1. It “sells itself.” I don’t need to market.

Okay, you might have a solid product or service. You might even routinely satisfy your customers. They might even send their friends and family to you. But wait. Is that your product or service selling itself? No (that is, unless your widgets have learned to speak). That’s one of your customers playing out-of-the-goodness-of-my-heart salesperson for you. Yeah, word-of-mouth is nice, and if it’s happening for you, congratulations! It’s a sign of a great product or service. But relying on it exclusively can hurt you. Yes, six degrees of separation and all that, but counting on those connecting conversations to consistently mention you, especially down the line, is a bad gamble. Word of mouth needs help. A kick in the butt: a reminder to your customers of their good experience with you and an enticing offer to potential new customers to give you a try. Providing this kick is what a well-conceived branding and marketing strategy should do. At Brand Identity Guru (www.brandidentityguru.com), we’ve got some BIG boots.

2. “One of these things…looks just like the other”

You might sell red cars, and Johnny Big Wheel down the street might sell a similar blue car. But what’s under the hood? Even better question: what’s under the hood that makes your better than the blue car? This is the essence of differentiation in the marketplace, and if you’re not playing up the things about you that make you different–and better–than your competition, your marketing is driving nowhere. At Brand Identity Guru (www.brandidentityguru.com), we know how to steer a marketing campaign that leverages differentiation to build your brand and increase your bottom line.

3. Liar, liar, your business is on fire and up and smoke

If you think word-of-mouth is powerfully working for you, it’s just a fraction of the punch a bad buzz can pack. The best way to a bad buzz? Over promising and under delivering. It will kill you. That’s why it’s important to be truthful in your marketing. Say what you can do. Not what you wish you could do, or might be able to do. If you must err, do so on the side of under promising and over delivering.

4. One-trick marketing is like a no-trick magician

It won’t do anything, and people won’t pay to see your show. To get your message to resonate in a 21st century market, you need to make your appeal in every corner the market looks. Print advertising, direct mail, online, telemarketing, public relations, and in person. In every place, a consistent brand image and message.

5. Microsoft Word clipart is for junior high book reports, not corporate identities

A logo is the face of your company, so it must be unique and memorable. Not available for millions to place into whatever bake sale flyer they’re working on at the moment. But a corporate identity is more than a logo. It’s your company’s unique value proposition and its products and services…all instantly recognizable on sight of your logo, name and tagline.

6. Don’t be visually absent

Talk can be cheap if it’s not paired with a strong visual presence. Well-conceived visuals connected with your market makes your message stick, no matter the medium. Brand Identity Guru is an agency that can drench any marketing effort with huge vats of sticky visual honey, even if you’re currently bone dry.

7. The typewriter and telegraph are cool machines, but not to use today

A business owner by nature has to have a little bit of Evil Knievel in him, but when it comes to technology, he or she is often more of a cowardly lion. That’s understandable. You got into your business because you know it, like it and can put food on the table with it. Not because you like to tinker with every new business technological innovation that comes down the pike. However, cutting edge technology can be a powerful profit-generating tool for your business, especially when it comes to marketing, and Brand Identity Guru (www.brandidentityguru.com), can help you find your technological sweet spot to get your message out.

8. If an employee’s 14-year-old son designs your website, it will be painfully obvious

A website must have a nice look, but that’s a small part of a good web presence. You have to give your prospect information they need and close the sale fast. Otherwise, they’ll surf on by to a competitor’s website. In today’s digital marketplace, your website must be an integral part of your overall sales strategy. Not just a token presence. More than ever, prospective customers are researching their buying decisions on the web. If your site doesn’t substantiate who you are and your offerings, educate, inspire and finally motivate your visitors to buy, your online presence isn’t strong enough. Brand Identity Guru (www.brandidentityguru.com), knows how to strengthen it.

9. You have a website, but don’t tell anybody

Having a website is pointless if no one sees it. That’s why it’s just as important to drive traffic to your website as it is to have one. How do you do that? A great way is through traditional advertising like billboards, print ads, signage and printing the web address on all your marketing collateral. Online, there’s search engine optimization, banner ads, online advertorials, keyword purchases, links and cross-promotion strategies. A good mix of online and offline traffic strategies along with solid branding will drive traffic to your website.

10. “I don’t need to be in the paper”

On the contrary, editorial coverage carries more credibility than any kind of paid advertising you can do. Getting it, however, is difficult. Only a well-conceived public relations strategy that targets media outlets your prospective customers frequent will get the job done. But it’s not just about writing press releases. It’s about providing relevant information to the media outlets you’re trying to get into and cultivating relationships with key editors and journalists. If you’re successful, you’ll see your name in print and a bigger number on the bottom line.

11. Branding done yourself is branding done badly

Given the choice of doing branding yourself and not doing it at all, you may be better off not doing it all. There are few things worse for a business than an “amateurish” image, and that’s usually the result with DIY branding. Even if you know how to do some graphic design work or are a decent writer, good branding takes strategic know-how and the finesse and time to get it just right–things only a good branding agency like Brand Identity Guru can offer.

12. If you think your employees aren’t part of your brand…
You’re wrong.

Your brand is the face of your company in every interaction with the outside world, and your employees interact with it quite a bit. On the phone, on sales calls, at schmoozing and networking events, or in informal settings, you must train your employees to represent your company in a way consistent with its brand image. Doing so can ensure you have an army well-groomed brand ambassadors out there.

13. Failing to track your branding campaign’s success can lead to future failure

If you don’t make your market’s reaction to your branding effort your business, your business will suffer mainly because you won’t know where to go next. Successful branding is a constantly evolving process, and if you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’ll continually repeat them–and make more! On the other hand, once you know what your most successful strategies are, you can build off of them. Any branding agency worth its salt will be able to effectively track the success of your campaign.

14. Don’t forget the clients who got you here, keep good relations

As businesses grow, they sometimes forget the little people who contributed to their success. Don’t. Those who got you here can be an invaluable resource to you even if their business isn’t as important as it was. Since they’ve known you for a long time, they can offer valuable counsel as to the future direction your company, such as offering their opinion on new products or services. They can also continue singing your praises as another satisfied customer. Plus, you never know when a little fish might eat a big lunch and become a big fish to you again.

Scott White is President of Brand Identity Guru a leading Corporate Branding and Branding Research firm in Boston, MA.

Brand Identity Guru specializes in creating corporate and product brands that increase sales, market share, customer loyalty, and brand valuation.

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Over the course of his 15-year branding career, Scott White has worked in a wide variety of industries: high-tech, manufacturing, computer hardware and software, telecommunications, banking, restaurants, fashion, healthcare, Internet, retail, and service businesses, as well as numerous non-profit organizations.