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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.


Watch Your Brand Signals

When you think of the art of branding, what comes to mind? The art or the science? Those are two very different disciplines, yet if you don’t have both firmly thought through and driving your key brand messaging, you will find it difficult to score attention and the results you’re seeking.

The art of branding has secured its place as a creative, intuitive and artful way of presenting a brand. By contrast, the science of branding still remains out of reach for many marketers who either dislike or misunderstand market-based research. In my experience, marketers who fail to properly and effectively assess their markets usually suffer because they do not fully understand their positioning or how to best market their companies.

National brands typically work at understanding their markets, determining the “cues” of their markets that will make buyers buy, all to arrive at positional statements and brand messaging that cause meaningful responses. Smart marketers use both the art and science of building a brand because they have found the combined strengths of those disciplines are the building blocks of a rock-solid marketing program.

Here are three must-dos you need to build your brand program:

1. Realize social media is not a strategy; it’s a multiplex of many digital and online media channels. Don’t think of it as a product launch, but rather as a parade! But however you think of it, realize that the art and science of social media marketing is a means to an end, but never the end.

2. Updating your website with Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook is a good start, but hardly enough to make a dent. Given the fact that there are literally thousands of relevant online media outlets today, it seems apparent that it takes more than the big three to put your company over the top.

3. Successful marketing programs are designed to create conversations. In order for your company to become the preferred brand in your marketplace, you will need to demonstrate a long-term commitment to your customers in your product quality, customer service and relevancy in meeting your customers’ needs. It’s not a one-time campaign; rather, it’s a full-time commitment that takes months—if not years—to produce the desired results.

That said, you do need to think of building your brand in stages, or phases, with the understanding that a successful brand is one that can sustain its growth over the long haul. I have previously noted the launch of Vistaprint’s brand strategy and related marketing campaign. Vistaprint has been selling its business cards for years by literally giving away over 4 billion cards through its 250 free business card offer. This consistency of messaging has built a powerhouse of a company.

So what brand signals are you putting out there for all to see? And what is the strategy that’s driving it? Just gaining new sales is never enough. Ask yourself these two questions: If I do this specific promotion today, what will this make my company look like to my customers tomorrow?
What will I need to do for a follow-up?

If you can’t answer those two questions satisfactorily, then it’s time to rethink the promotion. This will keep you from over-promising what you cannot deliver on a day-to-day basis.
Tom Wants to Hear Your Branding Issues:
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.

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?

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