Five Essentials for Building a Brand

When speaking to someone interested in starting a business, writing a book or leading an organization, inevitably the aspect of branding is discussed. Branding is one of my favorite marketing topics because branding is truly about emotion and connection. The strategies we use to create a brand should focus on creating a strong connection and relationship between the product/person/company and the customer or guest. More importantly, this strong connection creates customer loyalty.


To grow a business, brand or create loyal customers – a robust brand strategy is needed. This takes time and patience, however, it is absolutely necessary.

Below are essential keys needed for building any brand:

1.) Know the Strengths. Are you aware of your individual strengths or the strengths of your organization? If it is your individual brand, spend valuable time examining your strengths. Ask those closest to you about your strengths. The same holds true for your company. What are the strengths of the company? This may become clearer through surveys and focus groups, asking key customers, clients or guests key questions about the company or brand. If you are starting a company, find your target audience and discover what they value.

2.) Be Authentic. Authenticity is key in branding. This is knowing your strengths, as well as your weaknesses – but being perfectly okay with both. For example, Chick-fil-A does not try to make burgers or tacos. It has identified its strength, and probably its weaknesses, and they continually build on their strengths. They make really great chicken sandwiches with exceptional customer service. They don’t focus on making new sandwiches or twists on chicken sandwiches. As a result, they avoid their weaknesses and focus on the brand.

3.) Add Value. Whether it is an individual brand or company, be clear on the value you bring. Does your brand solve a problem or meet a need? Not only should the brand add value, but it should also differentiate you or your company from others. So many brands, organizations, services and products are competing for our attention. What will differentiate your brand from the others? It could the smallest thing that makes the difference. Discover “the thing” that will set your brand apart from others.

4.) Create an Emotion. What is the feeling you would like to invoke in your audience or clients? What emotion do you want your brand to feel? Dale Carnegie states: “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.” Brand strategy should focus on building an emotion.

5.) Consistency is key. It is critical to reinforce the value, skills and expertise your brand brings. This should be communicated through your various marketing platforms. Consistency will help your prospective clients and customers, as well as your current clients, quickly know how to describe your business or your service. Consistency is also important for your visuals. Eventually you want customers to see your logo, your colors, as well as your fonts and formatting and know instinctively that it is your company.

If you are interested in creating a brand strategy for your company, organization or building your individual brand, please contact ashby & watts. We can help you connect the dots.

The Myths of Marketing

If you ask ten people the definition of marketing, you are sure to get ten different responses.  Most people don’t quite understand it or assume that it is only “creating a logo” or “selling your service or a product.”  However, marketing encompasses a myriad of topics, ranging from strategy to establishing mission and vision statements, to client experience and service, to branding, to sales. Below are some common myths I frequently encounter when discussing marketing:

  • Myth:  People assume that if they have “enough” clients – they don’t need marketing.

Truth: A large part of marketing is uncovering needs, interests and the burdens of your current clients in order to get more work or purchases from them.  Being too comfortable with your current clients and not actively engaging them and growing them is dangerous to your business growth. What other needs do they have that you are not currently meeting? How can you add more value to your current audience, customers and clients? There is always more…great marketing will always uncover other needs of the client.

Businessman writing e-marketing terms

  • Myth: All my business comes from referrals, I don’t need marketing.

Truth: Yes, most business does come from referrals. Referrals are critical to growing and sustaining any business, which is why client service is very important as part of your marketing and growth plan. Do you have a plan on how to convert a happy customer into a referral?  We can’t assume that just because a client/customer likes your work does not mean they are telling others about your work or business.  Are you keeping track of your referrals during “down times” so that they will keep referring your business.  Don’t ignore your referral network.  They are valuable for your continued growth. A great marketing plan will include your referrals.

  • Myth: Social Media doesn’t affect my marketing.

Truth: Social media has the power to create or break a brand, depending on well or poorly your social media plan is executed.  Admittedly, social media may not always be the determining factor in landing your next customer or client, but it can validate or invalidate you or your company with a potential client who is still deciding whether to hire you. Developing a good social media plan is critical for any brand, organization or business and does not require a large budget, just focused intention and planning.

  • Myth: Marketing is simply advertising.

Truth:  Advertising is only a slither of what a marketing professional does or may only be a small part of a marketing plan or budget.  In fact, most marketing departments work with advertising professionals that are much more talented and focused on the dynamics of advertising.  Marketing creates a strategy on what to do with advertising and how to convert advertising into business.  Developing a good ad is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

  • Myth: I have a logo and a website. I’m done with marketing.

Truth:  I cringe when I hear someone narrow down their marketing efforts to simply a logo and a website, when actually a logo and website is just the beginning. Marketing is about consistently creating and promoting great content and images to engage your target customer.  It is creating a story with your logo and website. It is building a brand. This is done through a variety of channels. Is your website designed in a way to increase traffic and the customers you are seeking?  Does your logo convey the top 3 words of the brand you wish to create?

  • Myth: Marketing is sales.

Truth: Wrong!!  I kinda chuckle when I hear sales people assume they are marketers because they know how to sell or when marketers assume they know sales. Different strengths are required for each. It is important for marketing to do its job effectively so that the sales team can come in and close the deal.  If you are having a difficult time closing deals, it could be because of a lack of effective marketing.

These are just a few common marketing myths that I encounter regularly. Do you see or hear yourself in any of these myths or assumptions? If so, please contact me so that we can discuss your marketing and brand. I would love to help you “connect the dots.”

Why Content Is King!

Gone are the days when marketing was merely about a great logo and a catchy tagline.  Marketing has gotten smarter and more demanding.  It asks more questions and looks deeper into the strategy and process. Clients and customers want content. They want to know what can the company do and how can the company add value to their business.

Marketers are now challenged with a savvier way to offer and present content to its clients and prospective clients. There are definitely challenges with this, including the simple challenge of time. It takes time to create content, the right content, and present it your audience.  The following blog posts will focus on few key ways to create content:

Re-purpose a presentation.  Professionals are often asked to present or speak at conferences and seminars. Often when the conference is over, the presentation remains on the computer or folders. However, there are undoubtedly some key points that can be expanded to create a blog or article.

After every speaking engagement, the presenter should make it a point to spend 30 minutes writing a short article about some key points in the presentation.  This could be used on a blog, article, discussion post on LinkedIn and various other platforms.

The Connection: Never let a presentation rest. Make it your goal to use it at least 3 additional platforms.