Part 1: Introduction

Book Discussion:
“Sticky Branding” by Jeremy Miller

Are you in the market for some serious work on your branding? Join me in reading Sticky Branding by Jeremy Miller. It is a branding crash course or refresher course for all the aspects that are important for creating an outstanding brand. Miller explains in 12.5 Principles the important aspects of what he calls a sticky brand, and what one needs to do in order to create one’s own.

The wealth of information, examples, and exercises to make the principles stick (pun intended) is especially relevant for business owners who would like to grow and reach the next level. And if you just got started, it’s a great way to gain the clarity you will need in order to build your business on a solid foundation. Mallika from Miki Foto recommended this book to me, and I immediately got hooked. I’m currently re-branding my business, Coaching with a Kick, and found the questions in the exercises thought-provoking and helpful.

If you object and argue that branding is only for big companies, then hang on and go on this branding adventure with me. You may be surprised by what branding is or could be, according to Miller, even for the smallest of businesses. He poses a lot of questions. For example:

  • Do you know if your “pitch” to your clients or prospective clients is successful?
  • Do you know if you use the right channels to approach your prospective clients, social media or otherwise?
  • Do you make it easy for your prospective clients to pic you and not your competition?
  • Do you know how they feel about the purchasing process of your service or product?
  • Do you miss opportunities to be present for your clients or prospective clients?

And this is only a sneak preview into the many aspects Miller mentions.

I will post a blog every week focusing on a different chapter or, to use Miller’s words, “Principle.” I’m going to summarize what resonated with me, what I found particularly helpful, and how I implemented the lesson(s) learned. It would be fun to hear what struck a chord with you, what you discovered and what changes you will make in your business.

I’m sure there will be aspects that will make you think about your own business practices. You may find that your business can be tweaked or changed to be more client-focused or client-friendly.  After all, that’s what every business is, or better, should be about, right? So, let’s get started with Part 1, the “Introduction.”

Jeremy Miller wrote Sticky Branding because he was desperate. He had joined his parents’ family business, and a year into being at the helm of it the business started suffering. Even though they were “firing on all cylinders” (page 8) it didn’t show in the numbers. On top of low sales figures, they were working with clients that didn’t appreciate their services and, to make matters worse, were difficult to work with.

He needed to find out what was going wrong, and quickly. Miller and his team started by comparing other IT recruiting companies with his own: services, features, benefits and customer service. They came to realize that they were just “another tree in the evergreen forest” (page 9): same offer, same service, same features, same benefits, same customer service.   

This “discovery” triggered a re-evaluation process which led to a complete repositioning of his ailing family business. What used to be a mediocre, indistinguishable IT recruiting company at the brink of collapse transformed into a first class, outstanding recruitment company in sales and marketing.

It will come as no surprise that this transition was an extremely painful and scary time for Miller and his company. Not everything he and his team tried ended in success. But after they went through the 12.5 Principles and nailed each aspect of it, they had achieved what Miller calls a “sticky brand”  or, to use the analogy from the book, they created a company that “stand(s) out like an orange tree in an evergreen forest.” (page 9)

Do you know what a sticky brand is? I believe it’s time for a definition. A sticky brand ….

  • stands out and is remarkable.
  • is raved about by colleagues and friends.
  • exceeds customer expectations.
  • builds on and learns from each customer interaction.
  • brings together purpose, vision, a remarkable customer service experience, passion, and operational excellence.

The underlying theme is curiosity and the all-important question: “How can we serve our customers better.” Creating a sticky brand will never be a done deal, it will always be a continuous process.

This may sound a bit daunting and overwhelming. Especially for us entrepreneurs who are wearing so many hats. But before you throw in the towel and don’t even open the book, think about this: sticky brands, for the most part, don’t have customers, they have fans. Reason enough for me to put a lot of effort into my branding. How about you?

Part 2 of this series will be about “Principle 1: Simple Clarity.”

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