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Business Observer Friday, Oct. 31, 2003 15 years ago

Dan Miller Show, Don't Tell

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A company's visual image is important. How do you ensure a business has the right public image?

Dan Miller Show, Don't Tell

A company's visual image is important. How do you ensure a business has the right public image?

What

"Your Brand Presentation" - We know that a high percentage of what we "say" about ourselves and our business propositions isn't literally "said" at all, and that non-verbal items - body language, tone, context, setting and visual images do much of the "heavy lifting" in getting our messages across. This article focuses on non-spoken communications that largely occur outside of the presentation room but that can have a major impact on your presentation success.

We'll begin with the definition of a key concept that we'll be working with. Marketing/Brand Identity is the combination of symbols, words, colors, that when taken together, establish your individual or business' marketing persona. It's what you and your business look like, sound like and feel like to customers, suppliers, the media and the general public.

Why

Managing a personal identity is something most of us thought about a lot and worked on fairly carefully when we were looking for the perfect job or the life-long partner. However, all too often, we don't put the same degree of care into managing our business and professional identity and image (our brand). Over time, many identity items become just like the wallpaper - we "see" them everyday, but just don't notice them unless someone calls them to our attention.

Virtually everything that a business or professional person says, does or uses in their daily routine carries a direct or implied message about the nature, identity and personality of their organization and the quality of the goods and services offered.

Just as the professional presenter needs to develop heightened sensory acuity to get feedback from the audience in a formal presentation setting, the pro needs to pay very careful attention to the passive elements of Marketing/Brand Identity.

Think about it - we make presentations everyday of our life - and our brand presentations are one of the 10 types we make, which truly effects what people think about us. It's very important.

How

One of the first things you need to do to get started on active management of your Marketing Identity/Brand is to look at what you have now. Look at the above box that includes a list of typical identity items to help you evaluate your own materials. In future editions, we'll take a closer look at details and provide more tips on how to avoid or correct common mistakes.

Benefits

Organizations with a solid Marketing Identity/Brand simply do better than those without them. To the extent that the messages transmitted by all of these items in the box above are in alignment, you and your team get a powerful boost at virtually no extra cost. When these elements are not in sync, however, there is considerable risk that the conflicting messages will cancel each other out, or worse, destroy the basic credibility of the enterprise.

Action Plan

� Start with your inventory (see above) and do a first pass on an assessment. Get samples and lay them out on a large table. Are your materials up-to-date and aligned?

� Look at competitors, suppliers and other organizations you work with. How do your materials compare?

� Get a "fresh eyes" review: Ask customers (especially new ones) to comment on your identity materials. Are they clear? Do they convey the messages you want conveyed?

� If the reviews aren't favorable, watch this space for more tips in future editions and consider calling us in for professional help.

Dan Miller is a managing partner of Startup Florida. He can be reached at [email protected].

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