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Branding a Local vs National Company

I was struck (again) by the same-ness and at the same time, the different-ness that comes with branding a national vs.local brand. At its core, branding is..

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I had the opportunity the other day to chat with a friend who is a brand marketer for a national brand. During the course of our conversation, I was struck (again) by the same-ness and at the same time, the different-ness that comes with branding a national vs. local brand.

At its core, branding is about developing a message and sticking to it. That is the same regardless of the size of your business. You have to find a way to represent your business in the public’s eye – and hopefully, that representation is well received by your target audience.

The single biggest difference is, understandably, resources. And the discrepancy in resources is most notable in research budgets. National brands have the resources to conduct research on who their customers are, what their perceptions of the brand are, and how both change throughout the branding campaign. Local companies often don’t have the luxury of the costly research studies to find out the statistically valid behaviors their clients participate in, who their customers are, and why they like them.

But because, local businesses have one huge advantage that national brands don’t—you actually know their customers! You know who walks through your doors every day, you know what they like, what they don’t like, and why they chose you (or at least you should!) That’s something national brands simply don’t have, they’re selling product through many different resellers all across the nation or the world. They have a good reason for having to hire someone to tell them about who is buying their product. But for a local companies – there’s not really any reason to spend $5,000, $15,000, or more, learning about who your customers are. If you really don’t know – it’s time to get out and start talking to your customers.

Even regional brands can and should employ this technique over spending money on research in this economy. It’s a little dated, but Robert E. Hall’s book The Streetcorner Strategy for Winning Local Markets spells out how and why making this effort is critical to success. If you have some time, it is worth the read – it is definitely one I go back to on a regular basis when I need a little direction.

There are of course, other differences, ordering 100’s of signs vs. 1 or 2, big television production budgets with top flight placements, entire departments devoted to a presence on social media, and the need to prove ROIs to picky CFOs who guard the bottom-line vigilantly. But the remainder remains the same. Large or small, branding is about knowing who you are, who you serve, and speaking it consistently and often.


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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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  1. Bertrand Russell~ Man needs for his happiness not only the enjoyment of this or that but hope and enterprise and change.

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