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Brand Development Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

Having cash ready to spend isn't a prerequisite to creating a brand. What is a willingness to do the hard work involved in brand development.

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I’m continually amazed at how often we in the marketing profession, and those in business, assume that brand development has to be expensive! This misnomer is honestly come by, though, because in good times, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on updating your brand image. But having cash ready to spend isn’t a prerequisite to creating an amazing brand. What is a precondition is a willingness to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work involved in brand development.

You can drop a boat-load of cash on flashy new signs, reprinting all your collateral material, producing new television ads and other ego-related brand displays. But the real work of brand development comes down to how you’re living your brand message every single day, from the top of your organization to the cashier or call center operator. Getting everyone on the same page about what your brand stands, how it behaves, and how it treats your customers, non-customers, and the community is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to branding. Not surprisingly – this is the heavy lifting.

In my previous post, Branding by Walking Around, I showed you how to examine your brand from your customer’s point of view. Once you’ve done that it’s time to start creating the brand you want on display. The place to start is by demonstrating the behaviors you want your employees to model. Want your customers greeted the moment they walk through the front door? Make sure that when you’re on the floor – you are welcoming them the time they walk through the door. Your employees are paying attention to you, whether or not you think they are. And you greeting customers the time they walk through the door – over and over again, will send a not-so-subtle message.

Once you’ve been modeling the behavior you want to see for a while, notice whether your employees are modeling that same conduct. If they are, be sure to acknowledge it in front of other employees. If you have employees that are routinely ignoring customers, it’s time to pull them aside and privately share with them your expectations for the experience you want your customers to have.

Next, engage your employees in brainstorming other ways your brand position can be extended. It will take you being able to articulate what you want your brand position to be (check out these posts if you need help here). And it will take your passion around your brand position to convince them that you’re serious. So share it – ask them for their input – then be quiet and take notes.  It may take your group a while to get rolling, but you being quiet and waiting will cause someone to speak up. Reinforce the idea, and try to remember no idea they come up with is a bad one, it just may not be part of your vision. That’s OK, this is brainstorming, even those “not-so-great” ideas can spin into a fabulous idea.

brand developmentBe prepared to implement at least one idea from your staff’s brainstorming session tomorrow. That will let your employees know that you value their input and will make them more likely to help you create your brand in the future. Be sure when you implement the idea that you give credit to the person who came up with the idea.

By diligently making sure your internal and external practices align with your brand position you’ll be doing the heavy lifting of rebranding. Once the economy improves and you have cash to burn again – then go out and buy new signs, television commercials, and collateral material. You will deserve it because you did all the hard work already.


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Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She was recently named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

Possessing expertise in both front- and back-office operations, Tisha conceptualizes, develops, and implements initiatives to foster brand effectiveness like no other. With over 15 years of experience in branding and marketing, Tisha has successfully led large financial institutions and health care companies down the path of renaming their business.

Where Tisha really shines is in the work that isn’t done. Sometimes a name change for a business isn’t in their best interest and after meeting with Tisha, they are able to find the true value and equity that has always been in their brand. Tisha has a special knack of being able to communicate the value so that the CEO/Business owner can see its luster and then with a little polishing, make it shine company wide.

Tisha is best known for developing long lasting branding campaigns that speak to the heart of the business, the brand, and the community. True brand, no matter how big or small, has longevity. Creating branding campaigns that have longevity, that have a laser-like focus, is where Tisha thrives.

Tisha received her M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, from where she also earned a B.A. in Political Science. She enjoyed a distinguished academic career punctuated by enthusiastic and successful participation in competitive speaking events, and holds numerous awards for her skill in public speaking. Tisha is widely recognized for her ability to capture an audience’s attention with her straightforward and engaging speaking style.

When not working, she enjoys golfing, baking, reading, and hiking with her partner, Mike, and their two dogs, Chloe and Jackson. She’s also an active member of Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, and is a very proud supporter of the Oregon Ducks. Tisha lives in Eagle Point, Oregon.

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