A brand is the icing on the cake, the queen of the ball, the home run king. It is the defining hallmark of a company, the icon that presents your company on grandma’s great big silver platter. And how about that Xerox (hey, can you Xerox me a copy? Or hand me a Kleenex?) Who were those people who came up with these brilliant monikers that have become just regular, everyday language that we all know what we’re talking about when we ask for one? Were they highly paid ad people or just a one woman/one man show who hit upon them accidentally?
A brand must set you apart from your competition and offer the reasons why a customer should give their business to you. This is very different from a logo or tag line/slogan that was discussed in the previous blog. A brand has the potential to have a powerful impact on your business and your pocketbook. Like Kleenex, you want the consumer to know that they can be confident in your brand so that a loyal customer base starts to build; that they can trust that buying from you is not risky business.
I have to believe that most brands are hit upon quite by accident; when during a drive home or a night of insomnia, it…that perfect word or words pops into your.
Here is some information that I hope will help you come up with that perfect, descriptive, one of a kind brand that will help you blaze a trail in the screen printing and graphics printing worlds.
In StartupNation: Open for Business, Step 9, Establishing a Brand, they introduce the concept of a “marching brand”—a consistent, immediately recognizable mental imprint that delivers a clear and compelling message. I took the liberty of shortening the following, but you can always read it in its entirety at Startup.nation.com. Please read on….
Branding consultant and author Karen Post, compares this notion to a “brain tattoo”—put there by choice, but which certainly can be removed at any time. In this step, we look at some of her recommendations and action items for establishing a super brand: 1) draft your brand DNA or essence; 2) define and relate to your target audience; 3) choose a brand name; 4) create a logo; 5) make a list of all your other touch points; 6) create a demand for your brand
Draft your Brand DNA or Essence—Purpose, Points of Difference, Personality, Promise: This is the foundation for everything you do and should guide your business, marketing, and communication decisions. But at the end of the day, you should clearly define:
Your brand purpose: a logical snapshot of what you provide the market.
- Your brand points of difference: things that are truly distinct that your competitors can’t copy. While great customer service is important, it’s not a point of difference; many of your competitors will claim the same thing. A point of difference can include a visual symbol, story, color scheme, proprietary process or product, historic milestone, physical characteristic, or combination of several of these.
- Your brand personality: a collection of human-like traits and adjectives that best describe your brand.
- Your brand promise: the emotional side of your purpose. If you were a tailor, your purpose would be to make and alter clothes and your promise would be to give people confidence when their clothing fits just right.
- Define and Relate to your Target Audience: This means understanding your audience’s age, sex, ethnicity, income, education level and locale. What motivates them to buy? How do they think? What are their hot buttons?
Choose a Brand Name: While your name is certainly not everything, it is an important piece to building a lasting brand.
Great brand names: are EMOTIONAL; stick on the brain; have personalities; have depth to tell stories and communicate with. Leaning toward the obscure and emotional can lead to very distinctive brands that the literal and descriptive can speed up the process of communicating your message to your audience.
Be original: Generic names like Computer Solutions, Performance Printing or Innovative Technologies will just make you spend more and work harder at building a brand. They don’t have legs and will likely drown in the sea of sameness. Being descriptive – as opposed to being generic – is not a bad thing for names. Given your limited budget, it can actually be a great way to go. Try to be original so your name stands out, so it means something, so you can own it, and so it will be much harder to copy. Avoid names that are hard to spell or pronounce.
Name availability tools: BizFilings provides inexpensive solutions to check for and reserve your business name. Ask yourself, how will the market receive the name? With supporting context, will the market get it? Will it jive with your strategic positioning of the brand? Are there negative connotations or associations with the name?
Is there a magic, fool-proof method for testing names? No. In fact, sometimes too much analysis just delays decisions and defeats the whole mission of naming your brand before the next decade. I recommend that you test a little, listen a little to people you respect, listen to your gut feelings, and proceed with a choice. While the brand name is very important, a brand cannot survive on name alone. The brand name and how the brand is executed are equally vital for a successful and sustained brand life. A great brand name can serve as the anchor to your cause, a symbol to your story, a point of difference in your marketplace, a memory trigger, or just one important part of your branding arsenal.
Create a Demand for your Brand: Your product’s performance, your customer service, follow-through, and your communication add up to a brand experience. Great experiences turn your brand into a magnet for new and repeat business. Buyers will seek you out, tell their friends, and remain loyal. Your brand can make the buyer’s choice easy. That is the power of the brand.
Would love to read some “brands” that you think are great. Good luck out there!
“Giving back” is the right thing to do. It feeds our sense of social justice and “helps to repair the world”. Even in down economic times, when we’ve only been able to give in-kind and not monetarily, it is easy to remain involved and active to help others in our communities who are most in-need (such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).
With the past few years being so tough, economically, we know lots of small business owners who’ve questioned whether they should continue on this path of giving. How can a business afford to continue to give even in-kind assistance when, for example, they struggle with the escalating price of raw materials, the need to meet employee salaries, on-going marketing/advertising needs when budgets are virtually non-existent; when the need to spend money on trade-show exhibits or attendance is important?
The answer is, without hesitation, is that it’s our inherent make-up as human beings to help those in-need and it’s just the right thing to do. And another answer is that, in the process, this continued involvement will definitely, most assuredly, open up avenues for networking, exposure and sales opportunities for your business. Really, it’s a win-win situation with long-term benefit.
There are many upsides to partnering/supporting one (or more) of the zillions of worthy non-profits. Instead of donating money, VOLUNTEER to design/print T-shirts or hats or signs for a fundraising event. This will give you extraordinary visibility, the non-profit will be immensely grateful and you will generate a mass marketing campaign for your company when the signs, t-shirts, hats, hoodies, jackets that you printed also include the name of your company. For example, “T-shirts designed/printed and donated by The Best Printing Company in the World”.
Think about the JDRF annual Walk for the Cure. Literally, thousands of walkers will view the t-shirt design you printed on the back of the shirt with your logo and name designating your company as the contributor. This, alone, will magnify one-on-one discussions about what your company does and why you became involved. The networking and card trading will ensue from there – all on a Saturday morning. And don’t forget to follow-up.
Additionally, when you contribute shirts, hats, signs, etc, 1) your company’s name will appear in all written pieces by the organization; 2) your company’s name will appear in e-newsletters thanking you as a contributor or sponsor depending on the level of commitment; 3) make sure that you send photo’s of the team and t-shirt/hat/sign images with a brief description of the event and your contribution to the editors of the business and community sections of all major local and regional papers. Smaller, neighborhood papers and other speciality publications welcome these types of news stories; 4) be prompt in sending the same information to trade publications and other on-line industry news sites (like this one) so that your company will gain optimal exposure; 5) make sure to post pictures with date/time/place/name of event and what you contributed on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, this INDUSTRY NEWS site and other social media your company uses.
In the end, your company will reap the benefits of this additional exposure both socially and economically from the new customers who will choose to send their business your way as a result of your company’s community service. Company employees will receive an opportunity to champion a great organization and cause as a result of their involvement. And it will be just plain fun. How can you lose? Best of luck.
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Attention: Next Generation of Screen and Graphics Printers – Enter to Win Student Printing Competition
Tom Frecska Student Printing Competition sponsored by the Academy of Screen Printing Technology (ASPT)
The ASPT is dedicating its Student Printing Competition to Tom Frecska. For those of you who didn’t know Tom, we want to tell you that he was a gem of a human being; a nice guy who was in his element as editor of ScreenPrinting Magazine before his sudden and unexpected death in 2009. Tom was an especially ardent supporter of educating young people in the important art of screen and graphics printing, so the renamed award is a poignant and apt tribute.
About the Award: the Tom Frecska Student Printing Competition will be presented to graphic arts students to honor superior imaging work within a variety of categories. Typically, the entrants are students in high school, post-secondary vocational/technical, college or university.
Enter Innovative Images Today: Show the imaging community that you have what it takes to excel in this industry with an esteemed Tom Frecska Student Printing Competition Award. Highly sought after by graphic arts students, ASPT awards honor superior imaging work within a variety of categories. Entrants represent secondary (high school and vocational) students and post-secondary (technical school, college or university) students.
Exposure: This is a great opportunity for students to have samples of their finest work evaluated by ASPT experts. Winning submissions will be displayed to industry leaders from around the world at the 2012 SGIA Expo, Las Vegas, NV, October 18-20, 2012.
Categories: This year’s competition includes an expanded list of entry categories that offer additional variety to entrants. Students are encouraged to enter multiple entries in any of the 24 categories. Category list
Awards: Award of Excellence: First place winners within each category receive an ASPT Student Achievement Award.
Certificate of Merit: An honorable mention may be awarded from each category.
Best of Show: Two exceptional entries (one from each division) will be chosen from the Award of Excellence winners, and will be honored with the Best of Show award. Best of Show winners receive a special ASPT Student Achievement Award and a cash prize of $500 to use toward their graphic arts education. Instructors will also receive $500 to use toward the school’s graphic arts educational program.
Additionally, each school will receive a plaque to showcase their winning students who were honored with the Award of Excellence, Certificate of Merit and/or Best in Show Award.
Eligibility: Schools must hold an active membership with SGIA (annual Educator Membership is $25).
- There are no fees associated with entering with appropriate membership
- Entries must be produced during the 2011–2012 school year
- Entries must be submitted by July 31, 2012
- Entries can be an individual or team effort
The Academy of Screen Printing Technology (ASPT) was established by the SGIA Board of Directors in 1973. The academy recognizes individuals who have contributed to the technical growth and/or advancement of the screen printing industry. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.385.1335
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