Your Brand: Strengthening Your Core

This first month of the year is a good time to reevaluate what your brand is all about. Review your past. Analyze your present. And take a good hard look at your future. You should be able to pinpoint what your brand is at its core by answering three simple questions:

1) How did your brand come to be?

Levi’s started as an apparel company in 1873. They made blue jeans. In the 1980s, their brand suffered. Their demographic had aged and Levi’s began to be perceived as “mom” jeans — a death knell for a company whose most valuable target audience is teens. At the same time, the company attempted to expand its base by purchasing Dockers® – a line of casual khakis and office wear (including suits). These two things caused their brand to suffer. But they came back strong in the early 1990s by going back to their roots with their 501 jeans. Today they’re offering a new line of Signature Levis Strauss & Co.™ (all priced at $25 and under and sold in WalMart and Kmart) positioning their durable denim products as quality craftsmanship, premium fit and exceptional value. This is offered at a lower price point, but it’s true to Levi’s core.

2) Are you passionate about what your brand offers and/or represents?

Oprah is a talker. She started as a talk show host. Her strength stems from her connection to her viewers. And she has successfully expanded her brand into events like “Live Your Best Life.” Her “Oprah Book Club” made overnight millionaires out of every author whose books she chose to feature. Her daily access to viewers ended with her OWN network. “OWN” did not capitalize on her connection with viewers. It took her out of the equation. And the network hasn’t done well to date. However, if OWN falls apart, “Oprah Radio” on Sirius XM will not. It basically replays old episodes of her TV series and broadcasts “Life Classes” in which Oprah interviews guests and interacts with audiences once again. She’s back to her core strength where she (and her brand) will thrive.

3) Can your brand make money?

I am a writer and an artist. I have always written, drawn and created. If I didn’t do these things for a living, I would do these things for free. At WilsonMcGuire Creative I can make money doing what I’m passionate about. That’s the sweet spot we’re all looking for in our lives and with our brands. A company can’t survive unless it makes money.

In our company, we’re continuously challenged to do more, reach farther and expand our skill set. We’re an ad agency and, as such, we work in many specialized areas: SEO, PPC, research, web programming, broadcast production, photography, casting, illustration, etc. Our core strength, however, is coming up with ideas — the words, pictures and communications that build brands. We help brands begin, evolve and develop by designing web sites, writing marketing plans, creating advertising and generating social media content that engages your audience, is inherent to your brand and strengthens your brand identity.

We do not believe in bringing every specialty in-house – it creates a distraction and waters down our core expertise. Imagine, for instance, an ad agency that offers in-house broadcast production. This agency must keep its broadcast production department busy in order to support it financially. That means the agency might suggest video or TV to clients when that format may not be the best option. The department soon becomes a drain on the agency instead of an enhancement to its clients. I’ve seen it happen. We offer our clients the same enhancements by partnering with experts — without the monthly overhead.

We’ve been asked by our clients to handle talent, to do public relations, to create and manage events. We could staff up and do these things in-house, adding potential new revenue streams. But these are not our core strengths. And, unlike Oprah, we will not lose sight of that.

WilsonMcGuire Creative is a small, concentrated group of artists, writers and strategists that creates custom websites, interactive marketing, advertising and social media for our clients. We’re an idea house. What are you?