Monday, May 11, 2015

Killer On-Brand Packaging That Makes You Want to Buy

When it comes to making a purchasing decision, looks matter. They just do. And when you have a strong brand with a definitive look, you can make a purchasing decision a no-brainer for customers who share your values.

Custom packaging is an added expense, yes, but take a look at the creative concept approaches for these different companies. Some of these ideas made it to production, some of them did not.

Which ones grab your attention, and would they make you want to buy from that company?

Image credit: AdForum

Image credit: Envision
 (^^^Portion of purchase donated to breast cancer research.)

Image credit: Droold

Image credit: Yanko Design

Image credit: Backbone Branding

Image credit: Lo Siento

Image credit: Yanko Designs

Image credit: Corrine Pant

Image credit: Thelma's Treats

Image credit: Ashley Buerkett

Image credit: Hani Douaji

Image credit: Ralf Schroder

Monday, May 4, 2015

Marketing Fails

As you start to put your brand out into the world, not every step you take is going to be perfect. It's important to remember that even the big boys face plant now and again when broadcasting their brand out into the world.

There are great lessons to be learned in failing fast and recovering quickly, so don't beat yourself up too hard or too long if and when you step into a branding or marketing pothole.

As shown below, it happens to everyone.

Network TV branding fail.
Local news branding fail.

Inadvertent and/or humor fail in print ad.

A "Do they know what they're saying?" branding fail.

Epic oversight branding fail.

Crossing-the-line branding fail

Memorable, but...on brand?

Branding, or public service announcement?

Maybe not the gospel message they were trying for...

Remember: Branding miscommunications happen every day. When that happens, do what the best in the business do:

  • Learn from it
  • Fix it
  • Apologize (if needed)
  • Adjust your style guide (if needed)
  • Move forward
As with all things, the more practice you get putting your brand out there, the better you'll get.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Where There's A Will, There's A Way

In business, there are often more no-s than there are yes-es. Over time, this can impact how we think and what we think. We start focusing on proven paths that have track history, and start seeing everything untried as "risky."

In essence, we stop being a fan, and start being a score keeper.

Profitability is a necessary mindset for business, of course. I'm not saying it's not. What I am saying is that if you're never doing anything new, then you're probably not catching anybody's eye.

Let's take two fans of Star Wars as today's example of how to be seen in a throng.

When it comes to scoring a seat to one of the biggest movies of the decade, the list of people who want to see the Star Wars movie first while sitting in a theater with all its stars is surely in the millions...maybe even the tens or hundreds of millions.

@MattKingsnorth and @TurboBungle are two such fans. They really want to go to the premiere. What Star Wars fan doesn't want to go, right? But these guys REALLY want to go, and they want to make sure that director, J.J. Abrams sees how badly they want to go firsthand.

So what do they do? They put a Stars Wars X-Wing toy into space and made this video for J.J. Abrams.

These fans have literally gone where no fan has gone before (whoops, wrong franchise), and because of that, they will be seen.

Will they get what they're asking for? Or will these two mega-fans get something arguably better (like publicity and funding for their actual project...which is maybe the whole point of this video, if they're savvy)?

Time will tell, but in the mean time, you can bet that people all over the world now have their eyes on these two. But don't take my word for it. Just take a look at their YouTube hits and comments. At the time of this posting, the video is just above 40,000 hits and climbing (compared to the other videos the two have posted, which average under 100 each).

They say there's no formula for a viral video, but I think these two came pretty close to nailing it with this formula:

Trending Topic + Specialty Skill = Dude! For real? I wanna do that!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thanks for the Recommendation!

The Libris Pro is a one-stop shop for businesses, artists, and authors looking to outsource some professional needs. The Libris Pro:
  • Designs and builds websites
  • Designs book covers
  • Codes eBooks
  • Edits
  • Creates promotional materials

In short, the Libris Pro is the type of business many authors and artists consult with after they have defined their brand. And for those who haven't made it that far, The Libris Pro now officially recommends BuildYour Brand

If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not Build Your Brand is the best $17 investment you’ll make in your company this year, read the Libris Pro's quick take on who they recommend it for and why here.

Then check out the services offered by Libris Pro. The company has a long list of satisfied customers, and you could be one of them.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What is the Brief Case Method?

I got an email yesterday asking me if I was familiar with a new trend called "The Briefcase Method."

The Briefcase Method itself is old school, so in a way we're all familiar with it. We see it on TV and movies all the time, but less and less often in real life. The method a re-emphasis remembering that some analog selling tactics are tried and true, even in a digital world, from the author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Basically, the Briefcase Method involves:
  1. Coming into meeting with your clients or potential employers with a prepared, PRINTED-OUT to-do list of what you see their needs are 
  2. Explaining how your competencies can fulfill those needs
  3. Making yourself an indispensable candidate

Check out Ramit Sethi's take on the Briefcase Method below.

Want to learn more? Sethi's book has great reviews. Check it out here:

or visit his website here:

Monday, April 6, 2015

What's Your Brand Experience?

The puzzle of how to create memorable customer experiences is not new to the business landscape. The digital world we live in has definitely expanded the possibilities for creating experiences before clicking on the Buy button, but the need to create an experience that causes people to come back and find you specifically is as old as the marketplace.

A tried a true method of creating an experience that precedes a purchase is providing samples to passersby. This cost heavy try-before-you-buy practice isn’t going anywhere—especially when it comes to food products—but many companies are able to provide digital samples or giveaways of their product for little or no cost.

Digital samples and shares are so common that they’re almost expected these days, which means companies need to look for newer and memorable experiences they can create. To remain memorable, something about the experience of being your patron should be unique to you.

Two questions that can help you find a strong customer experience for your business are:
  1. What are my customers already doing when interacting with my product?
  2. How can I own that activity?
Joe Fresh is a fashion retail brand that is using this approach to lure online shoppers into their brick and mortar stores this March. They realized that people like to take pictures of themselves in store mirrors of the outfits they were considering.

So Joe Fresh turned this customer habit into a contest. This past March, they posted the following contest.

Joe Fresh clearly posted the rules on how to enter, and offered their customers a prize to do what they were already doing: take pictures in our clothes. Only instead of texting the images to friends for an opinion, Joe Fresh invited customers to post their pictures to Instagram for a chance to win a shopping spree.

Image credit:
The customer's goal: Win a shopping spree.
The business goal: Get free publicity by having customers voluntarily broadcast that they shop at Joe Fresh to get new eyes on their products.
The prize: $1,000 in-store credit

I think it's fair to say that this campaign was a shot in the dark for them. There's no way to predict what response would or wouldn't be, but the point is that the company found an experience-based marketing campaign that matched their values and their budget and ran with it. How effective the campaign was will likely be spelled out in financial reports several months from now, which will in turn inform future marketing efforts.

Even the big boys have to do a shotgun blast into the dark while they're trying to refine new laser approach. I think this campaign qualifies, which is why it's such a great example to small businesses everywhere. Sometimes everyone has to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks for them.

Take a few minutes to consider what you can do with your customers to build your brand. How do they want to engage with you, and how can you run with the energy that is already out there to create a branded experience?

There is no right answer, only the answer that is right for you. Find a responsible way to give it a try and see what happens!

Monday, March 16, 2015

What is the Difference Between Marketing and Brand?

When people ask me what I do and I tell them that I help companies identify and establish their brands, I often get a response along the lines of:

“Oh, I know I should tweet more, but I just have so many other things to do.”

This response is very telling, because it shows that while I’m talking about branding, the person across from me thinks we’re talking about marketing. So what’s the difference between the two?

In short:
  • Brand is about identity—who you are, what you do, and how you fit into the world.
  • Marketing is about communication and money—what you do and the tactics you use to become well known and profitable.
Branding is promise. Marketing is promotion.

Successful marketing campaigns are possible when a company with a strong identity uses strategic messaging and imagery to communicate what the brand delivers to customers. This allows customers who are seeking out what the brand has to offer to identify the brand and learn more.


There are times, however, when marketing works without establishing a brand first. The "startup factor," in particular, is often one of the reasons business owners don't understand the importance of branding for months, and maybe even years into their business.

What I call the "Honeymoon Arc" is a dynamic that allows a business owner to benefit from false cues when they first start their business. The arc generally goes like this:
  1. First comes love
  2. Then comes the marriage/honeymoon
  3. Then comes reality


Most businesses are born out of either a passion or a competency.
  • Maybe you’re a plumber who knows everything there is to know, and is ready to be his own boss
  • Maybe you make great wedding cakes and are ready to go solo
  • Maybe you love antiques and you open a shop
  • Maybe you’re obsessed with fitness and you are ready to become a personal trainer

Whatever your vocation, you’re taking the leap because you’ve received a lot of feedback that it’s a good idea. And even better? All these people who support you are going to be your first customers.

Feeling the momentum, and not wanting to lose any of it, the business owner will slap together all the necessities.
  • You need a website—CHECK
  • You need a logo—CHECK
  • You need a business card—CHECK
  • You need to learn how to invoice—CHECK
  • You need to find ways to accept payment—CHECK
  • You need a business license—CHECK
  • You need a business account at the bank—CHECK
  • You need a thousand other things that you weren’t aware of—IN PROGRESS

Just like being in love doesn’t mean you’re familiar with the nuts and bolts of a marriage, most people who start a business have never run a business before. They know the love, but the marriage is new, so they’re learning as they go. Now they’re working full time for themselves, PLUS juggling a bunch of new curve balls they didn’t know existed.

It’s overwhelming.


The good news? Friends and family are giving them great feedback on your businesses and services. They’re coming in and supporting and sharing your new venture with everyone they meet.
This is a beautiful honeymoon period. Minimal efforts are met with strong support. You have customers. You have referrals.

For a while.


A few weeks or a few months in to the business, things start to lag. All your friends and family have been in and out, but they only need so much of what you sell. They’ve sent in friends—some of which have returned, some not.

You push along, trying this, trying that. Maybe you do a Groupon...maybe a radio ad...maybe a mailer. Some are kind of effective, some totally not worth a cent. You tweet and no one cares. You post online and feel like a pest, and you’re left wondering what else you can do.

It’s during these months (or years) when a business owner is searching for the reason why people aren’t coming back or responding to ads that they may realize how futile marketing can be when there is no defined brand identity.

They realize that people need to know:
  • Who are you?
  • Whom do you serve?
  • What is your USP (unique selling proposition)?
  • What is your brand promise?
  • What are your values?
  • Why is choosing you the best choice?

If customers don’t know these things, why wouldn’t they choose someone else? And if your marketing team doesn’t know the answers to these questions, how can they broadcast them out into the community?


Your brand IS NOT how many followers you have on Twitter or how much money you spent last year on advertising. Those things fall in your marketing bucket.

Your brand IS your identity, your promises, and your reputation. Your brand is communicated in your marketing, but it is not the actual marketing.

The good news is that it’s never too late to create a stronger brand presence for yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re launching in a year or if you’ve been in business a decade. It is always a good time to clarify your identity in the market in a way that helps customers choose you.

To learn more, pick up Build Your Brand on Amazon.It walks you through how to build or strengthen your brand, step by step. Develop a strategy to grow your business today by letting people know why your business deserves their loyalty.