I can certainly share with you some of the fundamentals. When you’re trying to increase leads, revenue and market share, it doesn’t take long to recognize that you’re going to have increase interest, understanding and enthusiasm first. To do that, you can take a narrow approach – thinking only about the next “miracle” marketing tactic or your next campaign. Or, you can do what that wise third little pig did… and build your business house in brick.

When it comes to branding and business development, which little pig are you? Straw, wood or brick?

Building your house in brick means you’ve had sufficient marketing and general business experience to understand how perception management and the creation of customers truly happens. You know what you really want is not a series of one-note, one-off marketing tactics but an orchestrated concert. That’s why my job as a branding consultant isn’t just to make you look pretty; the real challenge for the consummate brand strategist is to build the seeds of your customer connections into your brand’s DNA. This way, every action and piece of communication can do a better job in helping you sing your company’s song. Not only does having a strong brand behind you increase performance on each initiative, but the cumulative impact is that you have established brand equity you can trade on in the future.

When I say “trade on,” I mean anyone who thinks sales are made in the moment is simply kidding himself or herself. To be able to “trade on” accumulated brand equity means you understand that a Sale is not a moment in time, but a culminating event. What is the event? The transfer of trust. They have heard your uniquely beautiful song; your consistency bespeaks your authenticity and your integrity. You can read more about Message-Centric Branding™.

Just as a great salesperson needs more than a come-on to run on, a company needs a brand. The straw and wood of this or that tactic often only serve to create the illusion of action. They don’t endure and they actually wind up costing you a whole lot more in the long run. Building in brick means your vision and values aren’t seasonal; you’ve taken the time to understand your target connections and your differentiators. Because if the creation of customers doesn’t sit at your company’s foundation, I’d like to ask you: what does?

8 B2B Branding Tips From A Los Angeles Brand Strategist

  1. Position actually trumps brand when it comes to long-term B2B marketing success… and that’s coming from a dyed-in-the-CMYK brand zealot! Know the unique pain points you exist to solve and be clear on the unique value your clients derive from working with you… instead of the competition. Position first, then brand.
  2. Be sure you have buy-in from every department from Sales to HR and Operations, but be wary of “creative by committee” and groupthink that will only interfere with what you really want: a memorable, cohesive, differentiated brand presence that advances your near-term Sale and creates equity that you will want to leverage in the future.
  3. If you’re simultaneously thinking about re-doing your website, start with clear objectives and a clean communications brief. Be sure that brief doesn’t stop at laundry lists; a stellar brand brief specifically spells out how we’re going to create interest and excitement with your most desired prospects.
  4. From there, establish a well-organized and intuitive site architecture. A streamlined and enjoyable user experience telegraphs a similarly outstanding customer experience.
  5. Just because it’s B2B doesn’t mean it has to be boring and dry. Just a sprinkling of creative panache communicates volumes about your business’ professionalism and marketplace maturity.
  6. Address the needs of different vertical markets with specific messaging. “All things to all people” most commonly leads to insufficient juice for anybody to get all that excited about.
  7. In today’s B2B world, remember: people are doing much more of their own research and decision-making pre-sale. To make it to their “short list,” be sure you’ve established the authority position with content that affirms your leadership and provides value along the buyer’s journey.
  8. SEO matters – even if your current plans don’t call for a major organic web marketing or Pay Per Click campaign, you want to rank as high as possible. Know your keywords and their contextual brethren.

Hope that gives you a little insight into how I help people build stronger brands. If you’d like more specific commentary on your business, I’m happy to help. You know where to find me! Though your soon-to-be-beloved brand consultant here is based in Los Angeles, I’m capable of serving from New York, Chicago, Nashville and Miami to Dallas, Seattle and Portland. (You get the idea.)

8 Branding Tips To Accelerate Small Business Performance

Branding tips so you, too, can increase customer/client interest and enthusiasm

You’ve heard (read) me saying it before, but it bears repeating. Branding isn’t what most people think it is. Sure, it includes fancy names, logos and websites, but beneath all of that, there’s something even bigger and more powerful. Done right, your brand is actually your customer creation formula. Done well, the entire company is reverse-engineered to marketplace needs and wants. When your brand is in the hands of an expert, it isn’t just your marketing that promotes company growth, but when the entire organization is properly aligned, its every word and deed serves in a virtuous circle of promise-making and promise-keeping.

As a Los Angeles brand strategist and copywriter, my job is to better connect you to the people who matter most to your success.

Branding’s holistic nature means that, by definition, it doesn’t readily lend itself to quick tip sheets and phoned-in work. You’ve got to want it more than that. And if you are looking to increase your organization’s strategic firepower and accelerate the pace of growth, sure, you can settle for fast and cheap. But is it reasonable to think results will somehow arrive disproportionately to the effort put forth? Nevertheless, it is my intent to be valuable in this blog post for you. So, what I want to do here is share with you some of the things I find myself thinking about when helping my fellow marketers crack their brand strategies.

8 Branding Tips, Or, More Practically Speaking, the 8 Principles of Branding Your Organization Needs to Understand

  1. Worry about aesthetics and marketing tactics only after you’ve arrived at a solid strategy for advancing both the near-term Sale and the company. This way, the wow that captivates and motivates is built into your very foundation; you get to experience the cumulative impact from every company action and sales initiative.
  2. Don’t stop at standard benefits. Pay attention to the emotional benefits, experiential benefits and self-expressive benefits your brand enables.
  3. Know how you’re different… meaningfully different!
  4. Pay more attention to the why of your existence (see the Simon Sinek Ted Talk, if you haven’t already.)
  5. Of course, be authentic. Your vision & values are immensely important, but it’s not only about you. What you really want to identify is the overlap between your beliefs and those of your various brand audiences.
  6. Prioritize the big concepts and ideas your company is about over laundry lists, and let those core messages help you organize the rest of your Sale.
  7. When expressing yourself, remember: if you can’t capture attention first, nothing else you have to say matters. Shoot for the moon. The bolder and brighter, the better.
  8. Both in B2B and B2C, a little humor conveys a warmth and congeniality like nothing else can… except maybe for an earnest welcome mat, possibly featuring Ziggy. (Sorry, Ziggy.)

“Hey, who put Branding into my Business Development?”

I did. And I’m not sorry in the least. Because business moves fast, and when you’ve got a chance to accomplish multiple business objectives in one fell swoop, you take it. If you’ve got questions about your company’s pace of growth, your marketing or your brand, you call me. We chat. If you think there’s a fit between your goals and my message-centric branding™ approach, we agree to roll up our sleeves and get down to business. If not, we thank each other for our time and move on. Easy-peasy. Come to think of it, what is that I see right there? A phone!? Wow. Talk about kismet. You should really use that to call me right now.

7.5 Ways This Los Angeles Brand Consultant Supports You

Brand-consultant-agency-Los-Angeles-CA-copywriter-Scott-Silverman-Articulated-Brands-Orgodomo-Website7.5 Ways This Los Angeles Brand Consultant Supports You

The people have spoken. They like lists. Specifically, numbered lists. Who knew?

So, without further ado, here’s a short list summarizing how I give my clients a leg up over their competitors.

What does a brand consultant do?

  1. Accelerates your near-term growth while building future, leverage-able equity
  2. Facilitates greater team understandings of what branding really is, bridges silos and engages all stakeholders by demonstrating how the brand applies to all departments from sales to operations to HR (recruitment, retention, engagement)
  3. Helps you communicate and lead by reducing your vision from the abstract to the concrete and operational
  4. Brings greater clarity and focus, as well as objectivity and fresh energy to your business development initiatives
  5. Defines your values, differentiators and benefits in a way that resonates with prospects
  6. Draws out from your core values the emotional benefits, experiential benefits and self-expressive benefits that invite greater connection, greater leads, greater market share
  7. Increases efficiency by creating greater organizational alignment and increases marketing efficiency by identifying a more robust set of strategic communications criteria

7.5  Lastly, only lastly, tends to the superficial, making you look, sound and perform like the creative marketing force you want to be

The image above: a recent branding and website example

One of my all-time favorite things to do is leverage the principles of big business branding on behalf of the smaller business. It’s not that I don’t have valuable things to say to Coke and GE; it’s just that I’m not as passionate about it. I’m relational. I like to connect with people in a way that makes a concrete impact on their lives and businesses. (Visit the live website of white-glove relocation and home organization specialist Orgodomo™.)

To brand or not to brand? That is NOT the question.

You already have a brand. The question is whether that brand sits atop the right position; the question is whether your brand fully leverages who you are in light of what your best prospects need to hear from you. Message-centric branding™ offers you a more practical approach to increasing performance across the board. If you’re ready to look beneath the surface of logos and pretty websites and find out what genuine brand strategy can do for you… I know just the right guy: me. (Operator standing by.)

Brand Discovery Objectives

What are the objectives of brand discovery?

While brand discovery can range from superficial and cosmetic to deep and probing, a typical goal is to provide a starting point for a comprehensive brand assessment. Brand discovery may then be said to share objectives with both brand assessments and brand strategy: more pronounced differentiation, greater impact, resonance, consistency and alignment, the establishment of guidelines for a brand refresh, and the opportunity to bring new ideas and new solutions to marketing or business issues to the fore. In order for a business to garner a competitive edge or maintain its success, it must remain in step with an ever-changing marketplace.

Brand discovery often serves as a check-in point or re-focusing milestone for the company: we said we needed to be x in order to capture opportunities a, b and c… are we doing that? Have we gone astray? Are we missing something essential? Are we proactively identifying the ideas and opportunities that will increase success and widen the competitive moat?

Companies take advantage of the brand discovery exercise because they want:

  1. To express their authentic vision, internally and externally
  2. To more effectively and efficiently garner attention
  3. To influence perceptions and cultivate positive predispositions
  4. To influence behaviors (both customers and employees)
  5. To increase engagement and foster loyalty (both customers and employees)

Is brand discovery similar to other strategy sessions or planning workshops we may have already done?

Today’s brand discovery, assuming you are working with a qualified and experienced brand consultant or agency, is not your father or mother’s “let’s all get together and work on our mission statement” agony session. Similar to any other strategic planning or organizational development initiative, but quite possibly the parent of them all, brand discovery is an exploration into the essence of the company. The branding team and other stakeholders assemble to ask who we are today in relation to who are customers are, who we want to be and who we may need to be, in order to better leverage strengths and overcome weaknesses as the company identifies and seizes opportunities while mitigating threats and risks.

What is Brand Discovery?

What is brand discovery?

Brand discovery is the process companies undertake to better understand how their unique value exists in relation to target needs and wants, their competitors, marketplace changes and perceived opportunities. Multiple, simultaneous inquiries into a broad range of business and marketing topics, often led by a branding consultant or discovery facilitator, aid the organization in objectively exploring today’s marketplace, the current brand strategy, the current brand identity and potentially more lucrative or sustainable brand positioning opportunities. Most commonly, brand discovery serves not as independent exercise, but as a precursor to a formal brand assessment or the development of a new brand strategy for the company. In traditional settings and small businesses, brand is typically viewed as an adjunct to marketing. In more progressive organizations, the brand and the business are considered to be synonymous.

What elements are typically involved in brand discovery?

Though the elements utilized in brand discovery may differ from agency to agency and consultant to consultant, there are some common themes. While some firms are content to have you complete a form, just as you would a brief for an individual assignment, other agencies and consultants use the information you’ve provided on the form as only a jumping-off point.

  1. Input sessions, creative exercises and brainstorming with the brand team to establish objectives and timelines, facilitate buy-in and explore the following topics
  2. Your company’s unique history
  3. Your products & services
  4. The features, benefits and self-expressive benefits of those products & services
  5. Your targets (needs, wants, demographics, psycho-graphics)
  6. Your competition
  7. Your vision for the future
  8. Your values
  9. Your primary points of difference
  10. Your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  11. The emotions relevant to the purchasing decision and the brand experience
  12. Your existing marketing materials
  13. Any extant marketing research
  14. Key stakeholders and their connection to the brand
  15. Financial and marketing performance data (depending upon the scope)

For more on my distinct point of view as a brand consultant:  brand discovery.  In very near future blog posts, I’ll share more with you about what I think constitutes a fully-cracked brand, the true role of the brand discovery facilitator, the importance of building business development pragmatics into every branding endeavor and why the value of Message-centric Branding™ exceeds that of traditional branding. But if you have questions for me right now, why not give me a call or shoot me an email? I’m always happy to have a chat or lend any upfront advice I can.

 

Brand Strategy Consulting Is Business Development Done Right

What’s a copywriter, branding consultant and company naming guy doing consulting on business development for over 20 years?

Not every copywriter, branding consultant or company naming agency will focus this intensely on your business development fundamentals.

And that’s my point, exactly.

Sure, sometimes your deadline is looming and your budget is tight. You need an experienced copywriter who has enough familiarity with all manner of copy assignments to quickly dig in and make you sound polished, professional and personable. I still fill this gap for people everyday. And, of course, I’m fortunate to have this much experience creating high-impact marketing and advertising. And, yeah, a quick wit and a conversational style, well, those have certainly come in handy. (For examples of short, snappy, often humorous copywriter samples, please see advertising copywriter portfolio.)

But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking these creative executions, this tactical work… even when it spikes sales, wins awards and opens up new pathways of thinking… can even come close to what you can accomplish when we focus our attention on something much more critical to scalable, sustainable success: how we’re going to build what we know about customer creation into our very foundations.

Los-Angeles-branding-consultant-business-development-company-name-logo-web-design-development-Los-Angeles-Scott-Silverman-Articulated-Brands-brand-strategist-creative-driector-copywriter

A recent website and branding example by Los Angeles’ Articulated Brands®, the message-centric branding® & company naming agency founded by brand strategist and veteran, freelance creative copywriter Scott Silverman.

As a copywriter, the focus is on how to say it best. But as a branding, positioning and messaging consultant, my focus is on accelerating strategic growth, pure and simple.

Even slight adjustments to how you are capturing your company’s core value can exert a profound influence on your ability to captivate and resonate with your most important prospects. A few years ago, I sorta coined the term “telescopic clicks” because what may seem to like nuance and hair-splitting to the uninitiated actually has the capacity to change your field of vision… and the game. When you need someone to creative interpret and breathe life into your extant brief, that’s the copywriting side of me. When you want a fresh, objective perspective on business development – from how you are defining the market opportunity to how to render your vision in a more target-centric way, and from the operations side of your pillars to whether adequate, relevant differentiation has been built into your model, you want to be talking to the one guy who has set himself apart by making branding make business sense…. even for the smaller business.

The Harvard and Wharton grads have their tools and methodologies. I use branding and brand discovery to provide a framework for business development because it’s a brilliant opportunity to kill multiple birds.

You wouldn’t think someone who operates in these disciplines would be engineered for efficiency and results, but, for me, saving companies marketplace time is the holy grail of strategic accomplishments. There’s just no sense in building brands that haven’t been engineered to forge real connections and real results. There’s just no sense in hiring consultant after consultant only to realize later that a holistic approach is far better, both financially and psychologically, than a series of half-answers. When your company is in a position to nurture a longstanding relationship with a copywriter, by all means, grab it! You’ll experience a cumulative benefit to the copywriter’s increasing understanding of your unique business and your environment. But when what you really want is business growth and a galvanizing brand, you need far more than a wordsmith. Count on the one brand consultant who brings clarity and focus first and foremost to your business development strategy and then, of course, to your communications.

 

 

 

 

 

What does a brand consultant do?

The role of your brand consultant is to better connect you to your target audiences. Period.

Too many folks are out there calling themselves brand consultants. In reality, what they provide is image consulting. Drives me nuts. People are investing serious dough into their businesses. They’re doing it on the expectation that “being branded” is going to pay off. Sure, looking and sounding a little more professional and contemporary does pose some advantage, but this is marketing we’re talking about. We’re not off to the red carpet; we’re off to create customers. And that means not just looking and sounding great but looking and sounding right.

Branding-consultant-Los-Angeles-Scott-Silverman-Articulated-Brands

Portfolio sample from Los Angeles branding consultant Scott Silverman showing how style meets substance.

Do perceptions matter? Absolutely! Real brand consulting is perception management of the highest order. But the truth of the matter is, you are already branded, by default. When you wish to bring more intention to your brand, the more you need to know about the overlap between you and your customer base. If that core business success imperative were easy, every business would have more customers lined up, salivating. But this is not the world you and I live in. Branding is far from easy. Anybody who tells you differently is doing it wrong. (For more on the difference between building a house of cards and building your brand on a solid foundation:  Los Angeles branding consultant.)

So, what’s the difference between those who invest in quick-fix brand makeovers and those who invest in genuine, problem-solving branding & design? It’s the difference between renting and buying. How long are you planning to stay?

If I were hiring a brand consultant, here’s what I would ask:

  • How would you define the difference between brand consulting and brand strategy?
  • What is your process for understanding the business — simplistic, superficial and tactical or deep, immersive, strategic and holistic? (Caveat: anybody can use these words. Does the personality match the promise?)
  • For the creative choices you made with prior clients, can you please explain why you made them?
  • What did you specifically choose NOT to do and why?
  • What new insights and understandings did you bring to bear on the business?
  • How did your brand consulting work tie in with the present-day realities of the business?
  • What were the unique complexities in helping get your clients to more connective design, more powerful positioning and more meaningful messaging?
  • Of the brand strategies he/she has helped conceive, are the platforms:

Authentic

Differentiating

Target relevant

Moat-widening

Robust enough to serve the business outside of marketing (operations, HR, etc.)

Actively leveraging known sales truths about the business

Aggressively positioning you for future opportunities

Anticipatory of competitor and marketplace shifts

  • What is his/her experience with taglines? Those short, little phrases sit as the cherry on the brand sundae he/she has just helped construct. Together with name and logo, these should tell the Cliff’s Notes story of your promise to the world. Wordplay is okay sometimes, mostly because it’s memorable. But what was the “angle of attack?” A pun on the industry? Something a competitor could have just as easily claimed? Look for big, bold, emotional promises. Look for a distinct point of view. Look for a company tagline that srender the business a one-of-a-kind force with which to be reckoned. That’s as sure a sign as any you’re talking to a brand brain and not a sloganeer. Here you can view some brand-building company taglines.
Branding-consultant-Montreal-radio-station-brochure-Scott-Silverman-Los-Angeles

Los Angeles branding consultant Scott Silverman wrote this brochure for a Montreal radio station. He branded it as the go-to source for media buyers and advertisers in search of female spending power.

Brand consulting is not image consulting.

This is not art for art’s sake. It’s not about gussying you up… for gussying’s sake! Genuine brand consulting obviously includes aesthetics, but the work of actually attaching objectives to those aesthetics? That’s where you need to be paying keen attention to the business model, its drivers and to the defined opportunity. When people entrust their brands to me, I feel as if a torch, often a multi-generational torch, is being passed. There’s just too much riding on it. There’s simply too much to protect and too much value to the opportunities that can be discovered, to confuse brand work with cosmetics. Even in personal branding and celebrity branding, the point is to connect our clients with income streams, revenue opportunities and relationship opportunities. Of course, we want our brands to exude personality and style. But growing businesses and individuals serious about taking their careers to the next level need more than stylists. They need substance, professional brand consulting from people engineered to help them better engineer their brands. Horses before carts. Good rule!