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Image from Lou Dawg's B-B-Q Instagram account. #RRRRRIBS #SundayDinner #LouDawgsBlackLager#northofnashville #goodtimes

Image from Lou Dawg's B-B-Q Instagram account. #RRRRRIBS #SundayDinner #LouDawgsBlackLager#northofnashville #goodtimes

Small Business Briefing

Lou Dawg's B-B-Q owner offers recipe for brand building Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team.

Six lessons in brand building

Daryl D’Souza is the co-founder of Lou Dawg's B-B-Q, a restaurant in Toronto featuring smoked Southern BBQ and live music. At a Toronto Region Board of Trade event, Mr. D'Souza offered six key lessons in engaging a community, building brand equity and creating consistency on and offline:

1. You need to protect your brand. BlackBerry din't do this when it released the PlayBook, says D'Souza. Rather than release a device that was reliable, robust and secure three attributes associated with the Waterloo tech company — it came out with the PlayBook (which, for the record, it has since abandoned). As most of us know, the 7-inch tablet was essentially a poor man's iPad whose name sounded less like a high-end business tool and more like a gaming device.

2. Brand building takes discipline and focus. If you can deliver what your customers expect, then you not only develop a relationship but you build your brand equity. Mr. D’Souza recounts the time he walked into his King West location only to be deafened by hip hop ripping through the speakers. His partner, and head chef Sean Smith, explained that he was tired of listening to blues all day. "Too bad," D’Souza retorted. "People come here for the blues, and expect the blues." The equivalent of playing hip hop in a blues bar would be squirting mustard on a pulled pork sandwich. It's just plain wrong.

4. Get involved in the community. Reaching out with your offline network is a great way to broadcast the brand. D’Souza's restaurant sponsors a number of house league softball teams downtown and is involved with the local community centre. He also works with charities that naturally align with his personal and professional interests.

5. Engage, don't interrupt. Traditional advertising is "intrusive and arrogant," he says. If you want to build a relationship with a customer, stop beating them over the head. His prowess in this area has paid off in a serious way for: A connection he made with radio host Jay "Mad Dog" Michaels played a key role in One Direction's tweet about Lou Dawg's poutine and brownie. This endorsement led to a global Twitter storm.

6. Keep your messaging aligned. If you're tweeting from a personal account, there's no reason it can't relate to your business - just make sure you embody your brand in some way. As long as you understand who you are and know your target audience, the two versions of you (personal and business) don't have to conflict.

Kira Talent raises $2-million seed round

Toronto-based Kira Talent has raised another $2-million in seed financing. The round was led by Relay Ventures and supported by 18 other investors.

The video recruiting company was co-founded in 2012 by Maxwell Brodie, Emilie Cushman, Konrad Listwan-Ciesielski and Edward Sun during the Next 36 program.

Over the coming months, the startup will be releasing a suite of new products in hopes of creating the world’s simplest an easiest to use video interview screening platform.

“Video interviewing is not a fad, but represents a truly innovative way to improve the recruitment process by saving time and having greater visibility into the personality and potential of your candidates” says Ms. Cushman.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Canada's first business directory for SMBs goes live

Interac and Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) have launched Canada's first online business directory dedicated to small businesses. Shop Small Biz, which connects thousands of independent small businesses with Canadians looking for local deals.

As part of the kick-off, Interac and CFIB are holding a nationwide contest for business owners. They want to know why small business owners love their jobs. Winners will receive $500 cash, a one-year membership to CFIB and be featured in Shop Small Biz advertising and PR campaigns. The contest ends on September 30th.

The Ember Business Exchange

The Ember Business Exchange, in connection with their Partners and Sponsors, introduce Ember’s new networking opportunities, innovative seminars and special guest speakers during a night of celebrations and official new beginnings on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Her dream: take Lululemon to the mat

How can a small-time entrepreneur compete with the retail behemoth that’s become synonymous with yoga-wear? Alex Leikermoser sees an opportunity.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Kira Talent's video platform simplifies search for high-caliber candidates

The Toronto-based startup's innovation is low-tech but high-impact: It shows applicants a question, and after giving them a few seconds to think, it immediately records their response in one 30- or 60-second take.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com.

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