Personal Branding: We Are All CEOs (Part 1)

In a two-part post, we take a look at personal branding and why it’s not just for celebrities or VIPs anymore. You can read the second part here


How do others see you in the business arena? What do others think when they hear your name? Your unique personal brand isn’t a collection of past dates, facts, and accomplishments reflected on your CV. It’s your online and offline reputation, it’s how you interact with others, and it’s fundamental to whatever you do every day, whether you’re a student on campus, a globe-trotting CEO, or an office-bound downtown professional.


In short, everyone has a personal brand, whether they like it or not. To get the right personal brand so you can;

  • Align yourself more effectively with your corporate brand
  • Leverage yourself as an industry leader
  • Mitigate risk in your business
  • Get paid what you deserve!
  • Manage your reputation
  • Accelerate your career
  • Get headhunted

you must map it out, create it to your liking, develop it and then nurture it.


Tom Peters, co-author of “In Search of Excellence: America’s Best Run Companies,”[1] a landmark business book, provides his thoughts on why we are all CEOs.


Management consultant Tom Peters suggests, “We are CEOSs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”

– Tom Peters, “The Brand Called You”



Tom Peters offers tips on building “Brand You” in a series of videos. For his segment on “Brand You: Tell Stories,”[2] watch below.


Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 1 of 2)




Personal Branding: The Rise of Self


Personal branding is not an overnight task; it requires time and focus upfront as well as ongoing maintenance. Personal branding is not limited to the entrepreneur either — it applies to each and every one of us.  


You can be a mini-celebrity within your own industry. CEOs, television presenters, marketing mavens, team sports figures, and popular professors are longstanding examples of individuals who have built personal brands from inside their place of work.


Or, you can create a your own personal brand outside the corporate world.


These days, just about everybody knows someone — if not themselves — who has taken the leap, leaving a more traditional job to turn their side gig passion, talent, or skill into a full-time business. Some are serial entrepreneurs, freelancers, consultants, trainers, writers, artists, musicians, software developers, and yet others are self-employed creatives.


More than 15 million Americans work for themselves and more say they want to.[3] At 15 percent of all workers, self-employment is at an all-time high in Britain, which trails several other European countries, such as Ireland, Portugal, and Italy.[4]


Image: Labour Force Statistics, OECD



As more and more employees step off the corporate ladder for good, the importance of identifying and building a personal brand is paramount. This is exponentially amplified by the internet.  


What is Your Personal Brand Profile?


A compelling brand personality that is meaningful and relevant to the people you want to reach is required of an individual in the same way it’s required of a company, product, or service.


Related: Personality Matters, Bring Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits


To express your best self in words, try this little exercise from “Personal Branding for Dummies”[5] and watch the Personality Profile Performer™ System video below.


  • What three or four keywords describe your essential qualities quickly and clearly?
  • What is your essence factor, the core of who you are? “I know I am in my element when __________.”
  • What is your authority factor, the knowledge that you hold and the skills that you possess? “People recognize my expertise in _________.”
  • What is your superstar factor, the qualities that set you apart? (This factor is how you get things done or what you’re known for.) “People comment on my ability to ___________.”



Foundational principles in branding — brand purpose, positioning, and personality — apply to personal brands as well as to corporate brands, services, and products. Reviewed in context of a personal brand, these core basics are:


Brand Purpose – Defining what you stand for and why you choose to excel in a particular field.

Brand Positioning – Explaining how you stand out from the crowd, your peers and competitors, and how you will execute on that strategy.


Brand Personality – Determining the style and characteristics of how you communicate with others to create an emotional connection.


Related: Personal Branding: The Difference Between Product and Personal Branding


Watch this video from The Onion[6], a news satire media site, to see a spoof about what NEVER happens to those who fail to create a personal brand that stands out.


Image via The Onion


Related: Personal Branding: We Are All CEOs (Part 2)


Key Steps to Building Your Personal Brand


Map out a branding strategy based on your most important asset: you. Developing a personal brand requires giving thought to your skills, values, passions, and personality. Define how you are unique from your peers and the competition. Identify who you want to reach.


In fact, this exercise is one of the key elements in our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. As you map out each of your different target audience types — the people you want to be highly visible to, influence and reach — using the ‘Purchaser Personas’ system, the outputs provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your primary audience on their terms so they find your message compelling. Winning their hearts and minds on their terms so you can grow your brand and increase your profile. You can watch a free course preview here.


Transform Your Brand – Increase Your Sales with The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme



Now re-evaluate your personal brand. Think about and write down your:

  • needs
  • core values
  • what you stand for – define your purpose
  • interests/passions
  • vision
  • strengths
  • weaknesses
  • what makes you special – your X factor
  • personality
  • education / experience
  • validation with external feedback (peers, friends)
  • positioning statement
  • personal brand statement


Alternatively if you want in-person professional direction to build your brand and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours). We’d be delighted to talk with you.


The Power of Personal Branding


Research shows that when individuals build their personal brands from within an umbrella organization, the business brand(s) to which they’re connected will gain traction as well. Paris-based MSL Group indicates[7] that brand messages:

  • Will reach 561 percent more people when shared by employees
  • Are shared 24 times more often when distributed by employees   

Image: via Scribd, MSL Group


On the entrepreneurial front, Millennial Branding LLC tells YFS Magazine[8], Your personal brand is transferable from one company to the next and serves as your best protection against business factors you can’t control.”  


Top 10 Personal Branding Mistakes to Avoid


Effective personal branding requires dedicated time, proactivity, and professional guidance. Leaving your livelihood to chance or in the hands of others is not an option. Avoid these ten mistakes most frequently made:

  1. Failing to clarify your purpose
  2. Tooting your own horn loudly
  3. Being overly sales-y in any way
  4. Risking your honesty or authenticity
  5. Trying to please everyone
  6. Compromising quality for quantity
  7. Sloppy networking
  8. Lack of follow through
  9. Overlooking your online reputation
  10. Inconsistencies in what you say, stand for or post online


Related: Personal Branding: We Are All CEOs (Part 2)


4 Personal Branding Case Studies


1. Well-known entrepreneur who created a personal brand

 Jamie Oliver started out as a pastry chef who shaped his brand on a healthy school lunch programme. He went on to write one of Britain’s best-selling cookbook, host TV series, endorse Sainsbury’s,  multiple food brands and cookware bearing his name, operate restaurants, 



win a TedX prize, an MBE, and a place on Britain’s rich  list. Watch him tackle the obesity problem in America’s unhealthiest city.  






Related: Brand Strategy: 6 Tips for Building Your Profit Growth Plan



2. Relatively unknown, yet a giant in the niche

Ryan is 5 years old. He likes toys. Ryan ToysReview is the world’s #1 YouTube video site. That viewership translates to around $1 million a month in advertising revenue alone.[9]

To read more about how his Mum learned to manage the viral phenomenon of her son’s personal brand, click here.      




3. Corporate leader aligned with their personal brand

As Apple CEO, Steve Jobs was one of the most outstanding examples of intertwined and fully aligned personal and corporate branding the world has ever known. With 110% percent of his energy focused on Apple, his signature style on stage and off stage presented as reliably, unwaveringly simple persona, year after year.


Image via Pinterest



4. SME / SMB personal brand leaders

Laura Madison was selling Toyota cars in Montana so successfully using her own personal brand to promote the business via social media, that she now drives her own brand. Laura surpassed every sales target by promoting herself instead of the car dealership.


Image via AdAge


Although she saved the company advertising dollars, not every boss would rubber stamp such an approach. However, Laura’s boss says he wished he had 10 more just like her. To find out more about her transition to marketing expert at, read her story   published in AdAge.




Related: CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth


Ask Yourself These Questions About Your Personal Branding Success


Are you happy with what you find when you Google your own name?

Have you read and acted upon Google’s online reputation advice, seen here?


Have you leveraged all your resources, including networking?


Are you considering a new career direction and, if so, does your online brand presence help or hinder?


How long has it been since you refreshed your personal brand to include a great headshot, elevator pitch and bio?



Build Your Profitable Brand Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter













Brand Strategy: 6 Tips for Building Your Profit Growth Plan

Up until the 1980’s, Sears dominated the retail niche with its brand strategy. And then Sears was annihilated by Amazon; reduced to a home and appliance goods market, its former splendour in ruins.[1]


Today, in just about every industry, competition is fierce with new challengers and disruptors changing the status quo in every sector.


To ensure survival, leaders of businesses must see tomorrow and infuse (and re-infuse) their brands with an evolving vision which is developed through brand strategy.


Today, this is even more critical when you consider the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company has declined from around 75 years half a century ago to less than 15 years today…and it’s declining all the time.


So the question is, can you clearly articulate;
• what your brand stands for
• what makes you different to your competitors and
• how you dominate (or plan to dominate) your sector


Your brand strategy is the foundation to your business success. It goes hand-in-hand with, and informs your overall business strategy so it pays to give it the attention it deserves because you can’t fully achieve your growth plan without a strong brand strategy.


Related: How Do Challenger Brands Become Market Leaders?


Here we share with you 6 tips for building a strong brand strategy to set you apart, and in front of your competitors, both now and into the future.


And unlike Sears, to keep you there.




6 Tips for Building a Strong Brand Strategy


1.   Make Brand Strategy The Foundation on Which Your Business is Built

Brand strategy should be the core driver of every business strategy, because it’s a long-term plan for business success and impacts every area of the business, from employee recruitment, marketing and sales, to competitor differentiation, consumer needs and nurturing customer emotional engagement.


Remember: People buy with emotion first and justify with rational afterwards so you must win the heart first so you can move the mind to purchase.


It is the brand strategy that sets you apart from your competitors and determines the culture and value of your company.


Let’s take a look at Chubbies Shorts. On their website, they list their beliefs which drives everything they do and really showcases their brand personality and what they stand for:


Image via Chubbies


Related: Personality Matters, Bring Your Brand to Life to Grow Your Profits


Essentially, the Chubbies Shorts[2] brand is a lifestyle, and all their marketing reflects that. For instance, their Facebook page is listed not as a business page, but as an entertainment page, and they fulfill that promise. Their page consists of user generated video clips about how their customers wear Chubbies Shorts, and funny videos Chubbies create for their followers.


Related: Use Humour in Branding to Create Strong Emotional Bonds so You Increase Sales


Wildly popular, it’s no surprise they are currently sitting on a whopping 1,568,919 likes, with each post boasting anything from 1 – 23K views.


Image via Chubbies


Humorous entertainment drives the brand’s connection with its audience; have a look at the video clip about the unconventional Chubbies Shorts company.




The lesson? Chubbies Shorts would never be the trendy, fun brand they are if the founders did not use their brand strategy to underpin the business growth to success.


Your business can also become a beloved brand, no matter how lacklustre it might appear to be at present! Give it a growth boost now by using our online brand building programme, the Personality Profile Performer™ course. This will empower you to build your brand so you so achieve your profit growth plan.


2.   Identify and Instill Your Unique Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition is what separates your business from your competitors.


Unbounce defines it as, “a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition.” And it does so in one concise sentence.


Typically, it’s the UVP that tells a visitor within seconds of arriving at one of your brand touchpoints, like your website, how your business can help him or her.


Nike’s mission statement[3], or UVP, is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Coca-Cola has seasonal campaigns, the latest being, “taste the feeling”[4]. Walmart’s is, “Save money. Live better.”[5]


An exceptional example of a UVP-driven company is Bombas[6], an e-commerce store that sells socks. For every pair of socks that’s sold, one pair is donated to a homeless shelter.


Image via Bombas


Added to that is the fact their socks are designed uniquely; they claim they are the most comfortable socks you’ll ever wear, and that they are made with technology that makes them a better sock for the lifestyle of the homeless.


Image via Bombas


Bombas was started to help homeless people. Their UVP is reflected in all the company does and their corporate social responsibility brand sits at the heart of their brand strategy.


What makes your company unique? How can you communicate the benefits of your brand within 8 seconds (using emotionally compelling language to drive home your message in a way your ideal customer finds really irresistible)?


Related: Brand CSR, The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good


3.   Understand Your Ideal Customers

Marketing endeavours will only ever be successful when they align with the interests and needs of your primary target customers.


It’s a mistake to market to everyone; it only wastes time and money because you can never solve everyone’s problems or provide a solution for everyone. Understanding your target customer, what they care about and building your brand strategy around them, is essential for your growth plan.


Take Pura Vida[7] who sell handmade bracelets made in Costa Rica. They have a rich understanding of their ideal ‘Purchaser Persona’ and have mastered the art of brand storytelling, establishing themselves as a beloved brand.[8] In fact it’s essential you learn how to inject your brand with purpose, meaning, stories and feelings so you can increase your sales.


In the example below, instead of an annoying website pop-up, they provide value to their visitors with a pretty pink spinning wheel – technically also a pop-up, but one which

  1. is attractive to women and
  2. provides value to the kind of person, their ‘Purchaser Persona’ that typically buys from them.


Their visitors are fully engaged and can hardly resist clicking on the “spin to win” wheel. When clicked, it spins and lands on one of the four options:

  • A free bracelet
  • 10% off purchases
  • 5% off purchases
  • Free shipping


Image via Pura Vida


The result?

24% submission rate and a 34.76% conversion rate lift.[9]


Every business has a minimum of between two to twenty different ‘Purchase Personas’ so it’s essential you identify and map out each of your different customer types because you need to understand your target audience, their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations intimately, in order to maximize your brand strategy growth results.


In fact, this exercise is one of the key elements in our ten-part brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. As you map out each of your different customer types using the ‘Purchaser Personas’ system, the outputs provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers on their terms so they find your message compelling — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business. You can watch a free course preview here.


Build Your Profitable Brand Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter


Alternatively if you want in-person professional direction to build your brand and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.


4.   Define Your Story

Brand storytelling can be defined as the conscious and unconscious, verbal and nonverbal messages a brand tells its customers and prospects.


Now, every company that advertises or has a marketing strategy, is telling a story. Think of it this way: when you first make a new friend on Facebook, you might check out the person’s “about” tab, photos and news feed. By doing that, you’re building a picture of what’s important to your new buddy. Everything that person posts, tells a story about who they are and what they value.


Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 1 of 2)


In the same way, everything your business “puts out there”, is telling a story. The question is, has your ‘brand’ story been an accidental manifestation or is it a highly strategic narrative, authentic in quality and very customer focussed — memorable, emotionally compelling and referable.


Related: Brand Stories – 5 Compelling Examples That Sell Themselves (part 2 of 2)


Chase Bank went to great lengths not to leave their brand storytelling to chance. Stacey Warwick, Head of Brand Innovation at JPMorgan Chase, says that the company believes, “content humanizes financial brands and builds relatability”. They aim to provide helpful content that empowers their clients.


Their website is proof that they’re not just another bank; it includes value-added content, as per their brand strategy:


Image via Chase Bank



Following the aim of their brand story, care for their clients is evident on their Facebook page which consistently provides relevant information to their target audience:



It’s clear that Chase Bank has a defined story that is well executed throughout their brand strategy.


Here are five more fantastic examples of brand storytelling.


Related: What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns


5.   Conduct Competitor Research

Your competitors serve as a meaningful resource to find out what’s working, what’s not, and may provide inspiration for doing things differently for your new brand strategy growth plan.


Let’s say you wanted to start a coffee shop. If you were smart, you’d do your competitor research first, perhaps first learning about the most popular coffee shop brand in the world: Starbucks. You’d recognize that with more than 18784 locations worldwide, they’ve grown substantially since 1971 when they opened their first store, and analyzing how they do things may help you with your strategizing.


In this video[10], a marketing analysis of the Starbucks brand is conducted by James Molnar, who discusses some of the things which are useful to know if you’re considering building or refreshing a consumer brand. The principles discussed are broadly applicable to many scenarios requiring competitor evaluation.




Some of the major benefits of competitor research for your brand strategy are as follows:

  • An enhanced understanding of your target audience
  • Evaluating what competitors are offering
  • Keeping track of competitors’ price points and positioning
  • Ways of finding new customers


It doesn’t need to be complex; there are many competitor research online tools to assist.


6.   Prioritize Internal Branding

Research from Deloitte[11] has proven that “mission-driven”, employee centric, brand driven companies are more innovative, have lower staff turnover, and they tend to be first or second in their industry.


Related: CEO Brand Leadership: How Vision Drives Brand Growth


Internal branding means that the company has a brand strategy to attract and retain the “right fit” employee, in order to maximize return on investment. Hiring and keeping the right staff leads to a more productive workforce, competitive differentiation, innovation and decreased staff turnover. The right staff will show high commitment levels, deliver better quality work in less time, and become influential brand advocates online and offline.


Related: Brand Sponsorships, The Best Brand Ambassadors Are Already On Your Payroll


Think Google. Google attracts the very best people, because of their culture-by-design. If you’ve ever watched, “The Internship”, you’ll know what I mean.


Better than attempting to explain “Googliness” to you, watch this video[12] on the Google culture:



You don’t need to be a multi-billion dollar company to work on your own particular “Googliness”; but certainly start by creating an internal branding strategy. Then roll it out to your entire company, so that you can attract and retain the right people who will accomplish your business goals. You may find it helpful to use one of our bespoke brand building workshops to help you develop your strategy effectively. Feel free to drop us a line to [email protected] or ring us at +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours) if you’d like to know more. We’d be delighted to help.



Your brand strategy is the foundation to your business success. It goes hand-in-hand with, and informs your overall business strategy so give it the attention it deserves because you can’t fully achieve your growth plan without a strong brand strategy.


  1. Your Unique Value Proposition is what separates your business from the next. It’s what makes your brand stand out and differentiates you from your competition. Adding your UVP to the most visible part of all your key touch points, like your website, communicates the benefits of your business to your ideal visitors fast.
  2. A deep knowledge of your target audience should determine every brand strategy. No marketing strategy can succeed without it so map out your Purchaser Persona for each of your different customer types so you can build your brand to attract them and really meet their needs.
  3. Your brand story needs to be memorable, referable, worth talking about so don’t leave it to chance or worse still something mis-representative. Build your compelling brand story and make it central to everything you do so it’s used to grow your business and attract your ideal customers



  1. Assumptions are dangerous and competitor research is essential because it gives you a better understanding of your target audience, and is a powerful source of innovation. Consider a brand audit, it’s an essential brand management tool for every organisation, even with limited resources a lot can be uncovered which is invaluable and critical to your success.


Start auditing your brand here


  1. Strong employer branded companies do better than those who do not. That is you need to ensure your internal team are informed, regularly trained and indoctrinated into your brand philosophy. How you present your brand to your internal team, staff and stakeholders alike is just as important as how you present it to customers. In fact your team can’t sell or represent your brand successfully unless they are fully informed and aligned with the external market so your internal branding strategy needs to be planned and rolled out across your organization in order for your business to be successful.


Questions to consider…

  • Does your company have a Unique Value Proposition?
  • Does your brand message communicate within seconds, to your target audience, exactly how you solve their problems or have a solution which is a perfect fit for their needs?
  • Have you mapped out all your Purchaser Personas?
  • What message does your brand send out to prospects? Is it consistent across all touchpoints?
  • Do you know your competitors and what they’re doing well or badly as the case may be? What can you do differently and a lot better?
  • Are your employees highly engaged with your brand? How have you evaluated their level of engagement? When did you last get their feedback? Do you have an indiscriminate system, formally or informally, within your organisation that empowers your team to share their thoughts, feedback and suggestions?
















Personality Matters: Bringing Your Brand to Life to Grow Profits

Breathe life into your brand. Like people, strong successful brands are alive; they have a distinct voice, individualistic traits, characteristics, and personalities. Brands must continually grow and evolve to stay relevant, or die. As with people, the development and reinforcement of that personality creates a unique persona and serves to differentiate your brand from the others, particularly the competition.


David Ogilvy, the “The Father of Advertising,” who is credited with having introduced the concept of brand personality in 1955, is widely quoted as saying, “Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace.”



Where does this brand personality come from? It is crafted and nurtured by the stewards of the brand: owners, stakeholders, managers, employees, and customers. In an important research paper titled “Dimensions of Brand Personality (1997),” Stanford University Professor Jennifer Aaker discusses the main human characteristics associated with brands.[1] In fact, she argues, the connections can be so strong that, “the personality traits of the people associated with a brand are directly transferred to the brand.”


These traits can include gender, age, and more demographics. We could hardly think of Disney without conjuring up the image of a cheerful, adventurous Mickey Mouse and his girlfriend, Minnie.


Image via Disney


There’s a reason why we’re not conditioned to think of effervescent Coca-Cola as the beverage of retired librarians in a bingo hall. And, since the “Sticky Fingers” album launch in 1971, nobody has wondered whether the hot red lips image is about bad boy Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones.



Image via Rolling Stones, YouTube


Identify the Right Audience

Some brand target audiences are easier to identify and to target appropriately. Kids who fancy a burger and fries with a milkshake relate to those Happy Meal toys from Ronald McDonald, the clown. Of course, the hamburger chain wants to appeal to parents as well, so McDonald’s will provide nutrition facts for popular menu items.



“Hop in the car, kids!” Adults relate to driving the children to McDonald’s in a car such as Volvo, because that family automobile brand is all about safety.

The skills and insight that go into correctly identifying your primary target audience, and mapping out each of those customer types through their ‘Purchaser Personas’, means that your brand can tap into their attitudes and values to build a simple, strong compelling message in language that they find irresistible.


On the other hand, you can’t attract the attention of your ideal audience and sustain their interest if you don’t know them intimately — their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations. It’s obvious that putting the right image in front of the wrong audience ensures either an unsuccessful connection or none at all.

Getting it right creates the magnetism that becomes a really important part of successful brand building. It’s one of the critical tools used for mapping out your different customer types, also known as Purchaser Personas.


Build Your Winning Brand Personality with The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme – Watch Your Programme Preview Here



Appeal to the Right Audiences

In fact, this exercise is one of the key elements in our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. Every business has a minimum of two and up to twenty different customer ‘Purchaser Personas’ which provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business. You can watch a free course preview here.


Build Your Profitable Brand Using The Personality Profile Performer™ Programme with Lorraine Carter


Alternatively if you want in-person professional direction to build your brand and would like to explore working with us then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT). We’d be delighted to talk with you.

A Perfect Match

Why is brand personality so critical? The personality of a brand determines the relationship a consumer has with the brand. When that connection is an emotional one, it drives purchase. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him or her and sells itself,” according to “The Father of Modern Management,” Peter F. Druker.[2]



The Brand Personified

So, do I need a Mickey Mouse or a Jolly Green Giant to infuse my brand with personality? No. Assigning personality to one’s brand should not be confused with creating a mascot or partnering with a celebrity to endorse the brand. Both are acceptable, but neither is required.



Keep in mind that people tend to anthropomorphize; that is, they transfer human personality characteristics to inanimate objects. We do it all the time, even when speaking of diverse items: destinations, fragrances, residential properties, boats and ships referred to as ‘she.’.


Professor Aaker charts the five major brand personality dimensions and fifteen facets as follows:


Examples: We can match several global brands with their relevant personality types to demonstrate the concept.

  • Sincerity = Nike, Disney, Cadbury’s, Tropicana
  • Excitement = Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Victoria’s Secret
  • Competence = Volvo, Apple, Amazon, Timberland, Intel
  • Sophistication = Chanel, Dos Equis, BMW, Tiffany, Cartier
  • Ruggedness = Patagonia, Old Spice, Jeep, Harley Davidson



Finding Your Brand Voice for Your SME / SMB Business

For startups, small to medium-sized businesses, finding or re-evaluating your brand voice is a very important process, I’d even go as far a saying is critical to your brand success. SMEs often begin by brainstorming some of the options in a simple YES-NO process to explore whether their brand is, for example:

  • Formal or funny?
  • Masculine or feminine?
  • Adventurous or tame?
  • Young or mature?
  • High tech or traditional?
  • Trendy or classic?
  • Accessible or exclusive?
  • Premium or inexpensive?




Four diverse examples of SME / SMB brands with strong brand personalities that ensure they standout and attract their ideal customers include:


We love it: Fashion Award Cleaners

Why it works: A dry cleaner with glam personality? Why not? You’ll notice straight away that owner Debra Kravet has infused personality into “Talk of the Gown,” a 50-year-old family business that is anything but fuddy-duddy. As animated models strut across the virtual Manhattan runway of Debra’s website, any fashionista with a special garment or clothing repair requirement will quickly realize that this miracle cleaner with attitude is likely worth a trip across town, even in rush hour.



We love it: Daylesford 

Why it works: Founder Carole Bamford’s personal holistic lifestyle is imprinted all over the Daylesford brand in an appealing, authentic one-to-one tone of voice. This Gloucestershire organic farm knows there are other brands you can reach for on the grocer’s shelf; however they take care to present the philosophy behind 35 years of leadership in the farm-to-table approach. “If you understand the story of the Daylesford Pedigree British Friesian dairy cow, you will understand the philosophy that drives Daylesford,” they suggest. You do feel as though you’re being let in on a secret.



We love it: Seedlip

Why it works: Presenting the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits. The brand story starts out, “Founded by Ben in his kitchen in the woods with a copper still and copy of The Art of Distillation to to continue his family’s 300 year farming ancestry and change the way the world drinks.” We already want to know more, how about you? Next, we meet Ben, discussing a legacy that dates back to 1651. Seedlip’s intriguing personality is equally natural, historically grounded, and innovative at once. Above all, hand-crafted shines through.



We love it: Hampton Creek

Why it works: Can you truly love a condiment? Just Mayo was the original Hampton Creek product in 2011. This plant-based food company that doesn’t use eggs started out small with strong personality, capitalizing on the “JUST” branding for expanding the line. Investors were attracted to the R&D, vegans were attracted to the solution. A visit to the company’s social media sites reveals the friendly, trusted voice of the brand through shared recipes that produce love — a strong emotion — from customers. Annual revenue is now estimated at $30 million-plus and with 110 employees[3].



Branding Initiatives Can Start Out Small

While SMEs / SMBs cannot compete with the massive budgets of global brands, their built-in bonus is that smaller companies are much more in touch and personal with their customers, less corporate by their very nature.

The risk, however, is that with all hands on deck required to keep operations and service ticking over, resources are extremely limited to give brand management the time and thought it needs to grow a healthy business with a powerful brand.

Although the science of brand management is a fairly young field of study mainly focused on multinational corporations, 95 percent of all businesses are smaller ones. A 2007 research paper[4] published in the “Journal of Product & Brand Management” makes recommendations to SMEs about finding the resources to tackle branding fundamentals.

At Persona Branding and Design, we act as an extension of your company, recognizing the hugely important influence of the entrepreneurial owner/manager to craft the personality of your brand and give it it’s own unique brand voice. If you’d like some help to develop your brand’s personality feel free to get in touch via email [email protected] or phone +353 1 8322724 (GMT hours).

As with people, a brand’s personality is an all-important building block of that brand’s identity. As we’ve come to understand via thought leaders such as Ogilvy and Druker,   that emotional connection can make all the difference between closing the sale and growing repeat business or struggling to make ends meet while you get caught up in price fights and discounting.


Differences Between Brand Personality and Brand Identity

1Brand personality is the way a brand speaks and behavesBrand identity is a collection of mental and functional associations with the brand
2It means assigning human personality traits or characteristics to a brand so you achieve differentiation and create emotional engagement with your ideal customers — emotions drive purchase!Brand identity is the elements of the brand e.g. logo, colour palette, name, symbol that identify and differentiate a brand in your target audiences mind
3Brand personality is created to attract your ideal audience and used throughout all your customers’ experiences and interactions with the brand — on and offlineBrand identity is the collective elements of what your organisation does and promises to customers so you standout and create a unique customer experience i.e. brand vision, mission, purpose, promise etc.



Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Brand’s Personality

  1. Does your brand personality make your brand dynamically and distinctly different?
  2. Is there a unique set of emotional triggers that people connect with your brand?
  3. How do you use effective techniques to capture attention — for example: tone of voice, storytelling, imagery and more — that project your brand’s personality?
  4. Are you clear on how brand personality provides the direction and lead for your brand identity?
  5. How could strengthening or changing your brand’s personality help you with a brand refresh?
  6. Can you identify the path whereby an emotional connection to your brand would benefit sales?




[2] Drucker, Peter F.; Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices’ (New York: Harper & Row, 1973)




7 Universal Branding Lessons From Christmas Adverts

You’d not be alone in thinking that 2016 delivered some unexpected political surprises on both sides of the pond. Your customers may share that thought. But uncertainty is no friend to retail therapy, so to lighten the mood and reinforce economic prosperity, we’ve collected some of the outstanding moments — for better or for worse — as distributed in video format by the forefront U.K. brands doing their best at storytelling this holiday season.

While entertaining to watch, you may also benefit from pairing several observations that apply to strategic thinking for SMBs / SMEs and enterprise organisations — we all need a laugh at the moment! Have you seen Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot Christmas advert?


Here are our favourites and others that miss the mark. Yet, lessons are learned all around.

Do you agree? Did we miss any?


1.  Brand Personification

Aldi is a leading global retailer and one of the world’s largest privately owned companies with over 7,500 store locations. But that hasn’t stopped them from adopting a brand voice in the form of an animated three-inch-tall carrot who desperately wants to meet Santa. A sure fire winner due in no small part to the theme song from “Home Alone,” the one-minute rhymed narration has had 1.8 million YouTube views in its first four weeks. Short and sweet.


Takeaway: Give your brand an irresistible personality. Humanize your brand, give it an authentic voice, enable connections with the character your brand embodies. Think of enduring 20th century mascots such as the Jolly Green Giant and Ol’ Lonely, the Maytag Repairman with nothing to fix. Consider 21st century successes like the sexy Old Spice Man and “The Most Interesting Man in the World” by Dos Equis.




2. Confusing Branding

For the holiday voice of Sainsbury’s, James Corden sings, “The streets are chaotic, the shops idiotic, there’s a queue for the queue…” Weirdly, it’s an animation about a frazzled dad stuck on a delayed train (“It’s a catastrophe! I’ll never get it done!”) who perhaps never heard of online shopping. We’re not sure what mileage Sainsbury’s gets out of 3:35 minutes of highlighting the hassle of Christmas shopping.


Takeaway: Don’t stray off message. To elevate your brand, stick to the core messaging so consumers can quickly see the call to action. Like too many different fonts and colours on the same page, a message can easily get lost in the shuffle…especially during peak times such as holidays and back to school. Be clear, be consistent, be focused, be unified in your messaging.




3. Feel Good Branding

At a rather lengthy 2:10 minutes, John Lewis’s Christmas Advert 2016 takes a risk that viewers’ attention won’t wander. However, there’s not a chance, as viewers really do want to see how this story concludes. Featuring the family pet, foxes, badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs, we see animals enjoying a secret midnight trampoline romp. With extensive social media and TV tie-ins garnering a remarkable 21 million views and counting, it’s less of an advert than a short movie clip with an uplifting soundtrack (“One Day I’ll Fly Away”) about Buster the Boxer. Highly shareable — and directly associated with the store’s toy department — it’s a distinct pull away from last year’s lonely, elderly man “sadvertising” theme.


Takeaway: Emotional branding has huge appeal. To successfully tap into creating a bond between brand and consumer is the most effective connection of all. Get it right, like John Lewis does here, and you’re golden. (Bonus: Word-of-mouth and shares are guaranteed!)




4. Branding Content Without a Point

Tesco chooses to introduce us to yet another “typical” shopper annoyed with the season’s chores. We get to hear the thoughts running through her mind (“It’s only November and my clothes still smell of Bonfire”) as she becomes overwhelmed by a mental to-do list, rendering her frozen behind the shopping trolley in mid-aisle. We certainly get a sense of place (the uninspiring inside of a Tesco store), but what’s the story line? The only point made comes at the end (for any viewers that have hung around) when she speaks Tesco’s tagline aloud, “Nah, bring it on.” Did they actually think this advert would get many shares?


Takeaway: Like any good story, your brand message must grab your audience’s attention in the first few seconds, or they’re gone. Many video views will be made on mobile and a good percentage[1] will be seen in public places with the volume turned off, so a woman standing still by her shopping cart cannot maintain audience interest.




5. Branding That Spins a Classic

Marks & Spencer re-purposes an age-old story, this one is about Santa and Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve, and re-tells it with a modern spin. You needn’t have the Hollywood budget and Oscar-star studded cast that M&S can afford in order to accomplish something similar. The result is a compelling, contemporary tale with a feminist twist that some viewers are calling, “a hundred times better than John Lewis’s,” in the 2016 Christmas advert annual parade. Some 7.3 million views so far for “Christmas With Love From Mrs Claus.”


Takeaway: Dress up a classic tale is usually a good storytelling idea. Mrs Claus in a red sheath dress and high heels delivering gifts in her own helicopter works incredibly well. The advert manages to also provide a call to action that is on point for the brand, once we see what’s in the gift box Mrs Claus leaves under the Christmas tree.




6. Branding to Surprise and Delight

And the winner is…Heathrow Airport, connecting with everyone in their advertisement, “Coming Home for Christmas.” Anyone who has flown home for the holidays can identify with these two elderly teddy bears making their way from arrival gate to meeting point. Take a close look at Edward Bair’s passport — he’s 71, just like Heathrow Airport. Stay tuned for the surprise ending; there’s a lovely surprise.


Takeaway: Making authentic connections to human emotions are any brand’s surefire success. LHR does everything right in this year’s ad. Not a department store, not a supermarket, Heathrow Airport is the glue that speaks to both travelers and their hosts coming home for the holidays, so most everyone can relate to this tearjerker, even without the soundtrack.




7. Branding From Our House to Yours

Lidl Ireland packs a lot of emotion into one minute with “Homecoming.” See behind the scenes as a lovely, but unassuming family, prepares the country house and Christmas supper for a recently widowed Grandpa as guest of honor. At one minute, the length is perfect. No words are needed — go ahead, watch it without the sounds and see that it can still work.


Takeaways: Again, emotional branding that leaves people with a strong feeling is the hot button here. Will they smile or cry? That’s your choice. When you create material that’s so compelling that it’s eminently shareable, your viral brand is massively strengthened in customers’ hearts and minds.




Questions you may ask yourself about branding lessons from the pros:

  1. Does my brand have a strong brand promise?
  2. Have I fully communicated that brand promise well?
  3. Does my brand have a personality? Does it align with my product or service?
  4. Have I used my brand persona to grow audience beyond my base?
  5. Does my brand receive more than its fair share? Or does my brand under-perform?
  6. How do I know if it’s time for a brand re-fresh?


Want to clarify your brand promise, develop your brand personality — standout more effectively to increase your sales? Then take a look here at our online eprogramme which walks you through step-by-step ‘How to Build Your Brand’.


Alternatively if you want some in-person professional direction to build your brand then drop us a line to [email protected] or give us a call T: +353 1 8322724 (GMT).

We’d be delighted to help.


Find out ‘How to Build Your Brand’ with the Personality Profile Performer™ programme






What Brands Can Learn From Political Campaigns

The races for 10 Downing Street and the White House highlight universal lessons in brand strategy for keen observers. As a brand, there’s none more emotive and powerful than a prime minister or president of the United States.


The time period available in politics for building a party platform, selecting leaders, and creating a campaign is much shorter, and consequently more intense, compared to all other arenas of brand building.


Nonetheless, just like the smallest of brands, the candidates must build that essential emotional bond whether through shaking hands, kissing babies or connecting with consumers at every single touchpoint in a way that’s relevant to them to earn every single vote. As students of brand marketing, the highly focused, condensed time frame and intense process of building a brand to attract voters — similarly to gaining customers — is rich in takeaways for businesses of any size.



US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – (Public Domain)


Brand Vision: Differentiation is Everything in Brand Strategy

How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m not voting…all politicians are the same.” Political campaigns remind us that clear brand differentiation is key if you are to capture your audience’s attention, imagination and support. In politics that vision is policy; in branding that vision can be whatever you choose…as long as it’s undeniably clear, relevant to your primary audience and expressed in easy to understand language that resonates with them.



Image via


Explain your brand vision. Paint a picture of what the world could look like and how others can be part of that when they buy into the vision of your brand. This must be a really bright North Star that shines for your audience and attracts word-of-mouth referral time after time.


Listen as US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delineates four essential human freedoms. FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech leaves no question regarding the nation’s vision, “attainable in our own time and generation,” on the eve of US involvement in World War II.



Listen as John F. Kennedy takes just 30 seconds to articulate his vision in the 1961 inaugural address, speaking first to Americans and then to fellow citizens of the world.




Healthy Brand Competition


In sales training, we’re taught to emphasize benefits; trashing the competition is not the right approach. Some politicians are known to be terrible at this. Instead of articulating an optimistic vision, candidates often tell you how lousy the incumbent and/or the competition is. Arguably some consider Donald Trump to be the champion of insults — a skill he developed on reality television and honed in debates — which doesn’t always translate so well in real life.



To get out the vote, that political position must be communicated across all stakeholders: volunteer voter registration workers, doorbell ringers, call centres, college campus activists, hundreds of regional election headquarters, social media gurus, data experts, staffers, media and the public. To gain customers, that brand message must be reflected at every touchpoint and resonate with current buyers, prospective buyers, suppliers, vendors, distributors, every employee, shareholders, investors, and the CEO.


In the absence of articulating and sharing a compelling brand message, disinterest develops, or even cynicism and mistrust. In politics, this translates into divisiveness, fear, insecurity — and a landslide for the opposition. For a brand, it means that reputation suffers and sales decline.


You Are Your Brand

The brand called YOU is a multi-layered lesson we can learn (both good and bad practices) by watching the political stage during an election cycle. Certainly, public opinion can be influenced by the packaging: takeaways like Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and Donald Trump’s unique hairstyle make an indelible mark, as with any brand.



Meryl Streep as Donald Trump – (@simply_the_best_ms on Instagram)


Also, brand marketers can observe how politicians use tone of voice, choice of words, truthfulness, authenticity, facts, listening skills, presentation style, distribution channels, frequency, inspirational metaphors, storytelling, consistency or lack of it, and more to make connections and grow audience. On occasion, they provide examples of what NOT to do.




Everyone involved has a chance to be a brand that is worthy of notice via its most important asset: People. Motivated, enthusiastic, hard working, smiling, clever and talented people make all the difference.

Know Your Brand’s Target Audience

Skills and insight go into knowing and understanding your target audience so you can speak their language, tap into their attitudes and values, and build a simple, strong compelling message that they find irresistible. That magnetism factor is a really important part of successful brand building. It’s one of the critical tools used for mapping out your different customer types in what we call Purchaser Personas.

In fact it’s one of the key elements in our brand building programme called the Personality Profile Performer™. You can’t attract the attention of your ideal audience and sustain their interest if you don’t know them intimately — their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations. Every business has a minimum of two and up to twenty different customer Purchaser Personas which provide the critical insights and direction for how your brand can speak to your customers — winning their hearts and minds on their terms — so you can grow your business.




The mechanisms of polling, precincts and predicting are complicated. We leave that to the experts. Nonetheless, you’ll hear news commentary about politicians of all political persuasions “appealing to their base” and/or “broadening the base.”


As in branding, the articulation of mission, values, and promise are essential. Communication with target audiences to understand their likes and dislikes is the first step, however talking to the base over and over doesn’t bring in a single new vote. Brand expansion while maintaining brand loyalty with a core audience is the name of the game in politics as in retailing and other customer verticals.

Brand Messaging Cannot be Overrated

The importance of driving powerful brand impact is what Donald Trump might call “H-U-U-U-G-E” because connecting at a deep emotional level moves people strategically and emotionally. The intensity of the brand message is what makes it stand out; the authenticity of the brand message is what makes it stick.


How you communicate with your audience and what message you bring is what keeps audiences loyal and strengthens bonds. As with any branding strategy, placement, delivery, frequency and tone of voice matter. It’s so easy to turn people off with too much noise and overexposure.


In America, where the election process rolls out over two years and intensifies as election day draws nearer, this skill must be managed and sustained over weeks and months, just like a brand must do in the broader marketplace.



Image via


Brand Storytelling Matters

It is critical to stay true to your brand’s DNA and not get lost, unglued, or disconnected. We’re conditioned that way. When a child asks you to read their favourite bedtime story, they’re anticipating the same story with the same ending.

Politicians are famous for the brand disaster known as a flip-flop on issues, and it can cost an election or tank sales. Whether in the political arena or in branding, there’s simply no room for inconsistent storytelling. It kills believability and trust.



The big why behind the brand story challenges us to build stories that promote something for the greater good. With vision, we can create and communicate a loveable brand, or a sustainable brand, or a socially responsible brand, or a caring, charitable brand…just like building a personality that people will vote for.

Sub-Branding Opportunities and Risks

Sometimes brands create sub-brands to serve expansion goals, as in Coors and Coors Light or American Express and the American Express Gold and Platinum Card. The risk is that sub-brands can detract from core brands, using precious time, energy and resources. Secondly, the sub-brand reputation reflects on its parent brand; the overall customer message can become diluted or compromised.

To minimise or eliminate risks, we recommend taking professional branding advice if you’re considering sub-branding to avoid costly mistakes. Planning your brand structures in the form of new or additional related or unrelated products or services, also known as brand architecture, is a critical part of the strategic planning and brand building process. We’ve seen this play out recently on the political world stage. Brand expansion must be taken seriously to protect core brand values. However, adding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to John McCain’s 2008 ticket diluted the brand.



When Hillary Clinton undertook a six-month vice presidential vetting process, the selection was received quite differently to when Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May selected dropout candidate Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in an overnight surprise. The former London mayor’s brand image is reportedly lacking in the required decorum associated with such an important role according to other world leaders.


“My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.” – Boris Johnson [1]



The Appeal of Disruptor Brands

What did brand managers learn from Bernie Sanders during the 14-month lead up to the Democratic Convention, when the challenger was the Millennials’ poster boy, a lovable white-haired grandfather, small-town Vermont Senator?

  • It takes time and resources — generally a year or so — for any challenger brand to successfully disrupt.


  • A clearly and passionately articulated brand vision should be communicated over and over again.


  • This candidate’s storytelling remained on message (since his youth), establishing strong authenticity, trust and delivering no surprises.


  • Bernie Sanders successfully reached a broad audience through brand activation and personal engagement. While pre-imposed deadlines brought his campaign to an end, the branding strategy was successful.


  • Watch what happens when a little bird lands on Bernie Sanders’ podium during a speech. The crowd goes crazy and the candidate turns the moment into an articulation of his vision, “No more wars.”




Consider these questions:

  • Is your brand vision well developed and clearly communicated?


  • Have you shared your brand vision with all stakeholders?




  • Is your brand story clearly articulated across multiple customer touchpoints?


  • Are you considering sub-branding as a strategy for brand expansion?






How to Transform Your Brand and Increase Your Sales

10 Branding Tips From Silicon Valley on How to Be a Successful Startup Brand

From Silicon Valley to Silicon Docks and Silicon Roundabout, the buzzwords “entrepreneur”,  “branding” and “startup” get bandied about quite a bit, so let’s take a look at their meanings. Dictionary definitions indicate that an entrepreneur is a person who initiates, organizes and manages a business and assumes its risk. A startup is the vehicle for doing so and branding is what makes your brand highly visible, different, memorable and much loved. Underlying the definition in common use today, is that an entrepreneur has a vision for a new brand, a startup that will disrupt a particular practice.


Entrepreneurship is “creative, disruptive innovation,” as notably coined by the early 20th century economist Joseph Schumpeter.


A century later, a newer definition, courtesy of Silicon Valley-based investor Reid Hoffman[1], is: “An entrepreneur is a person who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.”

scaring-you-shitless Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod

Branding From the Beginning

Startup brands in our commercial midst are actually nothing new. In fact, branding has been central to the success of innovators from the beginning. For centuries before modern society’s computer chip lent Silicon Valley its moniker, startups have been an essential part of the economy, picking up steam — to coin a phrase — during the Industrial Revolution. In the Information Age, entrepreneurship accounted for 14 percent of all working-age Americans in 2015, some 27 million people, in the USA alone. [2]

Startup Brands Are Still Brands

Startup brands are brands, just like established ones, only less developed. And, a branding professional who has been down this road many times can provide all-important markers for you in trailblazing the way ahead for your new brand. You’ll want to avoid brand mistakes that will likely require a costly do-over in time. Our Personality Profile Performer™ Programme is designed to guide brand owners and managers to build a highly visible, different, memorable and much loved new brand from scratch.





From birth you need a memorable name, a mission statement, a brand promise, a standout brand personality and a strong brand strategy prior to a brand launch. No one will debate that creating a startup brand isn’t hard work. We’re here to help!


Whether it’s the first sewing machine, a craft beer, or a new messaging app, being a founder is all-consuming…and always starts small even when you are thinking big.

What Is and Is Not Your Brand

The adage, “Everything is your brand and your brand is everything,”[3] as it appears in the pages of the Harvard Business Review, is true enough. However, until and unless you have your brand’s core values and the building blocks of your brand foundation in place, it is premature to take the next steps.


Your logo is not your brand. Your clever new name is not your brand. Your website is not your brand. Your packaging is not your brand. These are components of your brand to reflect your purpose and value.

Also, your place of business is definitely not your brand. Even a billion dollar brand can start in somebody’s garage…and they certainly have:

  • Disney in 1923
  • Hewlett Packard in 1939
  • Apple in 1976
  • Amazon in 1994
  • Google in 1998

Essentials for Startup Brands and Branding

As an entrepreneur, YOU are the voice and visionary of your brand, you embody your brand and your passion shows. Seasoned Silicon Valley startup pros offer plenty of free advice for today’s entrepreneurs.

One of the key takeaways on perspective comes from Dave McClure[4], the straight-talking co-founder of 500Startups, a Silicon Valley startup accelerator and global investor. Here, McClure is describing the best way to make an elevator pitch for funding — yet the essence of his advice is spot-on for the strategic approach to building the foundation of a startup brand. He counsels:


“Here’s the secret: Pitch the problem, not the solution.”


“Just tell me the problem FIRST, not the SOLUTION. The reason is, I may not be able to understand what your solution does, but if you connect emotionally with me on what the problem is — and hopefully I also have the problem, or know someone who does — then I’ll give you PERMISSION to tell me more about how you’re going to solve the problem.”


Ten Essential Startup Branding Tips

Here we take a look at 10 essential startup branding tips with comments from a dozen or so outstanding innovators and advisors from the Silicon Valley frontier.

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
  • Lynda co-founder Lynda Weinman
  • Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates
  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki
  • Apple founder Steve Jobs
  • Media personality Oprah Winfrey
  • Intuit co-founder Scott D. Cook
  • Venture capitalist Matt Turck
  • High tech investor Ben Horowitz
  • Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
  • SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk
  • Winner of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2015 and “Best Start-up Award” at Google’s Dublin HQ, 24-year-old James Foody, now San Francisco-based


Tip #1: Building Your Brand


“You don’t know what you don’t know.” – Oprah Winfrey at a 2014 Stanford University Graduate School of Business interview.[5]


Don’t try this alone. Silicon Valley wisdom counsels that even a genius cannot create a successful startup brand alone. No single person can possess all the required skills and have all the tools in their shed. Consider co-founders and advisors to move your business and branding strategy forward in the right direction. Remember…the “Fifth Beatle” for the Fab Four was their manager.


“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs



TechCrunch, a San Francisco, Silicon Valley media platform, says mentors are the secret weapons for a successful startup brand.[6] Their study shows that “mentors who had already achieved success in the tech industry were able to help younger tech startups outperform their peers by a factor of three.”

Broadlake, in Dublin, models their whole philosophy on a very hands-on approach as both advisors, mentors and investors who invest their time and capital to help entrepreneurs succeed.


“There’s always new challenges and I think with new challenges we gotta switch on, we gotta engage, we gotta work with these teams and try and achieve often for what these ambitious growing companies are looking to do, which is ground breaking stuff.” – Pete Smyth, Broadlake



Image via Broadlake


“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast, or a bridge player.” – Bill Gates



Image via Stanford University



Tip #2: A Brand is Not a Logo

Brands are not solely visual. Your new brand is about how you make people think and feel about your product or service. The most common misperception out there among startups is from those who think their brand is about their logo and not much else! CEOs, owners, partners, investors and founders should not make this mistake…nor should designers.


“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos



Image via Slideshare

A side note: When Marissa Mayer was appointed new CEO of a struggling Yahoo in 2013, a new logo was among the first tasks undertaken by an internal committee. Meantime, email customers were unhappy with their service.



Image via Naldz Graphics


Lesson: When Yahoo skipped the brand audit they ended up with a deep customer disconnect that was never regained. [7]



The Yahoo backstory to date:


Image via Twitter


Tip #3: Build Brand Trust

As a founder, you are the embodiment of your brand both internally and externally. From the moment you interact with your first core users, trust is critical. Your company may grow, but brand trust is a constant.


“Google is a consumer company and our success is directly linked to our users trusting us.” – Susan Wojcicki


And when you hire, make sure you hire the right people to personify the brand in its infancy. It is absolutely critical that your brand is represented properly all the time.



Image via Twitter


“If someone likes you they will listen to you. If someone trusts you they will do business with you.” – James Foody, Ayda



Image via Ayda



Tip #4: Identify Brand Need

When Lynda Weinman started teaching web design in 1993, she went in search of a textbook. All the books she found were too technical for beginners. (You can probably see where this story will lead.)


“I remember thinking maybe this book doesn’t exist yet. I went home from the bookstore and wrote the book proposal.” – Lynda Weinman


It was early days on the internet in 1995 when Lynda then got the idea to move her reference materials online and create a teaching course around them. Two decades later, Weinman had earned the nickname, “Mother of the Internet.”[8]


In the spring of 2015, Lynda Weinman sold her company,, to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion. The new owner, the world’s premier business-oriented social networking service, was seven years away from its own founding when the brand was created.



Tip #5: Become a Brand Guru

Once you’ve identified a passion, become an expert in whatever it is. Tell your story well. In the brand’s early days, you need anecdotes, not raw data. Be authentic, be enthusiastic, be clued up and know your stuff. Your brand promise must be frequently voiced, relatable, and completely transparent.


“Whether you are interacting with customers, fundraising or recruiting, you are always selling and, and the best salespeople are master storytellers. Craft a compelling and genuine company story that resonates with your audience not just intellectually, but also emotionally.”   – Matt Turck, Venture Capitalist, FirstMark Capital




Tip #6: Determine Brand Positioning


“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott D. Cook


Your core customers are your sounding board — an important audience for a startup. Is your brand positioning clear? Customers want companies to listen to their opinions, so you’ll need feedback to guide you in shaping your brand position in the marketplace. Before you can concern yourself with traction and loyalty, you need to ensure that the brand resonates, fills a need, and has value. Get feedback at every iteration along the way to ensure you’re moving in the right direction for consumer wants and needs. Tweaks will be necessary.


“Another one of my favourite posters at Facebook declares in big red letters, “Done is better than perfect.” I have tried to embrace this motto and let go of unattainable standards. Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.” –  Sheryl Sandberg



Tip #7: Communicate Your Brand

It can be difficult to properly communicate your startup vision to others. But, it’s critical that you do so effectively.

Keep lines of communication open constantly and force yourself to listen to critics. Learning how to manage people takes work. But if you don’t learn how to communicate, you risk destroying relationships with customers and employees.


“As a company grows, communication becomes its biggest challenge.” – Ben Horowitz


 Image via Gapingvoid, © Hugh MacLeod

Tip #8: Delight Your Customers

Bill Gates says the one word that best describes the startup mindset is optimism. Self-made multi-billionaire Warren Buffett says “At 85, I tap dance to work every day.”


Have fun and the pleasure of doing business with you will show right across your startup brand. Even if your brand is about heavily scientific based inter-planetary colonization, like SpaceX founder Elon Musk, let your good humour shine through.


“I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact.” – Elon Musk






“Fun is at the core of the way I like to do business and it has been key to everything I’ve done from the outset. More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin’s success.” – Richard Branson




Tip #9: Believe in Your Brand

Perseverance is the name of the game. Believe in your vision. Remember the lesson from a 30-year-old Steve Jobs when he got fired from the company he founded…it’s OK to fail. So be brave, take risks, learn from them, and don’t give up if you love what you do.


Passion will keep you going when you get hit in the head with a brick, which will only make success taste even sweeter.


Fact: A startup brand will experience setbacks.

“See criticism as free learning that makes you a better entrepreneur. Don’t be constrained or deflated by criticism, but do learn from it.” – James Foody


Tip #10: Nurture Your Brand

Once you’re certain your startup brand is is ready for launch, keep your vision focused on the moonshot…the thing that people may not think is possible could be within your reach. Listen to your inner GPS and let it guide you on the ride of your life.


“Picking what problem to go and solve is a much bigger and more important challenge than being able to solve the problem.” – Mark Zuckerberg



“When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.” – Meg Whitman


Ask Yourself…

  1. Are you developing a new brand to launch to market but you’re just not sure where to start to ensure a strong financial return? Our “Personality Profile Performer”™ course is perfect for you.
  2. Have you got an existing brand but it’s just not strong enough to make it to No.1 in the market? Talk to us about how we can guide you to build your brand recognition plan.
  3. Have you underestimated how difficult a startup brand really is? Or, perhaps you’re not dreaming big enough. We can help you with a branding strategy to ensure that you are properly positioned.
  4. Are you struggling with your brand story? Let us help you craft a compelling one in your brand’s own tone of voice.
  5. Does your brand identity need a boost? We can consult with you on everything from font to packaging design.
  6. Have you attempted a startup that missed its mark? We can help you revitalize and relaunch a product or service to get the result you’re looking for.





Rebrand or Refresh? That is the Question

A Rebranding Strategy Guide for Brand Owners and Managers

The business world is in a constant state of flux. Markets change, new trends emerge, disruptive competitors alter longstanding rules, and customer preferences evolve — all of which impacts your brand. Consequently brands are constantly evolving to ensure future growth and relevance. Even the longest standing and greatest brands in the world need rejuvenation, if not a total rebrand, in order to maintain their market leadership.


Like the foundation upon which a house is built, a strong brand is essential, indeed it is the lifeblood for any successful organisation. When cracks appear in that foundation, a wise owner or manager must take action to repair, introduce procedures to prevent deterioration and take steps to strengthen the brand for future growth. Experts say that organisations and brands change their corporate identities on an average of once every 7-10 years. [1]


On a regular basis, diligent brand owners and managers need to take a step away from an organization’s day-to-day operations to examine and re-evaluate their position and strength in the market. If your brand isn’t achieving its objectives or driving business growth, there’s little time to be lost wondering what to do about it. Its time to give your brand a health check. Frequently asked questions about the two brand revitalisation routes include:

  1. What’s the difference between a brand refresh and a rebrand?
  2. How do I determine which one is the most suitable choice?


Rebranding or revitalization can take many guises from the complete wholesale change of a company, service or product, inside and out, including; name, culture, values, vision, mission, proposition, positioning, purpose, behaviours, tone, visual collateral and all that entails with no connections to the legacy entity. Alternatively, it can be something less dramatic and of a more subtle, evolutionary nature in the form of a brand refresh.


In each instance though, the change to whatever degree, be it a total rebrand overhaul or brand refresh, affects a change in the minds of the target audience in terms of their perceptions of the brand. That change is a process of giving an organisation, product or service a new meaning and image, both in terms of brand experience and culture to its visual brand collateral, in order to make it more successful.


In determining whether it’s time for a refresh or a rebrand, one of the most effective tools for re-assessing your brand’s state is a brand audit health check to examine external and internal drivers that impact your brand. Like any checkup, a brand audit is best done as a proactive and preventative measure. Aside from determining the health or state of your brand, a brand audit also helps determine the level of potential change required — to rebrand or refresh.

“A brand audit is effectively a health check of your brand to identify and address problem areas with a net result of helping you turn things around and grow your bottom line.

Brands are like living entities with life cycles. They start with much excitement and promise, grow and then eventually plateau. A brand audit helps you innovate, re-invent, re-invigorate, and ensure market leadership and continued relevance so you can maximise your commercial return and fend off your competition.

The scale and depth of a brand audit is largely determined by your primary objectives coupled with timelines and resources.”





What’s the Difference between Refresh and Rebrand?


The reasons for rebranding and or refreshing an organisation, product or service are numerous and decisions should not be taken lightly without sound strategic reasons before launching into the process.

Once you know why you’re considering either a rebrand or refresh and what your primary objectives are in making this strategic decision, consider the following differences:

Rebrand or Refresh? A Quick Reference Checklist

What: Expand reach and market impact, get new customers, attract new talent, increase profitability


Why: Declining market share, diminishing growth, changing client’s or customers needs, tired and dated with lack of brand relevance, insufficient new leads, significant new product/service launch, lack of brand distinction, entering a new market, aggressive new competitors, new technology changes, struggling to describe what makes your firm, organisation, product or service different, difficulty attracting new talent, competitors poaching key employees, need to take your organisation to the next level, change in brand architecture or hierarchy

What: A re-positioning to change market perceptions, re-evaluate who are we, why do we exist? What’s our mission, vision, values, promise? How do we define and articulate our brand proposition and purpose? How is our brand really different to our competitors?


Why: New ownership, merger or acquisition, legal issues, reputation damage, rationalisation, outgrowth, globalisation, new primary target audience(s), competition, new sectorial challengers and disruptors

What: Evolutionary logo update


Why: Better reflection of brand platform and values

What: New brand identity


Why: To streamline and simplify or a complete change in core business

What: Evolve, update tagline


Why: Tweak the message, spotlight the business, stay current, introduce a new brand promise reflecting enhancements provided by the business

What: New tagline


Why: New line of business, new audience or an innovative advancement, new positioning

What: Health check your brand personality and primary characteristics using brand profiling — elements reference check


Why: Increased competition, slower sales, insufficient brand relevance and resonance, create enhanced distinction and market recognition, develop stronger brand resonance with customers

What: Redefine your new brand personality and brand characteristics


Why: Make it more relevant, engaging, compelling, distinctive, different, memorable and referable

What: Evaluate your brand promise and enhance consistent delivery


Why: Customer feedback, lack of strong distinction, difference and referability

What: Change your brand promise


Why: As a result of new products, services

What: Re-evaluate customer base versus profitability, evaluate brand equity


Why: Customer research, re-evaluate existing buyer personas (customer profiles)

What: New primary audience, need to change existing or previous customer perceptions


Why: Customer research, develop new customer buyer personas

What: Build new leadership and employee training modules


Why: People represent the brand and need the knowledge to be effective brand champions

What: Revamp leadership and employee training programmes


Why: To interpret and support company culture, develop new brand ambassadors

What: Expand market share


Why: Changes in competitive set and customer wants/needs

What: Find and capture new customers


Why: Change of price point and positioning

What: Introduce new products, services congruent with primary offering


Why: Business expansion within existing customer base and to attract new customers

What: Discontinue or retire some existing products, services


Why: Lack of market demand, no longer relevant, changing customer needs, competitors

What: Launch within a shorter timeline


Why: Competitive edge, attract change hungry customers, capture / maintain lead market share

What: Stage a rollout over a year or longer


Why: Extensive impact throughout the business, firm or organisation requiring change management internally and externally


So, refresh or rebrand? Here we take a look at both options and evaluate the most significant or typical reasons for deciding to choose one over the other. We’ll also review several case studies and key learnings to be extracted.

Rebranding or Brand Refresh Process

Establishing the reasons behind any brand change is fundamental. Whether your brand audit points to a refresh or a rebrand, both routes require a process of due diligence to determine the changes required and to what degree. Both routes require an inclusive approach, from the C-suite to the newest team member, ensuring that everyone in the organisation sees themselves as an essential part of the brand.


Engagement with the external market, customers, stakeholders and influencers alike is also hugely important. There many examples of brands which failed to address this adequately and consequently suffered significantly at the hands of voluble detractors.


While it may be tempting to jump into the visual brand design aspects, the process of investigation, discovery, analysis and brand strategy development cannot be overlooked or rushed — at your brand peril.


Broadly speaking a typical rebrand or refresh process includes:


Are you struggling with how to make your brand highly visible, different, distinctive memorable and likeable? Take a look at the Personality Profile Performer™ Programme. It’s a step-by-step process to make your brand No.1 in your target market — especially if you’re a getting lost in the market amongst all your competitors.

Rebranding Strategy

Approaching a rebranding or brand refresh process without strategic planning, market insights and customer engagement can have disastrous consequences. The strategy leading to a brand refresh or to rebranding requires much more than changes to a logo; it requires an understanding of strategic objectives for the brand.


Research involves consultation with staff, with existing, lost and prospective customers, former clients, and competitor insights to get a full picture of current brand associations as well as customer perceptions, wants and needs.


Therefore, an investment in time for research and assessment is required to flesh out areas of strength and weakness and their impact on the brand to see whether a total rebrand or just a refresh is required. The brand audit will also typically reveal new opportunities and point the way towards what you need to do to leverage them for greatest impact.

Rebranding Deliverables

Define deliverables to the organisation. These typically include a brand positioning statement that summarises the pertinent research and brand profiling outputs regarding the unique selling points and key brand characteristics that set the brand apart and make it highly visible, different, distinctive, memorable and liked while also providing the roadmap or GPS direction for the brand moving forward.


Brand messaging is delivered to include some or all of the following: values, vision, promise and mission statement, brand story, value proposition (for aligning brand product and services to customer communications), identification of target audiences, development of purchaser personas and a key messages crafted for each. Deliverables might also include problem statements and problem solutions.


Lastly, the design aspect of visual and / or audio deliverables should be identified e.g. logo and a tagline, packaging, stationery, website, social media platforms, apps update or overhaul, brochures, uniforms, PowerPoint or Keynote templates, sales supports, vehicle livery, uniforms, signage, site interiors and exteriors, exhibition stands, possibly music, videos, and more. It’s critical that your new or revitalised brand collateral properly reflects your brand, is consistent throughout every touch point and most importantly reflects and amplifies your key brand differentiators and brand personality in a way that’s really meaningful to your primary audience.

Rebranding or Brand Refresh Rollout

To avoid miscommunications, a new or refreshed branding launch is staged first internally. An organisation must provide insights, education and training to everyone, top down from senior management to general employees to ensure they are onboard to advocate the new brand. Front line employees’ communications are essential to the successful external customer roll out which follows.

Top 15 Tips for Ensuring a Successful Rebrand or Refresh

  1. Consult management
  2. Conduct a brand audit
  3. Determine refresh or rebrand requirement
  4. Set objectives
  5. Establish a timeline
  6. Set budget appropriately
  7. Create a balanced project team internally and externally
  8. Evaluate all customer touchpoints
  9. Re-develop / overhaul brand proposition, positioning and differentiators
  10. Re-visit brand strategy; sales and marketing messages and channels
  11. Develop brand strategy, brand profiling documents to provide the essential brand directions or roadmap
  12. Develop brand design brief
  13. Commission brand design agency (with relevant expertise)
  14. Determine methodology and markers for measuring ROI
  15. Plan and execute brand rollout to market

Hit or Miss: Brand Refresh and Rebrand Examples

Taking the time and consulting the experts to get it right is critical; a miss can be a costly affair.


Accenture: Rebranding Involved the Entire Global Organization

Amid much fanfare, Andersen Consulting hung a huge banner at the New York Stock Exchange to announce its 2001 reorganization from partnership to public company and a rebranding as Accenture. Following arbitration involving accountancy Arthur Andersen, the new name (meaning accent on the future) resulted from an internal competition won by a Danish employee in the company’s Oslo office, chosen from 2,677 submissions from 42 countries.[2]



Image via Accenture


Time magazine pegged Accenture “as a generic corporate nonsense word only a management consultant could have come up with…“[3] Only this was not the case. Currently the world’s largest management consultancy, Accenture might have made more of the positive PR storytelling opportunity about the brainstorming naming contest and the winner’s inspiration.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP: A Leading Law Firm says Brand Audit and Teamwork Are Key to Rebrand Success

America’s largest law firm undertook a rebrand over a 15 month period. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP had experienced two mergers, and the rebrand was intended to “define and raise awareness of our practice and industry expertise, commitment to client service, and seamless global reach.”


The brand audit health check process involved many thousands of pieces of content, including 2,000 lawyer biographies to be re-written, according to the firm’s chief business development and marketing officer. The takeaway? To “cultivate a really strong collaboration among all of the constituents responsible for launching a new brand…No single person could have accomplished this alone; this was truly a team effort.”[4]


Massey Bros.: One of Dublin’s Largest Funeral Directors Rebranded to Amplify its Brand Leadership Positioning and New Innovative Services

Massey Bros. Funeral Directors is a very successful family owned and managed business established in Dublin in the 1930s. They operate in a sector which is traditionally very conservative yet they’re industry leaders in terms of their premium service together with ongoing innovative solutions offered.




They also have the added complication of having more than six competitors also operating legitimately under the ‘Massey’ name. In addition to this they themselves also operated under two names before their brand refresh! Their brand revitalisation strategy helped them fully leverage their leadership positioning and amplify their multiple new innovative service solutions offered.



Dublin Tourism Board: Refreshes the Destination’s Strategic Positioning

Tourists have a finite number of vacation days and discretionary budget for holidays, so every destination competes to capture that spend. Visit Dublin undertook a study[5] to determine reasons for declining tourism numbers since 2007, resulting in a new positioning crafted to a visitor-focused strategy further analyzed by length of stay, reason for visit, country of origin and more demographics. As a 5-year plan, the realigned strategy, “A Breath of Fresh Air” gets buy-ins from the stakeholders and community to highlight both urban and outdoor visitor experiences.


Old Spice: Rebranded to Reposition – It Used to be on Your Grandfather’s Bathroom Shelf!


Marketing pros everywhere love the transformation of Old Spice[6] fragrance for men from an ageing brand to a sexy one. Aimed at a younger, newly targeted consumer audience, the “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign (52 million views and counting) smells nothing like 1938, the classic brand’s year of birth.




Learn from these well-known rebranding and brand refresh failures, now text book case studies on approaches to avoid. The primary lesson in each of these examples is do your due diligence before rebranding or refreshing your brand!


Royal Mail:

Consignia was a £2 million investment launched in January 2001 for the U.K. postal service. Calling the new name, “Nine letters that spelled fiasco,”[7] the BBC joined others to prompt a U-turn to return to Royal Mail 16 months later.


Image via Royalmail



When parent company PepsiCo removed the leafy green logo and juicy orange pierced with a straw in favor of a one-dimensional glass of juice, Tropicana sales plummeted by 20 percent. On top of whatever the rebrand and reversal cost, sales suffered to the tune of $137 million between January 1st and February 22nd 2009.


Image via



Perhaps the fastest rebrand turnaround ever, the new Gap logo lasted only six days at Christmas 2010. Consumer reaction was negative and outspoken. In going back to square one, the whole exercise has been estimated to have cost Gap $100 million.[8]


Image via Gap


RadioShack, founded in 1921, once operated 8,000-plus retail locations around the world. In 2015, after 11 consecutive quarterly losses, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy. Instead of spending millions on a refresh as “The Shack”, the company needed to completely rebrand. Service in RadioShack was reportedly abysmal, selection regarded as limited, prices perceived to be high and the USP as an electronic supplier of parts was no longer considered relevant.


Image via RadioShack

Can we help you with your brand refresh or rebranding?

Ask yourself:

  • Does your brand strategy plan reflect the time commitment involved in making a change?
  • Have you identified strategic reasons for a brand refresh or rebranding? 
  • Is your brand still truly relevant to your target market now and into the future?
  • Is your brand really distinctive, different and memorable from a customer/client perspective? Do you need to re-evaluate your brand profile?




  • Are you considering a rebrand to solve a brand challenge and / or a commercial challenge?
  • Have you really evaluated the impact of new disruptors and challengers entering your market and how your brand will compete against them?


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How to Use Brand Positioning to Build Brand Impact in an Overcrowded Market

Mondelēz International is a globally recognized snack manufacturer responsible for over 50 brands. However, according to its fact sheet released in 2015, 13 of its ‘power brands’ in 2014 were responsible for 60 percent of revenue which suggests that those 13 high performers have stronger brand positioning than the rest of the portfolio. In fact those 13 brands alone grew twice as fast as the company overall. [1]



Those statistics indicate how core brands can be crucial to a company’s overall success. However, the brands must be well positioned to attract the desired customer response.


Here, we’ll look at how to position your brand appropriately for success — even if the market is overcrowded. If you want to make your brand highly visible, different, distinctive, memorable and loveable take a look at the Personality Profile Performer™ Programme. It’s a step-by-step process empowering you to build your brand. Brand positioning is a key part of the brand building process — as you’ll see in the case studies listed below.


What is Brand Positioning?

Brand positioning is focused on the perceptions of your audience, which means that it’s about what you do in the minds of your audience, and not what you do to the product or service itself. Brand positioning is about how you clearly differentiate your brand in the mind of your customer because this perceived favourable differentiation is what drives them to choose your brand instead of your competitors.




Typically the most well positioned brands are linked to words or phrases in the customers’ minds, so the brand’s identity is personally defined in buyers’ minds. In other words they quickly differentiate that brand (product or service) from other possible options because of how you’ve positioned your brand to them relative to other potential options. [2]


For example, if a person thinks of the Apple® iPad®, he or she may instantly connect that product with words like “sleek,” “cutting edge” and “capable.” The last one is particularly likely, since Apple® ran an ad campaign that featured the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” It helped strengthen the idea that no matter what customers needed to get done, there’d be at least one app available to help them do it better.




Companies help develop the perceptions customers have about brands, but the brand experience itself determines whether something lives up to expectations. Therefore, the Apple® iPad® would not be well positioned if people found the tablet bulky, outdated and very hard to use. Brand positioning must be original, but also believable.


Brand positioning also relates to characteristics including style and customer types. As iPads evolve and newer models get released, each one is usually more streamlined than the last. The tablets also have a distinctive look that makes them easily identifiable, even from a distant store shelf.


Typical Apple® iPad® buyers are also arguably quite tech savvy and it’s unlikely a technophobe who only wants a very basic tablet would ultimately select an iPad as his or her first choice. Apple typically appeals to a younger, hip and technologically engaged customer type.


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Its business emphasis is to continually release products that have the “wow factor,” and the iPad® is no exception. Because Apple® has a history of innovation via previous products like the iPod® and iPhone®, it has already been able to successfully establish itself as impressive, even in relation to other top brands.


Geographic appropriateness is also a key factor in brand positioning. Swiss Miss® hot chocolate, for example might cause customers from a cold region to associate it with something they drink to warm up on cold nights. However, in a part of the world where the temperatures are much higher, the brand might be positioned in customers’ minds as a treat to drink when they want something sweet, but don’t need to warm their bodies.



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If a brand is perceived by its target audience to have or provide something very unique, it will have much stronger positioning in a competitive marketplace. Analysts are hailing the Chevrolet Bolt as the first mainstream electric car that has earned critical praise. [3]


Although the Nissan LEAF was offered to customers five years ago, that electric car was reportedly considered a failure because it was perceived to be less reliable, aesthetically less appealing and seemingly unable to win admiration of auto reviewers.




In contrast, the Chevy Bolt is already achieving good brand positioning because not only is it getting good marks from auto publications and reviewers, but its also offered at a significantly lower price than Nissan’s electric car, making it much more accessible to everyday consumers.



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Questions to Ask When Creating Your Brand Position or Writing a Positioning Statement

There are numerous questions that brand owners, managers and marketers should consider when building a brand position or researching the marketplace.


They include:

  • What can the brand deliver better than competitors
  • What value does the brand give to customers?
  • What are the brand’s most believable characteristics?
  • What desirable things should the brand be known for?
  • Do we have the necessary resources to maintain the brand’s position once established?
  • What are the key emotional factors that will resonate most with customers?
  • Is the brand and its market focused enough?


The answers to the questions posed above will help focus your thinking when writing your brand positioning statement. That’s a one to three-sentence piece that explains to customers what makes your brand different from competitors, and the specific perceived value it provides. [4]



4 Key Characteristics That Will Help Your Brand Stand Out From Your Competitors

A weak brand position will be largely useless if the market is so saturated people don’t notice it. In order to strengthen your brand positioning consider some of the factors listed below to enhance your differentiation. [5]


  1. A Positive Impact

Customers gravitate towards brands that clearly have a positive impact on the world, on specific communities, or society at large. Clearly define the impact your brand has, or aspires to have, and ensure your company values reflect this positive impact in everything it does. Positive impact builds authenticity and trust, which resonates with your target audience and consequently builds stronger brand recognition, visibility, referrals and repeat purchase.


  1. An Admirable Sense of Ambition

Don’t shy away from thinking big when considering your brand’s ideals, values, mission, promise and purpose. Maybe you’re not currently equipped to provide everything you’d like to for customers, but perhaps co-branding or a partnership with another brand could solve the problem or accelerate your ambitions.


  1. An Excellent Customer Experience

When customer service gets sacrificed, it often doesn’t matter how amazing a product is. Always work hard to attend to needs and exceed expectations in every way possible.


  1. The Ability to Fill a Void

Strong brands gain momentum by successfully fulfilling unmet needs. If other brands are already similarly positioned, explore other angles to create a greater perceived difference and stronger visibility to ensure your ideal customer notices of your brand’s special offerings.



Now, let’s look at three case studies of brands that have worked hard to earn their well-defined positions in the marketplace.


Beats Electronics

This audio accessory brand’s positioning allows it to compete well against Bose, a respected market leader, especially with younger consumers. Even though Bose is very well known for its technical prowess, Beats Electronics offers headphones and similar accessories that give bass-heavy sound, and look appealing too.




Many of the brand’s marketing materials are not only visually stunning, but they feature celebrities proudly wearing the audio gear.



Image via


As a result, the brand is positioned as a cool, capable choice for people who love music and want to showcase that devotion through stylish accessories. [6] Beats Electronics is doing so well, it’s aiming to expand into other geographic markets. [7]



NoBull Burgers

This brand has successfully carved out a niche in the veggie burger market in its native Charlottesville, Virginia, plus many other states, along with Washington DC.




The burgers are organic and offer two flavour varieties. In addition to purchasing them in shops, people can also buy them through Relay Foods, a delivery service. The brand’s position focuses on the company being locally connected, and thereby more able than some competitors to determine what customers want. [8] Furthermore, the wholesome ingredients appeal to people who want healthy and tasty food.




Image via




JetBlue Airlines

This budget-friendly airline has succeeded because it takes the position that low-cost fares and high-quality air travel can go hand in hand. [9] For example, travelers sit in leather seats and enjoy ample legroom. They also get unlimited snacks and even get the opportunity to use the Internet for free as they fly. Fantastic customer service is another thing the brand’s known for, and JetBlue has proven people don’t have to endure poor treatment for low-priced airfare.




If your brand is well positioned like the examples mentioned, it will achieve the attention it needs to thrive. Even more importantly, brands that have excellent positions stay etched in customers’ minds even as other options crop up and endeavour to capture a chunk of your market share.


Do you need to enhance your brand positioning? Take a look at the Personality Profile Performer™ Programme. It’s a step-by-step process empowering you to build your brand and it’s positioning.



Key Takeaways: 

  • Brand positioning gives customers reasons to buy one product or service over another
  • Brand positioning can be affected by aspects like style and tone-of-voice, brand personality, uniqueness, customer types and company reputation
  • A brand positioning statement succinctly tells customers what your brand can do that others can’t, and why it’s valuable and believable
  • The quality of a customer experience, the positive impact of a brand and its ability to meet needs must help differentiate it


Questions to Consider:

  • What are a few things you believe customers think of when envisioning your brand?
  • How might you work to make customers have more favorable brand associations that result in better positioning?
  • Can you name at least a few ways your company excels compared to competitors?
  • Have you considered how to help your brand maintain a good position over a long-term basis?
  • How might you make your brand’s position more believable?


You may also like:

• How Brand Purpose = Purchase = Increased Profitability

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success

• Brand CSR: The Business Case for Successful Branding and Social Good

• Brand Audits: 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?


[1] “Unleashing a Global Snacking Powerhouse” 2016.

[2] Susan Gunelius,, “What is Brand Positioning”

[3] Brad Berman,, “200-Mile Chevy Bolt is Praised as First Mainstream Electric Car” January 2016.

[4] Lisa Nielsen,, “What is a Brand Positioning Statement?”

[5] Maryam Banikarim and Karl Heiselman,, “Ask the Experts: How Do I Brand my Business to Stand Out from the Competition?” February 2014.

[6] Paul Maccabee,, “7 Lessons from a Brand Battle: Bose vs. Beats By Dre Headphones,” November 2014.

[7] Roger Fingas,, “Beats President Luke Wood Now ‘100%’ Focused on Electronics Division Targeting Global Expansion,” September 2015.


[9] Tejeshwari Chandrappa,, “Must-Know: JetBlue’s Competitive Airline Positioning”


Brand Equity: How to Measure the Strength and Effectiveness of Your Brand

According to statistics, 88 percent of consumers say quality makes them loyal to a brand, and only 50 percent say price is their primary concern. [1] Also, when people have a negative experience with a brand, 50 percent said they were unlikely to consume content from that brand again. Clearly, this data shows how important it is to ensure your brand is sending the right messages to your customers, and making them want to align with it for the right reasons.



Branding How Important Is It 600px  

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What is a Brand, and Why is Brand Equity So Important?


Your brand encompasses your total offering to your customers,[2] from what it stands for, to its personality, the experience it gives your customers, what it promises to deliver consistently, the language, tone of voice and messaging it uses to express itself throughout its communications, the fundamental culture of the organization it represents, its brand collateral and the people who represent it.


In short it’s the sum of all its parts from the quality of its offering to its attributes and the emotional meanings associated to it together with all its brand collateral which includes visual identifiers like its logo, website, packaging, printed literature, trade stands, staff uniforms, interior and exteriors site design and signage, vehicle livery, video content and so forth.  All of these elements collectively are what make up your brand when they all consistently and congruently engage your primary audience in a way which is relevant to them, yet are distinctive, different and memorable.


Brand equity is then derived from the overall perception of your brand, the way customers perceive your total brand offering, products or services, rather than the just the isolated features and benefits of the offerings themselves. When customers have a favorable brand perception with a consistently good experience, it’s far more likely they’ll remain loyal to your brand, and recommend it to others. In order to achieve strong brand equity, your brand needs to be unforgettable to your customers — it must resonate both with their hearts and their minds.


However, strong brand equity has more advantages than just customer loyalty: [3]


  • It enables you to form stronger ongoing relationships and negotiating power with vendors
  • Positive brand equity supports long-term company growth e.g. expansion into new markets, product extensions etc.
  • Strong brand equity could partially shield you if you hit a bump in the road e.g. reputational ramifications related to something unusual such as defective product or atypical manufacturing delay — assuming you handle the situation appropriately
  • Fundamentally customers are willing to pay more for a brand they trust and value



Although brand equity may seem intangible, it has real dollar, euro, or pound value. Brand equity can be tracked and measured using a combination of specialist research and specific algorithms applied on a comparative annual basis.


Measuring brand equity accurately is a niche expertise, with a number of companies specializing in this particular field. Interbrand is one of those companies and they annually track the brand equity value of companies and brands from year to year. By way of example, in 2014 the brand equity of credit card company American Express was $19.5 billion. That figure is impressive in itself, but it’s even more striking to note the brand’s equity value had grown 11 percent from the previous year. [4]



Evaluating Your Brand Equity: Auditing its Current State and Identifying Weaknesses


The first step in analyzing your brand equity is to get a reading of customer perceptions. It’s also important to research employee perceptions for comparative alignment. If there are underlying problems with a company’s brand culture there are also likely to be underperformance issues coupled with incongruent communications that customers will pick up on — all of which means they will be less likely to embrace your brand, and may even doubt its authenticity, which in turn causes a lack of trust.


A brand audit health check is a very useful and practical way to gauge how your primary audience and staff feel about your brand. It can also enable you to identify weaknesses that might not have been noticed previously. Once you identify weaknesses and inconsistencies in your brand, you’ll be in a much better position to convert them into strengths, or at least minimize the aspects of those weaknesses that make your brand less effective when pitched against your competitors. A brand audit health check also enables you to uncover and identify new opportunities for growth and innovation.



Make Your Brand Stronger using Keller’s Brand Equity Principles


When working with our clients to help them develop stronger brand equity, we also advocate principals from Keller’s Brand Equity Model, also known as the Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) Model. It suggests before you’re able to strengthen brand equity, you must first shape how customers think and feel about the brand. [5]


The model is a pyramid shape, with brand identity at the bottom. That section represents the key characteristics and personality of the brand. It’s important customers recognize those attributes correctly, and believe they are different from what competitors offer.  


The next level of the pyramid relates to brand meaning. In other words, what does your brand stand for, and how well does it meet customers’ needs, both in terms of performance, and on social and psychological levels? Think about the ways you want customers to experience your brand, and use those factors to create your brand personality and key characteristics.


Brand response represents the third tier of the pyramid. Credibility, actual and perceived quality, and comparisons with competing products all help shape brand response. Your goal is to make your brand evoke direct feelings and innate emotions.


The top level of the pyramid is brand resonance. When customers actively engage with your brand even when not purchasing it, that demonstrates brand resonance, as does a desire to be associated with a “community” of fellow purchasers. Customers also show brand resonance through behavioral loyalty, such as repeat purchases.



Measuring Brand Equity with the Six-Stage Brand Development Model


The six-stage brand development model is a diagnostic tool that combines proven metrics and a framework to guide brand equity strategies. Below, you’ll find the different characteristics a brand should have [6], plus how to make improvements if necessary.


  • A Brand Should Be Recognizable: If your brand lacks recognition in the marketplace it’s crucial to develop your brand strategy and enaction it tactically with a fully intergrated branding plan in order to raise its profile. Brand recognition increases through repeated exposure.


  • The Brand Must Be Memorable: The brand should be among the first called to mind when customers decide what to purchase. If that’s not happening, educate your target market about what your brand offers and why it’s unique – while remembering to enage your aduience at both emotional and rational levels.


  • A Brand Should Be Viewed Favourably: As we often remind our clients, it’s not enough for people to be aware of a brand. The target audience must also believe the brand is able to meet their needs with trust and respect for what the brand represents.


  • A Brand Should Be Distinctive: When customers are ready to buy an item (product or service), they must feel compelled to do so because they think the product offers a unique brand promise unlike what any competitors can provide. Brand perception occurs at both functional and emotional levels, so the goal is to position your brand effectively by stressing attributes that motivate purchases.


  • The Brand Must Be Preferred: Ideally, customers will prefer your brand over all others, and be willing to purchase it repeatedly. If preference for your brand is low, you’ll need to evaluate why through a brand audit and then implement changes based on the analysis and findings made. Fundamentally you must build brand trust if you want to engender long term brand loyalty.


  • Your Market Must Be Satisfied with the Brand: Ideally, customers will be so happy with what your brand offers they aren’t just personally content, but eager to recommend your brand to friends — become brand champions. If that isn’t currently happening, you may need to evaluate where the discontent lies and work on improving your product or service in terms of both percieved and actual quality.



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Let’s briefly examine three case studies where improving brand equity was the central goal:



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Starbucks has become a global brand worth $10 billion. In 2011, the brand went through a brand identity expansion to boost brand equity. A recognizable green mermaid traditionally decorated bags of the brand’s trademark coffees.






However, Starbucks wanted to expand its future vision by also using its identity more broadly on other products besides coffee, and associate it with offerings like teas and lemonades. The transition to use the mermaid logo more broadly was lauded by industry experts [7], with some believing strongly the broader use of the logo would trigger new growth and bolster recognition, without compromising acquired brand equity.



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Veritas Winery

Established in 2002 as a family-run business, Veritas Wineries was one of the first businesses of its kind in Virginia. The company realized its history and provenance helped establish its brand equity and wanted to implement some brand enhancements without compromising its valuable legacy.






The company commissioned a full brand audit, which resulted in small but meaningful changes [8] to the brand’s identity and made the overall brand more consistent to promote prolonged marketplace success. These alterations have enabled the brand to maintain its dominance, despite increasing competition.




Coca-Cola used “Open Happiness,” as a global campaign, to appeal to its consumers’ desire to feel optimistic and be comforted despite a weak economy. At the time, it was the brand’s first new campaign in three years. Advertising spots ran in both print and television media.


Although previous campaigns won awards, some analysts felt they required localized tweaking to resonate with culturally different audiences in different parts of the world. [9] The intention was that “Open Happiness” would have mass worldwide appeal. In the end, that goal was achieved, and the campaign achieved widespread industry praise for its ingenuity.






In conclusion, brand equity is measured one brilliant customer experience at a time. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a positive brand tone, understand how to relate to your target audience in a way that matters most to them, while simultaneously meeting their needs. Building and maintaining brand equity is an ongoing process, remember successful brand building is as much about all the small things you do consistently well coupled with the bigger campaigns and new initiatives.



Key Takeaways:


  • Brand equity can make the difference in how customers experience your brand, and whether they want to align themselves with it.


  • Brand equity is derived from customer perceptions. Strong brand equity increases the likelihood customers recommend your brand to others.


  • A brand audit can indicate how customers perceive your brand, and enable you to identify weaknesses.


  • Brand equity is tied to how customers both think and feel.


  • Brands should be preferred, distinctive, favorably viewed, recognizable and memorable if strong brand equity is to be achieved.



Questions to consider:


  • What actions or brand strategies could be implemented to increase customer engagement with your brand?


  • What would help improve the actual and perceived quality of your brand?


  • Have you taken steps to become informed and evaluate your brand’s weaknesses compared to competitors?


  • Do you feel your brand adequately conveys why and how it meets your customer needs?


  • Does your brand connect with people globally, and is that necessary for its brand equity?



You might also like:


• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?


Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling


• Brand Loyalty: 5 Key Steps to Building Your Loyal Fan Base 


• Brand Audit: Tips for Determining Your Brand’s Health – Can It Be Improved?


• Humanizing Your Brand: Why It is Key to Commercial Success


• Brand Differentiation: 30 Ways to Differentiate Your Brand


• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality


• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success


• Brand Profiling: How to Use Emotion to Make Your Brand More Profitable  



[1] Eric Hammis,, “How Important is Brand Identity?”, April 2015.

[2] Lois Geller,, “Why a Brand Matters”, May 2012

[3] John Fatteross,, ” Advantages of Strong Brand Equity”

[4] Jennifer Connelly, htttp://, “‘Brand Equity’ is an Intangible That’s Worth Real Money”

[5], “Keller’s Brand Equity Model: Building a Powerful Brand”

[6], “A Brand Development Model: How to Define and Measure Brand Equality,” December 2013

[7] Carl Johnson,, “Why Starbucks Logo Change Doesn’t Equate to Brand Change,” January 2011

[8] http://www.designbywatermark, “What is a Brand Refresh?”

[9] Betsy McKay and Suzanne Vranica,, “Coca-Cola to Uncap ‘Open Happiness’ Campaign” January 2009