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  • Writer's pictureJoel Alpert

Does Yer Branding ‘n Strategy Corral Yer Products & Services? Lessons from "Blazing Saddles"

The Good Guys built a fake copy of the town of Rockridge, so they could set a trap for The Bad Guys who were chasing them. Your business, however, must be built on a solid foundation… a facade just won't do.

Think about this, cowboys and cowgirls… When you create “Branding” — what’s under your ten gallon cowboy hat— what are you thinking about?

Should you think about definitions and perspective, such as what are the business tools you use? Should new company or existing company branding include a new logo? Do we need a new tagline and branding statement? Should it freshen up colors and use a new website design template? You can round up and define those criteria. And the answer may be "yep!"

But if this is the corral you’re working in... HOLD YOUR HORSES!

You’re not rounding up most of the herd!

You need to get them into one corral!

What moves prospects to do business with your company, pardner?

You can — and should — go beyond those basic definitions. You must consider “WHAT” actually moves your prospects into your barn…what turns them into customers.

When you do branding work, it’s not created in a vacuum. A good logo or tagline or website with good color choices is vital for flagging the interest of your target audience. But if all you did was attract them, and the "back end " and website are weak — you won’t get the opportunity to tell them more about your company products and services , and you won't keep them in your barn.

As important as the branding facade is you don’t want to ride into a western town movie set…only to find you’re looking at storefronts propped up by 2x4’s, like the fake Western town in Blazing Saddles! There must be a deeper level of branding the company, that includes more.

Branding Strategy and Business Strategy are not separate exercises. They are a continuum. They are not just cowchips to kick around in an annual review…they are feed-and-grain for your daily planning and marketing. They both have to be done well, and they should be done together. Not sometimes. Not when it’s convenient. But always. If not, all your cowboy brand yodeling that draws them in, is going to seem like caterwauling, when they see yer barn doesn’t have good horses and cattle inside, as promised. And your prospects ride on into the sunset.

A quick overview from the hilltop:

HOW you bring your products and services to the market with your brand messaging…and WHAT you do as a product or service offering, become much more powerful when you integrate your business and branding thinking.

When you think about this process as a continuum, you will not only refine your message, but also will likely find opportunities to refine your products and services. When you put all this into one corral, it makes for a powerful posse!

Branding: Changes Perception + This Perception Should Change The Way You Deliver Your Products & Services!

Okay, you want to stand out and be a horse of a different color. You want to differentiate your cowboys from the other ranch hands. You want to think about the whole ranch, with Business Strategy and Branding as a continuum. So how can that play out in the substance and style of your products and services?

Here are some branding/strategy continuum examples:

I work with a client whose insurance clients jump through the hurdles of complex and varied state compliance regulations. Their clients sell products in 50 states, and they have many variations of many products. Keeping track of all of these multiple nuanced technical compliance processes was a nightmare.

We had already painted the facade of their consulting business with our branding work, and the marketing strategy and branding had added new life to that dusty ol’ tumbleweed company town. But there was still a mismatch between what was outside and inside the barn. We realized that customers needed a more efficient way to access the status of their multiple programs in multiple states, beyond the calls to the albeit attentive staff.

So we recommended that they bring the highly confidential internal records system online, under military-grade password protection, creating a dashboard that makes it easy to keep track of a silo-full of programs in 50 states.

This was beyond “well received”….it was the reason why many prospects turned into clients. We didn’t reinvent the product/service...we repackaged it on a functional level, so that it matched the interests of buyers. That was a big deal change — altering the actual service, based on the overall strategy and branding,. And it helped create a steady little stampede of new and renewed clients.

Another example, with a very unusual client service. I worked with a professional services practice which specializes in “sound therapy,” using high-tech and traditional sound tools to resonate within the client’s body to enable relaxation and healing.

We tried out the process… and saw gaps in the service, between what might be possible, and what the practitioners were doing. And the series of recommendations on the environment, working process, and customer experience revolutionized the practice.

It didn't come about by accident. It came about because we had established a clear vision for the result of the work and the process…and we just caught up with ourselves as we altered the delivery of the service.

Branding Should Influence Marketing Strategy, too

We worked with a home services company, and when evaluating what motivated prospects during our branding focus, we realized the product shouldn’t be sold directly to homeowners, it might be better off sold via homeowners

associations, since the service was good for the associations, too. We thought multiple sales might be made to homeowners in one

fell swoop. That premise proved true. And sales went up over 60% in 8 months, as costs of marketing decreased by over 50%. This wasn’t a change in the product, but an alignment in market and marketing strategy, based on real immersion in the process.

"Branding" used to be done on cattle, identifying your herd. And it sure made impact…

especially if you were a cow.

Your company branding (and your personal branding, too) must quickly identify and differentiate…and drive a prospect to the green pastures of client status. Most knowledgeable people will say your brand has a major impact on the financial value of your organization. That’s true. But when your products and services are on the same continuum of customer motivations and value…you’re going to keep lots more cattle in the corral!

To make this work you need this kind of holistic orientation. You need to be willing to think freshly…and not just "fill in the blanks" as if your answers come from an existing database of knowledge. "Thinking" is different. And you need the patience to pull down the rim of yer cowboy hat, shut off your text message alerts, and work through the process. Is it worth it? Yep. It'll streamline your sales process, and bring in new customers. So round ‘em up…and move ‘em out! Yee-hah!

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Joel Alpert is a cowboy from the wild plains of Brooklyn who moved out west (okay, “south”) to Atlanta. He does Branding, Business Strategy, and Marketing using a unique integrated process, which can include product and service revamp, and more. Say howdy. Tip yer hat and flash a smile to a random stranger today.


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