Blog : Branding Strategies

How to Create a Meaningful Differentiation for your Brand

The essence of your brand is what makes your brand or service offering hard to copy.

In order to create the essence of your brand, I like to have my clients focus less of competitive differentiation (which in most cases can be mere feature/benefits) and instead focus more on what we call meaningful difference/differentiation. Meaningful differentiation is (in lack of a better term) “uncopiable” and when a competitor does copy it, they only strengthen your position in the marketplace.

In order to create/discover your meaningful difference, you need to figure out your brand’s purpose. Reason for being/why it exists.

To illustrate how you go about creating your meaningful differentiation, I’ll give an example of our branding agency.

As shown in the figure above, you can see our (1) Purpose (2) Focus (3) Difference. We’ve positioned ourselves as “Brand Elevators” and we apply this in everything that we think, say or do.

It’s all about “Elevating”

Therefore, we set our meaningful difference to be “The Elevator Principles“, they are 10 and just like above, we apply them in everything we think, say or do.

Here are the 10 principles, from it you can see how as a branding agency, this can be applied into “elevating” any brand that we work with. Also, if a competitor tried to claim this difference, they’d only be strengthening our position.

Here they are;

1. Be easy to use

Elevators are built with ease of use at the forefront. Get in, press button for your floor, wait for “ding”, done! Brands should function the same way. Over-complicating kills most brands.

2. Let us do the heavy lifting for you

Elevators do the heavy lifting, all you have to do is just be in them and they’ll take you up/down hundreds of floors and you won’t break a sweat. We aim to do the same for our clients, their brand/product/service should do the same for their audience.

3. Be efficient

Elevators are extremely efficient. By using counterweights to offset the weight they’re carrying, they are able to use very little electrical energy. As a brand, find ways to minimize waste as much as possible, it’s one sure way to grow your profit margins.

4. Know your limits

Each elevator has a “max weight limit”, brands should know theirs too. In regards to who your audience is, what your product/service is and what market(s) to compete in. Focus. When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to no one.

5. Always function as expected- meet expectations

Sure, every once in a while an elevator will get “stuck” but most of the time, press up and it will go up, down and it will go down. A brand should always function as expected- delivering on its promise. Positive interactions build a brand, while negative ones kill it.

6. Be reliable/dependable

If we didn’t think elevators were reliable enough to take us up/down hundreds (or even 10) floors, we simply wouldn’t use them. If your audience doesn’t think you brand/product/service can get them from A to B, chances are they won’t consider you. The only way to achieve dependability/reliability is by following #5 above.

7. Engage your audience through interaction

Elevators require you to do something in order to get something- however small this is, it’s important. Press a button, I’ll take you to the floor you want to go to. Brands should be designed the same way. Some user involvement is important- it’s a psychological thing.

8. Evolve/Improve

We’ve come a long way since the first elevator. It’s important to constantly improve your brand in order to stay relevant. Now more than ever.

9. Revolutionize multiple industries

The invent of elevators revolutionized many industries e.g. Construction Industry (of skyscrapers) Architectural Industry (builders of these skyscrapers) Steel, Railway etc. Your brand should aim to shake not only the industry it’s competing in, but others as well.

10. Always have a “Plan B”

Did you know that elevators would still be able to carry it’s maximum weight even if all the cords broke and only one was left? Now you do. Did you also know that even if all the cords broke, there’s a fail-safe mechanism that we’ll lock the elevator in place preventing it from plunging? Don’t believe what those movies show you :)

Your brand should always have a Plan B (up to Z- why not).

Ok, enough lessons about elevators, I hope this helps in some way :)

The 3 C’s of Building a Strong Brand

The 3 C’s of Building a Strong Brand

With clutter in current marketplace, building a strong brand is more crucial than ever. The 3 C’s of building a strong brand simplify the sometimes daunting brand development process. They are the basic building blocks of any strong brand that exists.

One thing is certain: A brand has to be nurtured- and it takes (a long) time to successfully build any brand.

In addition to time, it takes thought and consistent application. But it does not have to take big budgets. It just requires you to embrace a mindset that requires both discipline and passion. It’s about caring for the bigger picture and the smaller details- all at the same time.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”stancebranding” suffix=”#STANCEBranding”]When building your brand, adhere to the 3 Cs and your results will make you proud.[/inlinetweet]

C1: CREDIBILITY

A brand has been described as “everything you say and everything you do.” Brands are built on trust. Trust is gained by delivering on each promise you make. A credible brand will always align the way it behaves with the way it is portrayed (or the promises it makes). This close connection will ensure that your customer’s instinctive reaction is one of trust and belief in your brand not one of doubt and uncertainty.

C2: CLARITY

A strong brand is based on clearly defined values, that are important to your customers and that differentiate you from your competitors. Take a (meaningful) stance. Do this by understanding, establishing and communicating what you stand for. A clear understanding of your values throughout your business will ensure that they are communicated clearly through “everything you say and everything you do.” When you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.

C3: CONSISTENCY

The value of a brand comes through recognition and recognition comes from consistent application of every visible manifestation of your brand, at every ‘touch point’ that your customers experience your brand. Create brand guidelines, not only for your visuals, but also for your values, systems, processes and everything in between. Ensure every employee clearly understands & applies these guidelines- consistently.

 When all is said and done, strive to build a meaningful brand.

3 Basic Reasons: Importance of Social Media for Your Business

3 Basic Reasons: Importance of Social Media for Your Business

To every new business owner: Here is the Importance of Social Media for Your Business.

[inlinetweet prefix=”Tip:” tweeter=”@stancebranding” suffix=”#socialmedia”]Social Media is the greatest tool at your disposal.[/inlinetweet] Don’t mistake it for just another fad that “kids these days” are talking about and be resistant. Embrace it, love it, and use it.

Look around, this is the new age. The 80’s, 90’s, and even early 2000’s promoting is a thing of the past. Yet some of you still channel your inner Monty Python, throw hands up, and book it, screaming “run away!”I get it. Social Media is daunting, but just like Michael Myers, it will creep up on you slowly no matter how fast you run.

So if it is here to stay, and you want to stay, how can you effectively use it? I have three suggestions that can be used in very simple, basic means.

1. Recruiting:

taken-linkedin-meme-duncan1
Long gone are the days when a paper resume was the only thing that told you the story of who an applicant was. Now employers have a life story at their fingertips. Is this person a good fit? Well he is passed out drunk in his Facebook profile picture. Not very flattering.In order to be successful, surround yourself with successful people who are going to work hard to succeed. Use Social Media to research. Chances are you will find the right person who worked to create positive content to be noticed instead of the wrong one who has pictures of themselves after 20 shots.

 

2. Simplicity:

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Hey, great news. You have a message right? Good, unfortunately chances are we won’t remember all of it! But have no fear! People don’t need to remember EVERYTHING, just the basics, Social Media does the rest. A slogan or tagline is a great way to get people talking, or in some cases overly annoyed enough to start Googlin’.  As you’ve probably heard, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.” Quick, easy to remember, and catchy. GEICO uses this tagline to capture the attention, they don’t drone on about HOW you are going to save 15% or more, they just dangle the bait and get you hooked. Keep it simple on Social Media.

 

3. Sheer numbers:

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Every business owner should be comforted by this statistic: Facebook has 1.3 Billion active monthly users, according to Statistic Brain.Let that sink for a moment…1.3 Billion. That is 1.3 Billion people that are part of social network you can connect with. Facebook is not stationary anymore either, it is accessible almost everywhere. Mobile Facebook users are numbering over 680 Million. Our culture is evolving, will you evolve with them?

Start with basics. Use Social Media to recruit, keep your message simple, and connect with a growing social world. The key is consistency and focus. You should be excited by the points above because they serve as basic, fundamental, building blocks. Don’t go crazy, your message will spread you don’t have to be active on every Social Media platform to be successful. Start small, stay focused, aim big.

Brands Realize Being Meaningful is the New Black | Whirlpool Case Study

Brands Realize Being Meaningful is the New Black | Whirlpool Case Study

Whether you agree or disagree, I think it’s pretty obvious that most brands have realized that being meaningful is no longer an option. We have always know that customer is king, so how do you talk to the king? Actually, you will be surprised to find out that it is quite simple. You achieve that by speaking in a language that the king understands.

Right now, consumers want brands that carry a deeper meaning beyond their core product or service offering. They want brands that support the causes they believe in, they want meaningful brands.

meaningful-brands-index

A study conducted by Havas Media (who by the way coined the phrase “Meaningful Brands”) revealed some shocking statistics…

Most people worldwide would not care if more than 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow.

That’s insane!

Think about all the money spent globally on marketing, communication and public relations. Then think that for more than 73% of the companies who are spending it, their brands wouldn’t be missed if they disappeared entirely.

Only 20% of brands worldwide make a significant, positive effect on people’s well-being.

 With these shocking statistics, it’s no surprise that brands are doing their best to adapt or die. Read industry news and you will see all sorts of desperate efforts to be meaningful. From publicizing how your company supports the local cancer awareness foundation, to sponsoring kids from developing nations, to others rethinking their entire approach to Marketing via full-blown campaigns.

Major brands are adapting

A few days ago, I came across such a campaign by the veteran brand Whirlpool. The mega corporation markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht  and other major brand names. So when they make such a move, you know it is something worth looking into.

While I might sound angered by these attempts of what others would call “fake” or “rigged” ways to buy into what your customers (kings) want, I personally think that any attempt whether forced or genuine is a move towards the right direction. This specific 103-year old brand is making steps towards the right direction and adapting to change.

PROOF: The Whirlpool Case Study

WHIRLPOOL BRAND CHALLENGES INDUSTRY MARKETING NORMS; CHAMPIONS THE IMPORTANCE OF DAILY TASKS

The above is the headline in a press release for Whirlpool’s new campaign “Every day, care™”. The veteran brand aims to transform cold machine mentality into acts of love. Emotional branding is a powerful thing, our friends at Emotive Brand know this best.

Watching videos from this campaign and monitoring Whirlpool’s social media interaction, you can tell they are making a shift to be a meaningful brand.

Whirlpool has shifted from trying to sell features and benefits to reminding people that each act performed with one of their appliances is an act of caring. This in itself is a meaningful stance. By taking this position and positioning their brand as one that promotes care, people can relate to them at a deeper level. I was surprised the other day as I strolled around my local Lowe’s store Whirlpool appliances caught my eye, even though I had never paid attention to the brand much prior to this. As I mentioned earlier, judging from their social media, engagement, the brand is making waves and people are responding positively.

everyday-care campaign whirlpool

Still, I find it fascinating that brands are just now seeing the need to be meaningful.

So, how does your brand take a meaningful stance and position itself as a meaningful brand? Is it possible? Is it too late? Let’s take a look at how we did it. Hopefully this will shed some light into how you can tap into your own unique purpose

STANCE: The Meaningful Branding Agency

When I founded STANCE, I didn’t look at industry trends, or what’s “hot” in the market right now. I looked within and asked myself one questions: “What kind of company will I look back at the end of my life and be proud to have built?”, the answer- a company that truly positively impacted people’s lives. Later came to realized they had a term for it, “meaningful brand”, hence the meaningful branding agency was born.

This is not just something we say to be cool, we truly believe that great brands stand for something and that brands that commit to a meaningful STANCE—and those who engage with them—win.

That is why our purpose is to be advocates for all meaningful brands. We envision a world where brands genuinely exist to positively impact the lives of those they serve. This is reflected on our purpose which is to elevate meaningful brands so they can elevate the lives of those they serve.

Stance-Facebook-Cover-Photo

A Reflection on your brand…

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”#MeaningfulBrands”]How is your brand impacting the lives of those you serve? [/inlinetweet]Have you taken a meaningful stance? What kind of legacy will you leave for your children and grandchildren? Is your brand meaningful? Only you can answer those questions honestly.

Branding is all about Consistency

Branding is all about Consistency

Maintaining brand consistency is extremely important for any business, as it’s the key to successful branding. To avoid confusing your consumers you must deliver a consistent message across all advertising channels. You must stay relevant and bring fresh, new ideas to your campaigns while ensuring that everything you do remains consistent with your brand message if you are to achieve successful branding over time.

The first way to maintain brand consistency is to keep your visuals consistent. Whether it’s on newsletters or on billboards, the images and colors you use across your campaigns should correspond with one another. If your company has a friendly, youthful look in your ads, don’t give your emails a stuffy, formal aesthetic and vice-versa. Paying attention to little details like these will greatly improve your brand consistency over the long run.

 

The second thing is establishing your voice. Your voice is the personality that you use to communicate with your customers. Your company could be geeky and smart, quaint and old-fashioned or elegant and refined. Whatever the persona, make sure to be consistent across all of your marketing efforts. This will ensure your customers remember you much better.

Brand consistency is an absolute necessity in this day and age where marketing stretches across so many different mediums. Standardizing your brand will help you build relationships and maintain your customers’ trust over time. It’s been proven that customers are more likely to choose the brands they are more familiar with; and the best way to achieve that familiarity is to have clearly identifiable images and messaging in your communications so that there is no confusion about who your company is and what you do.

Rebrand -You Need To Let Go

Rebrand -You Need To Let Go

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”amd5555″ suffix=”#rebrandbreakup”]Going through a rebrand can be difficult. Like a break up. We didn’t necessarily end badly, but we still can’t be together. We need to let go.[/inlinetweet]

Let go of the negativity, let go of the bad memories, but still hold on to what makes you, well you. Because you’re cool! You just had someone else who made you seem less cool-and that sucks.

 

Rebranding is exactly the same. Your brand is cool. You already have traffic to your business, a well developed customer base, but you’re still lacking IT. You’re not where you want to be with your business, just like after a break up, you’re not where you want to be in life.

break up

So follow me through a post-breakup journey!

After a break up,

you probably change your look- a new haircut, new hair color, change outfit styles (btw, those shoes totally rock). How about a logo redesign for your business? Lets freshen up those colors, cleaner edges, a newer font! Because he was so last season…

After a break up,

you want to reconnect with your friends and the people you lost touch with when they were your everything. How about a customer survey or a social media campaign? Get to know your customers. Find out what they love about you, find out what they think you need to change (aside from drowning in your post breakup tears), and find out where they see you going. Their information is super valuable and FREE. They love you! They’ll do anything to see you succeed! Keep them around and use them to your advantage. It’s a win for you to have their input. It’s a win for them to see you flourish.

After a break up,

you want to be single. Single means you’re meeting new people, trying new things, and trying to find yourself again. Perfect! Find new customers, trying something fresh and hip-go with the times, but don’t lose that edge that made you different from everyone else. During the peak of love, we become comfortable, like our partners, satisfied. Single means we have a new lust for life! We become addicted to what the world is doing, and we want to become a part of it. Rebrand yourself! Rebrand your brand!

The hardest part after a break up is seeing things that remind you of that person wherever you go. “Oh, that’s where we shared our first milkshake together. That bench is where we had our first kiss. That new job is where he found his new girlfriend!”  <–that was a joke…

Anyway! It is hard, but nothing good is easy. We must strip ourselves of anything that is them, without losing ourselves, our core. Don’t go back! Doesn’t matter how many times they text you saying they miss you, or show up at your window with a boom box playing 80s classic rock. Doesn’t matter! You’re better than that! You’re on your way to doing great things.

I don't care how cute he is or if it completely melts your heart!
I don’t care how cute he is or if it completely melts your heart!

 

A rebrand is just the beginning.

 

Ice Bucket Challenge: How The ALS Association Created Brand Awareness

Ice Bucket Challenge: How The ALS Association Created Brand Awareness

If you’ve viewed your social media feed at least once in the past two weeks, you’ve probably noticed the phenomenon ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. People are dousing themselves with ice cold water all throughout the world to support the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Association, which some people still confuse for the ASL Foundation (American Sign Language).

According to Facebook, 2.4 million videos have been shared relating to the ice bucket challenge and over 28 million people have posted, liked and/or commented about this trend. Additionally, the challenge has reached almost every country in the world.

The trend has been mentioned on Twitter more than 2.2 million times and over 800,000 times on Instagram.

This is a perfect example of people in support of your organization spreading a good deed through simply clicking the “share” button. It’s a chain effect. The only thing you need to is make note of your organization’s involvement and watch the magic happen while you create brand awareness.

ALS has received $31.5 million in donations for the July 29-Aug. 20 time period. Compare that to only $1.9 million during that same time period last year. These donations come from existing donors and 637,527 new donors. Yeah, and people say social media isn’t effective.

The challenge was in existence before Pete Frates, prior Divison 1 Boston College baseball athlete, picked it up in late July to support ALS — a progressive degeneration of the motor neurons of the central nervous system, leading to wasting of the muscles and paralysis.

The initial challenge was to dump a bucket of ice on yourself and if you didn’t accept the challenge then you had to donate $100 to a charity of your choice. Matt Lauer of the Today Show took the challenge after being dared by hall of fame golfer Greg Norman. The challenge started with pro golfer Rickie Fowler and then challenging his colleagues.

Now, celebrities and public figures continue to challenge each other as well as the general public too. Although there is some discord concerning if it’s just a “cop out” to take the challenge and not donate, however most celebrities promise to donate additionally.

No matter the reasoning for this challenge (potential slacktivism, but that’s another post), what matters is the power of social media and how an organization can continue to spread coverage through a positive image. It’s the epitome of spreading brand awareness and ALS Association is doing it effortlessly.

 

Below is a compilation of celebrities and public figures taking part in the challenge…

Pop Icon Britney Spears

Rapper 50 Cent

Football Player Matt Hasselback

Actor Vin Diesel

Former President George W. Bush

 

Actors Ashley Tisdale and Zac Efron

 

Artist Justin Timberlake and Friends

jt-and-friends-stance-branding-agency-las-vegas

 

British Rapper Devlin

A Quirky YouTube Hit by Rubius

And A Vanilla Ice Parody for ALS

 

Honda Summer Cheerance Campaign

Honda Summer Cheerance Campaign

Honda has really throttled their summer social media marketing campaign on overdrive. Teaming up with RPA agency, the brand found a way to get attention for its summer clearance event and it created a buzz both in the online and offline. Remember when car dealers used to go on T.V. and hang banners and flags outside their dealerships that screamed, “Sale! Sale! Sale!”? Well think of this as that, but online.

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They’ve also created 62 short little videos with the goal of spreading cheer and happiness.

The campaign primarily focuses on Twitter, while also using Facebook and YouTube. The interesting part is how Cheerance is also spreading joy and happiness in the real world. As the brand will place piñatas at random locations and bury treasures on the beach for people to find them via the Cheerance Detector.

In addition to all this, the brand hooked up with YouTuber Andrew Hales to create a video entitled, “Dancing With People.” In it, Hales dances with random strangers he meets “to help spread cheer for the Honda Summer Cheerance event.”

If all that wasn’t enough, the brand also created a Pandora Summer Cheerance Station to which people could subscribe. This channel features music as well as 60-second comedy bits from comedian Steve Simeone.

All and all, it’s clear that this massive campaign was carefully thought out and planned, not just utilizing one medium but many, maximizing the engagement with people. It’s very impressive to see all this work done just to promote a clearance sale, something that in itself drives traffic (pun intended).

You Have to Love Us

You Have to Love Us

I know you probably hate us, but we’re here to stay and we’re only getting worse.

While we were practicing our “Feeny Call” or fanboy’ing over the Spice Girls, the explosion of the millennials seemed to have happened overnight. We’re always on our phones, impolite, and as radical as ever. Unfortunately, we are also edgy, passionate, and continuously desire to learn.

Wait, that doesn’t sound so unfortunate after all.

Articles around us, along with the popular stereotypes generalize millennials into a category full of irrational, ignorant and immature people.
Well that’s just rude!
It is often forgotten how you were when you were younger and how you felt. Did you feel trapped by the pressures of the world? Were you told to marry young and bring in babies? Sorry, we were told that too, but we didn’t listen. We’re focused on what drives us, what makes us wake up everyday, what our purpose in this world really is. Didn’t you want to change the world at one time? Didn’t you want to neglect the boring repetition in your life for something meaningful?

Here’s what’s really cool about us. We hold VALUE. We know things you don’t, but we want to teach you. We want to spread the knowledge to everyone. We’re influencers, professionals, and just really cool people. That’s why we’re assets to companies: why while we are maybe unwanted, we are needed-especially in the workplace.

Our jobs are our lives, even though we don’t think of it that way. We constantly network, meet people, and create communities, although most of it is online now. We need feedback. Whether the feedback is positive or not, you need to at least keep it real. We value honesty, even if it’s not what we want to hear. It helps us know what path we’re on and that because you’re giving us attention, you are committed to us as much as we are to you. We just want to be wanted!

According to Paul McDonald in his article, Developing Millennials Into Your Firm’s Next Generation of Leaders, there are questions, we need your help answering. These specific questions make us feel more passionate and more committed to the company.
• Where am I going in my career?
• What’s important to my company?
• How does my role help the company reach its objectives?
• How can my company and my manager help me reach my goals?

So help us help you. Let’s blog together, tweet each other, and create cool handshakes.

We’re in this together for the long haul and we are just as excited as you.

 

How a Retail Clothing Brand Made it to the Top 10 Brands on Instagram

How a Retail Clothing Brand Made it to the Top 10 Brands on Instagram

There may be hope to social retail yet.

While sports marketers continue to be the king of instagram, at least in the Adweek/Shareablee top 10 brands on Instagram weekly chart, Hollister is a rare retailer to take a slot in their rankings. The Ohio-based clothing supplier now has 1.2 million Instagram followers while posting 21 social clips in the last month. In other words, the company is uploading a new 15-second video nearly every weekday, woah.

“It’s one of the best visual platforms for social,” said Craig Brommers, Hollister senior vice president of marketing.

Here are the rest of this week’s top 10 in this multimedia infographic


 

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Through a calculated marketing effort, hollister was able to do something more brands should start doing, and not just sports, engaging people. Really connecting with their audience through this new medium of social media and post-network communication.