This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.
Love him or loathe him, Donald Trump knows how to build a brand: name recognition. He's done such a good job of stamping the Trump moniker all over buildings and business ventures that a large part of the American public associates him with sound business sense, leadership, and wealth. The name (and the hair behind it) is driving votes so successfully that TV host John Oliver implored Americans to #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain to take the wind out of his bombastic presidential campaign.
Study after study shows that brand awareness is a key factor in consumer decision-making, and that high brand recognition correlates directly with profits. It's why I'm a firm believer in the Always Be Branding philosophy.
I've seen this approach work in my own business. There's value in getting your brand out there whenever and wherever possible, being your own personal billboard, and creating a culture that inspires your team to do the same.
Here are my favourite 'how to live your brand' ideas:
Make your clothing count
Sure, I could wear something non-descript as part of my personal brand, but I don't think it's cheesy to wear your company logo with pride – especially if it's in a pair of comfortable Chucks. If you're interacting with people who might use your services, why not take every opportunity you can to get noticed?
Getting your brand out there in a creative and cost-accessible way can be as simple as making sure everyone in your office has a company logo sticker on their laptop. There are a million opportunities to remind others about your company in their day-to-day life, while you're simply living yours.
Bring Your Brand Along
Marketing guru Seth Godin is famous for advising entrepreneurs to be the "purple cow" in a field of plain Holsteins. That can mean pulling publicity stunts, like the time we gave out blue wigs at a playoff hockey game and attracted major media attention, or when Uber generated goodwill in new markets by delivering puppies to office workers.
If you don't have a budget for elaborate marketing strategies, I've found that simply bringing your brand into unexpected spaces – the gym parking lot or on a flight – can be effective, too. People will often come up to ask me about the one of our companies because I'm visibly branded. It's an awesome conversation-starter.
Use Your Brand to Break the Rules (a little)
At O2E Brands, we have a long history of guerrilla marketing. One of our favourite tactics is "parketing" – parking a branded truck in a residential neighbourhood as a mini billboard. O2E Brands isn't the only company with a risk-taking attitude: Britain's Vodaphone sent two streakers into a rugby game with only a company logo to cover their shame. If that's not an attention grabber, I don't know what is. These practices aren't necessarily going to please everyone but they're not technically breaking any rules … well, except the streakers. And if someone doesn't like what you're doing, what's the worst that can happen? Just stop, put on some clothes, and move on to the next idea.
Employees make great evangelists
Employees multiply a company's branding power: a Hinge Research Institute study found that of companies that encourage their team to promote the brand, 65 per cent see improved brand recognition, and 34 per cent experience increased brand loyalty.
From wrapped vehicles (Yahoo does this, too) to clothing, we provide staff with ultra-visible resources. And it goes beyond the logo – your employee ambassadors can live your brand by amplifying company news on social media and their personal networks. Some companies have even created incentive programs to get employees referring people or tweeting about the business.
Tactics like these have the added bonus of creating a strong brand identity within your own company. And with more research showing that people trust word-of-mouth recommendations over traditional advertising, creating a genuine culture of "brand ambassadors" – employees who wear branded swag like they would for their favourite sports team – can bring your team together and boost your bottom line.
It's as simple as ABC. Always Be Branding.
Brian Scudamore (@brianscudamore) is the founder and CEO of O2E (Ordinary to Exceptional) Brands, which includes companies like 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me and Shack Shine. He helps others grow small to medium businesses and corporate culture.