Tag Archives: promise

The Simplest Ways To Make The Best Of Business Branding.

business branding - O'C&K

5 branding tips you should be aware of when portraying your business

When prospective clients approach Aidan and myself, they usually want some simple solutions to their business branding dilemma. The usual problem is that they “don’t have the time to allocate to marketing”. As a result, the rest of the meeting is spent determining whether it makes sense for them to outsource, do it themselves or approach it on a project basis. Does that sound familiar?

We’ve written many posts on this blog about brands, so we’re going to focus on the topic of ‘branding’ which may be of some assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs),  in particular..

In O’C&K, the first three branding elements we look at with a client is; a) that the logo is simple, up-to-date and easy to recognise, b) that their ‘tone’ matches their target market’s expectations e.g. trendy, professional, fun, warm, educational etc., and c) that all their visible collateral (online and offline) is consistent and reflects their business strategy.

In general, we have to lower the expectations that any tweaks to their branding will result in an overnight success. We further explain that it can take years of research, of trial and error and of adapting to circumstances, to develop the brand that they aspire to have.

Effective branding can reinforce the building of trust amongst a brand’s audience – O’C&K.

The human interaction element of your business brand.

Most people are more likely to buy from a brand that they are familiar with – would you agree? Reinforcing that familiarity means getting the above basic elements right because they can appeal to people’s emotions.

Thereafter, by aligning the brand’s messaging with the logo, tone and collateral you will be better placed to distinguish your business from your competition.

When you think of it, small businesses are strong on the human element side, because of the integral part that the founder / owner plays in its development. The real challenge, however, is to ensure that the branding reflects this personal touch and that it is replicated at every single touch-point.

In addition, you must make every effort to ensure that work colleagues have ‘bought into’ the brand. Without them, it is genuinely impossible to reach your brand development ambitions. In fairness, staff  are the most human element of your brand that people encounter, on a daily basis. They must receive every assistance and encouragement to adhere to the agreed branding principles.

I read an interesting article, here, by Andrew Bosworth (BOZ.), wherein he discusses the reason why the power of brands, as tools to help humanity scale, is more important now, than ever before.

Understanding the power of business branding.

The most important thing to understand about business branding is that even if you decide not to bother with it – most of your competitors will. So at a minimum, if you don’t want to outsource to a company like ours, we recommend that you have a look at your branding yourself.

Look at the three elements we mentioned at the start of this post and ask yourself this question – Does your existing branding tell people who you are, what you do and what to expect from you?

Answering this question will force you to understand your own true value. Thereafter you can ensure that your branding activity reflects the promise and the message. The aim is to build an emotional attachment with your customers. If you do, from a bottom-line point of view, the price will not be as prominent a factor when they are deciding to engage your brand on a repeat basis.

Allow us to summarise our points made above into a checklist for you to determine the power of your branding.

  • Do you understand the value of effective branding?
  • Does your branding outline and reflect your promise?
  • Is your brand messaging and design easy to recall?
  • Do you understand people’s perception of your true value to them?
  • Does your branding distinguish you from your competitors?
  • Can people interact with your brand in a human way, at all touch-points

Don’t be afraid to break some of the rules of business branding.

When passing through an airport book shop, I’m sure you’ve noticed all the self–help business books on display there. Their titles certainly seem to be effective in luring some business travellers into purchasing the ‘ideal’ way of undertaking successful branding.

Books that provide “38 tips to build a better brand” or “19 ways to avoid ruining your brand” (apologies if these are any author’s actual titles – ed), just don’t do it for me. Any of the ones I’ve chosen has presented me with templates and many case studies of multi-nationals that have based International success on various branding guidelines.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that all self-help books are a waste of time. I’m just saying that I would prefer to take the practical advice of a colleague in a similar industry or a successful friend in an SME, rather than follow all the rules and guidelines.

In saying that, there are excellent authors out there covering every strand of marketing you can think of. For instance, I purchased Jeremy Miller’s Sticky Branding book recently, which I can recommend (no affiliation) for small to medium sized businesses.

We mentioned the three elements of business branding, that we look at, so let’s revisit those again briefly, in more of a self-audit context.

For example, when undertaking your audit, remember that social media is not a brand strategy. It is a way increasing your visibility online. Just ensure that you include it when reviewing your visible collateral, mentioned at (c) above.

When looking at your ‘messaging’, along with design, it should be reinforcing your brand positioning and easy to recall. The challenge here is to avoid using clichés. By doing so, you will avoid just promoting the industry you’re in and instead will be focused on your own brand.

There is no ‘average’ any more so branding yourself as ‘more efficient than’ or ‘cheaper than’ won’t cut the mustard. Businesses should excel in/at something if it is to survive in the long run.

In fact only by doing something that’s valued by people, will allow you to grow your brand. Just being more efficient or cheaper is not a sustainable strategy. Selling something at the lowest price will not create loyalty to your brand.

Selling at the lowest point only creates loyalty to that price point. Instead we have to be really clear about what we want people to know about us and use that in our branding activity. Otherwise they won’t remember anything.

Tips and Timesavers.

At this stage I think we can agree that your brand is your business (what you do), and branding is how you want people to see you (what you say). Let’s have a look at some ways in which we have to be mindful of how we portray our businesses through branding:

  1. How you portray yourself through words – be conscious of how you sound through all media – website, social media, blog content, emails, texts, meetings, phone answering etc. Consistency of tone and voice builds familiarity.
  2. How you portray yourself through branded collateral – using templates for letterheads, email signatures, online channels, business cards, tender documents etc., not only builds awareness but also delivers on expectations.
  3. How you portray your standards – maintaining your brand standards after the sale reinforces your brand promise. People expect the high standards promised and when delivered upon, are less likely to move away.
  4. How you portray your appreciation for people’s custom – over delivering on your promise will delight customers. Constantly look for ways to surprise your existing customers.
  5. How you portray your branding standards to work colleagues – making it easy for colleagues to implement consistent branding in their work through style guides and templates etc. will result in a more positive brand culture.


From time to time, have a look at your brand, through the eyes of a prospect. Ask yourself – what impression would you have and would you stick out from competitors? You will soon discover whether you are thriving or just stumbling along.

“Every business has a brand – the only question is whether it’s an intentional one”

John Jantsch. – Duct Tape Marketing

“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K



Love, what’s that got to do with your brand?

brand love O'C&K

8 ways that might help people to love your brand a little more.

 We have written about business and marketing plans here before but now let’s get a little romantic, and talk about how much brand love you can attract, if any, from your customers and prospects. Perhaps, instead of spending your time sweating about operational plans for your fantastic service, it would be time well spent thinking how sustainable is the love for your brand.

We presume your mission is to have people engage with your brand (buying your stuff) – right? Well then, working out a way to get them to love you, long time, will lay the foundation for a good business strategy.

Of course, along the way, people are going to see your brand from different viewpoints, but that’s fine. Your focus should be on getting the right people to want to engage. Think about it this way – it would be a bad state of affairs if people weren’t aware of your service, (product), but wouldn’t it be even worse, if they were and didn’t care about it, at all? If you are in a competitive environment you may survive by being liked, but to grow, your brand has to be loved.

In a service based, small business your brand is yourself.

So here’s the point, nobody can ‘love’ a letterhead, a business card, a brochure or a website because these are just elements of branding. No one is going to love your premises or your background operations. They are going to love how you make them feel.

Your brand must go deeper than visual extensions, and it can because your brand is a personal promise to people. This promise can set you apart because you are promising value, and you have everything to lose because it’s your reputation that you are putting on the line.

In any business, is it not the founder’s unique qualities, their vision and mission and their values that manifests in a brand? Yes, it is, but the main difference between one competitor (brand) and the next is how the above is communicated through all interactions with people.

Why many start-ups fail is that they try to copy what other businesses in the industry are doing. The downside of this is that they are not unique or authentic, which are the very things that customers are looking for. Our advice – just be yourself because that’s what people will love about you and what you provide.

If you have a clear notion of what your brand stands for you can build on being perceived as a specialist and a credible resource in your industry. Of course the people, you want to have credibility with are those in your target market. The more you are the go-to brand, the more people will notice you, engage with you and eventually (hopefully), love you more than your competitors.

When determining your brand, therefore, the first step would be to define your unique qualities e.g. what do people like about you? The next step would be to clarify your strengths e.g. think about past successes, what talents / strengths did you use to achieve them? The last step is to nail down what exactly is your promise e.g. what are you committed to delivering to people on a consistent basis and what would they say if asked about you?

If you go through these three steps, we believe that you will be in a position to ‘live’ your brand and thereby develop its story. People love good stories. If you have your story, you can determine your brand messaging and then you can incorporate these into some of the branding elements referred to above.

Tips and Timesavers.

As alluded to above, brands can achieve sustainability through a consistent delivery of their promise. However, when businesses plan their messaging on an annual basis it’s hard for people to really connect with what the brand is all about, never mind loving it. A brand that changes its messaging every year will result in people perhaps liking their product / service, but not loving the brand.

Here are 8 ways that might help people to love your brand a little more.

  1. Build your brand on an idea that can create a bond with people.
  2. Everything you do should be customer focused, without exception.
  3. Connect with people, based on their insights.
  4. Don’t just solve a basic problem, connect in an emotional way.
  5. Show people that you are passionate about your own brand.
  6. Be unique in what you do and how you do it.
  7. Focus your efforts on areas where you can win (quality, cost, experience, different).
  8. Over-deliver on your promise.


It’s really important to be consistent in everything you do and everything you say if you want to manage the reputation of your brand, properly. It is also extremely important to remain on-message in whatever communication channels you use (online and offline). You must remain focused and true to your promise.

Do not be distracted by all the ‘shiny new tools’ that are available, nowadays. People will love you because of your heart, not your head. Pick a method of communication that suits your strengths, your brand’s style and engages at every brand touchpoint with your customers.

And hey! There’s no rush, it can take years to develop a strong brand.

Real love for a brand

 “We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like to be notified by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffeet, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K