Just weeks ago, in Midtown Manhattan, about a dozen bright colored exotic cars emblazed with “It’s So Miami” were lined up at a makeshift taxi stand. As New Yorkers and tourists snaked for miles in line for a free ride in a red Maserati or yellow Lamborghini, they were given Cuban coffee and coconut juice to sip on. The event, a media hit, was organized by Turkel Brands in a strategic move to brand Miami as a hip town with unique cultural contrasts that New York doesn’t offer.
It was simply the latest effort by the Miami agency that has spent the last two decades solidifying the brand Miami as a culturally interesting and exciting town.
But along with branding Miami, Turkel has created buzz for himself as a branding genius, publishing a blog, speaking at events and writing books about how to create a brand identity or make an existing one more valuable. “In the last few weeks, I have had offers to sit on boards. They said they want to have my brand associated with their organization. I’ve never heard that before. That says to me, in the real world, things are changing.”
Today, whether you are an individual or business, an employee or an owner, developing a strong brand is imperative. The marketplace of products, services and content is like a crowded New York City street and your prospective buyer is deflecting thousands of messages competing for a person’s attention.
Destinations like Miami know this. Businessmen like Bruce Turkel know this. They have pushed through the crowd to gain awareness for what makes them special. They are branded, much like the cross-trainer you wear with the distinctive swoosh on the side. And now, you and the business you work for must be branded, too.
Here’s why: Half of employers say they are more likely to hire candidates that invested time in developing a strong online brand, according to Personnel Today. A strong corporate brand image can increase a company’s stock price by an average of 7 percent, according to a Yankelovich study. And, 85 percent of buyers go online to research purchases. At some point, you and your business category will be Googled and your digital brand will sell your unique strengths and distinguish you from the pack.
But branding yourself or your business can be trickier than you might think. Experts say you need to define your audience, find a niche without making it too narrow, and come across as authentic. “Your brand has to be about your audience and what is relevant to them,” Turkel says.
Party City has done this with the help of South Florida branding guru Jordan Zimmerman. Initial research showed the party supply chain’s target customer, mothers, considered the retail party stores expensive and limited. Zimmerman rebranded the chain as the discount supplier of party goods, a one-stop shop for harried moms. Zimmerman says his creative team helped Party City come up with a clever slogan — No one has more party for less.
“Brand building is about positioning in the marketplace,” Zimmerman said. “It’s about positioning your brand as meaningful to the consumer.” In branding Party City, Zimmerman’s goal was to position it as a place to go for selection and value and drive that message home through its social media accounts to the target audience of moms, the majority of party supply shoppers. It worked, he says. “In the last three years, sales are up 20 percent.”