Tag branding

How not to be taken seriously

It takes quite a bit of skill to match the tone of an advertisement, or a sign for that matter, to its message. Even your choice of font or typeface can drastically affect how you or your business is perceived by the public.

Your Logo Makes Me Barf has a perfect example of a mixed marketing message. The typeface used in that particular sign would be great for a childcare center, but not a professional building.

Just because someone has a copy of Photoshop doesn’t mean they can help you with your advertising. The same goes for your friend who knows a lot about computers or that guy with a video camera. Make sure they have the skills you need to communicate your message effectively.

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Apple: a lesson in branding

We’ve talked about branding a lot on these pages. Here’s a video of Steve Jobs introducing Apple’s “Think Different” advertising campaign which launched in 1997. He gives one of the best explanations of what a brand is that I’ve ever heard.

Notice that although he talks about their product and how he believes it’s the best available, he recognizes that a brand is more than what you sell, it’s what you stand for. So they set out to define what they stand for and distill it down to a simple message. Jobs gives a well thought out look at branding a business, and the result is a great example of how a fresh message that resonates with its audience can reinvigorate a business.

And, it’s something that you can do for your small business. Simply ask yourself what you really sell and begin to tell people in a way that’s easy to understand.

(Hat-tip to Jason Kottke)

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Soda Pop by Mom and Pop

The Trader Joe’s post reminded me of a video I saw a while back featuring Galco’s Soda Pop Stop. The proprietor is a great example of a small business owner who is passionate about what he does and embraces the fact that he operates a small business. The way he does business is very different from his larger competitors. Because of that difference, he stands out.

Here’s the full video:

Obsessives: Soda Pop from CHOW.com on Vimeo.

You may not have a store full of soda pop, instead you might be an accountant or a home builder, or you might run a furniture or jewelry store. Whatever business you’re in, you’ve got to find a message that strikes a chord with your customers and proclaim that message as often as you can.

You haven’t found your message? Here’s a good place to start.

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The small-store vibe of the neighborhood grocer

Fortune has an interesting article about Trader Joe’s, and it has a lot of food for thought for local small businesses. A lot of times small businesses try to make themselves look big. I think this is a mistake. For one thing, it’s deceptive, and if you are willing to mislead people on that point, then they’ll assume you’ll mislead them in other areas as well.

But it is a mistake for another reason as well: There are a lot of consumers who want to do business with small businesses and retailers. If you are pretending to be a large company when you’re not, then you’re sending the wrong message to these potential customers.

Trader Joe’s is fueling its growth by looking small. Here’s a quote from the Fortune article:

[I]t must find a way to maintain its small-store vibe with customers. ‘They see themselves as a national chain of neighborhood specialty grocery stores,’ says Mark Mallinger, a Pepperdine University professor who has done research for the company. ‘It means you want to create an image of mom and pop as you grow.’

If you’re a small business, embrace that fact and let your advertising and marketing speak the truth.

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Advertising Gone Wild

I’ve been getting a lot of spam in the comments lately. Fortunately I use Akismet on this site and it catches the spam quite nicely so you all don’t have to be subjected to it. Being in advertising, I especially hate spam. You see, spam is advertising. Bad advertising. It’s every bad advertising practice pressed into one slimy mass.

How you advertise says a whole lot about how you do business and what you think of your customer. Spam isn’t limited to the internet. It’s served up in every ad that screams for attention but offers no real information. It’s in every ad that promises something that the business owner has no intention of delivering. Any time a business wants your money but doesn’t really care about delivering something of value, then its advertising is spam.

Advertising is not about who can speak the loudest or the longest, it’s about getting useful information to people who would benefit from your product or service. Ideally, advertising is the introduction that develops into a long lasting business relationship.

What does your advertising say about you?

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Sweet little lies leave a bad taste in your mouth

Seth Godin has a great post reminding us how important keeping small promises is to our business’s reputation. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from William Bernbach:

The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.

You need to live up to your advertising.

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Brilliant Identity

We’ve talked about consistency in how a business presents itself in these pages before. Its an important element in branding your business. Here is a great essay on the consistency of National Geographic with their magazine’s identity. Here’s why you should read it:

“National Geographic’s front cover is a great example of how well simple branding can be tied to a product or message.”

Retinart.net is new to me, but now that I’ve discovered it I’ll be a frequent visitor. Thanks, Jason.

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What exactly is a brand?

When you read about marketing, you’ll see references to a company’s “brand.” A brand is not a logo, a nationally distributed product, or a well known business or company. A brand is simply your small business’s reputation. A reputation, or a brand, is built by consistently acting or operating in a certain fashion.

When a business decides to to be upfront about a mistake it makes, it enhances its brand or reputation.

When a business decides to hide a mistake or pretend no mistake was made, it erodes its brand or reputation.

How you do business with your customers builds your reputation and brand. The message in your advertising, along with the manner in which you advertise, communicates how you do business.

Some people view business as a poker game or competition (let’s see if we can make the opponent put some more money on the table), some see business as a shell game (let’s keep things moving and maybe no one will notice that they’re not getting any value), and some people see business as a partnership between equals.

Sometimes a business owner views the activities of business one way, but communicates in his advertising something entirely different. A person who is running a shell game will probably communicate that his business is a partnership between equals, but there will be a lot of hype to distract you from seeing the truth. But very often a person who sees their business as a partnership between equals will inadvertently advertise a winner-take-all poker game.

Unless you are a new business, you already have a brand. Your brand is your reputation. Be sure you take care of it, both in business practice and in how you advertise.

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Some things never change

I’ve heard it said that the old forms of advertising — TV, newspaper, radio — are dead. They supposedly don’t work in today’s modern era of relationship-based commerce. Of course, I read that on a web-site or blog that runs ads. Hmm.

The truth is that all commerce is relationship-based, and always has been. You do business with those you know or at least know about. Advertising is simply an invitation to engage in commerce. It’s an invitation to get to know the customer within the context of doing business together.

Some businesses recognize this and it shows in their advertising. Others see advertising as a form of manipulation to extract something they want from someone else. That comes across as well, and it usually isn’t confined to their advertising or marketing.

How do you view your customers?

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You can’t buy a reputation

“Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.”

–Proverbs 21:6

Are you living up to your advertising?

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