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Tom Marin

Building Brands

By Tom Marin

About Tom

Tom Marin is the managing partner of and provides corporate and brand strategy to organizations of all sizes. He has an extensive background in the graphic arts, printing, publishing and media industries. Marin is an accredited member of the national and international chapters of the Business Marketing Assn., is a (CBC) certified business communicator and a past marketing chair of the Chicago chapter.


Four Critical Steps that Build Successful Brands

Integrated business branding is more about the whole than a particular part. By definition, branding is a holistic process that is used to build and expand a powerful business-to-business brand.

Trying to do this without a blueprint is like taking a train in Washington, DC, without first surveying the lines and knowing where to connect. I did that once and the results were not pretty!

It’s a weighty assignment to try and cover all of the internal and external communications that are required to develop a winning point of brand sale. Here are four simple steps that you can use to move your brand planning from the starting line to the finish:

Step #1: Research your customers and prospects.

I can hear the moans already! Few people really like doing research, but let me try and spin this a different way. Research isn’t about complex data; rather, it’s about finding out what your customers and prospects truly need and want.

Think of it as a Saturday outing with family. There is a lot to see and even more to learn about your customers and prospects, and the best way to find out what they want is to simply ask them. While you are talking with them, by the way,  make sure you find out the following points:
  • What is their process of purchasing a product/service like yours?
  • What is their criteria for making this purchase?
  • What are their deep-seated concerns and barriers that might hold up a purchase?
  • What other products have they been looking at and what do they like and not like about them?

Step #2: Research your management and employee team.

Depending on how large your organization is, you might want to use both executive interviews and employee surveys to accomplish this step. But be sure to use both methods with a representative employee sample to make sure you are truly connecting with staff members. They usually have keen insights into the products they support.

Step #3: Develop a gap analysis between your company and customers.

Almost always, there are misperceptions between what a company thinks its customers and prospects want and what they say they want. Identifying these gaps will truly help you rethink your brand strategy and put your branding on the road to health.

Step #4: Develop a new branding approach and program.

The last step is to develop a branding program that addresses the true needs of your customers and prospects. This should be a customer-centric branding program that focuses on their needs, interests and wants. Make promises and keep them in everything you say and do to work toward becoming their sole source.

This is a curious situation. On the one hand, customers are driven by their needs and if you meet those needs, they will stay with your brand for a very long time. On the other hand, companies are driven by sales and profits so they sometimes miss the importance of placing their customers’ interests and needs ahead of their own.

The reality is, customers decide a company’s fate. Why not get on their right side?
Tom Wants To Hear Your Branding Issues:
Tom Marin, Managing Partner of MarketCues, wants to hear from you! Follow MarketCues on Twitter for branding and social media tips - as well as the latest trends. Tom also welcomes emails, new LinkedIn connections, calls to 407.330.7708 or visit How can he help solve your branding issues?

Note: If you are a printing company or product/services company serving the print-media market, and would like to be considered for a feature in this blog, please contact Tom Marin for an interview.

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