Category Archives: Branding

Branding Success Stories — A Case Study

If you listened to my PW Unplugged Radio this week, you heard me talk about the dark side of branding or rebranding — mainly how you can really screw yourself up if you don’t do it right.KaChing_01

Now while I talked a lot about what NOT to do, what I didn’t cover is how to do it right.

So I thought I’d share a few notes from a couple of folks who DID rebrand themselves right — Ali Brown and Nancy Marmolejo. Continue reading

What Ducks Can Teach You About Branding and Business Success

Of all the mascots I would expect a high-end luxury hotel to have, the lowly mallard duck is certainly not one of them. And yet, that was what greeted me when I stepped into the Peabody Orlando Hotel.

There is an actual story behind the ducks (which is printed on the napkins) but the reality is the story is less interesting than how the hotel has built a brand around ducks.

First, you have the “March of the Ducks” — at 11 am the ducks “march” (or more accurately waddle) on a red carpet to spend the day in a luxurious fountain. This fountain is located in the middle of the hotel and is actually quite a nice place to get a little work done or enjoy a coffee and cupcake (while watching the ducks splash around). At 5 pm they then “march” (waddle) back to their Duck Palace to enjoy a duck dinner and a “quiet evening” together.

Now the fact they make this an event — with marching music, a red carpet and an actual Duck Master (which is trademarked — yes if you were thinking about hiring a Duck Master for your own Duck March you would be out of luck) is one thing. But the ducks are also front and center to their branding.

Ducks on correspondence

There are ducks on the carpet, duck soaps in the rooms, drinks named after ducks, ducks embroidered on the staff’s clothes — the list goes on and on. It’s all quite tastefully done and the ducks are elegantly and subtly woven throughout the hotel’s brand and image.

Now the real question is, of course, is it worth it? Only the Peabody knows for sure but from the outside it certainly appears like it is.

First off, remember where the Peabody Orlando is — it’s in Orlando competing against Disney World (who knows a thing or 2 about branding themselves) Universal Studios and other theme-oriented attractions. Without the ducks, the Peabody would be a very nice, high-end hotel that would be like every other very nice, high-end hotel. With the ducks, now you have your own attraction. Now you have something to talk about. Now you have something your kids might want to see almost as much as Mickey Mouse.

(Now there is another Peabody, complete with ducks, in Atlanta as well. The Atlanta Peabody certainly wouldn’t be in competition with Mickey and company, but I suspect there’s enough other competition with high-end hotels and history that the ducks earn their keep there as well.)

One of the main ways you can successfully market yourself to an affluent clientele is to provide an experience. People like experiences. It gives them something to talk about (or write ezine articles about). And if you wrap an experience inside your brand, you just transformed yourself from a “good” business to something extraordinary. And extraordinary is what gets people to notice, to “take a chance on” if nothing else to witness that experience for themselves.

So, for you, what can you do to create an experience for your clients? And is this something that can be woven into your branding strategy? (And if you can make it unexpected or off-the-wall even better.) Or maybe it was an accident you overlooked at the time — with the ducks; Mr. Peabody came back from hunting and was enjoying some Jack Daniels with a friend, when they decided it would be a nifty idea to put the duck decoys in the fountain. Well everyone loved the decoys floating around so now we have actual ducks in the fountain. (See what I mean about how lame that story is? But no matter, the point is they saw an opportunity and seized it — do you have any of those “happy accidents” in your own business you can capitalize on?)

Remember the point of a good brand is to make yourself memorable to your ideal clients. And a great way to make yourself very memorable is to wrap your brand around an experience.

How Branding Can Lead to a Business’s Success…or Failure

For better or worse, every business out there has a brand.

I say for better or worse because you may not like what your brand is. Your brand could be confused. It could be nonexistent. It could be conflicting.

As I said before, brands are more than a logo. Your brand is the core identity of your business.

And if you don’t know what your core identity is, or you never took the time to map it out, then you more likely than not have a confused, conflicting or nonexistent brand.

So why is this a problem? Well, because without a strong brand, you’re going to struggle needlessly trying to grow your business.

You see, you may be getting clients and business, but I can guarantee you’re working a lot harder then you would be if you had a strong brand. A strong brand attracts your ideal clients to you and repels not-so-ideal ones. This is one of the ways you become a client magnet — having a strong brand then promoting that brand through a marketing system. Without this, you’re out searching for clients, rather than simply responding to clients coming to you. It’s a lot more work and a lot more stressful because you’re never sure where your next client is coming from.

If you have a strong brand, that means you have a strong reputation in the marketplace. So people already know who are you and what you do. They know what problems you solve. So if they have that problem, they come to you. If one of their friends has that problem, they refer their friend to you. See how that works?

Now let’s look at the flip side. You have a weak, confused, conflicting or nonexistent brand. People may have heard of you but they aren’t what it is you do. They have no idea what problem you solve, so they don’t know if they need what you sell or not. They don’t know how to refer you. And worst of all, they quickly forget your name or your business name because it has no meaning or value for them.

And if you don’t figure out what your brand is and then do everything you can to continually emphasize and remind your ideal clients about it, then the marketplace is going to decide what your brand is. And you’re probably not going to like what the marketplace decides. (And yes, you need to do both — figure out what your brand is and then consistently market it. If you only do one and not the other, you’re back to the marketplace deciding what your brand is.)

So how do you know what’s going on with your brand? Ask yourself these questions —

1. Do YOU know what your brand is? If you don’t, then you most definitely have a branding problem.

2. Do you know what your brand is but you don’t have a full pipeline of ideal clients? Then you either have not communicated your brand to your ideal clients or you’re missing the marketing piece. (Or your branding is all wrong for who you want to attract so you may need to go back to the branding drawing board.)

3. Do you have a brand but you keep hearing things like: “Wow, I didn’t realize you did THIS.” Or “I thought you only did that, not this.” Then you have a brand communication and/or marketing problem OR you’ve gotten away from your brand (more on that next week).

4. And of course if you hear things like” “I’m not sure what it is you do.” Or “You’re the best-kept secret” you clearly have a brand problem.

Remember, it’s up to YOU to communicate and market your brand to your ideal clients, it’s not their job to remember you.

The Secret Behind Successful Branding (and No, It’s Not About a Logo)

Of all the different marketing tools out there, the most nebulous, and also the most misunderstood, are these two — branding and positioning.

And since they’re misunderstood, they aren’t used correctly, leading to all sorts of problems.

Branding and positioning are extremely powerful. Used correctly, you will magically attract your ideal clients to you. Used incorrectly, and that same power can destroy your business.

So, let’s talk definitions. First, branding. No I’m not talking about logos, colors or slogans. Yes that’s a part of branding. But branding is a lot more then that.

Branding is really about your business’s core identity. (Not your personal core identity, your business’s core identity).
That’s probably the easiest way to explain it. And yes I’m simplifying it some — but hang with me.

Branding is what your business represents. What your business is all about. Once you know this, and you have a strong core identity, the logos and colors and slogans all fall into place. But you need to have that core identity first.

Your positioning is how you stack up in the marketplace. How your ideal clients describe you and how you compare against your competition.

Your branding comes first. So the first thing you need to do is figure out your business’s core identity.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Okay let’s start with a quiz. Have you ever found yourself thinking —

* I don’t know what makes me different
* I can’t describe what I do for my clients
* I’m not sure why my clients hire me instead of my competition, but I know they love me — I get great testimonials from them
* I’m not sure and/or I can’t describe what my strengths are
* I’m not sure what I should be offering
* I don’t do anything different than what my competition does
* I can’t compete — I don’t know why anyone would hire me over my competition
* I never know what to say at networking events

If the answer is yes, you have a core identity problem.

So, how do you fix this? Well, I’m going to give you a few tips to get you started. If you want more help, I would recommend talking to my friends Nancy Marmolejo ( or Therese Skelly (

First off, write down everything your business represents to you. What you do, why this is important to your clients, what your vision is, what you feel your gifts/brilliance is,

Next, write down what you want your clients to think of when they think of you. Write down everything, not just “good service and high quality.” I want you to write down things like “trustworthy, high sense of integrity and honor, expert in the field.” Things like that.

Now, I want you to go talk to your clients. Ask them why they hired you. Ask them how they would describe you to someone else. Ask them what they would say if they were recommending you to someone else. Ask them how they differentiate you from your competition.

Now compare the lists. What do you like? What don’t you like? What “feels” right? What doesn’t “feel” like you or where you want to go with your business?

Once you get a handle on this, you can take that and start building your business around it.