Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Brand Loyalty - How Strong is Yours?

Jared Sandberg writes in today's WSJ about how brand loyalty in a family creates lines, that if crossed, create tension and strain in relationships. Here are a few examples cited:

  • An Ohio-based husband worked for P&G and his wife worked for Kao Brands. They argued about what shampoo to have in the house and whether to even allow products from the competing company. The husband (with stronger brand loyalties) acquiesed when the wife raised the issue that her job brought in more money to the household.
  • Tom Muccio was quoted in the column as saying that his Del Monte Dad would "hit the roof" when Tom's mother would buy private label brand canned goods to save money. Tom says, "it only happened a couple of times and then it didn't happen any more."
  • In 2003, a Coca-Cola bottling company driver was fired for buying a Diet Pepsi from a store where he delivered Coke. Management at the Sylmar, CA bottling plant told the employee he was being dismissed for violating a policy prohibiting slander of Coke products.

In large corporations, such as auto manufacturers, brand loyalty is driven as much by the unions which want to prevent job losses as by management interested in market share and stock prices.

Small businesses can build brands, as well, much to their benefit.

In building a stronger business, you need to ask yourself 3 questions about branding:

  • What brand(s) have you developed? Developed brands are clearly identified and represent values choices as much as they do product/service choices.
  • How strong are those brands? In other words, how much do they influence your clients and customers to buy when presented with a choice in the marketplace?
  • What steps do you need to take in the next period (quarter, year, etc) to increase your brand? Success stories and endorsements can be valuable in advancing your brand.

You might find the branding class that I'm teaching at MyBusinessGym to have more suggestions and techniques that you'll find useful.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Change Can Be as Good as a Rest

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."
-- Lily Tomlin

As we enter the summer months, business owners and entrepreneurs should remember the importance of taking time off to recharge and refresh.

Unlike most other lines of work, the entrepreneur is almost always on. Always thinking of the new product under development, the client who needs attention, the opening that needs to be filled, the cash flow that needs to arrive.

Taking a break from business can often be the best thing you can do, paradoxically.

When you unplug for at least a day or two -- no checking e-mail or voice mail, your mind and body have a chance to step back from the daily routine.

When I go on vacation, I make sure that I get at least 8 hours sleep a night, bring non-business books to read, and go for long walks/bicycle rides in new locations to really give myself a chance to recharge and stimulate my mind in relaxing ways.

What works for you?