It’s like Groundhog Day all over again!

Did you know that Punxsutawney Phil has been predicting the possibility of an early spring for over 130 years? How do you predict your brand’s success year after year? Are you content with “seeing what happens” as in “will he or will he not see his shadow?” Or are you finding ways, right now, to make sure you see an early “spring” in profits, consumer engagement, employee morale, brand recognition, market share, website conversions, and everything else that will make your brand successful in 2020?

It seems that too often brands react to what “the other guy” is doing rather than being “the other guy” that everyone is watching. Being your category leader isn’t all that hard. Really! You’d be surprised at how apathetic your competition is. While they are busy looking for signs from “the universe” you should be out there building your brand every day.

I see this a lot in banking. Think about the “push-back” you get from all of the overly conservative forces your department is up against every day, like shrinking marketing budgets, unadventurous presidents, BODs who do not like change, aging depositors who also do not like change, government regulations, expensive technology—will it work or not? The list goes on. Is it just better to “stay the course”? I guess only time and results will answer that. But, if you prefer a bit more excitement, I recommend you try something new this year. Get a tiny bit out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s a new brand creative direction, messaging, look, color palette, logo evolution, tagline or internal process. Have you tried brand archetyping yet?

Being a leader is fun!

To keep it simple, I tell my clients to take a hard look at their competitors in the marketplace. What do they own? Are they positioning themselves as the “local” bank or credit union? If so, let em’ have it! Position your institution as the leading resource for something totally different—something you do better than anyone else—and go for it!  I’ll bet you could be viewed as the leader in one of these areas: technology, customer experience, product development, convenience, etc. Find your leading differentiator and run with it!

Don’t be the leader in “customer service”, everyone thinks they are.

You need something that can belong to you and only you. If you’re more “innovative” than your competition, prove it! If you’re more “convenient” than your competition, prove it! If you’re more of anything than your competition, you have to prove it at every touch point. People do not have the capacity to think of you as best at everything. Pick one and own it! Once you do, market that message constantly and consistently.

Don’t worry about what your competition is doing next, rather, make them worry about what you’re doing next! Great creative execution combined with a compelling offer or solution, is a tough act to beat. The most successful brands in the world understand this formula and excel by using it. As always, I recommend you seek professional help to get it right (not a groundhog).

Remember, Groundhog Day is just a hopeful reminder of brighter days ahead. Make every day brighter for your brand. Use today as a springboard for tomorrow’s success, and then repeat.

Contact Dan!

Branding vs Marketing. Do you know the difference?

You’d be surprised how often the two terms are used synonymously! So, if you need a quick refresh, here you go.

Have you ever been to a party or out for drinks with some professionals and heard one of them say “yeah, our company’s going through a rebranding?” What does this actually mean? Is it safe to assume you’ll be seeing all sorts of new creative TV spots, billboards, digital ads, bus kings, elevator posters, online radio spots, transit ads, minute videos, street art, some grassroots or guerilla tactics, news stories and on-site promotions to name a few? The answer is probably; but only if the branding (or in this case the rebranding) has a marketing rollout.

The “branding” aspect of the above company rebrand has more to do with discovering and developing what it is about your brand that is attractive to the desired customer segment, and what value it will bring to them. It’s establishing a firm understanding of the true characteristics, values and singular attributes that clarify and differentiate your brand from its competitors. After all the research and introspection is accomplished, the development of a new brand identity can begin to take shape (a name, a look, a feel and an overarching message) that will ultimately portray these characteristics in a positive way that will resonate with your defined target audience.

If branding was akin to dating and you had a very good understanding of who your brand is, what your core values are, and who to best target for a long relationship, your branding would start at the affection phase. The affection phase is that period of time when a lot is learned about the object of your desire (target audience) and what you need to do to get noticed and ultimately win them over.

Let’s face it, your brand may not be like a Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johansson on the dating scene. So, when you’ve learned everything there is to learn about your primary and secondary target audiences, and you finally put yourself out there, you may have to test a few things in the process. You’ll need to try a few new looks perhaps (brand identity), work on your game (messaging), and figure out what makes you different, special and totally attractive (unique selling proposition) to this particular group.

Once you clearly see the best way to win your target audiences’ hearts and minds, it’s time to put the word out there in hopes of building your dating pool (market share). This, my friend, is where “marketing” comes into play. Marketing is utilizing the important branding information you’ve learned about your brand and your target audience to develop tactical activities to mesh with like-minded consumers, encourage trial, inspire consumer loyalty and support ongoing sales success. Marketing is getting the word out there!

If you believe your brand is the perfect fit for your target audience, let them know—constantly! Just like the dating scenario, interest in your brand can be short-lived, because, well, people are busy, fickle and the competition is relentlessly, brazenly and unapologetically coming on to your desirable customer. It’s up to you, and your brand evangelists to use every marketing technique in the book to stay on their mind night and day!

So, in simplistic business terms, “branding” is creating potential relationships by identifying who your brand is, as well as who would benefit most by utilizing your brand’s core values and offerings. “Marketing” is creating the need for your brand by taking all of this information and connecting your brand with the target audience(s) who are most likely to value and use your brand.

The strongest and most successful marketing programs unite branding and marketing. You have a better chance of winning the hearts and minds of your market if you truly know what your brand stands for. Then, it’s all about making them fall in love—and stay in love with you!

Contact Dan!


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