Answers you need.

Questions and Answers to Website Development, Brand, Marketing and Business Topics

We are often asked questions that are valuable to our many clients. Below is a growing list of questions and our corresponding response. We are dedicated to helping our clients capture all of the benefits associated with their branding, marketing and business opportunities.


Brand Definition

Q: What is a brand?

A: Any brand is a set of perceptions and images that represent a company, product or service. While many people refer to a brand as a logo, tag line or audio jingle, a brand is actually much larger. A brand is the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced.

Importantly, brands enable a buyer to easily identify the offerings of a particular company. Brands are generally developed over time through: Once developed, brands provide an umbrella under which many different products can be offered--providing a company tremendous economic leverage and strategic advantage in generating awareness of their offerings in the marketplace.

Brand Equity

Q: What is brand equity and how can it be used to my advantage?

A: To begin, a brand is a set of perceptions and images that represent a company, product or service. Common representations of a brand include a logo, tag line, audio jingles and many aspects we see within advertisements, the media and stores.

Brands are developed over time to enable a buyer to easily identify the offerings of a particular company. Once developed, brands provide an umbrella under which many different products can be offered--providing a company economic leverage in generating awareness of their offerings in the marketplace.

Brand equity is the value associated with the propensity of an audience to purchase a product from a particular company in a market where all products are identical. Stated another way, brand equity is the additional price a firm can charge for its product over the competition assuming the products are the same.

Brand equity can be measured (or at least well estimated) using various research techniques such as surveys, conjoint analysis and numerous quantitative models. These techniques calculate the brand equity to be total future revenue of a branded product minus the future revenue for an identical, unbranded product.

Competing on Price

Q: Is competing on price effective?

A: The answer actually depends upon your market and your position within the market.

For example, if your market is composed of competitors focusing upon high quality (and typically accompanied by higher prices) then competing on price can be a very effective way to enter a market.

Competing on price can also be an effective way to gain market share - particularly if your competitors have high cost structures or you believe they will be slow to recognize your actions or react to your more aggressive prices. Note that there are also ways to mask your lower prices through one-time discounts, coupons, promotions, etc.

And lastly, if a market is already driven by price competition, it's very difficult to offer competing products with higher prices unless there is latent or obvious customer satisfaction issues with the products provided by the low price suppliers.

But generally, competing on price alone leads to disloyal customers, low margins and many sleepless nights for business managers. Price competition can work. But once you start leading with price, you better be prepared to be the lowest cost producer and offer the lowest prices in the market - bar none.

Naming Products

Q: I need to come up with a name for a new pizza brand for supermarkets. This pizza is certified organic. Of course, this and/or the Italian aspect can be incorporated into the name.

A: Product names are often composed of multiple components - including the brand itself followed by a brief description - usually one to four words. An example in the pizza category is "DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza" where the brand is "DiGiorno" and the description is "Rising Crust Pizza."

This approach enables a single brand to be created in the marketplace while supporting multiple products. The Name-Description product naming approach provides substantial economic and consumer mind-share leverage for a business. And when a brand becomes well known, the description is often dropped by consumers and marketers alike. For example, consider the number of people who call "Domino's Pizza" simply "Domino's" or "Coca Cola" simply "Coke."

It is always helpful to think about selecting a name for your product in a similar fashion. The brand can be very aspirational, reflecting an overall feeling or positioning what you wish to convey followed by a description of the product. Suggestions for the Italian pizza question include:

As the brand and name are being developed, it is essential that their availablity be determined. We suggest:
  1. Conducting a search on Google, Yahoo! and MSN
  2. Ensuring the corresponding domain name is available, for sale or otherwise not in active use
  3. Searching existing registered trademarks and applications at the United States Patent and Trademark Office
Recall, a trademark is the legal right to exclusively use a name within a specific industry, segment or product category.

Improving a Text-Based Ad

Q: What basic suggestions might Persuasive Brands® have to improve our ad (see below)? We're only allowed to use text characters in the printed publication where the ad will be placed.

Original Ad
Revised Ad

A: To increase the performance of your advertising, we offer the following suggestions.

1.  Given the legal field is highly competitive, it is advantageous to quantify how much experience your legal team has serving clients in the specified areas. Add up the years practicing law among the partners and associates, and communicate "More than X years ...

2.  Ensure the services provided by your firm are complete and ordered in decreasing importance to the audience--listing the most important first and least important last.

3.  Include an email address enabling potential clients to contact you electronically. Include a 1-800 telephone number if your firm has one--enabling clients to call you at no expense. And of course, list the URL of your website.

4.  Use color so your ad stands apart from others on the printed page. If color is not an option, consider reversing the colors--black background and white characters.

5.  Lastly, consider an "offer" embedded within your ad. This provides a reason for potential clients to select your firm and proactively contact you. An example may include a no-fee review of a current will and estate plan.

Of course, we can also re-write the content of any advertisement to convey the proper message and imagery based upon your marketing and sales objectives. We can also improve your advertisements using A/B testing methodologies or optimize your ads using advanced market research techniques such as tradeoff or conjoint analysis.

Home Page Ranking and Optimization

Q: For search engine marketing, should I optimize every page of my site so my home page achieves a high ranking? Do I need to optimize the 100+ pages that require a username and password?

A: To achieve rankings on desired pages - particularly the home page, you do not need to optimize all pages of a site. In fact, it is better to have a few highly optimized pages than many pages with mediocre or no optimization whatsoever.

There are many factors that drive the rankings within organic search results - including page content, meta instructions, external links to your site, etc.

Focusing upon and providing valuable content is the best starting place. In fact, it is the only long term strategy that will prove effective over time given search engine algorithms change - altering the importance upon backlinks, meta tags and the like.

One point you should consider is directing the search engines away from pages that require username/passwords. This can be easily accomplished using a robot.txt file or including:

< meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow, noarchive" / > in the username/password protected pages.

Local Market Promotions and Marketing

Q: How do I promote a local business? I'm trying to promote a local business and I need some promotional ideas.

A: Given you are providing services to businesses within a specific geographic area, it is always helpful to begin by defining your ideal client. For example, consider:

Next, determine what differentiates your services from others that may be currently serving your ideal client - if any. This could be the thoroughness/quality of your work, your service hours, your ability to work in environments that demand security (such as a bank, etc.) and, of course, your prices.

Now you âre closer to being prepared to target your "ideal client" with a compelling offering. You may want to consider subscribing to several local, geographic or proximity-based business online directories. Today, some directories enable you to include advertisements for your services within the newsletters of other local merchants.

You can also consider online advertising with a geographic restriction that matches your service area. And of course, don't foget to enhance your website and enable those seeking your specific services via search engines to find you more easily.

Given the size of the geographic area that you'll serve, you need to consider offline methods. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce to help identify companies represented by your "ideal client." You can also consider "renting" a list from companies like Dun & Bradstreet, Experian or others. Depending upon the contact information you obtain, you can call them, send a flyer, or e-mail them.

Don't forget to attend "Networking Events" and talk up your business. And ask your existing clients if they know of other firms that could use your services.