Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ideas for Branding at Zero Cost

Are you worried about copy cats who might steal your customers?  DON'T!  That is what Branding saves you from - ideas are worth nothing; their value lies in how they are executed.  Branding is about your uniqueness and here are 3 tried-and-tested ideas for how to maintain your brand:

1  Use social media as much as you can to share about your business. A page on Facebook is a great way to attract and engage follower, but retaining them will take some commitment of your time. It is well worth investing your time on this as you can get good feedback as well as loyal customers, without spending any cash.
2  Keep your followers engaged in your journey, by sharing photos and video clips about what you are doing. Your mobile phone is your friendly reporting tool and the more interesting your shots are, the more followers your brand will gain.
3  Offer good ideas and advice when you can and soon you'll be attracting attention from those who want to learn from YOUR experiences, which no copy cat can speak credibly about.  Your journey is your own and that is its value.

Take the music industry as an example. Notice how great guitarists sustain their brand whether they go solo or join other groups? And it doesn't apply to creative industries only - even managers have their own brand which attracts staff to follow them where ever they go!  Think about Apple - it showed us that when its Essence was lost, it plunged in value and approached bankruptcy until its Founder returned and revived it with his vision.

Yes, Branding is about the users' experience of the essence on which your products and services are based. Would you like some help in clarifying the essence of your brand?  Call me at 6-03-21697704 or email


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Starbucks shines in my neighborhood

It was the end of the day when my brother decided to get a bit of urgent work done on his laptop which we were still out, so we dropped into Starbucks for the wi-fi.  There were others there too, oblivious to the world and glued to their personal screens - the number of power points for connecting to the electricity made it convenient for many people to work at the same time.

Ooooooops! My brother had forgotten his cable. Aaaaaargh! Only a limited amount of working time then; oh dear. Sigh.  But he decided to take the chance and ask the staff if there was an extra cable around. Voila! The counter staff produced one and and the day was saved. YES!

I had gone to the counter as well to place orders and was sooooo tempted by the offer of the day and said so, but lamented that I'd be pushing my luck with the calories in it.  The other counter staff said "Shall I make it less sweet for you?" and I was sold!

Both members of staff were so pleasant in their manner, so willing to place customer experience above their convenience,and their outlet was also physically geared for ppl who just wanted to sit and work. Coffee with dollops of care - how's that for branding that draws customers away from competing place nearby which had wi-fi too?

Yes indeed, Branding is for the type of customer experience which keep customers in and competitors OUT!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Brand Suicide or Brand Positioning?

My eyes widened as he stood up - his shirt was un-ironed, is blue jeans were inappropriate for the formal meeting, and he (ahem!) wasn't wearing any socks with his shoes. Ah well, perhaps I was being too picky?

We were a small group of trainers and training providers, discussing the contents for a couple of long-term programs to groom future leaders in large establishments.  I left that meeting feeling very, very uncomfortable, and the same day I called the project leader to withdraw my services, despite the loss of income :(  Why? Well, for 2 reasons really: 1) during the discussion the trainer behaved aggressively while positioning himself as a role-model; 2) the host had earlier referred to him as a junior trainer.  And here we were discussing how to groom and coach junior staff to think and behave strategically and competitively?  Something was misaligned, shouting Brand Dissonance!!!

Perhaps the trainer wanted to look and sound in ways which he felt would appeal to the junior staff, but, HOW would that move them up towards a higher level of thinking?  I had to consider being associated with that - if the client was dissatisfied, it would reflect badly on the whole team of trainers!  Brand Association is very important to naming your price. btw, the host confirmed my services for another project immediately although I declined this one.

Branding is largely about perception, and that is what customers pay high or low prices for - the value they perceive they will receive for their $, while repeat business depends on whether they are satisfied with your deliverables.  And it does help to get an objective opinion about how you are being perceived, so that your Brand Value is being raised or maintained.  What do YOU want to be?  A Wal Mart / Kopitiam, Harrods / Starbucks or something in-between?  Are you living out your brand?

If you'd like an audit of the Brand Image you are projecting, do call me at 6-03-21697704 or write to and I'll be glad to discuss it.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Is the Custodian of your Brand worthy?

Whisper "You'll be hearing an announcement soon"!

Honestly, my heart sank as I heard the death sentence heralded with gleeful triumph.  Why?  I had noticed the new CEO's body language at his introduction, and matched it with the history of that company and wondered if he was going to be a sacrificial lamb. Sigh.

Months later I heard about increased in-fighting among their Heads of Department. Uh-oh. One starry-eyed newcomer who was a very bewildered HOD referred to 'firmly entrenched warlords' and 'little napoleons' guarding their turf. Well you tell me now - what do you think the CEO was up against and could do?

More months later one of the groups complained that its members weren't being heard and asked to see the captain of the ship and offer their help to contribute to solutions. His response?  "Go through the proper channels" i.e. the CEO. Hmmmm. REALLY?????

But you know what peeps? I saw something similar happen not so long ago elsewhere too, and the name of the game is "I'll not upset my personal gravy train".  At the expense of the income-generators of course. Ai yai yai yai yai :(

As I write, both those ships - carrying established international brands which are perceived with much respect, look like they can't bail out the water fast enough to contain the leaks while being buffeted by a highly competitive economy.

No, if the chief Executive is not empowered to act, then the owner of the Brand is its custodian and must act to align the Brand to maintain its integrity and sustain its Brand Image in the marketplace. It is true when they say you must nip trouble in the bud or prepare to lose the fruit!

Perhaps you are facing operational difficulties and find that you are fighting fires to keep afloat?  What are your options?  Being so close to the daily grind, there may be some you've not thought of and I'll be glad to hear your out and offer some viable ones for you to consider.

Cheer up?  Give me a call at 6-03-21697704 or email


Thursday, February 23, 2012

OUCH! No invitation to the glam freebies :(

My client had been planning a really good awareness program for months and was (rightfully) excited about it!  The team was in place, outstation venue and transportation had been arranged, and best of all -they had a funder to underwrite their expenses too. WOWEE!

A week before the exciting event I asked what the response had been like; only20% of their expected turnout had replied. Hmmmmm. Low response to a high value freebie? Odd!  "May I see your advertisements?" I asked and they obliged.  Glossy; classy, multi-coloured, BUT, but, the text left out the benefits! Not even including that it was free!!! Getting resources for a mandatory compliance amidst a nice hotel's ambience and food free of charge from a sponsor was not mentioned????? Oooooooops!

But you know what? It could happen to anyone who is excited about making a good offer and assumes that it is obvious.  Do take a second and third look at your brochures, flyers, advertisements, etc. and ensure that the uninformed reader is told clearly about WHY choosing your offer is good for them.

If you'd like an objective opinion (online) about your promotions, I'd be glad to help out. Just call me at 6-03-21697704 or email and you'd get feedback within 48 hours on how to attract more customers.  Its about Brand Visibility and Brand Positioning too.


Monday, February 20, 2012

OMG! A Consumer's nightmare - Brand Invisibility!!!

Now really, would you eat products from an unknown source?  Or take the risk of offering them to your guests?  And yet - perhaps unintentionally - that is what the so-called business owner was suicidally suggesting.

I received an announcement offering bulk orders of handmade chocolates as special gifts, with an invitation to look at their website.  It was very well done and featured attractive designs and packaging for a range of occasions and budgets, with nation-wide delivery services too. Nice!  They were made with no preservatives etc, and by a chocolatier.  Hmmmm. Interesting. There were photos of door gifts, themed gifts, thank-you gifts - you know; any occasion where chocolates would provide a lovely touch.

So I checked out the 'About Us' section. Choke! Splutter! NOTHING except an address and phone number. No credentials warranting the use of the term 'chocolatier', person's name, qualifications, licence to trade, nothing!!!! AHEM!

Now, what if you'd ordered a batch for an event say to celebrate an occasion, and those guests who consumed the chocolates became ill from eating them?  WHAT would you do? HOW would you answer them? WHERE would you go to for recourse?  Even your reputation as a host would suffer!!

Part of Branding is about giving an assurance of the quality of the products or services on sale via credentials like certifications, endorsements from credible sources, evidence of years in business etc.  If you'd like me to suggest how you might strengthen the credibility of your business, do call me at 6-03-21697704 or email


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Delivering the Brand's value

The skilled young man was protesting at the potential incomes in place as opposed to the lush opportunities being presented at a roll-out of a new ecosystem for entrepreneurs. Indeed, why IS brand delivery valued in some places more than others?  Here's a classic example of why:

Mum needed replenishments for her pain relievers etc, so I went to the usual store, but didn't see what I was looking for. Hmmmmm. "Do you have brand X gel?" I asked.  The cheerful, smiling new hire said "We don't have that".  "But I bought it here before - please check with the pharmacist?" "Oh - he's not coming today". (Mentally I thought 'so?').  "Is there anyone else who is familiar with the stock?" Shuffle; shuffle and another pleasant person appears.  We three trooped to the brand's display shelf and both just looked at me puzzled. I explained "these are the capsules which you swallow, I'm looking for the gel to apply on the skin" Aha! Light bulbs came on and voila! a tube of the gel was retrieved. WHERE was the gap and WHO was responsible for closing it? WHO was going to profit from the sales?

Back to that roll-out I was telling you about. The investor explained that the quality of staff did not justify higher salaries because they weren't willing to work hard enough to make the investment profitable!.  Dead silence. Then, applause from business owners.  Do staff expect to be paid for merely showing up?

The key solution lies in tying performance management ie delivery of the Brand Promise, with profitability! Firstly train staff in conversational skills and product knowledge thoroughly with role-plays.  Then have a pay-for-performance package which rewards them for bringing ideas and innovations to the workplace.  The result? Business owners increase their profits and staff get paid more too :) Train and assess.

Want help with designing a systemic approach to put this in place and build the value of your brand? Just call me on 6-03-21697704 or email and I'll be glad to customize a plan for you.