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wow, WP did it to me… did not post and did not save…. wow…. so will post it to Facebook.

The lesson learned was that while we should anticipate clients needs, lets not assume that we know what they need more than they do.

 

The trilogy of a brand.

The bard, William Shakespeare, wrote Romeo to question Juliette, “What’s in a name, that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet?” Romeo’s point was that if a rose was called a dandelion, would that change the smell of the rose? And of course the answer is no, but is that the same with business?

If Coca-Cola was Sprite, and vice-versa, would you still not, “have a Sprite and smile,” or “Obey your thirst, Coke!”  Or if Amazin’ Software did not change their name to Electronic Arts, would it still be “in the game?” For some companies, though, their brand identification is the most valuable asset that the company possesses.

As small business owners, we have a dedication to our clients that goes beyond our names, but to the essence of who we are. Many small business owners, change their name, their logos, their entire look, without changing what they do, in the hope of changing their brand. After all the time and money doing this they often come to realize that those changes had no affect on their brand, because very rarely did they ever change what they did.

As defined, a brand is the IDENTITY of a specific service, product or business. All the parts of your business defines your brand. The value that you provide to your clients define your brand. EVEN the clients you service define your brand. For many years Ford Motor Company and its subsidiary, Lincoln, worked hard to get rid of the image of being identified with mobsters. Cadillac changed its brand over the past 15 years to appeal to the 35-50 age demographic, where once it was thought they this group could not afford, nor wanted the large and plush luxury cars that were offered by Cadillac and Lincoln. This all changed with Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, all offering high-end vehicles to appeal to this group.

I am a car guy, and have often used the examples of Mercedes-Benz and Lexus as picture of what branding should be. If you ever go into one of their showrooms, you will find that the showroom experience is completely different from that of other car companies. Furthermore, as you go across the nation, you will find that all their showrooms are designed and operated very similar. Another example of this is CARMAX, which has made all of its stores a mirror image of each other.

So why is this so important? It deals with client’s expectations for one. When someone interacts with you, what are they expecting? Are they expecting personalized service, or are they expecting speed and efficiency?

For this reason, I tried to find a way of how I could best serve my clients, while maintaining a certain value structure. For me, I found some separation was in order. As a photographer, one would imagine that my business would begin and end with photography. My training goes far beyond photography though, with a BA in Business Administration, emphasis in Technology Management (cum laude), LEAN/Six Sigma certified, over 15 years in direct sales experience, and other credentials that I can go on about; it is easy to understand why my focus would be more towards business strategies than simple photography.

For this reason I decided to create two new divisions of my company. One geared primarily at B2B(Milverton Visuals) and one aimed at my bridal clients(Milverton Weddings). With LDPhotography remaining intact to service my clients who were requiring photos for personal usage such as families and portfolios. I will go over in a subsequent blog some of the challenges that comes along with establishing a brand, and then choosing to “rebrand.”  As you can see, they are visually consistent in identification, while maintaining their own distinct look, feel, and function. The greatest of which, for me, was growth. The better I can help my clients grow to meet their needs, the better I can grow myself. The more I can grow, the more I can help my clients grow, and continue the cycle.

So next time you crack open a can of soda, or walk into a car dealership, or even stop to smell the roses, think of if the brand defines the company, or does the company or object define the brand.

Many success.

Leighton

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