Tag Archives: brand development

Lessons B2C and B2B Companies Can Learn from Smart Brands

smart brands

In February of this year, I met with 35 brand certified peers. During our time together, we shared some of our favorite brands and talked about why those brands stood out to us.

My favorite brand was Disney because of its family-oriented focus. It’s about making people happy: its stories have happy endings and its service model creates extraordinary experiences. The brand has been consistent since brothers Walt and Roy founded the company in 1929.

Some of the group’s favorite brands included Adidas, Tom’s Shoes, Nike, BMW, Sephora, Trader Joe’s, LL Bean, Marshall’s|TJ Maxx, Red Bull, Vitamix, Guinness, Always, Tesla, Google, Apple, Lyft, US Marines, and Southwest Airlines. In listening to the stories of why these smart brands stood out and why they rose to the top of our minds, some similarities began to surface. There are some lessons to be learned from these smart brands for both consumer-oriented companies and business-to-business brands.

Lesson #1 – Have a strong commitment and understanding of why your business exists and how it contributes to the betterment of your target audience and/or the world.

Lesson #2 – Altruism can be a business driver. Stand for something greater than your products or services. Pay it forward.

Lesson #3 – Create an internal environment that is inclusive and where people feel empowered. Make employees your #1 brand ambassadors.

Lesson #4 – Make sure your company’s brand strategy and business strategy are aligned.

Lesson #5 – Create a consistent customer experience at all touch points — online, on the phone, in person.

Lesson #6 – Establish standards when involving third-party resellers in representing your company’s brand.

Lesson #7 – Stand behind your target customers, enrich their world and empower them to achieve their best.

Lesson #8 – Reinvent your product and service offering to continue to deliver upon your commitment to your customers.

Lesson #9 – Provide meaningful experiences that remain in the heart of your customers for life.

Lesson #10 – Really understand who your customers are and embrace what is important to them.

Lesson # 11 – Walk the walk and live and treat others in a manner that is consistent with your brand. Empower employees to do the same.

Lesson #12 – Stand behind the products and services you offer with a guarantee, knowledgeable employees and quality service.

Think about how you can apply some of the lessons above to strengthen your company’s brand to become the preferred brand amongst your target market.

Need help with your brand development? We can help! Contact us today to develop a brand that will ignite your business — guaranteed.


5 Marketing Myths that Cost Companies Customers and Sales


website design and development


There are dangerous marketing myths that are currently holding companies back from increased profits. The truth is, good marketing is integrated and includes a blend of social media, brand development, advertising, public relations, and website and search engine optimization (SEO).

Many companies are still struggling to incorporate essential aspects of digital marketing into their business plans — such as social media and mobile marketing — because they think it is too expensive or they don’t need it. However, with the continuous growth of e-commerce and social media, companies can’t afford not to invest in marketing.


Let’s take a look at the five most common marketing myths and how to overcome them.


1. “I have a small budget and I can’t afford marketing”

Some companies don’t want to invest in marketing because they don’t see the value. However, a solid marketing plan can help boost awareness, improve sales and help a company gain more customers. Marketing is an investment, not a one-time purchase.


2. “I already have a marketing plan”

 While companies may have a marketing plan, it is often incomplete. The best marketing plans encompass an integrated approach — such as print advertising, public relations and trade shows — and digital media — such as social media, website/SEO and mobile marketing.

A comprehensive marketing strategy evaluates the worth of various marketing tactics and implements the best traditional and digital media options for a company and its budget.


3. “My business is doing well, so I don’t need to invest in marketing”

While business may be doing well, that can change in an instant. No new business pipeline can mean you’re out of business if a customer has to cut their budget or chooses to go in a new direction.

Marketing is a great tool to engage with customers, nurture prospects, generate leads and boost sales. Positive interaction with clients will help them remember your company and create a lasting relationship. And, nurturing inactive clients can encourage them come back to you.


4.  “We already advertise, so we don’t need marketing”

Advertising is an important part of an overall marketing strategy, but it’s not the only part. Various tactics contribute to a successful marketing plan, not just advertising.

It can be difficult to select which marketing strategies to implement, but it’s important to evaluate which will work best for your company.


5. “Social media is a waste of time for my business”

Not being on social media is a lost opportunity—it decreases your business’s online credibility in the eye of the consumer. In fact, many customers, especially the millennial generation, research a company and their social media sites before making a purchasing decision.

While every social media outlet isn’t the best option for all companies, it is important to research the target audience. Social media allows companies to interact with clients and build meaningful relationships that can greatly impact customer purchasing decisions, thus affecting the bottom line.


We can help!

If you’re not sure where to start, GREENCREST can help. GREENCREST specializes in traditional and digital marketing strategies. We can help your organization navigate the marketing world and create a solid, integrated marketing strategy. Speak with a marketing expert today!


Engaging employees to live the brand

brand team

The Chief Marketing Officers Council and Executive Networks Inc. collaborated in 2015 to produce a report titled, “Making the Workplace a Brand-Defining Space.” The report explored ways in which marketing and human resource leaders could engage employees to bring a company’s values, ethics, commitments and qualities to life within the organization.

What I loved about the report is that it explored social media platforms being used by leading consumer brands to retain and recruit, build customer-centric cultures, recognize and reward innovation and output, and drive productivity, performance and motivation by “gamifying” the workplace.

Start the conversation

According to the report, areas of conversation included such questions as:

  • Does your company have a formal brand platform with shared values, ethics and collective buy-in?
  • How important is your brand persona to employee recruitment and customer gratification?
  • What value does management place on organizational branding and employee engagement?
  • Do you have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization? If so, how has this been achieved? If not, what is lacking?
  • How well do your employees reinforce and deliver on brand promises and claims
  • How are you encouraging, rewarding, measuring and amplifying this?
  • To what degree is your brand personality reflected in your people and workplace?
  • In what ways are you engaging, motivating and recognizing employees to underscore brand qualities?
  • How are work styles changing and what are you doing to adjust to the millennial mindset?
  • Which platforms, methodologies, mobile applications or protocols are you using to do this?
  • Which business events, milestones or commitments require active employee participation and partner support?
  • How does your organization use social media, and how are employees and partners contributing to this?

These questions are a good starting point for assessing where your organization stands and may provide some insight to ways you could better align the company’s brand clues within your organization.

Finding the disconnect

Here are some of the report’s findings, as gleaned from the executive summary.

Nearly 70 percent of marketing and human resource leaders believe their management teams are strongly committed to their company’s image, identify, culture and collective ethos, as well as shared values and employee participation in organizational branding. Yet, just 37 percent say they have a well-defined corporate culture that is universally embraced by the organization.

Brand persona is seen by almost 90 percent as essential, very or moderately important to attracting new hires and building a lasting relationship with customers. Only 62 percent, however, reported having a formal brand platform that defines shared values, ethics and collective buy-in to a singular value proposition.

Leaders first

In order for marketing and human resources to succeed in making the workplace a brand-defining space, a company must first uncover its brand. This is a top-down, CEO-driven initiative with the company’s leadership team as the main brand ambassadors.

The leadership must first embrace the value of the brand and its impact on the company’s future growth, customer loyalty and employee satisfaction, as well as its ability to drive greater profitability and competitive advantage.

From this foundation, a brand that is enculturated into an organization is a game-changing, transformational market advantage.

From Smart Business

Brand Value Pyramid: Visualize where your brand stands


The Brand Value Pyramid is a tool for CEOs to visualize their company’s brand value. It illustrates some of the most common brand assets. To assess your company’s brand, start at the bottom of the pyramid and continue upward, going from lowest to highest value.

Brand Value Pyramid

Low value: brand features/attributes

Most brands offer a suitable price point. This value is in the worth a customer places on it. Product offering is essential in most cases, but not all; it depends on your competitors. You may present hundreds of SKUs or a limited number. Stellar customer service, friendly return policies and online sales make doing business with your company easy in the eye of the customer

Customers expect this from brands they do business with. These have low value when it comes to brand distinction, and ultimately business value.

High value: brand visuals

Visual elements are the first opportunity to distinguish your brand. Your logo, collateral materials, and website, among other things, are mandatory for increased value. But, don’t think for a minute that this is brand development. Until your brand’s unique distinction has been discovered, don’t start the visual identity process.

Higher value: brand esteem

To grow the value of your brand, define a sales experience that is second-to-none. What will make doing business with your company memorable? Most people will put price aside if the experience is enjoyable.

Reputation can be the vanguard of a good, highly valued brand. A valuable brand is known for doing good; treating customers, suppliers, associates and others right; as well as being honest, trustworthy and a good corporate citizen.

Every company has a culture—a personality. A grumpy old mechanic’s behavior may be acceptable because you know under that crusty facade is a good heart, but that’s not a terrific brand asset. A brand that is quirky, brash or even savoir-faire can have strength, but only if its audience is attracted to or relates with its ways.

Highest value: brand merit

What does the relationship with your brand and its customers have to do with brand value? Everything. When customers enjoy or find value in your brand, they tell others. They sometimes wear your logo as a badge of loyalty, which results in repeat and referral sales.

Almost everything a company does that is unique can be trademarked—proprietary processes, unique approaches, specialized tools and so on. When these trademarked processes and procedures (brand points) are added to other proprietary practices, you create a brand bundle—a collection of assets or portfolio of services competitors cannot provide.

Anywhere an audience encounters your brand in a place other than the point of sale is a connection. So how does your brand connect? Where are customers and prospects encountering your business beyond paid marketing efforts? There is great value in this connection.

A company’s purpose, cause and belief are as important as its brand offerings. Toms® Shoes has a lot of competitors but it’s distinguished by its purpose. Why does your company exist? How are you changing your industry, your customers’ businesses and/or the world in which we live?


The Big Brand Misconception


Brand Development Misconception

Many CEOs and advertising professionals struggle with understanding what “brand” is. We’ll give you a hint: It’s not a company’s logo, colors, jingle or advertising campaign. As company leaders, it is important that you know what exactly it is.

A brand is what sets Coca-Cola apart from Pepsi and Ritz-Carlton apart from Holiday Inn. A brand is what differentiates Southwest Airlines from a flight on any other air carrier. That brand differentiation goes well beyond a logo or advertising campaign—it is a strategic process.

Some great brand examples

Ritz-Carlton Hotels have a visual identity of a lion and crown logo, gold striped upholstery, cobalt blue goblets and “always magnificent” architecture. Yet, its strategic identity is, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Its people deliver on its brand and make the strategic identity genuine and authentic.

Southwest Airlines has vibrant periwinkle blue, red and orange airplanes, cool uniforms and fun ads. Its strategic identity is friendly, hip and cordial service. Every employee is trained to “be” the Southwest Airlines brand. Southwest spends equal to 50% of its marketing budget annually on strategic, internal brand adoption to engage its people with its brand.

Even if you’ve never bought a tractor, you know that “Nothing runs like a Deere” because its brand stands for quality, commitment and innovation. Harley Davidson has an emotional attachment to its brand that elicits an almost cult-like following.

Brand is strategic first

Brand is powerful and brand strategy is unique to every company. Too often we see brand portrayed by graphic distinction. Any company can change its logo and adopt a new look, but that is its visual identity, not its strategic identity. Strategic brand identity allows the brand to drive R&D, manufacturing, customer experience and much more. It is sustainable.

A company’s brand encompasses its people, too

As Scott Davis and Michael Dunn wrote in their book Building the Brand-Driven Business, “Colors, logos, names, taglines or advertising get confused with the fundamental principles that enable brand-building to translate into sustainable and profitable growth. Brand is a promise, and all the advertising isn’t anything unless they deliver on the promise.” An organization must first define its strategic brand lens and then operationalize it so that all employees are trained and positioned to deliver on that promise. The outcome from a strategic brand lens is a crystal clear brand position. The result is “on brand” internal and external communications—through every fiber of an organization.

Brand development is not a marketing initiative

Brand development is not a marketing initiative—it is a corporate initiative. The CEO must be the brand ambassador—inspiring and moving all employees from hearing the brand to believing the brand to becoming the brand. Ultimately, the process will breathe life into a company. When it becomes very clear what the company brand really is, what it does differently and what it is capable of becoming, employee engagement will grow and brand value will grow the company’s bottom line.

Interested in uncovering your brand distinction?

Start with a Build Your Brand DIY Workshop®, led by GREENCREST Chief Strategic Officer and Certified Brand Strategist Kelly Borth. Reserve your spot today!

Upcoming Build Your Brand DIY Workshop® Dates:
April 29, 2015, 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at GREENCREST
May 27, 2015, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at GREENCREST
September 23, 2015, 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. at GREENCREST
October 28, 2015, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at GREENCREST
December 2, 2015, 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at GREENCREST