A Simplified Approach to Brand Terminology

What is in a term used to discuss various topics or ideas? When talking about the various aspects of branding, apparently, quite a lot. Finding, learning and using the “correct” brand terminology is causing a great deal of confusion for marketers. Why are the specific terms so important? Isn’t it more important that we just get on with it?Let’s just simplify the terminology being used by advertising agencies, brand consultants, brand designers and market researchers around the topic of brand. In efforts to differentiate themselves, these experts have exacerbated the problem by coining their own terminology for what are essentially the same brand elements, techniques and processes that everyone else is offering. Add to the mix that most marketers today did not learn about brands in their business school marketing courses, and you have the potential for – and the reality of – a lot of confusion.One of the areas that seems to be attracting a lot of attention and misunderstanding among practicing marketers right now are the terms brand, internal brand, internal branding and employee/employer brand. The question comes up in almost every brand conversation I have, “What is the difference between an internal and an external brand? What is an employee brand and do I have to have one? And what do you mean by internal branding?” Here are the simplified – but hopefully not simplistic – answers.A brand is a long-term relationship you have with your customers, based on consistent delivery of an expected benefit. Brand is often described as a promise that is made and kept with your customers, but I prefer to avoid putting brand on a transaction basis. I prefer to think of brand as a relationship – something that is built up, developed between two people or organizations and that lasts a long time.There really isn’t anything new in this definition. This is pretty much the same definition that brand experts have been using for the past few years. It does always surprise me when a business tells me they don’t have a brand and they don’t need one. If you are in business, you have a brand. If you have not been actively managing your brand (a situation I describe as “benign neglect”) it may not be a strong brand and it may not be what you would like it to be. But, rest assured, you have a brand. All you have to do is ask your customers and they will tell you all about your brand. You may discover that your brand is a corporate asset you should be aggressively managing for business results, just like any other asset your corporation owns.An employee brand, on the other hand, is the brand you use to attract and retain employees. An employee brand may be different from the external brand it is related to – but not too different or it will not be credible. For example, it would be impossible for Virgin Airlines or Southwest Airlines to have an employee brand that is staid, conservative and rigid. Likewise, it would not be credible for a very conservative brand to attract employees using an employee brand that is overtly young and hip. While your employee brand must be related to your customer- or market-facing brand, it will definitely deliver different emotional and functional benefits. The benefits associated with an employee brand might be stability, fair compensation, good benefits, and training, where your market-facing brand benefits would relate to functional and emotional promises inherent in the brand relationship.As to whether you have to have an employee brand or not, again, don’t worry – you have one. If you have employees in your business and hire employees, you have an employee brand. You may not be managing it – and it may not be exactly what you want, but if you ask your employees and your prospective hires, they will tell you about your employee brand. They may also tell you about the employee brands of those companies against whom you compete for labor – so it probably a good idea to explore.Now, let me stress that there is no such thing as an “internal brand” – the internal brand is exactly the same as your external brand. In fact, to reduce the confusion, we can drop the internal and external designations and just refer to your brand. Internal branding, on the other hand, is the process of aligning people, functions and operations to consistently deliver the brand promise – building that brand relationship with the customer over time.Brand and internal branding are the responsibility of the entire organization – everyone contributes in some way to creating and enhancing the organization’s ability to deliver on its promises. The employee brand, on the other hand, tends to be the purview of the human resources, organizational development and internal communications folks.When I teach business people about branding there are always questions about the meaning of this or that term and is it the same as another term that they have read in a brand book or heard from another brand expert. I always tell my students not to worry about the terminology from the point of view of what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ What’s important is that they be sure to know what they mean by any given term within their organization so they can work with others on branding. From there, focus on the actions they need to take to build great brands. The terminology that works for your business or organization is the right terminology to use for you and your situation. The important thing is – “Just do it!”

Colorado Commercial Mortgage Brokers

Commercial mortgages are loans taken for the purchase of property that is, only intended for business or commercial use. Properties like shopping centers, industrial centers, offices, golf courses, resorts, hotels, parking garages, and car washes are termed as commercial properties. In Colorado, the best way to apply for a mortgage for a commercial property is to contact a commercial mortgage broker.Colorado commercial mortgage brokers are usually a part of the Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers (CAMB). It is a non-profit organization, aimed at providing assistance to professionals specializing in real estate. Commercial mortgage brokers are provided with training programs to keep them up-to-date with the latest trends and practices through this organization. The Colorado Association of Mortgage Brokers is also a part of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.It is necessary to get commercial property financed, at a competitive rate as it directly affects the finances of the organization. Commercial brokers come into the picture once a company decides on the location and price of a property. Usually, organizations opt for a ‘commercial interest only’ loan, as it provides them with an option of paying, only the interest for the first few years of the loan. A commercial loan can be for period of anywhere between five to thirty years. The rate for these loans can be either fixed or adjustable.To become a commercial mortgage broker it is necessary to get a license. The appropriate regulatory bodies that are set in place regulate all the brokers. A regulator body will ensure that the broker complies with the laws. However, to know how a broker treats the customers and if the services provided by the broker are satisfactory, it is advisable to get an opinion from other similar business companies.Commercial mortgage brokers advice the companies in deciding the best loan option. They help their clients understand the whole method of writing a proper loan application, processing the loan file and closing the loan. This helps the companies save a considerable amount of time and money.

How Can You Make Money Investing in 2014 and 2015?

The puzzle in 2014 and 2015: where to invest to make money investing if you can’t make money in stocks or bonds without taking undue risk? I’m not playing the role of cheerleader here; because finding where to invest money if stocks and bonds both get hit will be a challenge. This could happen, so let’s look at our options.For the past 30 years or so, investors both large and small could make money investing most of the time, if they simply invested in both stocks and bonds (about equal amounts in each). How will investors make money if both stocks and bonds are taken out of the equation? Let’s look at both how this could happen and where to invest if it does.In the late 1970s through the early 1980s investors did not make money investing in bonds or bond funds. In fact, losses of 40% to 50% were not uncommon in long-term bond funds. Why? Interest rates climbed – peaking in 1981. Since then rates have fallen, hitting record lows. Memorize this: you make money investing in bonds and bond funds when rates are falling. You lose money when rates climb. With interest rates threatening to go up in 2014, the question is where to invest money without taking on considerable risk.Since the early 1980s, stock losses have often been offset, in part, by the steady performance of bonds. Don’t expect this to happen if interest rates continue to climb in 2014 and beyond. Looking at stocks, you might make money investing in stocks going forward, but not without accepting considerable risk. Look at the stock market’s record since the year 2000: two brutal bear (down) markets produced 50% losses. Since the end of the last bear market (about 5 years ago) the stock market has since gone up over 150%. That begs the question: where to invest money when (or before) the next bear market hits.Believe it or not, the average investor has more latitude in terms of where to invest money than the giant investors (like pension funds and insurance companies) do. For example, a pension fund must make money investing (about 8% a year on average) in order to meet certain obligations. So… what are your choices if you decide to lighten up in stocks and bonds?Unlike some giant investors, you can play it safe with a large part of your money; and wait for future opportunities in both the stock market and bond market. You will hardly make money investing safely at current interest rates, but you shouldn’t lose money. Keep in mind that each of the last two bear markets in stocks produced losses of about 50% and lasted for less than two years. Then stocks rallied and went on to make all-time highs. When stocks get cheap, that’s where to invest money.Another option is to invest money in alternative investments like gold, natural resources like oil and natural gas, other commodities like copper and aluminum, or foreign investments while cutting back a bit on stocks and bonds. If you don’t know how or where to invest in these markets, look for stock mutual funds that specialize in these areas. Let them handle the investment details for you.If you want to be proactive, there is a third way to make money investing or to offset losses if or when stocks and/or bonds turn sour. Where to invest money to offset bond losses: an exchange traded fund like TBT (stock symbol) is designed to go up in value as bonds fall. Where to invest money to offset stock losses: inverse exchange traded funds (like stock symbol SDS) are designed to go up when the stock market falls. Both of these examples offer financial leverage of 2 to 1.The truth of the matter is that it is not always a given that you will make money investing. Frankly, I think that 2014 and 2015 could be a real challenge, and your first goal should be to avoid heavy losses. The answer to where to invest isn’t that simple when neither stocks nor bonds look attractive. At least now you know your options.