Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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Branding, right down to the buttons.

Have you ever had a week in your life when things seem to be completely pre-determined? The kind of week where everywhere you go, everything you do, is guided by a Force Larger Than Us?

That's the kind of week I had. Everywhere I went and everything I did took on the same Holy Cause. It was if the hand of the Big Guy himself was directing me through editors, book publishers, Hollywod celebrities and internet speaking gigs, driving me forth to preach the gospel of branding.

Okay, it wasn't holy on a Jerry Falwell level, but it was weird enough to get me writing about one of my favorite topics: branding.

A brand is really, really important if you're serious about doing business on the web, or anywhere else, for that matter. It's the key to customer loyalty and the reason for repeat business. I think everyone agrees on that. What everyone doesn't agree on is how to develop one.

To me, branding is the consistent creative execution of your strategic market positioning. Try saying that in front of the mirror a couple of times and see how important it makes you feel. Better yet, try it while wearing a blue pin stripe suit. Works, doesn't it? Well, saying it is one thing, but truly understanding and applying it is what really works.

To understand branding, you have to understand market positioning. Market positioning is your strategic posture in the market place. The stuff that makes you different, better or worth more money than the rest of the snake oil merchants hawking their wares. When you commit to a market position, you're establishing a beachhead on the marketing battlefield, defiantly hoisting your colors and daring the enemy to take their best shot.

The way to develop your marketing position is by first writing a market positioning statement.

A market positioning statement defines who you are, why you're great and why the world would be foolish not to beat a path to your door. It should be accurate, precise, written in the dullest, least creative manner possible, and -- here's the tough part -- no more than two sentences long.

After a little hard work -- or several years, if you work by committee -- you should be able to produce one or two sentences against which all of your marketing, advertising, product and coffee cups are measured. Then, and only then, are you able to begin working on establishing your brand.

Your brand is cloned from your market position statement. It's the creative application of the marketing position. Federal Express originally launched its service with a marketing position as the most reliable overnight service. Their branding was so successful that today, most of us promise to FEDEX stuff to our clients even when we actually use DHL to ship it.

But remember, I said that branding is the CONSISTENT creative execution of your strategic market positioning. Once you define it, it's got to be everywhere on your site. It's in the way you navigate. The names of your categories. The means by which you present your goods to the public. Your layout. your domain name.

Everything on your site -- and in your business -- should be branded, right on down to the design of the buttons on your navigation bar.

A quick, reliable test to see if your web site, ad, PR campaign or customer service rep is up to snuff is to ask yourself, "Is this being done the <INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE> way?" If your answer is yes, you're catching on. If your answer is no, you need to catch up. Everything can always be branded. It just takes a little extra effort to think of how to do it.

Want more examples? Look no further than ol' Clickz, every Wednesday. Or send me an e-mail asking "to be added to the list" (hint, hint).

What list, you ask?

What's the matter? Don't you trust the "Rob Frankel" brand?

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