brand strategy

  • NOT A PROBLEM is a problem for your brand“Not a problem,” the customer service person said to me on the phone as we were wrapping up my transaction. What!? Not a problem? For who—you!? Wait a minute. Who is the customer here?

  • Brand Audit Checklist MB PilandKeeping your brand aligned means regularly auditing everything that tells your story. When you evaluate advertising and PR messages, you should never overlook the many other things that speak loud and clear.

    Here’s a starting checklist of additional things to monitor for your public-facing brand:

     

  • employees help launch bank brands It’s time for an update. You’ve held the focus groups, shopped the competition and worked with your agency to create a brand that truly differentiates your institution from all others. One caveat: don’t launch it to customers and the public without a memorable premier for your most critical audience—employees.  

  • hoarding hurts brandsLook into the proverbial closet of your organization. Chances are, there are a few habits or tactics you know you need to give up—but for some reason, just can’t. Worst case scenario: you have a vast store house that needs to be purged.

    What’s still hanging around is weighing you down. It's a sign of sickness that needs immediate intervention.

  • pink electric spark for webYour board meets regularly. Maybe they sign loan approvals or give advice. Do they do anything else for you? What about growing your organization? It's time to amp up expectations.

    Whether you’re working with a governing board or an advisory board, here are a few simple steps to spark more engagement from your board of directors and boost your business development program.

  • sticky tapeFor many, branding involves only 1 or 2 sensory experiences. But brands that engage all 5 senses create something super sticky. Like double stick tape, 
it's nearly impossible to put down. Here are 5 ways to bond your brand to its fans.

  • DHS thumbnail Have you put off planning, budgeting and—dare I say it—dreaming? If so, you’re probably working too much in the business and not enough on the business.

    Don't wait for a crisis. Plan now.

  • Dear Brand You Broke My HeartI’ve been a loyal Mercedes Benz driver for nearly 20 years and four different E Class sedans. The last one let me down so hard I won’t go back. The reason: they cut corners and it broke my heart.

    Here’s a warning to brands everywhere about the dangers of subbing cheaper materials and snubbing your loyal fans.

  • vitaminis for your brand It’s an all-too-common malady: sales are flabby or fundraising goals are lagging, so leadership determines that a fresh new ad campaign is just the thing to make everything right.

    When we start asking questions to diagnose the situation, we often discover something else: an internal problem.

  • brush up your brandBranders often overlook or ignore things that can have a big impact on the impressions they make on their customers. Case in point: the coat closet.

    Some organizations inadvertantly leave others with a bad taste in their mouths over their closets—or lack thereof. Here's why:

  • antacids for brand heartburnWhen a business development team gets charged up and ready to call on prospects, they’re often so eager to talk, they forget to find out about what’s keeping the prospect up at night.

    Leading with what you have to offer is wasting that precious appointment you finally booked. Start with your prospect's pain and you'll have a much more productive conversation.

  • eye of a wolf brandThe monster lurking around the corner isn’t the economy or absence of a marketing budget. It’s a lack of strategy that keeps you from achieving your business development goals.

    While Jack had magic beans, you don't.

  • megaphone branders must stop shoutingThe strongest brands on earth have a two-sided relationship with their fans. Like any real life relationship, there’s give and take. Speaking and listening.

    If you’re only focused on advertising, posting, tweeting and shouting, you’re going to miss what people say—and think—about your brand.

  • smile for your brand The starlet (insert name) was stunningly beautiful—until she opened her mouth and became a devastating disappointment to her fans. Her foot will be removed from her mouth with the help of a good PR agent.

    Branders: it’s harder for you. You have numerous people who can make your brand look dazzling—or like Hollywood’s biggest trainwreck.

  • defrost your cold callsWhether you’re growing customers, pitching a reporter or recruiting board members, you have to make some asks. It can be uncomfortable. But to advance your objectives, you’ve gotta brave the cold.

  • marketing tactics like spaghetti"Things change so fast, there's no room for a plan," we've heard more than once—from more than one CEO. They don't want to be tied down, so they throw out random tactics and wait to see what sticks. Here are 3 ways to be ready for change while still working a smart plan for your brand.

  • Turkey culture bad for businessMy mother grew up in West Virginia. Like many families at that time, hers had a sizable garden and some chickens and turkeys. Typically, my grandmother tended the garden and kept all the myriad household projects neatly organized and running smoothly. (Martha Stewart would be proud.)

    Occasionally, the family’s turkeys made a break for freedom, heading directly for the road in front of the house.

  • Martha heart painting croppedWhile many organizations say they have heart, rare are those who have created a culture that truly inspires passion. The word ‘credo’ (I believe) comes from ‘cor do’ (I give my heart).

    Do employees, customers and community give their heart to your brand? Here are some things to seriously consider:

  • me too bank brand signNearly every financial institution has a slogan. They believe it helps set them apart from competitors. And they think it’s a key part of their brand. While that may be so, we see two big problems with a majority of these slogans: 1) they don't truly differentiate, and 2) there’s no real support behind the promise.

     

  • Dirty laundry dirty brandYou may think that because your website is updated and your new video takes your customers’ breath away that your brand refresh is spotless.

    Employee behavior contrary to your brand promise will soil your brand overnight.

  • Zipped lips hurt brandsKeeping your brand aligned means paying attention to the messaging and stories you tell inside your organization, not just what you say in public.

    Why? Because without an intentional internal brand, your public-facing messages will never be truly authentic.

  • MBPiland Brand Touchpoint Infographic.Cropped2You work very hard to craft a consistent brand message. That only takes you so far.

    The real power brokers of the brand are employees. Read more for just a glimpse of all the ways they can help build the brand—or torpedo it.

  • brand-immersion-croppedCreating a powerful brand experience goes far beyond having a sign outside and welcome mat at the front door. It's about expressing the brand's personality and promise everywhere. Read on for ways your environment can get your brand off the B list.

  • brand-immersion-croppedCreating a powerful brand experience goes far beyond having a sign outside and welcome mat at the front door. It's about expressing the brand's personality and promise everywhere. Read on for ways your environment can get your brand off the B list.

  • big eye seen through magnifying glassSometimes when you’re working in the business instead of on the business, you lose sight of the big picture. You become so embedded in the details, the view is myopic. You’re dealing with trees when you should be managing the forest.

  • First National Bank of No BrandWhen I was a new college freshman, a classmate who was also from out of town attempted to make a deposit in the local “first national bank.” It wasn’t the same “first national” that she had at home, but she hadn’t realized that. Some big confusion about her account ensued. 

  • Foosball table is not cultureWatch any company’s recruitment video these days and you’re likely to see a foosball table, an espresso bar and a workout room. You may be wondering if you need those to attract great employees, too.

    While games and fancy coffee are nice “extras,” they’re not the foundation of your culture. There are better ways to cultivate a winning internal brand.

  • employee retreat root canalBe honest: have you ever heard an employee (sincerely) say “OH cool—I’m so excited!” when you announced a staff retreat? For many, the thought of a day away from the office stuffed into a conference room to plan sounds like as much fun as a root canal.

     

  • mic gossip brand thumbnail Amazon Chairman Jeff Bezos has famously said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

    If you take this to heart, you need to understand all the people who talk about you when you’re not in the room.

  • lip service for your financial brandMany financial institutions struggle with differentiating themselves in this commodity-mindset industry. “We need a new slogan,” they say. And, “let’s talk about our great service.”

    Service is not a position and you’ve got to pay more than lip service to your brand.

  • tarnished pennies brandI talk about banking with a lot of people. So last month, someone told me about accidentally hitting “submit” on an ACH twice. Fortunately, a banker called right away to inquire about whether it was a duplicate and got it reversed. There was a $30+ charge for that fix, but it saved some money and hassle in the long run.

    Now, compare that to an accident the bank made on this same company’s credit card accounts.

  • ButtonWhy should you be an “extra button” brand? The extra button brand is the one who gets a customer by when he’s in a pinch. It's the brand that helps a customer save face. It's the brand that has your back.

    Deliver that kind of service, and you’re the life saver that builds unquestionable loyalty.

  • block and tackle for your brandMany community financial institutions say they’re customer-centric, yet have a brand promise too focused on the bank. What if your brand difference is about helping your customers win with their customers?

    That would merit some roaring fans. Here's how:

  • pond rippleDoing the minimum.

    This has such a negative connotation in our culture, but what if you embraced that concept? What’s the minimum you need to do in order to create the desired impact or change?

  • piano lessons: practice makes permanentYou're heard the expression "practice makes perfect." Esteemed music professionals will tell you a better motto is "practice makes permanent."  

    Here are their words of wisdom for bankers who want their business to perform like rockstars.

  • brand is more than clean restroomsToo many institutions tout fast, local loan decisions and personal service like they're the only ones who have it. Guess what: that's as effective as a sign saying "clean restrooms."

    Here are 3 ways to make sure you’re presenting a better and—yes, unique—brand to your customers and prospects.

  • brand danger parking brake on If you ever put your car in drive with your parking brake engaged, the car lets you know it right away. Ignore the warning at your own peril.

    You know not to do it to your car. So why let it happen to your brand?

  • old school sales process bad for businessOld school sales guys will tell you sales is just a numbers game. Get enough prospects into the funnel and they’ll dump out X% of customers at the bottom. Easy.

    News flash, Herb Tarlek: your lack of a system is as outdated as your plaid polyester coat.

  • Customer and employee journey Marketers are spending a lot of time talking about the customer journey. We’re not hearing the same talk about the employee journey, and that’s a shame. Because the customer journey with your brand will be bumpy at best if the employee journey isn’t thoughtfully mapped out and put into action first.

  • monster dooms your brandLast week, a hot, tired delivery man came into our office with some much-needed supplies. He delivered more than just packages. He delivered angry, ugly opinions about someone else’s brand.

  • orange cross sick brandI recently heard someone in the c-suite of a company say that a key business development strategy hadn’t been launched because nobody told him to do it. I was shocked.

    Why is he waiting—and by whom—to be told? Is this laziness or a symptom of something else?

  • Girl Scout Cookie for bankersSoon, Girl Scout Cookie Time will return. Over the years you’ve come to expect—and thoroughly enjoy—your purchase experience. Whether your favorite is Thin Mints or Samoas, you might think the cookies are a little pricey. And you also think they’re worth every indulgent bite.

  • What will you NOT do for your brandMany organizations have spent a significant amount of time thinking—and talking—about what they will do.

    “We will deliver excellent service every time,” or “we will always be at the forefront of innovation.”

    But what won’t you do?

  • Blending bank board culturesYour first answer might conjure playground riddles from first grade: a frog in a blender. But it also might be the answer to a common struggle for merging institutions: their advisory boards.

    Without proper planning and an intentional effort, blending cultures of two advisory boards may cause things to “go round all day.”

  • bank brand on thin iceLast week at a social event, I spoke with a man who works at a local community bank. I asked about his job and he shocked me by saying “I hate it!” then told me about how he and his associates are pressured to sell additional products to customers and he feels it’s “immoral to try and sell them things they don’t need.” Yes, he said immoral.

    This is frighteningly thin ice—especially for a financial brand.

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