YES, THE WEEKLY SCREED HAS A READER FROM ROMANIA
It would be more remarkable if he were actually in Romania.
But he lives in Atlanta.
His name is Petru.
We could call him Peter, the anglicized version of his name, but staying faithful to his mother tongue is more fun.
And more on-brand.
Petru, in asking the Big Burning Question, indirectly points out that even if you are a faithful reader to the screed, you may not have been immersed in the ways of Slow-Burn branding think.
His question is also a reminder of a perennial problem...
WHEN IT COMES TO BRANDING, MANY "EXPERTS" HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT
So, we're going to circle back to a brand basic.
If you're a long-timer who's been here for the 12 years we've been doing this, it's a refresher.
If you're a newbie who's never been indoctrinated, this'll be new stuff.
Really important stuff.
You're going to learn something so insanely simple yet so deeply complex that almost nobody really gets it.
People working at big advertising agencies, working on some of the biggest brands in the world, don't even get it.
IT'S CERTAINLY GOING TO BE NEW STUFF FOR DOMNULE PETRU
("Domnule" is Romanian for "Mister." You've just witnessed almost the extent of my Romanian.)
Anyway, Petru says:
I am still confused on what
I need to do when helping a
business to "brand" itself.
Many people say that small
businesses should only do
direct response marketing
and no branding at all.
Is there any process/system
that would help me figure
out how to brand a
This is Petru's zi norocoasa. (That means "lucky day." That's about the rest of my Romanian.)
And based on how he cues up that question, he needs a three-part answer.
But first, I'm going to start by answering two, unasked questions.
THE FIRST UNASKED QUESTION
Since Petru at one time had his own agency, this one is worth knowing. When you have an agency, people always ask it.
"What kind of businesses do you work with?"
At Slow Burn, our answer is simple: We work for people with whom we'd look forward to having dinner.
Yes, there are a lot of specific kinds of businesses we like to work with. Lawyers are one of our favorites.
But we realized early on that we really have to work with people we like and respect and enjoy.
Life is too short to be shackled to someone who's difficult or who doesn't get it.
It's also much easier to do good work for someone who really enjoys and appreciates your expertise.
Be picky about the people for whom you'll work.
That's the answer to the first unasked question.
YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW THE SECOND UNASKED QUESTION
"What is brand?"
Just to make sure we're all on the same page here, we need to get that out on the table.
Brand is the ONE way your CORE CUSTOMER should FEEL about your business.
Breaking that down: ONE because focus is essential. Nobody focuses on two things at once.
CORE CUSTOMER because once you define the individual to whom you're speaking, you then know how to speak to that person. You can give your brand a voice.
FEEL because emotions are central to the process of decision making.
All righty. Now, to answer Petru's three-part, explicit question.
We're going to start with Part #2 first, as it's relevant to every small-business owner
SMALL BUSINESSES SHOULD DO NO BRANDING AT ALL--ONLY DIRECT RESPONSE
What I'm about to say, I say as a lover of good direct marketing. Both the Fabulous Honey Parker and I have worked on killer direct marketing campaigns with huge ROI.
The directive to not do branding, only direct marketing...
Makes us crazy.
It's like saying, "In football, you should do no training at all, you should only do the inside run."
A football player trains to be stronger and faster on the field.
The inside run is a play, an execution, a tactical decision made in the moment.
THEY ARE TWO, COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS
One has zero bearing on the other--except that a stronger player is more likely to execute a better inside run.
Training is a kind of preparation.
The inside run is execution that benefits from that preparation.
Branding is preparation.
Direct marketing is an execution that benefits from that preparation.
LET'S SAY YOU HAVE TWO EQUAL BUSINESSES
They are the same in all ways.
Except...Business One understands its brand and infuses all of their marketing with a customer-focused brand attitude.
Business Two just sends out, "Yeah, me too, we do that" marketing materials.
A great example from our own client roster is a guy in a very commoditized business.
Matt was an unbranded house painter.
He was tired of the struggle and decided he needed to brand.
So he came to us.
WE HELPED HIM DEFINE HIS CORE CUSTOMER
She's an upscale, status-conscious housewife who drives a Range Rover.
He renames his business for her. Instead of just being Matt Wolf the house painter, he becomes Wolf Custom Finishes.
Matt, who'd never had a logo before, gets a new, arty, sexy, upscale logo. It's in the same league as the logo for a luxury car dealer or an art gallery.
Matt's tagline is, "It's not just paint. It's how you look."
And if you call him to get an estimate, he looks good, too.
He shows up wearing a sport coat, and brings fresh bagels and coffee.
Matt has the exclusive, elevated brand of an artist--which he is.
So, speaking to an upscale, status-conscious housewife who drives a Range Rover, speaking to her with a name that says, "custom," showing her a very arty, sexy, upscale logo, telling her this job, "It's not just paint, it's how you look," showing up wearing a sport coat, and carrying fresh bagels and coffee...
DO YOU THINK SHE KNOWS HE CARES ABOUT HER HOME?
You think that all resonates with that affluent woman who cares what people think about her?
What chance does the unbranded guy have?
The guy has a logo featuring a clip-art painter rushing along with a bucket and a ladder.
His tagline says, "For all your painting needs."
He shows up for the estimate in a paint-spattered outfit stinking of BO from the job he just left.
This guy treats his craft as a commodity.
Matt treats his craft as an art form.
AND IT MATTERS TO THE CORE CUSTOMER
In the first year after he rebranded, Matt doubled his revenue.
He changed his brand and changed his life.
He's in a better mood all the time.
He has better clients who treat him well.
Who in their right mind would tell this man that he should ignore branding and just do direct marketing?
But you can be sure if he does do direct marketing, it's consistent with his brand.
He doesn't offer to paint three rooms for the price of two.
He offers to upgrade her lifestyle with the emotional power of color and style.
His marketing stays right in line with the idea that painting your house is about your status.
IT'S ALL ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK
And how you look is related to your brand and how you make other people feel.
That affluent housewife's house is part of her brand.
It represents her and influences how people feel about her.
Matt Wolf's brand is also about her house, and how people feel about her.
And this is all about feelings.
The decision process is inextricably linked to emotions.
Neuroscience has proven it.
Damage the emotional center of your brain, and you cannot make even simple decisions. Your life goes off the rails.
Branding is about feelings. It helps people like you and decide to buy you.
A small business is better off with brand than without it.
THUS ENDETH THE ANSWER TO THE SECOND PART OF THE QUESTION
Next week, we will look at answering the easier, more functional part of the question posed by our Romanian friend in Hotlanta.
We'll talk about how to brand a business.
And while there isn't exactly a system for it, we'll talk about some super-secret resources to help you do it.
Happy New Year.
Glad you're finally back in the saddle after the holidays and working on a kickass 2017.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
Blaine Parker helps people sell their stuff. An advertising Creative Director and Copywriter at Slow Burn Marketing, he specializes in big-brand thinking for small-business marketing. He has the voice of a much taller man.