Tag Archives: branding

Merry Christmas & Happy Brand New Year!

Happy Brand New 2011

Happy Brand New 2011

Dear friends and partners,

Whether you are home or oversea,
may the spirit of Christmas bring you Peace,
the gladness of Christmas give you Hope,
the warmth of Christmas grant you Love.
all the new year through.

See the whole world bright!
(Batteries not Included 😉

Brand Integrity Management 2010

Top Brands

Every third import in the united European market is suspicious counterfeiting with infringed brand or design rights. The global loss is $30-50m just for one brand and billions per year for the top 5 cosmetic brands, mostly in less developed markets. Seems when your brand is 120 years old and you sell in 210 countries, you have an attractive critical mass to be attacked by counterfeiters, even if your licensee produces the goods in the same Chinese factory where the fake products come from.

What would you do? You develop a brand integrity strategy, you invent optical quality packaging, laser-focused quality control, nanocoatings, sophisticated visible/ invisible color shifting labels, individual 2D barcode tagging, transparent packaging, licensed factories and exclusive authorized distributors. You constantly secure, enhance, deter, partner and do brand ID trainings of law attorneys, National Customs Agency officers, The Border Police, NSCOC (National Service for Combating Organized Crime) agents.

Thanks to Turcu & Turcu law office, we had a chance to meet dozens of brand integrity managers and government, police and customs agents, monitoring and protecting global brands such as Sara Lee, Timberland, Samsung, Epson, Eli Lilly, Nokia, Estee Lauder, Coty Prestige, L’oreal, Lacoste, Chanel, General Motors, Levi Strauss, Puma, Daimler, Adidas, Bvlgari, Harley-Davidson and many others.

Sofia is a part of a worldwide network of administrative and brand integrity investigators and I was happy to see so many fake website knock-downs, seizes, raids and litigation programs. With more than 75 000 annual counterfeiting cases for Europe only, you can be sure that buying a fake Estee Lauder perfume, full of sulfur, ammonia, phosphorus, potassium, titanium and horse/dogs urine as a binder to keep the alcohol and oils, will not be the best bargain to make you girlfriend happy, especially if you don’t wanna see her face and skin burned tomorrow. It’s not only a brand protection or tax/unemployment protection issue; it’s your own health and consciousness.

Keep brandmoving. See ya at the top!

Rebranding fever 2010

2010 is just around the corner and with it come all kinds of warm reflections time and great strategy advice about what we should be doing and what we should avoid.

RebrandingDecember was full of rebranding projects. We helped 10 brands – most of which with over a decade of history – to start the New Year with rebranded identity and websites (links and case studies coming soon).
After thousands of answered question concerning their brand strategy, web architecture, site structure, layout, design, content, ranking, long-tail keyword clusters, tags and gadgets…in the end of the day the formula of industry perfection, profit explosion and business optimization is brilliantly simple and repeatable:

   80% quality traffic share
+ 80% customer’s mindshare
= 80% marketshare

Not only to survive, but to grow and thrive the highly challenging “downturn” economy, we need a systematic approach and focus to identify the current values and capitalize on new opportunities, far ahead of the competition.

So, what will work for 2010 is absolutely the same top 10 trends, which worked perfectly in the last 3 years:

Brand strategy – a clear and solid foundation for your sales. Leverage all channels and maximize your current resources and business growth activities with measurable, brand performance metrics.

Innovation – creative thinking, mindmapping, drawing, playing music – one hour a day, away from the stressfull  office meetings and negotiations.

World-class design. Good design means clarity, clearly differentiated value proposition, performance, function and service, sales and trust. Quality in products, customer experience and content is the king. Brand reputation through word-of-mouth – the queen. Satisfied customers – the key to repeat business.

Budget & time to cut operating costs – everything which helps to cut costs and improve performance. Focus on what you do best and outsource the rest. The core fundamentals – strategy, KPI’s and most profitable customers. Outsource areas that are not your business’ core competencies. Let the experts do the work. They are better, faster and more cost-effective.

Digital media as the main channel for reaching your customers. Web & mobile are now mainstream, faster, cheaper and easier to target your perfect customers with immediate, real-time and measurable results.  Forget print and postage delays and fees. Go wireless, invest in digital and grow organic.

Reach the top of the Search. 1.3 Billions of indviduals are searching for a specific need every day. If you are not found by your target audience on the first page of Google, you don’t exist. Being on the top leads to serious sales. Digital users research and digg before they buy. Leverage Web 2.0 tools to allow the customers to engage, share, follow and become fans of the brand. Get the best brand awareness, market research and real-time knowledge about your customers for free! Local or global – search engine optimization and top ranking are sophisticated, time consuming and change on an hourly basis, so better outsource them to an expert.

Build the Brand. Top companies make absolutely certain that brand is a central management principle, the platform on which your customers make their buying decision. Any time  they touch the brand via any channel, it must consistently and credibly communicate its promise and value.

Move to the SaaS cloud, digg the CRM Database. Make sure your have a detailed platform, deeply integrated with all brand channels and Web 2.0 interfaces.The new world of permanently online, social & knowledge hunting communities provides you with endless opportunities.

Leverage the good old analytics – we define and measure progress toward critical organizational goals,  offline and online metrics, established in the strategy. Try and improve – new layouts, design, titles, copy, meta… Only  results matter.

Wherever you are, enjoy your holidays! Cheers for a great 2010!

Caffeine ranking

Caffeine ranking

Caffeine ranking

Yesterday was the first clear day in a month, clear and sunny enough to dream about snowy peaks, ski vacations, Christmas and presents… after the rain is gone, one can see clearly that we all are eager and busy to update our brand platforms, deeply immersed in Google Wave or Huddle’s tags-based collaboration. The localization of our branding platform in 4 new languages runs well, the last projects for 2009 are polished on a staging server.

Recently some clients of mine have been asking about Google changing the SEO game again, why all their linkbuilding efforts crashed, why strong on-page and off-page ranking factors are so messed and interwoven, why we optimized the websites of 3 direct competitors for top3, do we provide a top3 ranking guarantee – you got the idea.

Well, after the last month updates and Google Caffeine grabbing real-time results twice faster, chances are you are not top3 anymore, your competitors grab the most of the leads (don’t worry – they don’t). With only few organic results showing up above the fold of the browsers, recent changes at Google mean top3 rankings are more valuable than ever, and SEOs will have “few” more Christmas projects.

Crawling deeper, it means that we all need a brand new victory plan for 2010, a platform foundations upgrade, regardless whether to launch a new product, rebrand your company and emerge stronger.

So, get your brand moving again and grow on your global top5 ranking mission. Still I have to admit – there are some brand-building elements, where we have to forget about precise control and “the long-term healthy future” – it’s only the clear facts and the very moment of NOW which exists. The key metrics are still the same – Authority, fresh growing Content and relevant Anchor links. Website growth rate is getting very imporant, as well as organic brand growth.

How much of your time does it take, dear Mr. CBO? An hour to set up the platform, 3 hours to train the co-workers, an hour a day for writing, updates and monitoring, permanent linkbait and snippet links stacking /scultping. Brand-building is a process, not an event.

In the end of the day it gives us 3 sweet competitive advantages to outrank and outperform the competitors: top ranking, brand awareness in thousands of web channels and a brand-crisis proof shield.

So, don’t moan – act now! Fish where the fish are, in the muddy postcrisis waters. Only after that can we escape the “unable-to-stop” collective insanity, visiting dozens of global locations, collecting music, wisdom and tribal art, inspired and creative, full of fresh energy, as in the good old school days.

December is always full with tons of professional SEO webinars and seminars, so I’m looking forward to seeing you there or on our InterNations Christmas party!

Virtual branding escapism

Brand Trust

Brand Trust

Oh my dear Nielsen,

I do agree that “virtual” and “real” friends are our best brand builders (not only on our birthday), but consumer’s recommendation from known people or strangers is not a form of advertising. You also missed the biggest brand trust builder –  Google’s top5 organic search results (I hope intentionally 😉

Social media is the key for building trust in brands?
Yup, in a few “developed” countries, the rest of the world use it for time killing and enterprise resources wasting activities.

Consumers trust real friends, virtual strangers and brand websites the most? So, I have to start to trust my virtual friends same way like the people I know, right?

Yada yada. It’s like “the law of big numbers” by Mr. Power. You start a spammer’s “social network”, expose thousands of personal emails in their profile URL to Google and than you claim that Quantity is what matters. When you “build your network”, you do some business with 1 in 100 people, good businesses with 1 in 1000 and than “1 in 10000 of those people will become mentor, supporter, helper in your life”.

Well, I really have great ideas sharing and collaboration experience with hundreds of “virtual friends”, but I do care only for real friends I’ve met in personal (most of which started out as online ones ;-).

Do we need a friend/girlfriend in every city?
Nope, just few real friends, who care, dare and move ahead, together eventually.

Just a recent example: When you share your birthday wish (to help few kids from “underdeveloped” countries get a color text-book and attend a school at least for few days) with hundreds of “socially responsible and concerned” western “virtual friends”, you get (accidental, inspirational and spontaneous) response by few “real friends” from your eastern neighborhood?! and zero feedback from them.

Hey Mark, where’s the “friends”-list sanitazing app? Let’s make every day a great one and let’s care about our real friends and Future. Yeah, birthdays, holidays, virtual or real…

THANK YOU FRIENDS for all your phone, facebook, email, twitter and sms birthday messages. I’ll have a small out of town/ traffic/ heat/ smog chill-out party with lot of music, cocktails, fruits and icecream… A big thanks again for all the birthday wishes, everyone!

Do you have virtual friends, who are as good as real ones (without huge exposure in facebook, twitter and other illusions 😉 ?

One of my best friends: CBO

Differentiation evolved from
“what it is” to “what it does” to
how you feel” to “who you are”.

Globalism removed borders, we created tribes – intimate social worlds, which we understand and participate in. Brands are the little gods of our modern life – each ruling different need, activity, mind share, tattoo, mood or situation. What is your tribal identity, which tribe you want to join today?

When a prospect finds your offer or company (one-click away, first choice in Google, good color, strong contrast, irresistible arresting brand message, etc.) he thinks:

1. What is it (Who are you) ?
2. What it does (What do you do) ?
3. Why should I care (Why does it matter, what’s in it for me) ?

It’s always better to get a rough answer to the right questions, than a detailed answer to the wrong ones, right?  Otherwise it will be less that it could be. So, go ahead, ask them Why you climb Everest? Because it’s there, dude! Why we have to brand-build? Because the BRAND DEPENDS on others for it’s existence: on 72% online searchers of products in information in EU, on the 85% top3 Google search result visitors for any given phrase and market niche.

Why Branding is such a big deal now?

Because our society has moved from mass production to mass customization. We are info-rich and time-poor. Now people value feelings more than informations. Design and aesthetics are the language of feeling. Only one competitor can be the cheapest. The other HAVE TO use branding to become a guarantee of trustworthy behavior. Our purchase choices have muliplied in thousands (sometimes million companies/ websites) and we have to differentiate, to stand out of the crowd, to be in top 3. If we can’t be #1 or 2, or 3, it’s better to redefine our field or to change our tribe/ category.

When people talk to themselves it’s called insanity, when companies do that, it’s called marketing, when customers talk about companies, it’s called brand-building.

Here comes the CBO (Chief Brand Officer)

Lot of people talk about it, few understand it and even fewer know how to manage it but still everyone wants it. Brand-building is connecting strategy to creativity, logic to magic, communicating and managing the difference.
Brand-building is a process that can be studied, analyzed, learned, taught, replicated and managed. Go for the huge worldwide trend of tomorrow; don’t look just for tiny improvements of yesterday’s data.
The more a brand becomes distributed, the more it requires strong centralized management.
The CBO is focused around building and managing sustainable and successful world-class brands.
It’s not about likeness, it’s about understanding: a brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is. The position and degree of trust is the determination and differentiation factor.
A CBO is the brand’s personal recession-proof brandometer – he will show you what the brand is and what makes it tick, he will manage your online reputation, write a brand education program, define the brand’s DNA for constant regeneration of corporate memory, he will control the chaos, necessary for brand’s innovation. If you are tired of thick quantitative studies and analysis paralysis, he will bring you some great brand building ideas into sharp focus, he’ll give you real market insights and new niche ideas in less than 3 days, using a rooster of worldwide research partners and databases. You will never skew or loose the focus.
The CBO is the executive, who lies awake at night, thinking “How can we build the brand?”. He will manage brand collaboration, innovation and strategy at the highest corporate level, forming a human bridge across strategy and creativity, connecting the left and right brain of your business.
A charismatic brand is any product, service or company for which people believe there’s no substitute. Any brand, backed by enough courage and imagination can become a charismatic brand, even yours.

Am I a CBO? I was for more than 10 years. Now CBOs are my best friends (and customers) in the great wild world out there. So, are you a CBO?

Brand name & Google ranking

Corn Brand wars (1340) proof

Corn Brand wars (1340) proof

Choosing a name for your business, domain and brand is often the single, most critical decision you will ever make. Today it’s very easy to asses a solid, long-lasting, and highly profitable name. Can your brand name hook the brains in your niche? Yes, we all know that it should be intuitive, suggestive, benefit based, semantically short, easy spelled, memorable, sweet sounding, scalable and search-engine-friendly, so you will have a chance to hook them on mnemonics. Now what?

Before and after the launch of Google’s Chrome browser, more and more people love to skip irrelevant search engine results and attempt to reach websites directly by:
– Guessing and typing presumable URL domains
– Typing common brand names
– Using the search phrase suggestion tools in their browser
– Using search trends and social media “hot trends” tools
– Following links on web 2.0 status updates, social and RSS feeds

Sure, over 80% of the traffic still comes from the search engines (presuming the website is search-engine-friendly and optimized) and the first 3 SERP results still get 86% of the traffic for any given phrase, but this trend will change and we do see dozens of exceptions to this rule in our web reports already.

Google’s latest search engine ranking algorithm places Heavy emphasis on Branding, an enormous weight on branded search results. The top in most of our customer’s web analytics reports start with brand names, good brand names, burned, branded and tattooed into the customer’s mind, even in the marketplace.

SEO is not simple as the Florida update anymore. We notice more then 5 changes in Google ranking algorithm every single week. Smart brand’s CEOs and SEOs should incorporate the BRAND as the highest “trustful-content” factor and there are increasingly important signals from Google CEO Eric Schmidt in his recent talk:

“Brands are the solution, not the problem, brands are how you sort out the cesspool, brands are not getting away, it must have a genetic component” he said.

If you love researching and reverse engineering (as I do) you can track the recent changes with hot phrases to see Google’s changes. In most of the cases brands have 7 to 9 of the first page search results for some of the most valuable keywords.

The trend is clear:  Google is promoting brands for big money core keyphrases. Further more Google’s Chrome tracks your behavior and content interaction through Google Accounts/Friends, Google Analytics, Google AdSense, Google DoubleClick/  AdWords, Google Reader, iGoogle, Feedburner, Youtube and other Giant’s channels.

Lately I see hundreds of URLs and company names, which are even hard to spell. If a customer doesn’t  agree on a name/ domain/ identity change, we reject branding or SEO services, due to poor results. It’s not necessary to start your name with a strong-sounding consonants (like the sounds of “D” and “T” in DECART), or set a song-singing rhyme in a combination of suggestive words like in “BrandBuild”, but it helps to emphasis, remember, get huge market and web authority.

The web is a vast wilderness in which your brand message can run in obscurity, so don’t work IN your business every day, work ON your brand equity and awareness and we will see us each other on the top.

Web Marketing Consultant

Wow, thank you very much for the great interest and the 340 CVs in our last top talent recruitment HR folder, but I should be clear here – we will pick only professional web marketers, who can backup their claims with observable results on the web – case studies, high-quality content, solved problems, top-ranked websites or reputable service.

Glad that you want to start a new hobby, a new digital branding career, but if you start at ground zero, there is a great chance to fail. Despite your skills and background, you will be overwhelmed with paralyzing volumes of information and digital marketing courses. Even following our blueprint, your lack of digital marketing basics will eat your time and focus.

Sure, persistence, good communication and writing style are one of the most important skills, but consulting and building successful online businesses is not equal to blasting emails, answering phone-calls and organizing cocktails. How about video, presentation or web analytics skills?

It takes years before one knows how to build successful online businesses. We just don’t have the time to spend months learning how all this works and you have bills to pay, right? Same here. Building a solid brand, successful online business or global top rankings in Google takes months and years. We look for this experience in every team-member and partner.

If you still believe you are the one, even overqualified! one, or you are an overnight-web-success-exception to all above (yes, we got few ones), please give us a call. Thank you again and hope to see you at the top!

The first-mover advantage

First Mover Advantage

First Mover Advantage

Branding is not a buzzword, but the foundation for sales and success in the recent economy situation. It doesn’t matter if you are a reputable dinosaur or a brand new startup – the initial occupant of a market niche always gains the first-mover advantage.

A better product will simply sell faster. Hence, it’s not only the product or service to be sold.

A brand is the collection of feelings, perceptions, quality, image, lifestyle, delivered guarantee and global status. If you can not convince the potential customers that your product is worth, no amount of advertising, packaging or PR will help you achieve your sales goals.Your brand and customer’s mind share is the most valuable competitive edge you have, because today there is nothing that your competitors can’t duplicate in a matter of days or weeks. Creating a strong brand identity will build that mind share. Someday when you have your rock-solid identity, customers even will think of your brand first when they think of the product category.

First-mover advantage

Web strategists often talk about the first-mover advantage or FMA. In terms of brand development, by “first-mover” they mean that it is possible for the first successful brand in a market to create, move and retain a clear positioning in the minds of target customers before the competition enters the market. The first entrant can gain control of resources that followers may not be able to match. However, being first into a market does not necessarily guarantee long-term success. Competitors, drawn to the high growth and profit potential demonstrated by the “market-mover” – will enter the same niche and copy the best elements of the leader’s brand.

In the recent economic situation, first-mover advantages can arise from
1. Innovative technological breakthrough and leadership (R&D), protect it through patents or keep them as trade secrets!
2. Preemption of scarce assets (select the most attractive niches, take strategic actions, establish positions in geographic or product space)
3. Switching costs and buyer choice under uncertainty (achieve consumer trial and define the attributes that are perceived as important within your category)

Enjoy many of the characteristics of the first-mover-advantage brand, such as:
– name/brand is synonymous with the category.
– customers entering the market are more prone to default to the major player, because it is the sole entity of their business
– continues to add plans and options to your customers.

– add some free oprions for members, improve and add to their successful business, but don’t become a victim of the First Mover Disadvantages like inertia and trend-blindness!

Digital Branding

As Howard Kosgrove says, “A brand is the one thing that you can own that nobody can take away from you. Everything else, they can steal. But your brand can go on and live. It creates a lasting value above and beyond all the other elements of your business.”

Today we have billions people online and no brand is going to appeal to all of them. That’s just great and help us target our prospects in a personal manner, they even create our brand on their own. If we have the right strategy, they position accept a good position in their mind. The value is called brand equity and it really can be quantified. Businesses that build their brand online have an advantage over brands in the physical world since the opportunity to start freehand new associations – if you are fresh and new, you have a clean slate.

As a brandmover, branding new unique products are my favorite projects, since a fresh start moves easier when all brand ingredients are mixed precisely:

name, identity, benefits, price, quality (which brings loyalty), long-term perspective (instead of short-term profitability), communications, positioning, distribution, media and online presence, recognition and the results of a successful branding and top positioning campaign: increased share of market, loyalty, brand awareness and reputation

How we do that?

1. We prepare a great brand message – focused promise, backed with support and relevant to our customer’s lifestyle
2. We spread and share it on our website, direct campaigns, web 2.0 networks, blogs, tuning our digital assets for the top
3. Relevance of the message and the top positions in Google make our prospect to decide which brand they will buy and which will discard.

Research confirms that, statistically, higher quality brands achieve a higher market share and higher profitability that their inferior competitors.
Focus to build a powerful perception of our brand’s quality and value is what we need. Strong brands have a clear, often unique position in the target market.

Financial and economical recession? Yes, indeed. That’s where branding, SEO for Google top positioning and repositioning helps your business to stay and sell at top performance.
See you at the top,
yours BrandMover

Perfect time and place to buy?

Price trend for 60 days

Price trend for 60 days

These days I get trend alerts for services and products with over 520% price deviation! (my last booked fare moved from $650 to $3420 and back to $870 in just 2 months).

Today we can track service prices and scan product barcodes at the store, choosing the perfect time and source to get what we are looking for. Awesome, isn’t it? Same product, same quality, 526% price amplitude ? Welcome to 2009!

Name it as you want it  – crisis, shaking demand or branding wars…

Which web strategy to follow?

Web priority

Web strategy priorities

Most marketers will guide you to follow one well-tried and reliable marketing strategy, when there are hundreds of ways to reach your goals, depending on your niche, current trends, competition, time and resources.

Using the right keywords, fresh content and quality links to beat the top 10 competitors …and that’s simply all is a popular song.

What really works depends on the situation. No two SEO projects are equal. The goal could be to spread the buzz, to target focused commercial intention, to generate ruthless profit or just get some new members. The target could be kids, housewives, researchers, businessmen, wholesale buyers, etc.  Geo and language targeting are wrapping another layer on top.

Let’s clear the sky and recall some powerful web marketing priorities:

When was your last competition SWOT, market survey, industry benchmark? Send the spies out to check the strengths and weaknesses of the big ones in your industry.
Research or Shopping motivation? Check the commercial intention and test it with PPC.
Which keywords convert better? Specific, urgent, long phrases, thousands of “low-hanging” fruits.
Singular or plurals? The second always converts better in sales except for brand names.
Which traffic sources convert better? Test and measure. Analytics drill-down to the bone.
Which brands and products convert better? We can even crush them with THEIR brand awareness.
Why target 3 keywords? We should target a cluster of hundreds related and relevant phrase combinations.
Why promote free stuff? Attracting big-headache leads means wasting your resources and time.
How do you offer it? Custom or premium or wholesale or fresh or blue or antiallergic?
How they link to your website? – by domain, brand name or by targeted keyword? What about if tomorrow the search trend goes down?
Where are the latest trends, hot issues, answers, news, reviews, cases, comparisons, blog posts and comments on your website? Content is still the king.
Where is your media files repository? Tagged images, documents, videos and other media files means a lot.
When was your last web and CRM database mining? Te gold is in your private data and analytics reports.
How many times your brand is listed on Google’s first page? Use subartciles, subdomains and authority web 2.0 sites to dominate the niche (Yes – communities, directories, blogs, bookmarking and sharing web services, etc).

How to value and prioritize all this stuff?

Well, you don’t need to.
Just focus on your primary business and let the SEOs execute sophisticated research, website optimization and top ranking campaigns.
Keep brandmoving  😉

2009. Trends?

It’s good time to get our business plan up to date, to recap 2008 and get a strategy for 2009. Last year we learned and achieved a lot. The main strategy components for 2009 will be the same, but still we need and update and it will be finished soon.
Any questions or suggestions are welcomed.
All the best for you, your family and your business!