Monday, December 31, 2012

Inspirational quotes

The CUSBA Linkedin Group had these terrific quotes posted this morning. They were compiled by I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

# 1 - IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad
“Only those who are asleep make no mistakes.”

# 2 - Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
“Rule no. 1: Never lose money. Rule no. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.”

# 3 - Steven Jobs, Apple Co-Founder
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

# 4 - Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Steel Company Founder
“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

# 5 - Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA Founder
“Only those who are asleep make no mistakes.”

# 6 - Aristotle Onassis, Greek Shipping Magnate
“The secret to business is to know something that nobody else knows.”

# 7 - Carlos Slim Helu, CEO of Telmex, America Movil, Grupo Carso
“When you live for others’ opinions, you are dead.”

# 8 - Sam Walton, Walmart Founder
“We’re all working together; that’s the secret.”

# 9 - Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Group
“We’re going where no one has gone before. There’s no model to follow, nothing to copy. That is what makes this so exciting.”

# 10 - Oprah Winfrey, CEO of Oprah Winfrey Network
“You become what you believe. You are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed.”

# 11 - Ted Turner, CNN Founder
“I just love it when people say I can’t do it, there’s nothing that makes me feel better because all my life, people have said that I wasn’t going to make it.”

# 12 - J. Paul Getty, Getty Oil Company Founder
“If you can count your money, you don’t have a billion dollars.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

Your Brand Is Spreading Rumours About You Again!

What's your brand saying about you?

It's all over the street - nobody really knows what you do there at ABC Co. It's not like your customers or potential customers are spreading bad news about you, it's more the fact that they're not saying anything at all. There is no buzz. Everybody knows you but for some reason that's not translating into tangible business. You appear to be doing everything right on the ground. But are you really?

From my experience dealing with SME's (small to medium enterprises), a common misconception about marketing is that have to list everything that they do on their business cards, brochures and marketing materials in general. "Ed," they tell me, "if I don't say - it I don't do it!" Maybe you're saying too much. They seem to feel that an overall strategy is less important than a great eye-popping graphics. Manufacturers give more space on their marketing materials to pictures of their plants and group shots of the entire staff. Retailers are preoccupied with getting that price as low as possible and pretending to have great service while remaining closed on days popular with customers. Service businesses are more concerned with their convenience than their customers by relying entirely on email for connections.

The common problem is not that you may be known physically, but you're unknown intellectually. Your customers can't identify you with a need they have for your products or services.  They're confused. It's a common communication/branding problem. The few example above point directly to:

1) No positioning strategy. Your audience "is never everyone" it's always a segment. It's the segment that brings the most cash your way. 
Inevitably if you list everything, you're bound to forget one thing. In the customers mind, since you do list everything, then you must be telling them that if it's not listed - you don't do it. A simple but uncompromising rule. It's much better to chose the service or category that brings you the highest opportunity and separates you from your competition. This will position you as the leader or the go to company.

2) Lack of  communication. Everyone loves those super graphics that are so cool in marketing. The viral video. Anything that will catch the eyes and minds of the viewer. The problem is that while cool, they communicate nothing. Their goal is quantity over quality. Who cares if hoards of people look at you, if they don't translate into business for you. If you don't have a consistent strong ongoing compelling message to tell, what is your brand really saying about your business? You are ultimately responsible for what your brand is saying - make it count.

3) Authenticity. You've seen it I'm sure; businesses bragging how service is the key to their brand and they make you wait on hold for 20 minutes. They open when it's convenient to them and they connect entirely by email because it wouldn't be convenient to drive all the way over to see you. Their entire brand is a contradiction. These are companies that don't live up to their brand values.

To brand effectively you must say it, believe it and live it. Branding is all about controlling your perception on the street. You have the opportunity to define yourself, drop the ball and the marketplace will not be kind. Once the rumour mill takes over, you will spend more time correcting and following, than doing what makes you income and moves you forward. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Not A Book, It's A Brochure!

If you been following some of the posts here, you would have noticed that I have been promoting my new book, "101 Branding Tips." (Shameless plug) What you may not know is that I, under no circumstances actually believe that I will become the next business best seller. My motivation for the book was to expand my audience. It was to bring to the attention of a wider market, my opinion. In doing this, I could potentially increase business. 

Every book has all of my contact information. Each book, whether it is the hard cover or Kindle version, places this information into the hands of individuals who for some reason or another is seeking tips of branding. That said, writing and distributing a book is a novel way to promote your personal and corporate brand. It absolutely expands your expert profile. Having a book in your profile is impressive on many levels. People treat you different. I can't say why this is so, but there is definitely buzz to it. Locally, I can't tell you the number of times I've been approached for an autographed copy. I've been approached by an international business organization to distribute it free to their thousand members and a local company who bought thirty to hand out to their customers. Like everything else, that puts my name and contact info into the hands of another 1,300 businesses. Let's face it my book is more like a 114 page brochure. Readers will really get where my head is at as far as branding goes, and it further increases my credibility. 

Hits on my website are up, comments to my weekly tips  are increasing, and a general awareness of me is also improving. I've been approached for interviews both on and off line. I've developed a presentation on the theme of the book, and so far it's been keenly accepted. This past week as part of Kindle's techniques to promote Kindle books, I gave away 871 Kindle versions. That's 871 business aware individuals that never heard of me prior to their free download. This can only lead to better things. 

Maybe it's time you considered a book as part of your marketing efforts. It will do wonders for your attitude and influence. It has a major positive vibe attached to it. There's no brochure like it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Download The Kindle Version Of My New Book FREE!

This week only I'm giving away the Kindle version of my new book, "101 Branding Tips." This offer has no strings attached. What I would love is that you return to the Kindle bookstore and leave a review. Don't hesitate go here:

My goal is to give away a thousand ebooks by this Friday the 16th of November. Enjoy

Great Brand Interview

I had a great experience being interviewed with Ty and Patrick last week. Listen here:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Paperback First. Now Kindle Here Soon!

Having written my very first book, "101 Branding Tips" I've learned quite a bit about pushing it to my audience. I've done a few book signings, presentations and PR and now I'm waiting for Amazon Kindle's all clear to add it to the Amazon bookstore. During the first 5 days of my Kindle launch I'll be offering my book for free. That's right Free. No strings attached, just go to Amazon and download it to your Kindle, iPad or Android device. After that it will be $5.99 each.

I will be announcing the launch date soon enough so watch this blog and your inbox if you subscribe to  my weekly mailing. If you do download the free Kindle version, I only ask that you go back to Amazon and leave a review. That will really help me out in promoting my book in all it's versions.

Help me to give my Kindle version away to as many people as possible by sharing this article to everyone you know who might benefit from some great tips to help them succeed in business.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

10 Things I Hate About Branding

Frankly it takes a lot of work to stay on top of my brand.  If only I could just push a button like the Staples "Easy Button" ( which I have on my desk). I hate that I can't!

I hate having to remind businesses that their brand is more than their logo. I have every design shop and ad specialty shop to blame for the mis-information I guess. (I could be painting with big a brush too)

I hate companies who don't realize that branding is a top down initiative. Without the captain on board, who's piloting the brand?

Just too many great books to read. I'm stuck on historical fiction right now and so slipping in books on branding is a tight fit - I hate that.

I hate those who confuse their brand message with their slogan. There is a difference. I guess since they are both important, I should be happy that they have anything.

I hate followers. Why do some businesses still feel they must follow the leader in their category? A commenter to one of my articles recently lamented their displeasure at businesses who copy the leader's image almost to the letter. Sheesh!

I also hate people online who make the simple complicated in an attempt to screw a few dollars out of your pocket, only to reveal the obvious. If you see something online you want to get into, email the author - I'm sure they'll help you.

I love it when someone says, "Hey, you're the branding guy!" I hate that it took so long.

Sometimes I hate that consistency is worth so much to your brand. I get the itch like many of us to change things up a bit. BUT, my better judgement knows that that would diminish what I have achieved so far.

Sometimes I hate focus groups when judging brand image. By their nature they look to criticize regardless if it is even necessary. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Was your brand built on consensus or instinct?

Thanks for letting me vent a small bit, I hate keeping it bottled up inside

Thursday, October 25, 2012

101 Branding Tips Book Signing Tomorrow!

Share this with any friends who are in business.

I have a 101 Branding Tips book signing TOMORROW - FRIDAY (Oct 26) University of Windsor Small Business Centre opening. The Centre is giving away a free book every half hour. This is the UofW's new engineering building.

The Centre is giving away a free book every half hour.

Date &Time:
Friday, October 26, 2012
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

2:00 p.m. Doors Open
2:30 p.m. Ed Roach book giveaway
3:45 p.m. Closing stages

WindsorEssex Small Business Centre
Boardroom, First Floor
700 California Avenue
Windsor, ON N9B 2Z2

Friday, October 19, 2012

Get Your Expertise Out There

We are all experts in something. You might be humble in your discussion of your expertise, but be assured that you ARE an expert. I think that it's imperative, that you share that expertise with your audience and allow them to benefit from with their exposure to you. 

October has been a good month for exhibiting my expertise. On Tuesday past I spoke to 120 women leaders when I presented to Athena International in Chicago. Yesterday I was interviewed on List Builder Tele-Summit, an initiative spear-headed by Donna Ward and Rodney Rich. Next week, I'm featured at the grand opening of The new Windsor Small Business Centre at the University of Windsor signing my new book, 101 Branding Tips. 

All three events were opportunities to expand my reach and profile my expertise. In all cases, it's a great way to meet new people and see how I can potentially help them with their brands. In every case I am providing opinion free of charge to help those in attendance. It defines my brand, and in turn provides me with the opportunity to develop new leads. What do you do to share your opinion? It's a great way to show your expertise in your category. It's very much a three dimensional form of marketing your brand. 

Challenge yourself to stand up and express your leadership topic. Put yourself out there and I can assure you that you WILL benefit from the effort. Outside of self-promotion another worthy effort is to mentor younger people with your expertise. It takes a leader to recognize the value in helping others grow. It's rewarding on many levels.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How To Check If Someone's A Scam

I got a call today from a person looking to get my business advertising using Facebook. While it was an interesting call, I don't buy on the face of one call. I like to check things out and IF I'm interested I will get back to them.

I found this great site where I can enter a URL and it will give me an analysis as to how much I should trust them. It said about 63% trustworthy. I entered my own URL and was pleased that it returned a 100% trustworthy rating. It shows some interesting things. I bookmarked it for future reference. We can never be too careful.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Check Your Brand Positioning in 5 Minutes

Understanding brand positioning is very important if you want to correct misconceptions and off-brand opinions of your brand. You may have every intention of analyzing your brand to make sure that it is in a position of strength by participating in scientific research to that end. But first as a litmus test, you might find it useful to do a little under the radar analysis to get a quick feel of your stake holder's opinions regarding your brand positioning. We are going to casually ask them.

The idea for this came from a discussion I had with the CEO of an international architectural firm who were coming to terms with their brand. I asked him just what do they do at his firm? He quickly gave me his take (elevator speech) on the firm's qualifications.
I thanked him and asked if he felt that his employees would answer that question in more or less the same way. He thought that maybe they would, but he wasn't certain. I told him to walk up to the first persons he sees the next time he is at his office and ask them, "What do we do here at ABC Company?" I mentioned that he might be surprised by what he hears. 

Now he was intrigued.

It turns out that he went back to his office and made it into a small project. He assigned a manager to do exactly what I suggested, but on a larger scale. He asked several dozen employees "the question." The answers fed his appetite for a better understanding of how his own people viewed their brand for better or worse. The result of "the question" spurred him on. To finish off this exercise he asked the same question of his 250 shareholders. Most of whom are engineers, and was pleased to discover that their understanding of what the company did was summed up in a hand full of similar words. They got it.

This simple exercise will show you very quickly how strong your brand positioning is and whether it may need updating or not. Of course, you don't have to make it into the kind of exercise I outlined above in my example, but just by asking an innocent question, you can find out an enormous amount of information about your brand. The fact is, nobody ever asks. Your brand just chugs along, swaying back and forth in the marketplace and unless you pull in in for analysis from time to time, you simply fail to recognize when it goes off center.

Don't be afraid to ask. Try it and come back here and let us all know what you've discovered. Do your people get it or does your brand positioning need a little tweeking? Do it today.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Does Web Viagara Exist For Your Brand?

I'm having great fun promoting my new book, "101 Branding Tips" (blatant promo). My main store front for distribution is Amazon. I am working on the Kindle version at the moment. Amazon presents a number of challenges. The biggest being easily found there. Like Google, it all hinges on search and your rankings with Amazon.

In my research for answers I've come across many intriguing programs, promotions and quick fixes. All of these seem fascinating. But a common thread reveals itself. Can real benefit actually come from some of the schemes? I know from past research on other goals, the truth always boiled down to "nothing gets good results outside of hard work."

We are all tempted by the quick fix, because the web is daunting in its size and complexity. Our desire to win, sometimes teases us into finding that nugget of wisdom that lands us at the top of the rankings. I've discovered that it is possible to rank high, but not for the  long term. It is fleeting at best. Consistent rankings and success, results solely from sweat. Work hard at your goals and results are your reward. I've never spoken with anyone who got there over night and sustained the momentum. I have my doubts that viagra for the web exists.

That leaves us with the natural solution - hard work and determination. Fine tune your strategies and strike at what ever opportunities present themselves. Make your exposure field wide and benefits reveal themselves. Three weeks out and I'm already seeing results of my efforts. My book has moved from being "a book" to being a fantastic opportunity to build my influence. Some have called it a 114 page brochure. Funny how things change.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Hijack My Subscriber List?

I've had my weekly mailing to my subscribers hijacked by competition over the last few weeks. For as clever as it was, I can't see what the benefit was. I won't give the guilty party any more free publicity, but as a branding 'professional' how does this activity square with your values?

Thank heavens I know a bit about html code, to know what to check for. I've also had the good fortune to have subscribers alert me to this episode and offer their help to correct the situation. A hacker is understandable - it's what they do. But feeding off my subscriber list seems way too seedy to me form a peer. I hope it was worth it.

What were you thinking?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Embrace The Limb

Considering all the words I write on branding, essentially all I'm saying is that if you're not playing, you're losing. That's not to say that  you're not successful, but that you're not being the best you can be. I'm saying that marketing can be a little easier when you compete as a leader not a follower. 

Most companies advertise by using campaigns to inspire consumers to buy in the moment. They use any number of proven techniques to get the attention of you the consumer. A number of these techniques have even taken on a life of their own. Ie: When something is new and improved, or there's 50% more etc., you see these statements contained in a burst, or a banner, or a peeled back page - these visual gimmicks are called violators in the industry. There are violator companies out there, who do nothing but generate these cues. Color is used for its psychological effects, sound and smell are often brought into play. Tantilizing visuals are also used to stir those emotions. As this paragraph outlines, there are any number of tried and true ways to advertise and they are consistently used by everyone who advertises. 

The one thing that every advertisers does not use is positioning. 


Because to position wisely, you must be a leader. As we see in life, not everyone is cut out to be a leader. There are vastly more followers than leaders. Many businesses like the tried and true. They don't enjoy going out of their comfort zone and they pay a high price for this. It is much easier to do nothing and be content with what you have. A lot of people are afraid of "Leader" because they fear being called out on it. This is  a just fear if they're really not a leader, but are pretending to be. It's not enough to say you are the Leader, you must BE the leader. Act like one and win like one. Without knowing it, we all lead in some way. It's within all of us. Maybe it's the 'no brag rule' that our Mother's instilled in many of us, or a childhood shyness we never quite outgrew. If you ache for your brand to lead, then positioning should be a must-do in your business bucket-list.

This is where I typically come into the picture in the role of Brand Consultant. I take heads of companies through the maze of their business environment and deliver an awareness of their brand. This clarity provides the fuel that satisfies their hunger to lead. Often times, the positioning developed accurately reflects an area, they currently dominate but have not articulated effectively. I inspire them to "bold-up" as it were. If you couple the Leadership Positioning with traditional marketing, then you have a very powerful message to resonate with customers. Without positioning you are simply one of many. Your competitors are many as well. Without Positioning, everyone is saying the same thing in different ways. All the slogans while inspirational, don't resonate. Leading gives the customer something to embrace and understand your value. 

As a category leader, you must embrace the limb. That is to say, you have to climb out onto the limb first, then with all confidence embrace it. To benefit from this precarious location you have to put in place processes that encourage and sustain your leadership. Brands grow or decline with time. Depending on the foundation laid out, your brand will go in one of these directions. Establish a strong set of Brand values and stick with them. The leadership position you embrace, must where to these values as they are the foundation defined.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is Your Brand Believable?

I'm struck lately by large companies who say one thing but clearly speak out of the other sides of their mouth. It strikes me that some PR person or ad agency is advising them to put a great spin on everything. Say it enough times and the masses will believe them. Reality has nothing to do with it. It's all about the spin. It's also timely that it's election season in the U.S. and many of the negative ads are also following this pattern. It doesn't matter that Anderson Cooper is "Keeping them honest," drive it home enough times and it sticks. Sometimes.

Oil companies are incredulous how, on one hand their spin tells us how much they care about us and their beloved homeland (whether that's Canada or the United States). They proudly outline how many jobs they create, how they support community, how much they influence innovation and on and on and on. Then they jack up the price at the pumps and collectively drive the economy into the ground. Everything comes from oil. If they "really" cared, they would charge a fee that allows them to make an honest profit, but not hold the world economy hostage. They would be an honourable citizen partner. But greed is really their brand. Wait until gas is $15 -$20 a gallon, wow, just think of all the great things they'll be able to do for us.

Airlines too are heavy into speaking out of two sides of their mouths. Siting in your seat watching the CEO of the airline on the video spew out how much he appreciates your business, and then rambles on about how great they are and how wonderful they are -  blah, blah, blah. What is incredulous here is that while you listen to this tripe, the hostesses are trying to sell you a pillow to use. A few dollars more for a headset. Earlier in your trip you were subjected to: pre-boarding fees, extra luggage fees, long lines and the humiliation of security. I had a friend recently who clicked the wrong button by mistake when purchasing a ticket online, only to be told it would cost $250. to make a correction. Today the worst part of any trip is the flight. They have sucked the pleasure out of it.

None of us can afford to have a brand that relies on spin to try and fool our customers. Airlines and oil companies know that for the foreseeable future we have no choice. They can play their games and win. BUT, there will come a time where they will fall, and fall hard. When faced with a choice our customers will show their dissatisfaction with their feet. You'll get no second chance. If it is your intention to make your brand shine for years and decades to come it has to be built on authenticity. Your values have to be rock solid. Thank heavens most brands do exactly that. 

One thing that greed brands do is is serve as an awesome mirror for everyone else. They reflect on how not to do it. Holding your brand up to them, allows you the opportunity to do the polar opposite and be great.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fiverr Comes Through in Branding promotion

I'm in the throws of developing a promotion strategy for my new book, "101 Branding Tips - practical advice for your brand that you can use right now." I was browsing through and came across this dynamic duo who made me chuckle and I decided to give it a go. Well all I can say is see for yourself. I think they did a fabulous job. I aim to make a series of six. Let me know here what you think of the idea. I wanted something on Youtube that was light-hearted.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Designing A Very Public Logo For London, England

I read with great interest the very public way London, England is developing it's new logo. It has at its basis the tried and true "I Love NY" logo. After the public out-cry and backlash the city fathers received from their Olympic logo, they decided to involve the public in this next one. I believe this to be a very bad idea. Look beyond the fact that you simply can't satisfy everyone. Designing a logo has much more going for it than simply coming up with an attractive image. A lot of the brand has to be incorporated into it. And any reputable designer will tell you that designing by a committee is a recipe for failure. Mediocrity can result in playing it safe to appease a public. And you couldn't get a bigger committee than Twitter. To their credit, the powers that be, have assembled a panel of designers to flush out all the comments and suggestions and come up with a consensus design.

I'm sure the public are loving this one. They get to be a part of the process, all be it - a process they keenly don't understand. Frankly, I believe it is wrong headed. Asking the stake holders at large and because it's Twitter (the world) is asking for trouble. Professional designers can do exactly what is needed without input from the entire world. Many would argue, including the public that their opinion will deliver to them what they want. I contend that the public doesn't know what it wants. In this case they know they like "I Love NY" so of course they try and "copy" that. The public en mass have no imagination. Given the public's love of all things Apple these days, it might come as a surprise to many that the great Steve Jobs NEVER asked for the public's opinion on any of their products. Apple never holds focus groups or surveys to determine product and design decisions. Henry Ford summed it up perfectly, when he said, "If I had asked them what they wanted, they would have said Faster Horses." The most powerful way to engage the public (stake holders) is to invigorate them with powerful images that they would never have envisioned. Deliver the unexpected. 

Say what you will about the hated London Olympic logo, it IS original thinking. It did inspire conversation. Myself I'm not a fan. Focusing on the date not the location left me flat. BUT, I appreciate the effort and the process in which it was created. Sometimes you miss - that's all. 

I'm anxiously awaiting the outcome of London's logo experiment.  I have my favourite from what I saw. What ever they come with, I hope that it fulfills the goals set for it. I'd hate to see them doing this again in a few years. I'm also thinking out loud that if they have a problem with the brand - the logo is not the issue. Changing it will not resolve brand issues.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Branding Yourself Online

This is the presentation I use when discussing Branding Yourself Online.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Forget the logo, it's the brand that's costing you money!

To a lot of graphic designers and advertising agencies, brand and logo are interchangeable. To be clear they should be referring to your brand image or your brand logo - there is a difference. A logo is just a small part of your overall corporate brand. Simply put, your brand is essentially your reputation in the marketplace. It is affected by all of your stake holders (customers, employees and suppliers).  If I stop a person on the street and ask them what your brand is, I am looking for them to tell me what their understanding of your company is. If I were to ask you what you feel about Detroit and you reply, "Murder City". That is it's brand. The brand may or may not be true, but it is the perception at this point in time. 

The same is true with Detroit's brand. It may not be true that it is the Murder Capital, but over the years the city has allowed it's brand to be determined by outside forces. Movies, comedians and the media in general have used Detroit as their whipping post for all that is wrong with urban blight in America. Your ultimate job is to constantly have your finger on the pulse of your brand. You simply can't afford to allow the marketplace to define you. The goal is to have a strong brand - one that makes you money.

Cities have what is called a 'place brand'. It's been said that our own community has a poor brand. You don't have to agree with the assessment, but you'd be a fool to ignore it. We have allowed the marketplace to define our city's brand. Windsor has to address it's poor brand directly, it can't be 'spun' out of existence. The root causes must be addressed.  The problem with a less than accurate brand story is, the very audience you want to become advocates, feel betrayed and become ardent critics.  

All of these scenarios are brand issues and are why smart companies are sitting up and taking notice. Any smart company who brushes off branding as merely a buzz word is passing the baton to their competitors. It has been said that the fasted way to kill a bad product is with great advertising. You can't fool 'em twice no matter how pretty a face you put on it.

In the industrial heartland that is southwestern Ontario, smart companies are engaged in initiatives that position their brands as leaders. In discussions with Peter Berry, President of OB1 Consulting, a respected Risk Management Expert, it was pointed out to me that companies who want their brands recognized as leaders in Green Initiatives, Compliance issues and Cross-Border Efficiency are also companies who are serious about taking control of their brand and how it is used. Many of these risk initiatives are used as effective differentiators when promoting the the corporate brand image. These pro-active companies are not waiting for bad things to happen to their brands, things that will cost them an enormous amount of money to fix and in some case cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential lost revenue due to hits on their brands. They are reducing risk now and reaping the brand payoffs. Having a strong brand in the first place will determine if these storms can be weathered. 

Here are 10 things you need to do to gain an insight on your brand:

1) Resist changing your brand logo. The problem is much deeper than that.

2) What are your stake holders saying about your brand? Ask them. Stake holders include employees, customers and suppliers.

3) Tomorrow morning ask the first staff member you see, "what do we do here at...?" Their answer may startle you.

4) Do a risk assessment to determine if there are areas of compliance and opportunity that might increase your brand strength among your market.

5) Are you suffering from any brand negatives? Are these issues keeping you up at night?

6) If you are currently putting a happy spin on your marketing, make sure it reinforces your brand values. 

7) You do have brand values don't you?

8) Do you have an effective differentiator? (this is key to branding properly)

9) Do a visual analysis to address brand issues with inconsistencies.

10)  Strengthen your brand. It invigorates staff and makes them passionate advocates for you.

Remember you have a brand whether you want one or not, your goal is to define yourself.  If you don't, your competition will do it for you - and that's never a good thing. Where do you fit in, in all of this?

Friday, July 27, 2012

How To Start Your Business With A Great Brand

The world is mired in a recession, but opportunity is everywhere. All around me, I'm meeting people who are starting a business. They refuse to let the economy deter them - as a matter of fact, frequently it is the result of the poor economy that has presented opportunity to them. Where doom and gloomers see defeat, entrepreneurs rise to the challenge. It is these very bold attitudes that are the basis for powerful brand values. It is these values that will be the foundation of your new brand and upon them; a new successful business will flourish.

Basing everything on these values, an entrepreneur must dream up a great name for their new venture. The name should inspire your intended audience. It should be memorable. Your name is important as it identifies the brand.

Having decided on a catchy name, next comes the logo. Since the logo is the visual component of your brand name, it must accurately reflect the brand name. It too, must inspire. If you use an icon in your logo (ie: Apple's apple and the Nike swoosh) try to keep it simple. In deciding a palette it is best to keep the image to two or three colors. This makes it easier on the eye. A full range of color, just over complicates. The logo should work as effectively in black and white and gray tones. It must be legible at any size. Color is a very powerful icon that can also represent a brand (ie: UPS's brown). Color should convey the personality of the brand.

Once the logo is complete, how it looks and feels sets the tone for everything else you do. From your website to your marketing materials, everything follows the corporate color palette. Consistency is paramount here. Deterring from your palette dilutes your brand and confuses your intended audience. Imagery used is determined from the brand personality. Even the way you tell your story should be consistent with your brand efforts to date. If you have a very traditional, old world image, how you speak in your marketing should reflect this attitude. The tone is as important as the intent. At this stage of your brand development, you are the absolute master of your destiny. Be sure that it jives with your brand values. To do otherwise wouldn't make sense in the marketplace.

To get the message out, the modern entrepreneur must embrace on and off-line strategies to develop their personal and professional brands. Off-line they must develop personal, and business networks to extend their reach. Joining professional organizations will go a long way in establishing that all important local presence you will need. Give back to your community through actively participating in influential not-for-profits. Many of these organizations have people of influence on their boards. If your audience is predominantly female, then you would want to market to professional women's groups, and the places they congregate. If you are a woman yourself, membership is key.

Don't forget print marketing, speaking engagements, radio, television shows and special events are also effective ways to market your brand.

Online is a fantastic place to grow your personal brand by feeding your expert profile. There is no better way than blogging. Also, social media such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook gives an entrepreneur a perfect platform to display their expertise. Your website MUST be more than a brochure site. It should provide your audience with tools that help them grow. It has to prove that your brand is more than the competing brand. Show your expertise. A blog allows you that platform to put your opinion out there. Writing white papers and ebooks is another great tool in drawing in an audience. What is exciting is most of your competition do NOT have these tools on their radar.
Google them and see that many websites are simply brochure sites.

Using ebooks, white papers, audio and video as lures for email harvesters, you can build your own niche audience of targeted individuals and companies. The opt-in email list is dynamite because it is exactly whom you want to talk to. Breaking your list down even further only makes your marketing efforts more powerful. Email marketing should definitely be one of your premium avenues for promoting your brand. Affiliate sales, on-line networking (ie: are incredible ways to get your brand known around the world.

Actively pursue alliances to jointly promote events to an online audience doubles your effectiveness. Personally I have several partnering efforts in motion with companies in different parts of the world. Our efforts not only increase our potential markets to earn new business, but it also expands our range of influence.

For more information on Branding sign up for my weekly branding tip: Ed Roach's Two Cents Worth. Valuable tips that you can use in your business today. Some of which we touched on here. Your brand is a terrible thing to waste. Be sure that everything is consistent including your tone and message. This will make it cheaper and more powerful to promote. Look for assistance online for every aspect of your business plan. The resources at your fingertips are reasonable in cost and immensely beneficial. If you are looking to build a team for your new business, look not further than an associate of mine, who just launched her new blog: Break Through BusinessProviding this link to a friend's blog, is another form of cross-promotion. EVERY effort has long term benefit.

I hope that you enjoy your business as much as I. Building your brand properly can be very rewarding.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

5 Baby Steps to focused Corporate Branding

How much time and effort have you put out to improve your business? We have all attended conferences, seminars and networking events. Of all these efforts to fine tune ourselves how many have we actually implemented? Recently a fellow business person showed me a wonderfully large binder on marketing yourself. They spent $1,000.00 on this binder. It's all great information. The trouble is this person never actually implemented the strategies and processes contained in the binder. They read it, they went through all the tele-conferences associated with it, but it all ended with the last page and now sits collecting dust on a shelf.

How many of you reading this article and other articles on this blog actually use the great wisdom offered here? We're all guilty of it, we love the process of investigation - it makes us feel good that we are doing something about what we know is holding our companies back. But doing it is hard work and heck, don't we work hard enough already. Honestly I don't know if it is the fear of success or a lack of understanding. Focusing your brand doesn't have to be done over night, but can be done in baby steps. Here are a few suggestions to analyze your corporate brand in small bites, when you have the time:

1) Get a feel for who your brand is - as you walk past employees and suppliers ask them, "What do we do here?" This will give you a fix on where your corporate brand is right now. (Time to execute: 2 minutes)

2) Here is a gutsy one. Next time your talking to a customer, ask them, "If we no longer existed would you miss us?" Let's see what conversation this sparks. (Time to execute: 2 minutes)

3) Go on the web with a list of competitors that impact your company. Make another list of their positioning statements (slogans). Do any sound familiar? Do you see your own shared with others? If things sound very familiar, you're probably not leading as much as you think. (Time to execute: 15 minutes per competing site)

4) Stay on the web and go to your website. Have your mission statement next to you as well as your marketing materials. Take an overall look at everything as a group. Is all the imagery consistent? Are the corporate colors consistent across all pieces?
Do the messages reflect the mission statement? Are the any conflicting statements? This will give your corporate brand a sort of mini physical. Consistency is power in branding, inconsistency delivers a mixed message in the minds of your customers.
(Time to execute: 20 minutes)

5) We are still on the web. Take that list of competitors again and go to each of their sites and write down what the predominant 
colors are that they are using. When complete, write down your colors also. See where every company resides. One industrial client we did this for resulted in 74% of them using the color blue. We do this exercise with a spectrum chart. What this will show is where your color opportunities are if you would like to differentiate color as a strategy. I refer to it as a color opportunity.
(Time to execute: 5 minutes per site)

Now, if you do these 5 simple investigations you will have a great taste of the health of your corporate brand. You will know if your employees get it, if your favorite customers love you, if your positioning statement makes your corporate brand stand out, if your brand image is consistent across different media and if you are leading or following with your corporate colors.

Not bad for what is essentially a few hours work. The results may spur you on to discover more or they may convince you that maybe things aren't too bad after all. Don't do all 5 in the same day, maybe just one a week. 

The point is - just don't read about branding - use the advice you discover and try one or two things to help drive more business. Come back and share your results with us.

I can help.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How To Be A Miserable Brand In 25 Steps!

1. Constantly complain about the economy.
2. Find the cheapest logo you can buy.
3. Keep your customers on hold.
4. Always sell on cheapest price.
5. Ignore any networking opportunities.
6. Don't volunteer for anything.
7. Stop meeting regularly with your staff.
8. List everything under the sun that you do.
9.  Avoid giving free advice.
10. Play with different colours in your brand image.
11. Do everything on the cheap - don't even try to look successful.
12. Don't put your logo on anything.
13. Don't join organizations that may benefit you.
14. Ignore negative comments made about your brand on social media.
15. Be grumpy all the time at the office.
16. Don't return emails or phone calls.
17. Don't ask for the business.
18. Don't actively look for leaders among your staff.
19. Don't even think of public speaking.
20. Advertise as many messages as you can.
21. Don't give cutomers any more value than they pay for.
22. Don't sell outside of your comfort zone.
23. Think small.
24. Look for the worst in everything.
25. Don't lead - follow!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Check out my New Book, "101 Branding Tips!"

Click HERE and see a preview of my new book, "101 Branding Tips, practical advice for your that you can use today!" Order it directly from

If you're looking for ways to make your brand stand out and keep you moving forward to your goals, the book provides you with 101 ways to do just that.

This is what Annie Bartlett, the Company Doctor says about my tips:
"You know, Ed, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I love your tips. They’re easy to wrap your brain around and actionable immediately. What more could you want?"

and Greg Stojanov, Electra Supply:
"Ed's collection of branding tips is long on experience, you would think Warren Buffet was discussing this book when he said, "price is what you pay, value is what you get."

and Mikel Smith, Nature Baked:
"My 2 cents? Ed Roach is a branding genius! Each tip is simple to understand, easy to apply to our branding strategy, and highly effective. We start every branding meeting with one of Ed's tips and it always unfailingly provides each meeting with a solid focus for discussion." quote a few.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How The Brand Benefits From Brand Positioning

Are you still selling with slogans attached to logos? While inspiring, a slogan doesn't usually take much of a position. That job is left to positioning strategies. What is a positioning strategy? They are a strategy where by the brand takes a position that resonates with it's target audience. That position sometimes puts your brand out on a limb or boldly states a fact such as: the leader in something. Or the only something. When I develop positioning strategies, I love the leadership variety. Most people enjoy working with the leaders. 

What are you the leader in? Are you the only service to offer something? Remember Domino's Pizza at their beginning? 30 minutes or it's free! Domino's realized that essentially, pizza is pizza. By positioning with 30 minutes or it's free they went from a pizza business to a delivery business. Customers couldn't resist the fact that if no pizza arrived at their threshold in 31 minutes they got a free pizza. That is a resonating message. They were they only ones to do that.

Apple's positioning was the design itself. From the beginning Apple products were distinctly different. That aesthetic appealed to the graphic industry. The operating system was graphic based. Their inspiring slogan, "Think Different" complimented their positioning. 

Like all positioning, it has to be based in reality. If you are different, if you deliver or it's free you must indeed do these things. Your brand must be authentic. Your own positioning strategy is no doubt based on what customers love about you now. Focus and narrow your field to harness a position that resonates. This will deliver additional profit and move your brand forward. It is also very exciting for all stakeholders. They willingly step up to the plate take the challenge to succeed.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Getting The Branding Tips Book Out

For the last couple of years I've been working on getting a book out of my weekly branding tips. It's called, "101 Branding Tips." It's just come back from Kim, my editor. She's been very helpful. With 101 tips I had a heck of a time knowing whether I had repeated one or two. (Turns out 18 were repeats). Who knew?

The next step is to send it off to for printing. It's been an interesting journey. Slowly amassing the needed tips. Each one is a little nugget of wisdom. My goal of course is to launch it in July. Having a book in hand, is great for your expert profile. I plan on using it to get more speaking engagements. It's another way of getting my brand influence out there. Having an actual hardcopy book puts you in another league. Customers appreciate the discipline it takes to put your opinions in a volume.  Any of us can produce a book these days. We are after all an expert in our category. Self-publishing also makes it financially possible to become a author. 

The only real barrier if ourselves. If you start assembling notes today, in a few months you too could have a book to push out to your audience. See you at the book launch!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

7 Business Lessons Learned From “Celebrity Apprentice”

While you might not want to take any hair-care tips from the Donald Trump show, Celebrity Apprentice, there are plenty of other lessons to be taken away from the reality competition. Whether you love Trump or hate him all the way down to his money-coated core, there’s no doubt that he knows the business world. Even if you just watch Celebrity Apprentice to see all the ridiculous breakdowns and celebrity catfights, you can pretend that you’re watching it to glean practical business advice. If anyone questions that, just mention these business lessons you’ve learned from the show. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why Are Daily Newspaper Brands Failing?

The digital age in daily newspapers is dawning and they don't appear to get it yet. It reminds me of the music industry prior to iTunes and in the middle of the Napster era. I'm astonished at their ignorance or self-inflicted blindness maybe. About three years ago I spoke in Prague about how the newspaper industry should look to developing niche-audiences to package digital content and deliver it to them efficiently. The audience were editors from around the world. Sadly the message was received politely but from my perspective with not much enthusiasm. From my research at the time there was a paper in the Chicago area who were using bloggers to generate custom content for each of the city's districts. They got it.

I attended a local business event recently where Paul Godfrey, the CEO of Postmedia spoke on the newspaper industry. The evening was upbeat and positive. Mr. Godfrey on the other hand took to the podium and unleashed his distain for the audience. He actually stood there and lectured the audience for their lack of advertising support of the Windsor Star. How he favoured the $1. earned from newsprint to the 10¢ earned from digital. From my table and others around me, we took his comments as bitter and resentful. Frankly we thought he missed the boat. The cost of the $1 (newsprint, ink, printing plant, distribution etc.) seemed less impressive to the cost of digital. What ever the financial model the message was clear, their brands were suffering and they intended on blaming the user and charge them more for their precious content, in the form of paywalls. (Charging for the amount of content read).

What the newspaper don't seem to understand is that to get the news today we don't need them. We have independent bloggers and world wide access to news. Personally, I just recently cancelled my newsprint subscription in favour of the digital version. I cut my cost in half. The sadness is that the experience is exactly the newsprint version. No extras. National geographic gets digital in their experience - the stories, extended stories, video, interactive, audio and more. The cost is vastly less than the print version as well. They get it. 

In my opinion, newspapers have to up their game. Lose the arrogance and start being relevant. i.e.: Our local paper (The Windsor Star) is opening a social cafe in their lobby. The news release said the reporters would be mingling with the general public lounging at the cafe for a latté. A reporter (who shall go un-named) remarked, "I don't want to meet the f**king public!" That my friends is how they see us, and from the remarks of their CEO at the BEA, the attitude starts at the top.

As brands, none of us can have contempt for those who pay our wages. The problem is always within. Mr. Godfrey would be wise to read "Long Tail" by Wired magazine's Chris Anderson. It would be a good start.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

How Turning Your Brand Around Can Be Like A New Pair Of Shoes.

Are you in this precarious position? Sales are flat. You've downsized as much as the business can stand. You've streamlined your processes to be more productive. You and the staff haven't experienced a raise in some time. Moral is tenuous. What to do - what to do? It's a scary position but every entrepreneur carries the word risk with them every day.

About 10 years ago I too was in this position. We wished our sales were flat. They were actually declining and the credit line was growing. We were looking for solutions in a fast changing economy. We discovered an opportunity in attending an industry conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The down side was the cost to attend for the week was in the $10,000 range. At the time the Canadian dollar was $1.40 for every American dollar.  Ouch.  What to do - what to do?

Well we (I had a partner at the time) decided that we already owed a large some of money, what was $10,00 more? What we couldn't do - was nothing. You have to look for opportunities. Sitting back and hoping it will solve itself isn't a smart option. As a matter of fact, a lot of that attitude carried us to this point. The conference topics addressed issues we were trying to tackle on our own. We needed another perspective. We had to talk to others within our industry and see where they stood.

Suffice to say, the conference was an epiphany. We were buried in deep conversation, morning, noon and evening. We were enlightened by similar experiences and brilliant concepts for success. That conference was a turning point for me personally. On our return, we were contacted by a few individuals we met at the conference with an interesting proposal. How would we like to carry on the conversation for the betterment of all? What this question gave birth to was a quarterly meeting with a handful of individuals who for the last ten years, meets every quarter at a member's city and spends an entire friday, brain storming with the sole intention of helping each other succeed. We call the group "MOOB", (Mind Our Own Business). As a matter of fact we meet in Gary, Indiana next friday (May 18th).

Are you letting money hold you back? Are you allowing fear to keep you from embracing a solution that is within your grasp? Are you throwing up barriers where you should be hurtling them? This article was inspired by a call I made recently with a lead I got. They definitely saw the benefit of strengthening their brand and clearly saw how it could increase sales. Short funds held them back. I was perplexed. If you see a path to increased sales, wouldn't it offset the cost of the solution that could get you there? Obviously there are other internal issues holding them back. What ever the dilemma, doing nothing is not the solution. 

Every entrepreneur including myself have been in their shoes. Some of us will bite the bullet and get new shoes. The rest struggle along with worn soles and a scuffed appearance. Nothing delivers like a new pair of shoes and a new attitude. Naturally the fit is important, but once you've done your due diligence, take them out of the box and try them on. It's the first step in a powerful new brand journey. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Contradiction Is A Terrible Brand

It continually comes to my attention that a good deal of businesses don't do as they preach. As a brand (which to my reasoning is your reputation), you have a responsibility to deliver an authentic experience to your marketplace. A basic example of this off-brand thinking is a real estate agent who buys a home from a private seller. When they are out pitching their services they tout the benefits of dealing with a professional sales person on both fronts - buyer and seller. What does this say about their integrity if their system is good enough for you but not them? We see examples of this contradiction every where.

Online I am constantly checking out companies who profess to be brand consultants only to see their own online brands are horribly lacking. They have no positioning strategy. Their images are amateur at best and their presentations make you cringe. What are they telling you by their failure to help themselves? I can't tell the number of business consultants I have been introduced to who don't possess the very success they argue they can achieve for you. Go to any networking event and take a good look around the room. Who among the attendees stand out and draw attention to their brands. Sadly not many.

Recently a client told me of the journey his son is on to choose a university to attend next year. A university is a centre of higher learning, so you'd expect that they would be on top of their brand experience. One that stuck out in their mind and caused them to doubt their priorities was a professor's letter riddled with spelling errors. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. All of that university's efforts to attract great talent was killed by a sloppy presentation. Off-brand action.

I am investigating some sales training for myself. I approached a internationally recognized 'training' organization. I am familiar with their principals, so I was a warm lead from the moment we met. What disappointed me was the lead person I met with broke every principal in their book. Follow-up was lacking as well. I was promised materials to go over to choose my curriculum, but what I thought was forth-coming took 4 days to email me. Four days! Maybe I should be training them. If they cannot live up to their principals, how are they going to convincingly train others? I hope my experience is the exception, because if it's not, their brand will suffer as a result of this.

Another example of contradiction is one that goes way back. Why do advertising agencies advice their clients to advertise for market share while they themselves don't advertise. Can you recall the last time you saw an ad agency advertise for business? 

A brand experience shouldn't be based on, "Do as I say, not as I do." Brands should "Lead by example." Brands of all sorts must follow this credo. To do otherwise is dishonest at the very least.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Book On Sales With A New Twist

Would you even consider reading a book on sales and selling if the author themselves was not a salesperson or at the very least involved with the sales industry? I agree, typically I wouldn't either.
But in his new book "The Art of the Sale," Philip Delves Broughton takes an outsider looking in approach. I really enjoyed this book. Like most books on sales it tells a lot of stories to get a point across. That is probably the only typical angle about this book. Everything else looks at sales from a purely objective point of view. It is this very honesty that I enjoyed.

Broughton is a good listener and it shows here. That said, I guess you could say (at least by Dale Carnegies standards) the author is himself a good sales person. Listening is half the battle. With every book I read I hope tho get at least one nugget of wisdom. In "The Art of the Sale" one nugget I loved was the discussion that "Doing something costs something - and doing nothing costs more." Another (and there are plenty more) is the fact that you should take ownership of your customers problems. It is your duty to help them and make their lives easier. For that they will love you.

"The Art of the Sale" is a good read, and a book that will make you think. Broughtons Business of Life perspective is one I think you might enjoy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gitomer: A Great Service Brand!

Another great Gitomer book!
Last week I attended one of Jeffrey Gitomer's seminars in London Ontario. I've been a fan of Gitomer for quite some time. Twice before I lamely attempted to attend one of his events with little success. This year I made a special effort to book the time to attend. To be sure that I was especially alert for the event I booked into the hotel the evening before. Now it was just a few minutes walk to the festivities.

Suffice to say Gitomer is absolutely entertaining in his delivery. What I especially enjoyed was that his personal brand not only matched his corporate brand but also my perception of him (based on his books) was spot on. His character matched his books. He was authentic. I was one of the first two or three people in the room as it opened. He wasn't waiting in the wings, but at a desk behind his Mac, fine tuning his slides at the front of the room. During this registration period, he spoke and joked with attendees. Posed for pictures and shared stories. Fun to watch.

During the course of the seminar I purchased another of his books and got him to sign it for me. Thank you. Following his seminar, I packed up my little bundle and headed off to another lecture on Social Marketing from another presenter.

Following this final lesson, I made my way to my car for my journey home.

Two and a half hours later, I unpacked my things and realized that I didn't have my new Gitomer book with me. I wanted to show my wife Rose, his autograph. Humph!  I immediately went online and contacted the Gitomer Empire. I asked if I purchased another copy, would they be able to get Jeffrey to sign this copy and send it out to me. They never even skipped a beat - not only would they get Gitomer to sign another copy BUT they would cover the cost of the book and shipping to me. WOW! Gitomer spoke of this level of service during the seminar, but here was his words in action. The young lady I spoke with didn't mention that she would need permission - she just did it. How great is that!

Less than a week later I have that little autographed book in my hands. This is a lesson in service that I take to heart. Do you and your people deliver on your service promise? My blogging of this experience is testament to the effect that great service can have on a customer. I look forward to delivering exceptional service to all who work with me.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blog for Business.

A familiar song that I sing is "Blogging For Business." I definitely get benefit from my blogging efforts. Things you can expect is not only leads but publicity and opportunities. A colleague of mine, Bill Sivell recently was approached by a national Canadian business magazine to write for them on a regular basis. Bill got the opportunity from his blogging efforts. Bill has been blogging less than a year. Blogging will also help your personal brand by enhancing your 'expert profile.'

Search engines also LOVE blogs even when they change their algorithms. Blogs will help you achieve impressive rankings. Blogging is also a free media, but it involves a lot of effort. You also have to commit to write posts on a regular basis. But if it gets you exposure and opportunities, isn't it worth it? Check out Blogger to get yourself setup and running.

I also use blogging as a mood changer for those times when I'm a little uninspired. It puts my head in the right place. Discover your own niche audience and start blogging - I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Feed Yourself First!

It's first thing Monday morning. As I sit here contemplating the week, I'm thinking about what efforts I'm involved with that help my own brand.

I have one networking event, a sales seminar with Jeffrey Gitomer, a peer-to-peer meeting, and a strategic lunch with a connector to determine joint opportunities. Every week I commit to efforts that feed my brand. I consider these to be the physical components of my overall marketing strategy. When ever I am "out there" you would see me in my black attire. This conforms to my brand image. My shirts are a quality black dress shirt with my logo and slogan embroidered on it. I get a lot of compliments on the quality of the shirt. I purposely chose not to wear a golf shirt, but a classy dress shirt.

Online, there's blog articles to write this week for and, a newsletter to get out. On Wednesday my weekly branding tips get delivered at 11am. I regularly comment on discussions in my Linkedin Groups that I subscribe to.

Aside from these efforts, I meet with consulting clients live and via telephone. All of the above efforts are part of feeding myself. I read a lot as well. Everything together keeps me focused and attune to my brand. The wheels are always turning. Most small to medium size enterprises that I consult with, have their strategies for success as well. How do you feed yourself every week? Every week you have to nourish your brand.

What's on your menu?

More blogs about http://brandcorral/