icon-folder-black Branding Entrepreneurship

Know Your Name - Set Your Brand up for Success

icon-calendar 2020-11-02 | icon-microphone 31m 13s Listening Time | icon-user Joseph Ianni

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Tags: #Branding #BrandDevelopment #DigitalMarketing #Ecommerce #E-commerce #OnlineBusiness #WorkFromHome #BusinessDevelopment #Debutify

Good to have you here. The subtitle of this episode is greater than the sum of your parts, and while it’s a cliche, cliches tend to hold merit. In the same way the job of a producer is a bit up in the air, the definition of a brand is as well. According to legendary Mad Man, David Ogilvy, a brand is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” The dictionary of brand defines it as “a person’s perception of a product, service, experience or organization.” Marty Neumeier, author and presenter on all things brand says “a brand is not a logo, a brand is not an identity, a brand is not a product, a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization. Credit to emotivebrand.com for listing these definitions.  I took a few attempts on my own to try and come up with a succinct definition for it; an idea communicated through impressions made by words, images, sounds and occasionally smells. A cohesive presentation of an idea. Perception of an entity left by the entity itself and/or by the events that transpire in relation to it. Brands are everywhere, I took a look around my office just to see how many I can spot, and here are just some; Asus, Corsair, Nintendo, Samsung, Insignia, lenovo, Amazon, Citizen, and Ritz. And that’s before I opened my cupboards or drawers, or rather, opened the rest of them. As I’ve talked about previously on Economics, a Debutify podcast, brands can become so effective they genericize, wherein they lose their copyright protections because the term is too popular to be enforceable by law. Here's an interesting example: We know what McDonalds is, I assume, we know what the Big Mac is, I assume. But do you know that other burger joints also make big macs? They don’t call it that outright, but they allude to it. Here in Canada we have a premium burger chain called Holy Chucks, and with a wink and a nod, you can order the Big Chuck. I have to imagine McDonald’s is aware that one of their signature sandwiches is adopted by others, and in doing so they pay homage to the original creation.


Today’s episode we’re going to do some history about the origin of branding, talk about what makes a brand effective, some guidelines, and we’re going to talk plenty about successful brands big and small.


Let’s start with where branding comes from; according to 99designs.ca, the term brand comes from a Scandinavian language known as Ancient Norse, the word “brandr,” which means to burn. Now, at that time, what they’re referring to is what we now know as a torch. And by torch I mean a stick designed to carry fire, I understand some parts of the world refer flashlights to as torches. In the 1500s, the first use of branding was by ranch ers, how they were able to discover the term themselves I have no idea, what with their propensity to set things on fire. Ranchers would burn their marks into the cattle in order to show who owned them. I guess cow theft was an issue at that point. Talk about acumen. Our next major breakthrough occurrs between the 1750’s to 1870’s, also known as the industrial revolution. With the US and Europe experiencing unprecedented levels of production, consumers found themselves facing a wide variety of options to spend their money on. In order for companies to stand out in the competition, U.S congress passes the Trademark Act in 1881; giving companies rights to their terms, symbols, design and use of color. 99designs.ca goes on to list some of the earliest trademarked companies all of whom are still around today; Coca-Cola in 1886, Colgate in 1873, Ford Motors in 1903, Chanel in 1909 and LEGO in 1932. The reason why these companies made such headway was their inventive approach to business, similar to what we talked about before with McDonald’s reinvention of restaurant efficiency. For instance, Ford was the first to sell cars made in America and Chanel was the first company to sell suits for women. It’s also important to note that as time progresses, and we allow for new forms of advertising on the radio and eventually in television, it also gives companies a chance to rethink how they’re going to be viewed. For instance, Coca-Cola at one point markets solely on having superior quality. But eventually, with other companies providing their own quality product, it becomes a game of emotions. How people feel, what lifestyle they want to promote become as important as the quality itself. The next major breakthrough happens between 1960 and 1990, as technology improves, changes started to happen more rapidly, so companies took notice of this and started redesigning their image to keep up. 99designs.ca points to WalMart, which went from blue, to black, to black and white, to brown, then navy blue, then back to its nearly the same original blue but with a softer font and an image of a sun. And it wasn’t just the look, a new message aka a slogan re-establishes a company’s prominence, one such example involves Folger’s “Best part of waking up, is folgers in your cup!” Rounding out the history lesson, social media has led us to the age of consumer involvement, for instance, Coca-Cola used the #shareacoke campaign to encourage consumers to buy bottles of the soda based on the names on the bottle, personally I can only participate in something like that ironically, but ironic money is as good as sincere money.


Let’s go over some basic building blocks to branding. Entrepreneur.com contributes their own simplified definition of branding, they state, “your brand is your promise to your customer.” The first step is to figure out your strategy and equity. The strategy side of it involves where you intend to advertise, but more than that, who you want to talk to, where to talk to them and what you intend to say. With enough consistency, entrepreneur.com indicates that you will be able to turn this trust into equity. Equity lets you determine the value proposition. The example listed is the difference between Coca-Cola and a generic cola. Coca Cola costs more on average, but consumers are more willing to pay the difference to get a better experience. The other facet to building a brand involves some reflective questions about your company. What’s the mission? What benefits and features do you offer? If your company already exists, what do people think of it? What do you want them to think of it? Entrepreneur.com stresses deep research, it’s important to know intuitively what your target market needs intrinsically. It’s like we always say, your job is to solve problems, preferably at scale. Here are some key tips they recommend, many of which I would consider essentials. 1. Get a great logo. Every chance you get to use it, take. Use it for your watermark, have it on a placard at reception, put it on uniforms and on whatever products you sell or trucks your employees use on the job, sponsor a Nascar racer with it. The logo itself can be an image, just text, or a mixture of both. Apple obviously nails this, since they named themselves after something immediately recognizable, and as well, subconsciously reinforce the brand every time we head to produce. 2. Write down your brand messaging. What qualities do you want your employees to exhibit as representatives of the company? A company may have core traits they expect to see in their employees, and those core traits may be arranged into an acronym. 3. Integrate your brand. With a clear idea of your messaging, what word choice you tend to use, what tone you want to speak with, it’s important that there’s not one missed opportunity, use it on the email signoff, how Customer Success Agents pick up the phone, on the water bottles. 4. Write a tagline. Something that sums up your company in as few words as possible, like a home seller might go with “turning dreams into reality.” 5. Design templates and brand standards for marketing. If the logo uses black and gold, then your business card should as well, same goes for the placard by reception, the letterhead, the intro/outro video on your Youtube etc. 6. Be authentic. If your brand is just an empty promise, that’s what people will associate with you and likely not trust you again. 6. Be consistent. In building that sweet, sweet equity, you will be gaining customers' trust. The tricky bit is, someone could make a mistake, it could be you, your employee, or maybe it’ll be an incident that happened within your operation that was beyond your control. I don’t want to name anything in specific because we try to keep things light, but life can take a messy turn rather quickly, it can warp the customer's perception of the business. It’s unfortunate that it happens, especially if it’s a tragic incident. So with a heavy heart I say this to make sure you’re ready for it. 


Let me give you some anecdotal examples that are more on the lighter side of things. When I was very young, my parents let me try Brio, an Italian cola. 8 year old me loathed it. It was bitter beyond comprehension. Later on in life, I developed more of a tolerance for bitterness, becoming more that quality myself, and as such, learned to love Brio. In fact I would love to see an ad campaign along the lines of Brio, when you’re ready, or you’ve grown up now. Oh lord help me, I never thought I was going to tell this story on air.. So, Burger King heavily competed with McDonalds for the love and admiration of children, that hasn’t changed much granted, but I remember, quite vividly, seeing a commercial on TV showing the Burger King Play Place. And it looked sick bro, I'm telling you dog, a slide into a ball pit, crawling tubes, they had it all bro. So I beg my parents to take us to the play place and they do because I’m a demanding little brat. We get to the playplace and… It makes preschool look like Six Flags. It was one kindergarten slide in the shape of an elephant, the trunk being the slide part, though I figure most of you figured that part out. There were a few other scattered toys around, and on the wall was a banner with the alphabet. I didn’t come to Burger King to learn! I barely did that in school! I felt bad for my parents looking back on it, but for some reason I feel even worse for the elephant. Those were just a couple that resonated with me, you notice that they occurred when I was younger. That’s understandable, the relationship between impact and influence is correlated to the impressionableness of the viewer. In a metatextual, the word brand is a bit ruined for me, I keep associating it with an unpleasant fellow who mocked me for using the word in relation to my own decision making, we all have our burdens.


Next up on the docket, we have some terminology that’s important for you to know. These are sourced from blog.hubspot.com and they all start with the word brand just for future reference. 1. Awareness, through your marketing, influence and relation with the world at large, this is a metric you use in reference to how much people know who you are. 2. Extension, this is where a company branches out, offering products and services, generally in line with what people come to expect, hubspot uses two examples; Honda lawn mowers and Martha Stewart Bedding. I was curious as to what would be an unusual or unexpected example of an extension, and hubspot refers to Cadbury Instant Mashed Potatoes, aka, smashed potatoes. Before I even read the article, I knew they were going to point out people associate Cadbury with decadent chocolate, and sure enough that was the case. On a fundamental level, the two are both edible products, but it’s a loose association. 3. Identity, we’ve gone over this a bit already, to sum it up, it’s your personality. 4. Management, again some retreaded ground here but that’s ok, it refers to how you handle what you are and are not in control of. However one new warranted point is that your brand is a living, breathing asset and should be treated as such, highly agreed. 5. Is a split, you have recognition and recall. Recognition is how well certain assets of your brand can carry the relationship with the customer without the aid of any key indicators like the name spelled out, so for instance, the white and red of Coca-Cola could alone relate the audience to the soda without needing to see the words. Recall is even more subjective, as it relates to how someone remembers it in their mind without any prompt, intentional anyways. 6. Trust, an interesting statistic is that as of 2019, according to news.gallup.com, 32% of people trust big business only a little, with only 10% trusting them a great deal. And 7. Is valuation, which is also where equity is discussed in a tangible sense. The better valuation/equity you build, the more appealing it is to investors, shareholders and potential buyers. It doesn’t specify if they mean buyer of the product, or buyer of the company, but again that probably also is determined by equity. 


There’s a particular trend in branding I want to touch on, and it’s something that I personally find interesting though I don’t fully agree with it. And that’s snark. Social media is an apple orchard of biting wit and sick burns. We all want to see bad people put in their place, and I have respect for companies that are willing to stand their ground when the customer is being unreasonable. Credit to sproutsocial.com for the following data, and to adweek.com for directing me to it, a 2017 consumer pool states that 88% of consumers are annoyed when brands mock their fans, 71% find brands engaging in politics on social media annoying, but 3 out of 4 consumers appreciate brands having a sense of humor. Much credit to adweek.com for saying what I was thinking, but a particular restaurant by the name of Wendy’s gained a reputation for taking on an irreverent tone on social media. Other companies were eager to emulate this. The problem is if the brand is snarky on social media, they have to be on every other platform as well; in their commercials, in-store, on the menus. But it was an inspired choice on Wendy’s part, so credit for bravery.


Now, I have a tendency to refer to big popular brands a lot of the time, both in this episode and in general. There’s a reason why, I do this show worldwide, if you understand english or… have a really good translator… you’re potential audience, I want to refer to companies most of us know so we can learn more easily, and hey, can’t dispute success, now can you? With that said, I wanted to take some time and highlight some smaller brands and companies as well, just to say you don’t need a 100 year or thousand dollar head start to make a solid brand. In fact, when you consider how much exposure one image could have, the value from doing it right will mean more at a smaller scale where every success counts. Credit to referralcandy.com, gorilla360.com, privy.com for the references, 


  1. Rent the Runway. While not a world I’m particularly knowledgeable about, what stuck out to me right away regarding the name is that it refers to something I’ve at least heard of, the runway. It also gives you a very clear idea of what the business is about, and it’s not that small either, it’s been in business for 11 years and is a 7 figure business. They also dominate on social media, being able to rent dresses means one customer can display potentially dozens of outfits throughout a year, generating organic word of mouth for the business. 
  2. Field Notes. “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.” As someone who habitually writes things down with pen and paper, I’m always going to need another notebook. For the last 7 years I’ve purchased a yearly agenda to use for plotting my day in advance. Field Notes offer a subscription service because their fanbase enjoys their produc ts so much, they kept refreshing the website waiting for updates. But even without that, they offer rugged “adventurous” notebooks and writing material. They also have a specialized book for Dungeons and Dragons players, which, while taking place indoors, is certainly an adventure. They’re product is more expensive than average, and to be fair, you could get the job done with any pen and paper, but you save money by investing in premium quality, as well as enjoy more piece of mind ordering from a product made in the US with passion and dedication. I’m not sponsored by these companies by the way.
  3. I couldn’t resist, gobobagreen.com, I get to make my own bubble tea at home. Little bit about me, I love bubble tea. I love being able to drink something and can also chew it too. It’s a satisfying drink to look at as well, which is why it’s always served in a clear container. But ordering them off UberEats is wasteful spending, it’s leveraging time over money. Bobagreen is environmentally conscious, 10% of the proceeds are donated to a nonprofit organization. The starter kit is 35USD but I already have most of this, the hard part for me has been finding good tapioca. So for 15 USD, plus another 5 for shipping, I get 8 servings. Comparatively speaking, the last order I put in for bubble tea on UberEats, including tip, delivery fees, and … extra tapioca… *deep breath* it’s 20USD. I’m not going to talk about it any more. 
  4. While I was scanning my phone for the receipt, i had checked an email from Ownr. That’s spelled O, W, N, R. In an age where everyone has a chance to run a business, Ownr provides a cost effective and painless way to register a business. According to their site, which in the five minutes I opened it, prompted me with a chat message inviting me to ask questions. Sorry hang on… just want to order the tapioca before I forget… ok thanks… anyways… To incorporate on my own, it would cost between 12-1800 Canadian, but to incorporate with Ownr, it’s 600 CDN. And it puts the liability on their end, since they’re the ones offering the service. It can be intimidating to want to run a business, but one great way to get over that feeling is to actually become legit. 
  5. I didn’t plan on putting this one on the list, I wanted to find an electronics/tech based on to round out this list. Not that I have an issue with this, but certain markets like fashion and apparel are more prevalent online. But everyone needs clothes, not everyone needs a fitbit, I get it. Anyways, number 5 is paintbynumbersonline.com, not as… succinct, as some of these other brand logos, but what it lacks in efficacy it makes up for in nailing the online presentation. Truly an example of, the product selling itself. 
  6. Ok, my last actual one on the list, again this was a deliberate effort on my part to find an electronics ecommerce brand. This was surprisingly difficult, but I suspected something was up because I scanned through 100 brands on a list from privy.com, and electronics wasn’t even a category. A big part of this is that our relationship with clothing, as expensive as it can be, puts more of the oneness on us. If it gets stained, we know who’s fault that is. Electronics on the other hand, we have an intrinsic sense of the fragility. And for that reason, we have a tendency to turn to big companies like Amazon or Best Buy for consistency and trust. Sorry to say, I don’t have a great example for you, but I hope instead you get an interesting lesson. 


Before we wrap up, I have one last thing I want to do. I wanted to do a test of what brands I encounter on Facebook, and what impressions the companies leave me with. I am going to list the ten brands I encounter on a single page, I hit refresh on Facebook and let’s see how this goes. 1. On the right column are two ads, one with two images, the second with one. The first ad is for mapleleaf.ca, a meat company I’m well aware of. The ad reads “Say it with love (and ketchup). Celebrate National Hot Dog Day virtually this year, by sen.. Then it cuts off. The imagery evoked a classic, 1950s feel, I want to guess Art Nouveau, but that’s because anytime I’m not sure what the style is, I guess Deco or Nouveau. They also used the images to convey more text, since there’s only so much space, even on a fullscreen desktop like the one I’m on. On the images, it says “bun appetite” The second image on the right was for Koodo, a mobile company. “Smartphones at no-brainer prices. Get yourself a like-new phone at a less than new price. And then it cuts off but it does so with grace. The image is a smartphone with a yellow wallpaper in a shopping cart in the middle of a vast blue setting. Literally just blues. They also use an above angle to minimize the shopping cart and focus on the phone. As a side note, Two other ads popped up and I didn't intend for that to happen, so I hit refresh again, and the previous two came back up. 3 The third encounter, on my main feed, Favorfound “free your hands and reduce neck pain!” It’s a mount that lets you put your smartphone, tablet etc on a clamp that can be raised and adjusted. It’s better than the one I’ve got but I’m going to make due. They also put the link to the shop in twice, I assume for more visibility. 4. TalkShoe, “free podcast recording, moderator/host controls and integrated chat are just some of the amazing features, start your first show in minutes.” the ad itself is careful about it’s color choice, their logo is mainly blue, but with a small bit of yellow, being a speech bubble inside the o. In the image, it’s actually several images merged together to form a collage, a clever way to subvert one image limit. 5. Arctic Steel “psst, love ice cubes but hate the way it dilutes your drink? Winky face” The name is fitting, I visited the page and at the moment, most of the activity has been on the main ad. The facebook page itself has little activity. Sorry if that’s a knock on the company, my assumption is that people are sold or not solely by the ad, and head right to checkout. 6. Abtikar, unlike Arctic Steel, the connection between the product “Light up your desk with this LED Screen Lamp without straining your eyes” is a little less obvious, although saying it outloud, it pronounces similar to add to cart. The logo uses a blue with hard edges, on top of a white background. 7. Nintenpro, which links to gamerproofficial.com, where they sell inventive products like stands for the Nintendo Switch. On the website, a live feed pops up indicating someone bought something. If you know Nintendo, you know the GP logo evokes the same design as the official one for the Nintendo Gamecube. There is more activity on this than some of these other examples, posting gamer memes is an easy way to snag a few comments from fans. 8. At this point I should let you know, the only ads remaining are appearing on my news feed, and as well, smaller brands and one-off ecommerce sites are using this, the bigger companies are the ones using the column ads. The next brand is magical cabin, and they’re selling the screen mount I bought from Staples. “Create the perfect work environment and reduce eye, wrist, back and neck strain with this!” Now, this product appears to have more adjustability than the one I bought, so I’m curious if I’m a doofus and never noticed mine had that feature too. It does not. Heading over to the Facebook page, it sells a variety of linens and cushions, so not exactly what I was expecting from the consumer electronic product they hooked me with. 9. We have Sabinetek Audio ‘World’s smallest wireless stereo mic” Their logo uses a black S made of diamonds, white background and a black circle. Their Facebook page is lively, with livestreams and giveaways. Instead of a static banner, they have a simple vidoe ad with images and transitions. And at number 10. Orbitzeed “Enjoy cool Air, everywhere with the portable Air conditioner. The logo is a white ring, wrapped 2 and a half times around a blue orb, symbolizing planet Earth, with gears and cogs subtly embedded on the image. Their Facebook page is lacking in finesse. The banner is a hodgepodge of selling points, and a clipped image of a shopping card. For an expensive product, this comes across as low trust. 


Now, what did we learn from that? Well what I learned is that the Facebook Newsfeed is a battlefield and a frontier. If you’ve got a product you’re ready to sell, that’s where your competition will be as of today, July 22 2020. You have a lot of opportunities to excel, and it all comes back to what we’ve been discussing; good copy, clean, crisp imagery, a healthy, active community, a logo that resonates, a website that exhumes confidence and a product people can’t say no to. Despite the range of quality, I can say every one of these products had a chance to be bought by me, but that’s me. 

As I’ve talked about in our episode on advertising, there are more ways to sell then there are potential transactions. Some of this is supply and demand, but on a deeper level consider the imagery used in religion, in nations both today and throughout history. When I say the Roman Empire, what comes to mind? The Roman Empire is long gone but their legacy lives on throughout history. Have you seen a peacock?! With such a fundamental quality, perhaps the most simplistic way I can describe branding is; how one is remembered. 


Thanks for listening, it’s been great having you. I’m curious, what happens when you do the Facebook ten challenge? What ten brands do you see, how many are new and did they leave a good impression? Let us know, podcast@debutify.com Take care.











Written by

Joseph Ianni

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