Thursday, August 11, 2011

What You Can Learn from the Penny

I heard a discussion on NPR last December concerning the new “penny.” I was amused to hear that a penny actually costs 1.7 cents to make and that, officially, there is no US unit of money called a “penny.” The correct term is “one cent piece.” The original “one cent piece” was about the size of the British half-penny. Our forefathers, being familiar with British coins, dubbed the “one cent piece” the “penny.” The name stuck. Once “penny” came into common use, there was no way the US Treasury was going to get people to switch over to using “one cent piece.” The proper name of this coin was essentially lost.

When it comes to building your brand, make sure you are consistent from the start. If you’re not, your brand will get lost.

I have a client who could not pick his favorite logo, so he uses both of them. You can go to his web site and see one logo and to a retail outlet and see a different logo on his product packaging.  Not only does this reduce the “critical mass” required to make a logo recognizable, but the customer is left wondering if one is the real product and the other is a knock-off. What will that do to your sales?

In another scenario, I worked with an engineering company who would alternate “The Multimedia Experts” with “The Multimedia Connection” depending on who was creating the marketing material. If you have so little logic behind your branding statement, if you can just substitute words, then you will not create a solid brand image. Your marketing materials are not going to work consistently towards your goals.

It is not hard to imagine that there are search engine optimization (SEO) benefits for being consistent but I am going to share an SEO tip that I have only seen once in my two years of research. You can significantly improve your ranking on Google if you will create three social media sites using the same name as your Web page. This is something that should be considered when creating your Web page. For many of you, this could be a problem because your Web page is already locked in and matching names on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter may have already been taken. If your company name or URL (web page address) is fairly unique, however, you have a great opportunity to increase you visibility on the Internet.

Here is an example of what I mean. When we created Accelerant Marketing Alliance, we knew that name was way too long for a URL. We created a unique abbreviated name for our URL: When we created our Twitter account, we made it match the web page: With Facebook: The YouTube channel is in the works and it will be called If you have been reluctant to start social media marketing, here is one more reason to do so.  You now know a secret SEO tactic that most of your competition does not know.

In your brand planning, you need to take a variety of things into consideration. For example, how do you manage your success? Most of us are aware of the failure Kleenex had in regaining exclusive use of their brand name once it became generic. Before that, Bayer lost exclusive use of the brand name “Aspirin” and had to build brand awareness of the Bayer name. Some of us will remember when Xerox started promoting the term “photocopies” to prevent the lost of their brand name. Once everyone from your six year old to your grandmother calls “photocopies” a “Xerox,” the brand name is probably gone.

Most of us will never be fortunate enough to achieve the level of success where our company becomes a household name. For the rest of us, the first battle will be “uniqueness.” “Accelerant” is not a unique name for a marketing agency.  When you throw in the different variants such as “Accelerator” and “Accelerate,” you have some branding issues. You can play with the spelling or add content to the name. We considered, “Excellerant” but decided that this might opened up some confusion with “Excel spreadsheets.” We are not accountants. We could have become “Accelerant Marketing of North Texas” but we did not want to limit our reach to just north Texas. We are worldwide. One of our oldest customers is a semiconductor company in Shanghai. In the end, we focused on our objective to form an alliance with our customers in making their success, our success. This gave us the unique name we needed to start building our brand.

At Accelerant, we are serious about our brand. We use a consistent font on all our materials. Even our meeting minutes are done in this font. We use our company slogan on both sides of our business cards. We are consistent with the punctuation for our slogan: “Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.” The first part must use caps like a department sign in a major corporation. We do “big corporation” marketing. The last part must be in all lower case because that is a conversation between the two of us. We are bringing “big corporation” marketing to the people. Due to this attention to detail, we know who we are, what we offer and how to present our value in as few words as possible.

Make your brand marketing follow a plan or you will be all over the place, spreading a little bit of marketing here and there but not enough anywhere to make a difference. Be consistent with your brand. Use the same name, same logo, same slogan...same colors and font on all your printed materials (business cards, stationary, brochures), ads, Web page, social media, etc. If you do not, then you may end up like the “one cent piece”; everywhere but still unknown.

James Snider is the Business Development Director for Accelerant Marketing Alliance, LLC of Grapevine, Texas. “Corporate Marketing Department ... one hour at a time.”

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