Category Archives: Branding

Articles about branding your business or organization

Save your business – don’t hire a snooty waiter

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Jan van der Hoop, a blogger at the Mississauga Board of Trade writes – your people – and not you or your product – will ultimately determine the fate of your business.

Jan writes about the rude treatment he received from a waiter at a French restaurant and wonders if owner of the restaurant is aware.

rude waiterHe had clearly invested heavily in his restaurant – the building, the kitchen, the team, promoting and building his business… only to have one guy’s indifference sully his hard-built reputation.

It is your employees’ standards, attitudes and values that ultimately determine how your customer will feel during and after they have done business with you.

And too often business owners don’t know the damage that is being done. Hire right. Spend time on their training so they fully understand that they are an ambassador for your business and your reputation.

As Jan points out, anything less amounts to “management malpractice”

Read Jan’s full post here



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Filed under Branding, Human Resources, Managing, Uncategorized

Never will you ever muck with your brand

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

iStock_000016561283SmallI said  the other day Knowing your customers is important. Knowing why they are your customer is even more so. And I have often said your brand is what your customers believe it is.

If your customers have come to rely on you for quality and service, resist the temptation to lower prices for short-term return. Once you set the bar lower, it’s difficult to lift it again.  It’s not a sustainable strategy.

So it comes back to building a brand that your customers want and cherish. Build on that reputation and don’t muck with it.


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Filed under Branding, Customer Service, Uncategorized

Volkswagen – another epic big brand fail

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

When big brands fail, somehow we are shocked.

The latest is Volkswagen,  engulfed by a growing crisis over its attempt to make millions of diesel cars appear cleaner than they are.

The scandal broke Friday, when U.S. regulators said the German company had programmed some 500,000 vehicles to emit lower levels of harmful emissions in official tests than on the roads.

vwVolkswagen stunned investors Tuesday by admitting that the problem was much bigger than that: internal investigations had found significant discrepancies in 11 million vehicles worldwide.

It set aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to cover the cost of recalls and “efforts to win back the trust of our customers,” trashing its profit forecast for the year in the process.

Shares in Volkswagen plunged 18% Tuesday, after crashing 17% Monday. That means about a third of the value of the group has been wiped out in two days.

Volkswagen is not the first. There is the GM ignition switch problem, that caused 13 deaths and 10 years to recognize. Toyota’s airbag problems. Toyota ‘s $1.2 billion settlement with federal prosecutors over its handling of more than 4 million recalled cars because of unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010.

The US Justice Department will investigate Volkswagen, so undoubtedly there is more bad news coming.

What are we to make of this other than greed is ever present in corporate America?

Brand loyalty is built on trust. Trust isn’t bought, it’s earned. Volkswagen has a tough row to hoe.




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Filed under advertising, Branding, Customer Service

Stand for something

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Earlier week I listened to Dragons’ Den star Arlene Dickinson speak to a sold-out business audience at an event hosted by the Mississauga Board of Trade. The advertisement for his event said Ms Dickinson was to speak about Drug Runners, Arctic Sovereignty, Entrepreneurs, Jobs in the GTA and the Royal Canadian Navy.

Initially I couldn’t make the connection; why was one of Canada’s most renowned independent marketing communications entrepreneurs, CEO of Venture Communications,  speaking about piracy and drugs on the high seas.

Clearly, Arlene is a draw no matter what she is speaking about; the event was sold out two weeks early.

MBOT_Nov_12_201304She spoke passionately about the Royal Canadian Navy and encouraged Mississauga business people to support the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy because it could provide 1,600 new jobs for Ontario.

She is an Honorary Captain in the Navy and a huge supporter of the role the it plays in keeping shipping lines open around the world, stopping drugs from entering our schools and protecting Arctic Sovereignty.

But she is also one the country’s best marketers and in a room of business people it was inevitable that her advice would be sought. In the Q&A she was asked how to grow a business and provided three tips

  1. Invest in yourself
  2. Invest in other entrepreneurs as you are able
  3. Make sure you have a strategy – be clear in what you stand for and amplify it.

The last point resonated with me because I see it most often. It’s surprising how many businesses don’t have a plan. It’s equally surprising how many businesses have not thought about how they are different from their competitors, and why someone should buy their product or service.

Stand for something yes, but stand for something that your customers can relate to and let them tell your story. It takes some thought and some planning.

Pictured Karen Ras, Chair of Mississauga Board of Trade (MBOT), Arlene, Sheldon Leiba President and CEO MBOT and Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion. More Photos Here

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Filed under Branding, Marketing, Stephen Rhodes, Strategic Planning

The parking lot was full, but they missed this Target

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

The much ballyhooed opening of the latest American entry into the Canadian retail marketing space has arrived.  As a fairly loyal Zellers shopper I was extremely interested to see what had replaced them in the local malls. I have seen Target in the U.S. and I thought they may have a  chance to give Walmart a run for the loonie here.

It was only a week or so ago, their spin doctors announced to the Canadian public that their prices were not going to be as good as they were in the U.S.  For me that struck a chord, as it may have with other Canadian consumers who are tired of seeing U.S prices much lower on a large number of products despite our dollar being at close to par. Despite all this, I did venture in with an open mind.  There was not a parking spot to be found, so the interest factor was certainly at a fever pitch.

As I walked towards the doors, I noticed there were a large number of people leaving with no bags in their hands.  An even worse omen was the guy who said in a loud voice as he was leaving and I and others were entering, “Don’t waste your time”. Inside, the store looks bright and spacious as it should since it is 2 days old. There was a wide selection of products, a nice pharmacy section, a big wall of TVs at the back and well identified aisles. There were also yellow tags with the words “Temporary Discount” to identify the specials.

What was also noticeable was that the prices were higher than Walmart, and the old Zellers stores. So noticeable, in fact,  that shoppers were vocalizing it at every turn. I wonder (and it is just my thoughts) if a mid-range department store in this market will be fantastically successful? Does this represent an opportunity for the likes of Sears to alter their tactics to compete more directly with the newcomer? Is this a well thought out tactic by Target to allow them to become more discount oriented in the future if this mid-range plan falters? Either way, the next year will be interesting to see how the Canadian consumer reacts.

As for me, I too left the store empty-handed  (which for me is highly unusual). My wife commented that this could be a blessing in disguise if I leave empty-handed! The pre-marketing was good, the Target Loves Canada symbols were a little over the top, the parking lot was full, the store was busy, the buzz has been loud, but in my case, they missed the target.

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Filed under Branding, Jeff Bowman, Marketing