Effective Branding Explained At Last

I don’t know about you, but I like to see some kind of return on my advertising dollar.

(Shockingly, my clients enjoy that too.)

Pictured: unspeakable horrors.

It’s why I specialize in “direct response” advertising – things that clearly show exactly how much profit (or loss) a given campaign has made.

However, there is another school of thought in the marketing world…

One direct-response afficionados like myself see as a small step removed from rituals involving dark sorcery, goat sacrifices, and worst of all, country-and-western music…


There’s several schools of thought by onlookers as to why this schism in the advertising world exists.

Some say it’s because we direct-response guys don’t have the “creative mind” to understand the “quirky” (read: stupid and ridiculous) ways they like to advertise…

Whereas we like to think it’s because the guys in their expensive suits and high-rise offices don’t know crap about moving product.

After all, these are the guys who love to throw around terms like “brand consciousness”, “market penetration”, and “five martini lunch” as soon as clients ask why the hell they’re forking out thousands of dollars for ads that aren’t selling their products.

As an example, the new Old Spice TV ads sent sales DROPPING by a whopping 7% – despite public acclaim and lots of fancy awards.

(Yeah… I wouldn’t want to be the guy who hired them either.)

However, this doesn’t mean branding isn’t an important part of any successful business…

It simply means you have to be very careful who you listen to, since most of the so-called “experts” in the field – people making millions off of their clients – have no idea whether or not what they’re doing is actually working.

Homeless person… or marketing executive? These days, who can tell?

Now, I admit, I’m no expert on branding – I don’t own an “ironic” flannel shirt, stupid hat, or any other “hipster” apparrel necessary to land street cred in that part of the ad world.

But I have helped several clients transform the marketing angles they’ve used to put them in a much more profitable market position.

Now, branding can seem a little arcane sometimes – and frankly, I think the wanna-be “Mad Men” want to keep it that way…

But the concept behind branding is actually pretty simple.

Essentially, it’s a how you make your marketing cohesive, memorable, and looked upon favorably by your target audience.

It’s got nothing to do with ridiculous TV commercials… catchy slogans… or overpriced ad spots.

But it is about the “look” your employees have… the decor in your place of business… the typography on your literature… and a ton of other “incidental” things a lot of people are quick to overlook.

Yes… this stuff matters. Frankly, it can make a huge difference to your bottom line – IF you’re able to put things together in the right way.

See, customers love personality… they love consistency… and they love feeling comfortable. And a solid branding plan is exactly what helps you bring these must-have elements together.

The problem, however, is that it depends to be a creative pursuit that’s difficult to pin down to anything close to an exact science…

Which means you’re dealing with interior designers, graphic artists, and a whole heap of other people who realized being an art major was a poor decision when it came to little stuff like “making the rent”.

How I’m viewed by the majority of graphic designers.

In short, most are driven by the need to be “arty” and creative, as opposed to making money. Sure, they’ll say they’re “too advanced for their time” – and maybe they are. But that won’t help you when your ground-breaking, visionary work space sends clients running to your competitors.

Yes, I work with the aforementioned “arty” types, who are able to balance out my cold, mercenary heart with flair and vision.

But it’s only because I’m constantly prodding them to focus on making money as opposed to creating the Sistine Chapel of websites I’m able to have them make something that brings in the cash.

So how do I manage to consistently curb-stomp their individuality, assuring I can simultaneously make a healthy profit while destroying the dreams they’ve fought so hard to keep alive in the “real world”?

My Bad-Ass Branding Blueprint (TM), of course!

(C’mon… you knew that was coming.)

Here’s the basic idea…

First of all, define the customer you’re selling to.

Are they male or female? What’s their income? How do they dress? What job do they have? Are they married? What does their car look like? What kind of dwelling do they live in? What is their taste in furniture or artwork? What kind of music do they enjoy?

Drill down until you have a living, breathing “character” you can keep in mind when you write promotions. Sure, lots of your prsopects won’t fit this mould exactly. But by keeping the “perfect customer” in your mind while you put together your marketing, you’re able to capture that personal, friendly, one-on-one voice that’s so damn important these days.

Once you’ve done that, try and think like they do – and figure out what parts of the business “resonate” the right way with them.

On the other hand, this is the kind of addition that makes any business look fantastic.

Does the decor in your place of business make you look like a professional outfit, or are your customers expecting to see a guy called Pedro throwing empty whisky bottles at the wall? Does your marketing speak to them as an equal, or do you come off as try-hard by trying to talk “street”? Does your “corporate culture” foster the right kind of attitude, or are your employees spending their lunch hours Googling “how to use my tie to commit suicide”?

In a nutshell, the idea is to ensure customers are almost naturally drawn to you and your business because they feel they “belong” there on an almost subconscious level.

Once you’ve got an idea of what might work, call a professional (unless you or someone on your team has the appropriate experience).

Yes, it costs money – but it might just be some of the best cash you’ve ever spent.

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