Tag Archive | lifestyle

The Basics of Branding

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

branding

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials–all of which should integrate your logo–communicate your brand.

Brand Strategy & Equity

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.

Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.

The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.

Defining Your Brand

Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider leveraging the expertise of a nonprofit small-business advisory group or a Small Business Development Center .

Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:

  • Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
  • Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
  • Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
  • Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
  • Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
  • Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.

By John Williams for Entrepreneur.com

Staying healthy at work

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Work can be a place where healthy habits fly out the window. Despite the daunting task of making time to take care of yourself, you’ll find yourself happier and more productive if you do.

Consider these five tips for staying healthy at work.

Hydrate

There’s a decent chance you don’t get enough water either because you don’t take in enough liquid daily or because you substitute water with carbonated beverages and other sugary drinks.

“Drinking lots of water is a secret weapon that helps you avoid adding calories throughout the day, says Jacqueline Twillie, author of “Navigating the Career Jungle.” “Not to mention the extra trips to the restroom from all of the water will help you to take mini breaks from your desk, so that you can recharge and go back to being productive in the office.”

Give yourself a break

Just because your schedule makes you feel like you should jump robotically from one task to the next without so much as a bathroom break doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

“Set a timer to force yourself to STOP! -every 30-45 minutes, the alarm (could be kitchen egg timer or an app) reminds you to stop, stretch, and take a break…walk the dog if you work from home, leave the office for a quick walk, or meditate with an app like Calm (on the app store)…allow yourself to refocus,” suggests Stacy Lindenberg, chief change agent and owner of Talent Seed Consulting.

Meditate

Whether you’re closing your eyes to pick a mantra, an intention, or giving yourself a moment of silence, you’re helping yourself. “This practice speaks to mental health,” says Maren Showkeir, and author and a certified yoga instructor.

“Meditation, even for short periods, has many benefits, including increasing the ability to stay focused, calm and non-reactive. It can lower heart rates and blood pressure. It can increase lung capacity. And it’s backed by research.”

Work together

“We like to encourage collaboration in our office, so we meet monthly to discuss new ways for our office to remain in a healthy state (physically and mentally),” shares CEO Tony Sorensen of Versique Search and Consulting. “One of our employees teaches yoga, and offers a class free to co-workers during lunch hour. We also have friendly office competitions like ‘The Biggest Loser’ to those willing to participate and join the movement.”

Put down the sugar

Eating healthy food instead of sugary snacks keeps you from hunger pangs and overeating, says speaker and fitness professional Lorraine Bossé-Smith. “Sugar is an immune suppressor, so you are more likely to get sick when you partake in too many sweets. Lastly, add glutamine to your routine by drinking a glass of water with one teaspoon of the powder mixed in once a day.” Getting older means a significant decrease in our production of glutamine, which boosts the immune system, so consider adding this supplement to your daily routine, advises Bossé-Smith.

 

By Hannah Hamilton for Monster.com