Top 10 Brand Building Strategies to Bank BIG in ’09

This week my friend Paul asked me a solid question: “What are your All-Time Top Ten Branding Lessons Learned from 3,000 Days of Nametagging?”

So, I spent some time coming up with a sort of “Greatest Hits” list. Here are ten brand building strategies to BANK in 2009:

1. Approachability wins. We live in a culture of sales resistance. Consumers are skeptical and require confidence before deciding to buy. They’ve been advertised to, marketed to, duped, fooled, conned, scammed, sold and screwed over too many times.

Approachability establishes comfort, creates connections and builds trust.

So: Return emails right away. Call back the same hour. Make communication a relaxing experience. Ask unexpected, penetrating questions. Cultivate your creativity and passion and embed that into the pavement, and people will want to sit in your radius.

Remember: If they can’t come UP to you; how will they ever get BEHIND you?

2. Be That Guy. We live in a hyperspeed, A.D.D. culture. Clients need to know they’re getting YOU. The world demands specialists and people need shortcuts. And that’s exactly what personal brands are.

Ask yourself: Whom are you known TO? What are you known AS? What are you known FOR? What are you known for KNOWING?

Remember: Anonymity is bankruptcy.

It’s not who you know, it’s who knows YOU. You need to create a monthly plan for making people more aware of you. Create a reputation that accurately describes you, often precedes you and humbly serves you when you’re not there.

3. Be The Origin, not The Echo. There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Similarly, in business: The more imitable you are, the less valuable you are.

So: Be un-competable. Be un-confusable. Be un-disputable. Be un-stealable. Be The Only.

The secret is: Don’t be different; be unique. “Different” is something you do intentionally; unique is something you are inherently. Being “different” is for amateurs. Extract and magnify your uniqueness.

4. Create Points of Dissonance (POD). Curiosity is a natural motivator of human engagement. So, there’s a certain dissonance when people observe an unexpected or unexplained behavior. And THAT dissonance in increases the probability of an encounter. Because people just HAVE to ask. They just GOTTA to know.

So, it’s about stimulating curiosity, breaking patterns and attracting interest. The goal is to create a fulcrum point from which the conversation can advance. Because before someone gets to the “Aha!” about what you do and who you are, they have to be captivated by the “Huh?”

This permission is a valuable asset because people’s time and attention are being vied for by an infinite amount of forces. Ultimately, it’s about leveraging remarkability to trigger an emotional engagement.

5. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. Focus (first) on the WHAT, and the HOW will eventually appear.

Here’s why: The “WHAT” can be defined right away; the “WHAT” can lead to immediate action; and the “WHAT” can lay groundwork for the “HOW” to materialize.

Here’s how: Dare to do it badly.

Which might mean making an idiot of yourself. Spending time paying your dues. Which might mean fighting your attitude of instant gratification. Seeking progress, not perfection. Which might mean asking for feedback to find out where you suck.

Remember: Ideas are free; execution is priceless.

6. Fans, not customers. More Fans = Less Selling. You need fans; and you need to give them megaphones. Fans are people who will do your marketing for you, encourage and support everything you do, and most importantly, tell all their friends to become fans of yours too.

The secret is three words: Build a following.

Don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Post on your blog everyday, because writing is the basis of all wealth. Practice Fanagement 101 by asking for people’s email so they become part of your permission asset, then constantly delivering a value message.

7. Get a cool company name. If your company name contains words like “Solutions,” “Associates” and “Communications,” you send the following messages to the world: (1) You’re lazy, (2) you’re amateur, (3) You’re unoriginal and (4) You’re uncreative.

You don’t want a generic company name. Generic names = generic products. And generic products = generic value. And generic value = generic service. And generic service = generic business And generic businesses … rarely stay in business.

If people don’t react in SOME way when they see the name of your company, change your name.

8. Make the mundane memorable. If you consistently do this through all of your touchpoints, or brand moments, here’s what happens: (1) Customers start talking. (2) Employees have more fun. (3) The brand lives and breathes in a new way. (4) Uniqueness shine through. (5) Loyalty increases.

The secret is: Nobody notices normal.

Positioning yourself as “normal” is like asking customers to find a need in a stack of needles.

Remember: Those who get noticed get remembered; and those who get remembered get business.

9. People buy people first. Find a way to lead with your person and follow with your profession. Values before vocation. Individuality before industry. Personality before position.

Ultimately, every interaction you have with somebody either adds to or subtracts from the positive perception of your brand.

Remember: People don’t buy from, trust or have loyalty to COMPANIES, but rather, people.

10. Shtick must be supported by substance. The word shtick is defined as “A characteristic attribute, talent, gimmick or trait that is helpful in securing recognition or attention.”

But shtick is not enough. Shtick needs substance. Shtick doesn’t sustain you. Shtick only sells temporarily. Sure, shtick is catchy and cool and clever and fun and different.

But in business, that will only carry you so far. Sure, shtick might get you in the door. But in marketing, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll stay in the room. Only VALUE and SUBSTANCE can do that.

In business, you CAN’T be all sugar. Customers want value. Customers want substance. Customers want to take a few licks and then discover your Tootsie center.

How will you build your brand to bank BIG this year?

For the list called, “12 Dangerous Doozies to Avoid in 2009,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

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