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6/8/2003

Your firmís good name is priceless

By Stacy Cornay
Special to the Times-Call

If your dad is anything like mine, youíve heard the old responsibility lecture.

Never quit. Lifeís not fair; deal with it. Donít fixate on whatís wrong ó find a way to make it right.

The lecture wore thin at times. But now that Iím a mom and am trying to keep a pre-teen on the straight and narrow, I have a deeper appreciation for Dadís counsel.

The old responsibility lecture works ó for businesses as well as kids.

Facing up to your responsibilities adds up to smart marketing.

A case in point is the ďroad to redemptionĒ theme in a new print ad campaign being launched by General Motors.

To address a rap on its reputation for quality, GMís marketing campaign is 5 percent mea culpa and 95 percent ďwhatís going on thatís good at General Motors.Ē

GM is capturing attention by doing more than acting responsibly to address an image problem. GM is aggressively branding.

Branding may be the most misunderstood concept in marketing. It goes beyond names and logos.

Branding is the reason people choose your products or services and stick with them through thick and thin.

Branding is about getting prospects to pick you over your competition.

Itís about getting people to see you as the only solution to their problem.

Branding sets your business apart from others.

It creates an image of value in the public view. It builds a solid foundation of customer and client loyalty.

Branding is a big deal.

So, if your marketing hasnít been focused in that area, the old responsibility lecture may help get things back on track.

Your good name is priceless. It should be memorable, positive, easy to remember and reflective of your products or services.

But it doesnít end there. Unless you hang out with Norm at Cheers, itís not enough that everybody knows your name. They have to remember it, appreciate it and be able to connect to you.

People generally remember three companies in any given category.

Itís up to you to make sure that youíre not frozen out, that your companyís name is not only in the top three, but rising to the top.

A good way to be remembered is to have a great tag line ó a phrase that follows a brand name, something that is distinctively you. Like Hallmark, you have to care enough to be the very best. When you come up with your tag line, stick with it. Changing it frequently will create confusion.

Dare to be different. You donít have to do the same thing that has always been done in your industry. The best way to stand out is to be bold. However, bold doesnít translate into rude, tacky or poor taste.

Motivate your prospects. Donít just ask them to do business with you. Give them reasons for being enthusiastic in choosing you over the competition.

Finally, trust and confidence are the centerpieces to business success. Customer loyalty is built upon honesty, competence and advocacy. The client needs to know that your bottom line isnít in conflict with his or her best interests.

Donít speak ill of the competition. If you publicly belittle others, you and your brandís reputation will be put under the microscope.

Thereís much more to branding, but space limits further discussion.

If you have questions or would like counsel, call a marketing or communications specialist.

In the meantime, stick to the core of the Dadís responsibility lecture, as summarized by Mark Twain:

ďAlways do right. That will gratify some of the people and astonish the rest.Ē

Stacy Cornay is owner of Communications Concepts, a public relations/advertising firm in Longmont.