brand strategy

  • "Not a problem" for lazy brands—and what to do about it

    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?

  • 10 things that are often overlooked during a brand audit

    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:

     

  • 3 better ways to launch your next campaign: start with employees

    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.  

  • 3 kinds of hoarding that smother your brand

    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.

  • 4 tips to spark board engagement

    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.

  • 5 ways to get a super sticky, can't-put-it-down brand

    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.

  • A crisis is not the time to be handing out business cards

    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.

  • A dear john letter to my (former) favorite brand

    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.

  • An ad campaign won't fix what's wrong with your team

    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.

  • Banish the skeletons in your brand closet

    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:

  • Better business development starts with heartburn

    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.

  • Big Bad Wolves are not real—and there are no silver bullets

    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.

  • BRANDCHANTMENT: a remedy for ailing retailers

    magic wand brandchantment mbpThere’s a lot of talk about how retailing—and other traditional business—is dead. And there’s much hand-wringing and complaining about how those big online giants are unfairly hurting brick-and-mortar businesses. 

    While some of this pressure on physical locations is unavoidable, many retailers are driving their customers right into the arms of their online competitors.

  • Branders: stop shouting and start listening

    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.

  • Branders: take that foot out of your mouth

    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.

  • Break the ice: 4 ways to better cold calls

    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.

  • Business spaghetti: stop waiting to see what sticks

    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.

  • Culture lessons from a turkey wrangler

    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.)

  • Do you have a credo? How having a heart matters.

    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:

  • Do you live your slogan, or are you a copycat bank?

    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.

     

  • Don't let dirty laundry soil your brand

    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.

  • Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth: an 11 point audit for your internal brand

    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.

  • Employees: the power brokers of your brand

    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.

  • Environmental Branding for Total Brand Immersion

    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.

  • Environmental Branding: True Brand Immersion

    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.

  • Finding the Financial Forest in the Trees

    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 banks are confusing the heck out of us

    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 tables are no substitute for culture

    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.

  • From groan to great: make your next retreat the best yet

    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.

     

  • How gossip amplifies (or muffles) your brand

    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.

  • How to pay more than lip service to your brand

    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.

  • I make a mistake, I pay. You make a mistake, I pay?!

    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.

  • Is your brand as appreciated as an extra button?

    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.

  • Make your customers look good to their customers and win at customer 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:

  • Marketing minimalism can create large ripples

    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?

  • Practice makes permanent: for music and brands

    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.

  • Quit telling people you have clean restrooms

    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.

  • Stone Soup: the ancient lesson for today’s brands in COVID-19 crisis

    STONE soup lesson for brands MB PilandYou may remember this story from childhood. Stone Soup is a European folk tale where a hungry stranger from out of town convinces the locals that his soup recipe—the basis of which is nothing more than a stone—will become something extraordinary.

  • Stop driving with your parking brake on

    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?

  • Stop talking about a sales funnel and think of it as a chain instead

    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.

  • The customer journey starts with your employee journey

    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.

  • The delivery man and dark tales: a beastly lesson for your brand

    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.

  • There's no excuse for "nobody told me."

    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?

  • Time flies: use it or lose it

    Time Flies Time to Innovate your brandIn recent years, being busy, overworked and sleep-deprived has become a badge of honor. Ask how they’re doing at a cocktail party or a Zoom meeting, and inevitably, people proudly reply, “I am so busy.” Or they just answer emphatically, “BUSY!”

    And especially in times of crisis, these same people feel ashamed to say they have down time or that they took some time away.

  • What bankers can learn from Girl Scouts about customer experience

    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 won't you do for your brand?

    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?

  • What’s green and goes round and round all day?

    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.”

  • Why a sales contest can put your brand on dangerously thin ice

    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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