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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.


What’s Your Brand Worth?

It’s a new world out there, scooter. Increasing the power of your brand to generate sales is the number-one business marketing challenge. What it takes is a change in thinking.

Change can bring more value than staying the same. Being able to put everything on the table and say, “We may never use any of this again.” is a radical idea for most organizations. Sure, it’s scary, but let’s say your organization has been stalled for four straight years and there are no new advancements planned. Would you consider that a safe strategy?

Change can be worth cultivating at any organization. Because, if you play your innovations right, you can take advantage of what comes from this spirit of adventure—before the market has a chance to take advantage of you. And unfortunately, that’s been happening a lot lately.

If you’re having trouble getting customers and prospects engaged with your brand, you’re not alone. The usual methods of developing and managing a brand are suspect if you are in this position. Perhaps it’s time to make some mental shifts about your brand.

Like the law of gravity, principles have always existed. They are always in force, whether you choose to recognize them or not. And they will affect the outcome of all of your efforts. In other words, a principle will kick you in the butt when you least expect it!

In this brave, new brand world, there are four branding principles (or cues, as we like to call them at MarketCues) that you might want to consider to be laws.

Cue Number 1: Ownership A—Your customers and prospects own the brand, not your company. Hey, you say, that’s not fair! I’m the one who put in all of the work to get “MY” brand to where it is today. Right, that’s the problem.

As long as you look at it as your brand, you will forever look at all of your branding decisions from your perspective, not your customers and prospects, and that is why most brands fail and never make it to star status.

Cue Number 2: Ownership B
—Companies own brand assets. They are the rightful receiver of the accolades that arise as a result of the brand they own and manage. They are also the rightful owner of the financial rewards that are produced from an outstanding brand. This is rewarding.

Tim Cooke, CEO of Apple Inc. gave a recent interview
to Business Week/Bloomberg and said, “In creating these great products, we focus on enriching people’s lives—a higher cause for the product. These are the macro things that drive the company. They haven’t changed. They’re not changing. I will not witness or permit those changes because that’s what makes the company so special.”

Cue Number 3: Value—No value is realized until your brand is chosen in a purchase or used in a personal or business situation. Sorry, but the measure of a brand is how often it is chosen and preferred. The buying criteria of customers and prospects is the true measure of a brand’s value. High use equals high value, and vice versa.

Cue Number 4: Differentiation—A winning brand is distinctive to customers and prospects. They choose a particular brand over every other brand in the marketplace based upon a particular distinction. The more powerful the brand differentiation, or distinction, is, the more potential it has to break out from the crowd. Making your brand’s differentiator simple to understand is critical.

Branding is as much about aligning your brand to meet people’s needs as helping your employees understand they are there to serve your customers and prospects. Somehow this concept is understood on a sales level, but is lost in branding.

To make this approach truly work, brand promises have to be used every day. In reality, they are going to be used or misused at every brand touchpoint. The question is, "Are you prepared to put your customers and prospects first, and move your organization toward serving their needs? If you do, you’re on your way to high brand value.
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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