Good touching, bad touching

Today’s guest post is from the irrepressible Elizabeth Case, a favorite marketing colleague and friend of mine and Principal at Yellow Dog Consulting, a sales and marketing firm in Issaquah, WA. She’s hilarious, knows marketing and loves dogs –  all reasons why I adore her. Follow her on Twitter.

I had two client meetings the other day and BOTH mentioned “it takes 7 touches for someone to buy.” So I had a couple of great discussions about touch points with prospective clients – good touching and bad touching.

Remember, not all marketing touches are equal. Are you guilty of good or bad marketing touching? (Tweet this!)

Good Touches:

  • Your Newsletter: it pops into their inbox monthly (hopefully not much more than that) and reminds them that you know what you’re talking about without nagging them to hire you (hopefully!)
  • Social Media: Follow them/friend them/Link In with them and pay attention to what they’re saying. Don’t be creepy and like EVERYTHING they post, but keep an eye on them, and hopefully they do the same with you
  • Email follow-up: if you met them at an event or workshop and you said you’d send them something, DO IT. Always follow up. “great to see you yesterday at the luncheon,” “here’s the link to that doggy daycare I mentioned,” it doesn’t have to be about work, and often times that’s better – be a resource to them, a.k.a, their new go-to person.
  • Networking: Get out to the networking events where your clients and target market are gathering. Just the reminder that you’re alive and kicking is good for a lot of people. I need to see your face to be reminded you’re around. When I don’t see you, I can make assumptions you’re too busy for new clients. When you’re out and about, it’s good to know you may have time for new clients.

Bad Touches:

  • Phone Calls after business hours: We all know this is my biggest pet peeve. If you’re having a busy day and need to call them, leave a voicemail! And I always suggest sending a follow up note. They may prefer one to the other, and you need to figure that out. I have many an un-returned phone call because I can’t call back when I hear the voicemail, but didn’t get an email reminder to say “hey call me friday at 2.” Their loss.
  • Sales pitch emails: “Hey you should hire me, hey I’m really good at what I do, hey buy this.” No one likes that, you don’t like that, so don’t do it.
  • Creepy Social Media: Don’t like EVERY POST or comment on everything, but if it genuinely is of interest to you, like it. Can’t wait to see how many of you now freak out on whether to comment on this post or are afraid I’ll think you’re creepy (I won’t this time!).
  • The obvious sales pitch “coffee meeting:” Let’s be honest, you don’t want to learn about my business, you want to sell me on yours. Watch yourself when you call for the coffee meeting. That’s a BIG ask to leave your office- offer to be convenient to them if you want the business. I live in Issaquah about 15 miles east of Seattle. I don’t expect people to schlep out to the suburbs for me. So, I’m in Seattle a couple days a week and schedule all my meetings together. Make it convenient for THEM, not you.

Photo credit: Licked Lens Photography

Thanks Elizabeth! What “Good Touching” has worked for you? And what “Bad Touching” have you seen (or done in the past) that didn’t work or soured you to a person?

The 10 must-have messages you need for your brand

Want to know one of the most-often misquoted sayings in our culture?

It’s Ralph Waldo Emerson’s take on consistency: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

Often this is quoted without the word “foolish” which changes the whole meaning of this nugget o’wisdom He’s not saying consistency is bad, per se, but that consistency which doesn’t serve a purpose, which is foolish, is really the sticky wicket.

Consistency in your branding and messaging efforts is vital if you want to be memorable and get noticed. An old marketing adage suggests that you need to hear a message 5-7 times before it really sticks  – and I’d hazard a guess that this number has gone up in today’s crowded marketplace. I often tell my clients that if your message is vastly different each time you say it, then it’s like you’re starting the counter back at zero each time. How the heck will that help people really remember you and slot your brand in the right place in their brains?

Enter the Key Messages Document.

You’re busy enough running your business and managing everything on your own to have to sit down and re-create the wheel each time you need a new brochure or have to send someone a blurb about your company. Make you life easier and make sure you create these 10 core messaging elements once, and then use them over and over again to save time and hassle.

Because I love you, I created this handy dandy worksheet for your downloading pleasure that breaks down the Key Messages you should have in your brand toolkit. Once you fill this out (after thinking through your brand strategy, of course) keep it handy: pin it to your shortcuts menu, post it up by your desk. And watch how easy peasy it will be for you to fill out that form or zip off that email to a partner or advertiser. The added bonus? I give you a Messaging Platform to fill out that will serve as the foundation for all your future copy, from website to sales pitch to whatever. This is a godsend if you tend to work with different writers on different projects and helps them hit the ground running.

Download this Key Messages Document now and enjoy it with my blessing….

As Emerson said, foolish consistency is pointless and ridiculous. But consistency that not only saves you time AND achieves your business goals is actually a pretty smart move. (Tweet this!)

Aaaannnndd….for some more juicy advice on the four keys to creating magnetic messaging, please check out this Red Slice TV show video on MySourceTV. I think you’re gonna LOVE IT!

Photo Credit: Betsy Weber, Flikr

What other elements or processes in your business do you find go more smoothly with consistency? Do you streamline and repeat something in particular to save your sanity? Please share in the Comments!

If you want less heartburn when trying to attract new customers…

Here are the most common marketing challenges I’ve heard when clients call me….

“I spent $5,000 at a booth at this event and I got diddly squat for it.”

“I know there are people who need my product or service but they can’t seem to find me.”

 “People don’t really understand what I do. They end up asking me if I know anyone who offers the exact same thing I do. And I’m like, ‘Hello?! I’m RIGHT HERE!”

“Prospects don’t understand why we’re better than our competitors.”

“I get lots of website visitors but not many of them turn into sales.”

“I struggle with articulating exactly what value I can provide for people.”

“What the *$#@! are we supposed to say on our blog/Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest?

 “I get lots of calls but they are always from people who can’t afford my services.”

” We used to do x and now we do y, but people still associate us with our old brand.”

“I’m just launching a business/project/non-profit and don’t even have a website yet. I’ll work on the brand after I get things going.”

“I already have a business/project/non-profit but it seems to be stuck in neutral.”

Sound familiar?

I’ve talked about this in various forums as a marketing speaker and in media such as MSNBC and Entrepreneur Magazine. The solution to many of these challenges is a simple two word phrase that is easier said than executed:


See, you can’t build a strong house without a good foundation, you have to crawl before you can walk…insert your fave saying here. Point is, there are two scenarios in which the headache plays itself out:

  1. You already launched your business in scrappy, guerilla, entrepreneurially-action focused fashion and while you got everything going, it’s time to take a step back and clarify your brand story so you can “clean up” what you’ve got out there and make it work better together.
  2. You have not yet launched your business idea, but are going to spend time and money on a website, or social media, or marketing programs without a clear strategy or story to make those investments perform and pay off for you.

If you are in either camp, I am passionate about helping you save misery, money….and migraines.

Please stop the hamster wheel of random execution that gets you no results except making vendors and agencies oodles of cash that you’ll then spend all over again when you need to undo everything. This is not hyperbole. I’ve seen it. It makes me angry. Very angry. I feel like Braveheart or something, trying to rally everyone into taking back their freedom.

I’m unveiling a brand new 4-week virtual course to help you stop this cycle, focus your efforts, and build a solid foundation that will ultimately make your marketing – and life – so much easier and more effective to boot. I’m here to guide you step by step into the bliss of brand clarity.

I invite you to consider the Red Slice Virtual Branding Bootcamp. Four weeks of resources, content, exercises, tough love and guidance on your brand and your message. This is not a DVD set you’ll never play. It’s roll up your sleeves, personal guided time with me for a fun, insightful and informative journey via phone and online so you can stay focused from the comfort of your desk/beachhouse/bed/igloo – I’m committed to making sure you source and shine your story the right way from the start – or clarify the one that’s not working for you.

Early bird rate is in effect until Friday, June 15 (that’s tomorrow). Spots are limited to 8 so I can offer custom feedback and guidance – and some are already gone. I would love to help your business boom so check out the detailed agenda and bonus goodies you get and then take action.  Yes, sessions will be recorded if you have to miss one.

Please register today. I’m so not about sleazy sales pitches or infomercially crap that gets your business nowhere. This is real, juicy, practical content. I’m committed to you. I’m ready for you to shine brightly. Now the bigger question: Are you?

Reboot and Reframe: Branding lesson for life #5: LEARN WHEN TO SAY NO

say_NODo you constantly say “yes” to all the wrong things, leaving you absolutely no time or energy when the right opportunities come along?

If you’re an entrepreneur and you can’t relate to this, I’d love to meet you.

We all worry about saying “no” to business, partnerships and even advertising opportunities. What if this is my one chance to attract a boatload of customers? What if this is the only client I get this quarter? That old adage, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is definitely a truism…..sometimes.

If you constantly accept clients who don’t fit your ideal profile or the type of work you want to be doing, how can you free yourself up to attract a better, more profitable client for the long run? Understanding your brand in clear detail will help you determine if someone is a good fit. It will help you say no to marketing opportunities that seem seductive at first (“Wow! This event attracts 5000 women!”) but in reality, turn out to be a waste of time and money (“Oh, those 5000 women will never be the ones who will buy from me!”)

As I learned to adapt to my new reality post-brain injury, I couldn’t say yes to as much as I would have in the past. I had to be selective in which clients I accepted and how I spent my time. This meant turning down some work that, while intriguing and interesting, was not going to be a good fit for me. And you can do this in an elegant and tactful way. You can explain that you don’t have bandwidth right now with your current client load, or you can recommend another resource that might be a better fit for their needs.  With partners, you can gently say the opportunity looks fabulous but you think you might be going after different target markets. With an advertising opportunity – well, this is business after all, and you can simply say, “We don’t see this as a valuable way to spend out money, but thank you for thinking of us.”

Remember, your clients and partners say something about your brand. They are your advertising.

By focusing on what you want, what you’re good at and what you can realistically deliver, people will appreciate your honesty more than they’ll appreciate you not having the time or mental energy to properly serve their needs.

View the juicy video for Lesson #5  here.

How do you determine which work to take on and which to pass up? Any tips or fun stories about times you have turned down opportunities?

BACKSTORY TO THE SEVEN LESSONS: What do recovering from a  brain aneurysm and branding have in common? Quite a bit, it turns out. Recently, I got the wonderful opportunity to share my dramatic story at a Women Business Owners luncheon and I promised I’d post the lessons here for everyone. This is a seven-post series.

Lesson #1: Focus (and backstory to the series)

Lesson #2: Be Authentic

Lesson #3: Count on Your Tribe

Lesson #4: Practice Patience

Southwest shows us how to handle a PR crisis

Southwest Airlines turned a safety nightmare into a PR coup that proves the brand really does care about its customers.

We’ve all seen the amazingly campy Southwest Airlines ads that tell us they love our bags so much, they get to fly free. Southwest is trying to prove they are the airline that cares about true service, and it’s an incredibly powerful differentiator in an industry that feels like it will eventually charge us for cups of water. And instead of unrealistic visions of clouds and comfortable passengers with miles of legroom  that other airlines show in their ads, Southwest uses humor and personality to say, “Look, we know flying sucks these days. We’re going to try to make it as fun an experience for you as we can.”

This is carried through down to the employee level. I recently flew Southwest and the flight attendant, upon landing, joked, “How many of you checked bags today?” Many of us raised our hands. Then she asked, “And how much did you pay for those bags?” The answer was a resounding shout of “Nothing!” “That’s right!” she said, “Here at Southwest, we love you and we love your bags, too!”

Recently, Southwest was in the news for a large gash that expectantly tore through a 737 fuselage mid-flight. The plane made an emergency landing and everyone was unharmed. This could have caused a brand fiasco, a PR nightmare. But Southwest stepped up and showed why they are a power brand.

How?  According to this WSJ article, by doing the right thing: being proactive and transparent and putting their passengers before profits. The article reads like a 24 episode, a blow by blow of what happened as the PR crisis unfolded. Every action Southwest took makes you love this brand even more.

They transparently kept press and passengers in the loop on the situation. They also stepped out in front of it by  cancelling hundreds of flights and grounding their entire fleet of 737’s until the cause of the tear could be determined. They walked their talk and showed they really do care about their customers.

Turns out Boeing, the manufacturer, said their models were flawed in terms of wear and tear and are working through tests and investigations with the NTSB. The article states they may have created a  new standard for the industry by being so proactive. “The move allayed passenger concerns and helped the carrier adhere to its aggressive inspection timeline with more control over its own destiny..”

The NTSB praised them for taking action before the government forced them to. That is how you control your brand, even thought it ultimately lives in the minds of your customers. You control all the aspects within your power to ensure people will form the right brand impression.

That’s the thing about brand. It’s all well and good to say you stand for something. But its what you do when the going gets tough that either increases your brand loyalty or completely destroys it. This is one of the marks of a Power Brand: to be able to elegantly recover from a crisis, not just intact, but as a way to prove yourself even more.

10 Signs Your Brand is Failing

Last week, I posted about 5 signs of a Power Brand. This week, I’d love to share this great list from Derek Daye and Brad Van Auken of, a super blog about all things branding. I’m adding their blog to my list of regular reading. With full credit to their powerful thinking, here are the 10 signs they say indicates a brand is failing. The list itself is to their credit; the “color” and examples are from Red Slice.


1. Your brand is mentioned to customers and potential customers, and there is strong negativity in their response: At workshops I give, people cringe when I ask them to tell me what words and attributes come to mind when I say “Walmart.” Usually it has to do with unfair labor practices and destruction of small local businesses.

2. Your brand’s external messages do not “ring true” with all employees: This is the most common one. A company says they are dedicated to friendly customer service, and you are met with a surly teen at the checkout counter who spends more time yakking to her co-worker than serving you.

3. Employees are not enthusiastic or consistent in recounting what makes their brand special: If you ask 5 employees what the company stand for and what benefits it offer and get 5 different elevator pitches, you have a brand consistency problem – and a confused workforce. Your employees are your #1 brand weapon. If they don’t live out the brand promise, you’re toast.

4. The brand’s market share is decreasing: Sales go down. Enough said. Doesn’t matter if you have the slickest ads or coolest viral marketing campaigns. Effective branding should lead to increased sales.

5. Competitors never mention your brand as a point of reference: If your brand is not stand-out enough for competitors to even be talking about why they are a better option than you are, that means you are not making a dent.

6. The press does not write about your brand: As mentioned in the Power Brand post, your brand should transcend what you sell and you should be seen as a thought leader in your category.

7. Your CEO does not have a strong vision for the organization and its brand. He or she talks more about financial targets than the vision: Vision matters. Mission matters. If your employees don’t know why they come to work every day, then that’s like a General failing to tell his troops the endgame of the mission. Everyone needs to be aligned around delivering the same value – and not dollar value, but customer value. I’ve seen start-ups fold because all they were about was chasing quarterly profits. They never stood for something bigger and more inspirational.

8. Your organization’s leaders never seem to “talk the brand” and “walk the brand talk.” Put your money where your mouth is. People are not stupid. Don’t write brand checks your company can’t cash. Everyone wants to be Apple, but if you deliver ugly, inferior, outdated products, then I’m sorry, you can’t claim to be like Apple. Walk. Your. Talk. Only promise what you are actually set up to deliver. Or, promise what you want, but then you’d better make sure you shift operations, policies and marketing to back it up.

9. Your organization fails to attract and retain high quality employees: When we talked about a Power Brand, we mentioned that customers and employees are proud to work with you. The opposite holds true as well. Good brand attract good talent. Failing brands do not.

10. Your brand fails to build customer loyalty: If your customers fall prey to discounted prices elsewhere or won’t drive the extra mile to your shop when there is a competitor closer, you have failed to build an emotional and connective brand. People go out of their way for brands they admire. Trying to rig the system with temporary discounts just to drive sales is a short-term solution that won’t have any lasting effects. That just means they are loyal to the price you are giving them at that time, not to you.


Any other signs you see when a brand is failing? Please share in the comments.

Good and bad reasons to rebrand

Congrats! You have diligently crafted a strong brand strategy. You’ve parlayed that strategy into core messaging and an on-target visual identity. You’ve been cruising along, doing business and making customers happy.

So when is the right time to rebrand? And more importantly, when is the wrong time?


· Change in the audience you serve – your existing brand is no longer relevant to the buying customer you seek. Talbot’s is a great example of not keeping up with the changing tastes of their target customer and in essence, the brand “grew older” as their customers did. They finally took drastic steps – cutting lines, revamping merchandising – to get back in touch with their customer.

· Change in the core benefits or value that you offer – you may have launched thinking that you were doing a, b and c for people but after all these years, you have gotten feedback that they actually come to you for x, y and z. Remember Avon’s Skin So Soft lotion? Customers found many other benefits to using it, including as a very effective bug repellant, so they started marketing all the different uses of the product.

· Change in the products or service mix you offer – I’m not talking about adding new products or services under a consistent brand umbrella (same market, same benefits, same promise). I’m talking about you used to sell computer equipment and now you sell technical consulting. With a shift in what you sell, comes a shift in what you offer and potentially, to whom you offer it. You can either rebrand or build a completely new brand. Arthur Andersen, the formerly prestigious accounting firm, did this back in the day by spinning off their management consulting services away from their core accounting arm into Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). GAP did this, too. GAP has their core brand (GAP), a higher-end brand to a slightly older demo (Banana Republic) and a lower-end, trendy, better price-point brand (Old Navy)

· Change in competitive landscape – when you built your brand, it was as a white-space opportunity vis a vis your competition. When the competition changes, you need to adapt. And I don’t mean when they change their logo: I mean, are they fundamentally offering something different or telling a different story? Or has the industry become commoditized and now everyone looks and talks the same? Maybe you need to zig when they zag. Southwest Airlines saw an opportunity to break out of the monotonous airline industry landscape and changed the way we look at flying – soon followed by Jet Blue and Virgin America (who both upped the ante a bit more).

· Change in customer behavior – have the needs of your core ideal customer changed? If so, you need to either adapt your audience or adapt your brand. J Crew has added new lines such as bridal, evening wear and more accessories because that is what their customers demanded.

· Change in market dynamics – has the market changed? If so, you need to adapt or risk seeming behind the times. Walmart updated their logo and positioning to keep up with Target while still staying focused on low pricing during the recession. Microsoft is making great strides in Search with Bing and Cloud Computing (both in response to Google) and reacting to Apple’s market dominance with an alternate way to look at our cell phones with Windows Phone.

· Change in the times – do your logo and colors created in 2001 look like they were created in 2001? Are you using outdated terminology in your messaging? For example, sooner or later, people, using Web 2.0 is not gonna be cool anymore – if it’s not already. Hopefully your look and feel is more timeless than that, but perhaps your brand is “cutting edge, modern and fresh” in which case you went with what fit that definition at the time. Now, that might seem old and could be communicating something you don’t want customers to hear. Many brands do this – with varying degrees of success – and can be found on Brand New. Everything from sports teams to corporations are reviewed here. Sometimes you absolutely need to do this, but be careful how you go about it. You never know what emotional attachments people have to the brandmark – or if you’re just trying to fix a different brand problem you have with a new logo. How can we not mention the recent GAP debacle with their “new” logo that caused a furor, prompting them to return to their old one right away? Although methinks this was a desperate PR stunt and proof that some brand issues run deeper than just tweaking a logo. GAP has more fundamental issues – merchandise options, pricing all over the map, schizo competitive positioning (are they competing with H&M or J Crew?) – that a new logo won’t quite make go away, as much as they’d like.


· Because you’re bored of your brand after 6 months – you need to give it time to stick and mean something to people.

· Because your competitor did something really cool – maybe they did what was right for their brand. If you just follow others all the time, you will soon be relegated to a “me too” brand. Just because they turned their logo green, doesn’t mean you should. Too many tech companies do this, to the point that we’ve plotted this on charts for clients and grouped competitors by how they look alike. And then they wonder why they have no brand awareness amongst the competition. Hint: IBM blue is not the only option: there is a whole color palette out there, people.

· Because one customer told you they didn’t like what you were doing – you’ll drive yourself crazy if you react to every outlying opinion or complaint. However, when you get many of the same complaints, that’s a trend, my friend, and you need to do something. For example, when Tropicana rebranded in 2009 they caught heat from customers who universally hated the new look and also couldn’t tell the difference between flavors easily. This deluge made them go back to their old branding look.

· Because you’re blindly chasing a trend – unless something makes sense for your customer, your market and what your business can authentically deliver at its core, don’t go there. Be true to yourself, your promise and your target customers.

Download your free guide, 6 Reasons to Rebrand and decide if now is the right time for you to rebrand or not.

Monitoring your brand on social media

A big welcome to Red Slice summer intern Suzi An, the author of this guest blog post.

Once a brand has been established, it’s easy to forget the importance of monitoring its impact. How do you know if it’s “working” or if the right buyers are responding unless you immediately see  a sales jump (not likely to happen immediately).  Many business owners and entrepreneurs develop a brand and expect it to work it’s magic. This is true to a certain extent, but it takes much more than just a logo to build a reputable status. This is why it’s important to monitor your brand so that you may see how people perceive it in addition to their reactions. This will give you the means to tweak the necessarily elements in order to create the brand that matches your identity.

There are many tools out there that can be used to observe who is talking about your brand and the exciting thing is that you have the option to monitor your reputation for free. Here a few free tools that are user friendly and can be customized to your liking.

1. GOOGLE ALERTS: The most popular as well as accessible tool that is buzzing around is Google Alerts. This tool sends you email updates daily, weekly, or on a real-time basis on the latest topics of your choice, or your brand name. You can even customize where you want Google to search for your name such as blogs, articles, videos, etc.

2. TWEETBEEP: Tweetbeep uses Twitter to email you updates every time someone Tweets about your keywords. The great thing about this tool is that you can set alerts up for what people are saying about your competitors in addition to your industry sector.

3. BLOGPULSE TREND SEARCH: This tool allows you to create graphs based on buzz trends for your keywords or phrases. BlogPulse gives you a visual on how your brand is doing online and you can easily compare and contrast results to your liking.

4. BRAND MENTIONS: This social media listening tool forages around user-generated content, which includes comments, blogs, events and tracks mentions of your keywords throughout these areas. Brand Mentions searches through Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Delicious, Twitter, etc and emails you results. You may also choose to subscribe by RSS.

Though this is a relatively short list, there are more than hundreds of tools on the Internet whose soul purpose is to help businesses and entrepreneurs alike in securing their brand. Use these tools to your advantage, meaning collect your data, analyze, and take your next step in making your brand beyond everyone’s expectations.

This is a guest post from our new Red Slice intern, Suzi An.

When charities attack…

Whoa! Looks like someone may get strangled by a pink ribbon or left for dead with a yellow wristband around their neck. Check out this WSJ article on the legal battles brewing as non-profits protect their brands and trademarks.

Can’t we all just get along, you might think? Well, not when big bucks and big donors are involved. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has sued “kite fliers, kayakers and dozen of other themed fundraisers” for using the “(blank) for the cure” tagline in their messaging. And if you want them to see red, just try to use pink (their “signature hue”).

At first, you may have the reaction I had, which was “Geez, lay off the people trying to help other people!” But when I read further and thought about this more, I see the issue. One charity named Wounded Warrior Project is locked in a heated battle with another charity also entitled Wounded Warriors over using the URL  It seems many supporters got the two mixed up and have money to one thinking they were giving money to another. Lance Armstrong’s organization LIVESTRONG gave strict parameters to a woman who tried to use HEADstrong as her charity name, in honor of her son. She says she came up with the name before he dies in 2006 and that his nickname was Head, so that’s why she’s using it. LIVESTRONG is giving her some font and color parameters to ensure her charity is not confused with his.

This makes sense, especially when large organizations like LIVESTRONG and Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure have put so much money and time into building a strong non-profit brand. One lawyer in the article even stated that protecting these brands is about ensuring  donors’ funds are used and administered responsibly. I would agree with him. After all, if I’m spending money to support a cause, I want to ensure that their advertising and efforts don’t get diluted by someone else.

It’s a fact of life that non-profits are finally getting on board the brand bandwagon. Non-profits who build strong brands much like consumer companies do is even mentioned in my book. I applaud their efforts to create an emotional connection with their audiences, and to stretch their marketing dollars further by clearly and consistently communicating that brand in everything they do.  Of course they want to protect that investment and avoid customer confusion. Yes, it’s all a bit silly when it comes to philanthropy but it does make prudent business sense. So if you have any ideas about using pink ribbons for your cause, just put it down and back away…..slowly.

Does anyone really care about “brand?”

No matter how many heads I get nodding about the importance of brand or how many people “get it,” I still feel like brand strategy is the “nice-to-have” while people get on with the business of selling products and services. And really, how can I fault a company that is successful in spite of itself? Many companies know they need to sit down and map out their brand strategy, but few make it a priority. Donald Trump knows he has a bad haircut but he could care less – he’s still a bazillionaire.

When I wrote Branding Basics for Small Business, I tried to put in all my stories and experiences over the years of many of those battles and successes.  But at the end of the day, if a company blows out it’s sales number each and every quarter, does anyone really care if the company stands for something, has a clear message or a differentiated personality? Do the shareholders really mind that one person thinks the company does this, but another person thinks the company does something completely different? Do they care that the firm is touting one message, look and feel on their website but look like a completely different company when you see their ads? Do they mind that the firm touts customer service above all else, but the infrastructure and processes are not set up to deliver?

Do they care as long as the company keeps making money?

The analytical part of me says, “You can’t argue with success, so they must be doing something right. Their customers obviously want the product.” The brand strategist in me, though, says, “That has to be short-lived. Something outside of their control is causing the success and whenever it stops, they will not know what to do as they will not have a strong brand to fall back on.” I also think to myself that this is the reason there is such commercial clutter out there in the marketplace: companies that don’t care enough about their brand or messages are just throwing things out into the world to see what sticks. They figure, “As long as we hit the mark 10 times out of 100, that is okay with us because those 10 times will make our numbers for the year.”

That is the difference between quantity and quality. And I for one would rather live in a world full of quality. One where 2 messages are enough to get a target customer to act versus 5-7.  Think about that. If every company knew their brand and their target audience so well and could laser-focus their marketing efforts, what a more streamlined, quieter world this would be. How much more relevant to their particular target audience would they be? And how much less noise would the rest of us have to hear?

Enjoy the silence for a moment. At least in your own imagination.

Seth Godin wrote a post today about structuring your day around 5 hours of work instead of 8 or 10 and seeing how much more effective you could be. I love that idea. Sometimes more is just…well, more. Not better, not more relevant, not more productive. Just more.