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Build Your Business with Strong Brands - not a Mountain of Cash

By Daniel Janal

You're having the gang over on Sunday to watch the football game on TV. Which pizza parlor do you call?

Your child needs braces. Which orthodontist does everyone in town go to?

You want to sell your house. Which Realtor do you call?

The answer is the same in each case: the one that has the best brand. Branding is important because it makes sales easier!

Realtors, dentists and restaurants all have brands. So does every small business in the world. Sure, we think that only Fortune 500 companies, like Coca Cola and Procter and Gamble have brands. But that's not true. Every company has a brand image. Whether the brand image is good or bad, or if it is well known or invisible is up to you.

If you're involved in marketing in any way, shape of form, you've heard the term "branding" but you probably couldn't define it. And if Regis asked you "Is that your final answer?" you'd probably take your money and run rather than risk losing your cash.

That's because if you asked 50 marketers to define "branding," you'd get 50 different answers. Very few people agree on what branding is, but they do agree that is important in building sales and profits.

So what are brands and why are they important to you?

Brands make selling easier!

Plain and simple.

To understand branding, we need to understand what branding isn't.

From my studies and research that includes hundreds of interviews with top marketing managers at large and small companies, I've come away with several conclusions:

1. A brand is not a logo, slogan, catchy saying, mission statement or publicity campaign.

2. A brand is about trust. You select a company because you trust them and the companies have credibility. These are two issues that are important to every company of every size.

When you travel along the highway and need a quick meal, do you stop at the local diner for a meal featuring the local cuisine- or do you pull in to McDonald's because you know the fries are always going to be the same?

People trust McDonalds. They will give up the chance for an innovative meal in favor of the trusted resource every time!

That's because people buy on emotion and justify with logic.

"Gee the local diner might be good, but it might take a long time and we're in a rush."

Is it any wonder why McDonald's is a multibillion-dollar enterprise?

Look at the best brands on the Internet: Yahoo, eBay and Amazon. What do they all have in common? People trust them!

In my seminars at Stanford and Berkeley, I always ask if people have bought books from Amazon. Most people raise their hands. I then ask if anyone has ever had a problem with Amazon. In one out of three seminars, one person out of hundreds will raise a hand. But they quickly say that Amazon resolved the problem in their favor, quickly and courteously.

I then ask if people have telephones. Everyone raises their hands. I ask if people have ever had a problem with their phone company. Most people keep their hands up! You probably have the same experience. Phone companies have bad reputations for customer service.

Good companies create good brands by creating trust.

Do you need a lot of money to create trust?...

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