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by Karen Post aka the Branding Diva

I was just in Ponte Vedra, Florida speaking at the 99th annual conference for the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA).
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If you have not been to Ponte Vedra it’s a fabulous place. Beautiful beaches and an elegant, historic resort called the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.

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A brand that has been going strong since the 1900’s, all touch points exude old charm with modern luxury. Extraordinary customer attention and an effective collection of branded details that grace the property, seahorse soap, seahorse butter, and The Seahorse Grill.

My speech to the water industry manufacturers covered how B to B companies all need to brand their products, companies and people and that its not a lot different than consumer branding. In fact, the more unsexy and industrial your product is, the grander your opportunity to brand well lie. I pointed out, no matter what you are selling, it’s to people. People who experience consumer brand communication and have basic human needs. Emotions play a big part in their decision making process.

Research regularly. Listen to your market. Ask questions. Conduct regular polls and then take action.

Be different, hugely different.
I cited some examples of strong B to B brands.

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Big Ass Fans
This fan company entered the world in 1999 as the HVLS (High Volume/Low Speed) Fan Company, a nod to their technology. And, with each fan sold, they noticed people looking skyward in disbelief and uttering, “That sure is a big ass fan.” It didn’t take them long to embrace the quirky name and become the Big Ass Fans Company.

Create new processes to do business. Invest in a thoughtful brand name and own a unique visual identity, Be a great story teller. Incorporate all touch points in your branding efforts.
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Tango performance draws paper crowd!
Once just another paper, Mobium Creative Group of Chicago creates a marketing strategy for MeadWestvaco brand.
It’s tough to build awareness of a commercial paper brand whose name is less than memorable. The Tango brand has experienced significant results since the relaunch, due to an integrated marketing approach built on a simple, consistent unique name and message.

My day ended as I participated on a panel addressing consolidation of the water industry and how brands and business can be impacted.

Key points covered that can apply to any industry experiencing M&A storm of change.

  • Change is inevitable. Don’t fight it. Make it work for you.
  • Decisions on what brand names to keep should only come after comprehensive research is conducted. Evaluate brand equity in the market.
  • Have a well thought out plan of communication considering all audiences, stakeholders, employees, customers, manufacturers, distributors and the media.
  • If a brand name changes are part of the M&A transaction, invest in at least three times as much communication as you think it will need to introduce the change and give it time.