Blog Posts

Three Ways To Leverage Your Brand When Budgets Are Stuck

When there is no money flowing to increase your marketing budget and yet there are demands for growth, raise your ranking to the level of genius within your company by getting everyone connected to your brand all pulling in the same direction. This inertia can power you through your industry segment to the top (more on this in a moment).

The problem is often times less than ideal brand execution gets in the way. For example I often see this within the logistics industry. It’s a sea of blah. From logistics ads showing asphalt roads, to boat loads of containers, to empty warehouses, it’s a snooze and there’s no creativity or brand story. It’s as if everyone has read and aspires to the generations-old sarcastic advertising adage:

      If the client moans and sighs, make the logo twice it’s size.
      If the client proves refractory, show him a picture of his factory.
      Only in the direst cases should you show your client’s faces.

Of course there are exceptions like UPS’ branding campaign that stretches from advertising to collateral material. In this case the “I (heart graphic) Logistics” campaign transcends market segments such as consumer package delivery to 3PL supply chain management. Additionally, it humanizes a technical industry and sets itself apart from its competitors. And they provide an intranet that gives employees and contractors access to the tools that they need to effectively communicate and extend the brand.

When it comes to setting clients apart, we have aspired to implement more effective branding to our client’s campaigns from Agility Logistics to the City of Pasadena, and we’ve learned a few things along the way. Here are our top three maxims.

1.    Formalize your brand

Everybody has logos, websites and identity on coffee cups. That doesn’t hold water when you consider:
•    A logo is not one and the same as a brand
•    A website isn’t digital marketing
•    A Facebook page is not identical to a social media presence
•    A press release doesn't equate with press coverage

These are just stand-alone elements of a comprehensive brand strategy.  A formal brand strategy should be a blue print that informs your companies advertising and marketing activities. For example, it tells you whether or not it is wise to buy ad space in a second-language media outlet to extend your target market or whether or not to sponsor a golf tournament or fundraising campaign.

2.    Be critical of your own messaging

Take your current website, brochures, ads, and put them up on a wall. Then place your competitor’s materials side-by-side. Where are they alike? Where are they different? Change or get rid of similarities so you can maintain an exclusive market position. Where are there gaping opportunities that have not been seized? Take them and emphasize your unique selling proposition. Identify the commonplace solutions in the category that other marketers use and punch through them with unexpected advertising.

This side-by-side exercise should be done about the same time you change the batteries on your smoke alarm or change your clock, every six months.

3.    Engage customers in your brand story

As we evolve from digital media to social media, and with everyone armed with cell phone, camera and video capabilities, it is more powerful and effective to have consumers telling your brand story and creating persuasive connections to your brand rather than advertising your company!

Case in point: Last Sunday I met with a gentleman who has a prototype for a fiberglass backpack that is bear proof. Yes bear proof! The custom hand-made backpack is priced five times what a similar piece of equipment cost and is directed towards the same audience that will shell out thousands of dollars to hire a Sherpa to guide them to the top of the Himalayas. My recommendation to Mr. Backpack manufacturer was that he needs to find a way to develop a story-based branding campaign.

I suggested to Mr. Backpack that he gives one backpack to the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team to use for a month and document its’ use through social media, photos and text that’s telling a story. The story gets posted on Mr. Backpack’s website and shared on social media platforms which creates brand buzz. The Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team is then obligated to pass the backpack on, at no cost, to the next user as long as the next participant posts a story about its’ use and passes it on.

Bottom line: every touch point from a brand needs to not only advertise but to create content worth liking and sharing. Get everyone including your clients and customers pulling in the same brand direction and you look like the company genius who got results without an increased budget.