Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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Branding in the Fourth Dimension.

I get about half of my business through the web, which is just fine by me. Nothing enables my agoraphobia quite like moneymaking opportunities plopping themselves down on my desktop via e-mail.

A number of inquiries are notes about someone's business, how it's beginning to grow and how they agree that establishing their brand is absolutely critical to long term, sustainable growth.

And then comes the Question of Doom:

"So, um, how much does a logo cost?"

Yeesh. This is where I begin to feel like Klaatu, the alien robot from another dimension, who freaks out the entire planet in The Day The Earth Stood Still. For those of you who missed the movie, Klaatu pretty much blows our minds by doing weird things like making gasoline out of strawberries, or something like that. In any case, it's Klaatu's fourth-dimensional perspective on things that eventually inspire Earth's citizens' awe and admiration.

Then, of course, the air force tries to blow him up.

Nevertheless, I often have to take up Klaatu's mantle in order to explain that real, honest-to-goodness brands - brands with big muscles and plenty of hair on their backs - don't restrict themselves to one-dimensional stuff like logos and letterhead. They're intelligent life forms from the Fourth Dimension that can transform your business at warp speed.

Branding in the First Dimension tells people who you are. Its most basic species can be spotted as a full color corporate symbol napping gently in the middle of your business card. Perhaps a beautiful photo-rendering of Zippy the Gearhead proudly proclaiming, "Spacely Sprockets." That's fine. But just as with your favorite supermodel, looks alone will only take you so far. They may identify who you are, but not much else.

Branding in the Second Dimension tells people what you do. Sure, we know from Zippy's posture that your company is called Spacely Sprockets, but what about the other stuff you make? The Anti-Matter gasket seals? The Dilithium Crystal-based lubricants? A real brand communicates all aspects of your business, so that when faithful gasket-seal buyers venture into the lubricant market, they seek out your brand first.

Branding's Third Dimension communicates how you do what you do. The best down-to-earth example I can think of this late at night is an oil change. You know what you get when you take your Hyundai in for an oil change? New oil. You know what you get when you take your Mercedes in for an oil change? New oil and a beautifully washed car. True, you pay more, but you leave with more: the distinct impression that Mercedes takes real pride in the work they do. Which reassures Mercedes owners that their car purchase was a good one - and that their next one is a no-brainer.

Finally, we get to the Fourth Dimension, my personal favorite, where the gravitational pull of market forces stretch and shape your brand, producing a relevance your prospects find intriguing. It can be a quality claim. A product attribute. But whatever you choose, it has to be memorable, compelling and powerful enough to grab your prospects by the lapels, lift them off the floor and tell them they'd be complete dolts for choosing anyone other than you for whatever it is you're selling.

And if it's really killer, it can make us like you while you're doing it.

Federal Express did that by showing us that they knew the tortures we endure when our packages don't arrive on time. And they spoke to us in a way nobody else did.

I can hear many of you asking, "Gee, Rob, is there a Fifth Dimension?" The answer is yes, but they never had a hit after Sweet Blindness and Up, Up and Away.

Rob Frankel

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