Elaine Fogel

brand identity

Stick to the Brand Name Your Customers Recognize

Glue bottle - brand nameWhether you are a small business or nonprofit professional, building and sustaining your organization’s brand reputation is essential to your success. Without the big bucks that corporations have to invest, your brand name is a big part of the brand recognition process, so using it consistently is important.

Your organization may offer many products, services, and/or programs, perhaps with a variety of names. How do you market them? Which brand name do you use when you answer the telephone, sign your emails, print your letterhead, post in your social media accounts…?

Here’s an example of what NOT to do. My retired father subscribes to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). When it didn’t arrive yesterday, he asked me to follow up.

I logged into the account I set up for him and the system didn’t recognize the log-in information, so I started a live chat with a WSJ representative. Here’s how the beginning went:

Visitor: My father did not receive his paper this morning and I tried logging on for him but I wasn’t successful. His account number is #xxx. 

Katie: Thank you for contacting Dow Jones. 

Visitor: Dow Jones? 

Katie: Yes Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal is owned by Dow Jones.

At first, I thought I had clicked the wrong chat button on the WSJ Web site. The fact that the publication is owned by Dow Jones means nothing to me. As a customer, I was calling The Journal.

It made me wonder how many times the chat personnel had to explain the same thing to other subscribers - subscribers who are interested in the business world but may not be attuned to all of Wall Street’s mergers and acquisitions. What a waste of productivity time as well as creating confusion about the brand name.

It wasn’t until I researched this online did I discover an article on Reuters about Dow Jones, including quotes from its CEO, Lex Fenwick.

‘The WSJ.com is now mainly a consumer website that carries a selection of stories from Newswires but far from the entire feed. The goal of the project, dubbed “Grand Central,” is to crack open new markets using the brand cachet of the Journal,’ Fenwick said.”

What can your small business or organization learn from this experience with the WSJ?

If a huge corporation can confuse customers with its brand and sub-brand names, your small organization could create even more confusion without brand name consistency.

So, stick to one brand name, whenever you can, to build brand recognition on a tight budget.

Does your small business or nonprofit use a variety of brand names? If so, how? How do your target audiences know the difference?

Brand Mutiny at Smaller Organizations

So, you work at a smaller business or nonprofit organization, and you think brand management is only for large corporations? NOT! Brand management is as important in smaller orgs as it is for the “big guys.”

Let’s say your organization or company has taken the time to develop a sense of its brand. Now, it may not have gone through a branding process to develop a brand architecture, promise, etc., but perhaps it has developed a brand image. That’s a good start. Even better if the image and identity were developed with input from a variety of stakeholders.

So, let’s say your org has different departments, albeit, smaller ones. And, let’s say that a couple of these departments are considered sub-brands to the main brand. Examples: A swimming pool building business that has a separate department (sub-branded company) for on-site pool services; or a private school that has different programs with different names than the parent brand.

What happens when the sub-brands run amok and do their own thing? What if they develop their own Web sites that are not offshoots of the parent brand’s site? These sites can look and feel completely different - so much so, that you’d never know they came from the same organization. What if they developed their own marketing collateral and messaging, separate from the parent brand and not tied into it?

I call this brand mutiny!

Is it good for the parent brand and all the sub-brands? NO! It leads to customer and employee confusion, in-fighting, power struggles, and eventually, can lead to customer attrition.

Unless all the ducks are in a row, with sound strategies and tactics for each sub-brand that tie into the parent brand, your organization’s brand image and reputation cannot be easily identified and established.

That’s why we have brand managers. These people are not the “brand police” to punish and chastise; their job is to align the brand and gain brand traction.

Now, I ask… is there someone at your organization managing the brand? Why or why not?

THE Design Color of the Year for 2012

Every year, during Fashion Week in the fall, the Pantone Matching System (PMS) unveils its "Color of the Year" for the following calendar year. In 2012, that color is TANGERINE TANGO.

2012 colors“Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it,” said Pantone Color Institute executive director Leatrice Eiseman. “Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy. ”

Even though its color selection affects the fashion and home decor industries, Pantone is still considered the resource for all things color. In the marketing communications world, PMS colors are used to determine a brand's color palette. So, when Pantone comes out with 175 new colors, as it did this year, that's big news.

The challenge in using trendy colors for marketing communications purposes is longevity. What's hot this year may be stale in a year. If marketers choose Tangerine Tango as part of a new product, service, or business brand identity, it's important that the color matches the brand personality.

What do you think of these new colors? Do any of them resonate with you? What type of brands (products, services, or organizations) would be good choices for any of the colors?


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