Branding – Jim Kukral Speaker *Mindset *Lifestyle *Impact *Purpose

Category Archives for "Branding"

Building The Brand Beyond The Web

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Print24. All opinions are 100% mine.

So if you don’t know my wife, Doreen, she has a passion for “going green”. So much so, she has been writing a blog over at for two-years now! In fact, she’s an excellent blogger, way better than me. Because of that, she’s been able to build a nice little name for herself and the brand.

When she first started she had some business cards made to hand out to friends and etc… But those ran out. So recently I got a call from the people at Print24 saying they’d give her some free cards if we tried their service. So we did. Here are the cards she made, all on her own using the Print24 website. Look at these next to her blog and you’ll see it’s pretty darn close in style.

Image is blurry because I couldn’t get my scanner to work today, and iPhone takes bad pics!

I was very happy with the cards when they arrived. Nice card stock, sturdy, in general good stuff, and cheap. I should know, I started out my career working in print, way before the Web was around. Yes, I’m the old guy in the Internet business at 38, heh.

This is what I keep saying to you about today’s Internet. There’s never been a greater time in the history of the world to be able to easily and cheaply get things like this done. Before the Web, and all the choices, you would have to walk into a local print shop and pay a LOT of money for these cards. Oh, and you’d only be able to get a minimum of 500 too.

Print24 has other stuff too like address labels, stickers, mousepads, postcards, etc. All the usual print stuff. Also check out Print24 for their web2Print projects. Yeah, this post is sponsored. But again, I won’t write about stuff I don’t like or use. Try them and let me know what you bought.

Visit my sponsor: Print 24

Are You Cool?

I’m not buying it. Watch the video below of employees dancing at a Microsoft store. As if they’re working in a Johnny Rockets or something. See that video here.

Me thinks they’re trying too hard, don’t you? Why must brands like Microsoft try to be what they’re not. You are either cool, or you’re not. It’s ok to not be the cool one people. In fact, I like MS a lot because they’re the uncool ones. Only when they try to pretend they are that they annoy me.

I’m not cool. I’m kind of a dork. I relish in the uncoolness of myself and it works for me. Because I’m myself…

As I wrote in 07 for MarketingProfs

You can’t just be cool, you either are, or you aren’t.

Your brand is what it is. Don’t force something and end up looking like the dork in the corner trying too hard to hang with the popular kids.

3 Ways to Suck the Life Out of Your Brand

This is a guest post from David Brier. His information is below. If you’d like to submit a guest post, click here.

jfk_bradThere’s a problem in the world of business today, a problem that impacts every brand, every day. It’s something businesses notice without really understanding what it is. Or how to overcome it.

The Source of Your Troubles
So much money is wastefully spent generating little if any awareness with messages that blend in rather than stand out. Simply put, it’s getting harder to be heard in a world that’s just too busy to listen.

You deserve a brand and a message that connects with your audience, catapulting your brand from commodity status to a must-have.

Is the answer to cut back? Yes and no.

Cutting back on the stupid useless missteps, yes. This includes confusing content with channels of communication (in other words, social media is not a strategy anymore than having a TV commercial is. More on that in another article.)

But cutting back on a well conceived branding and marketing plan with spunk that goes for the gold? A resounding no. Like the business guru Peter Drucker stated, “You can’t shrink your way to greatness.”

Brand Intervention
The first place to start is by recognizing the “signs” that will lead one down the road to branding hell—the ideas and fool-hardy notions that literally will suck the life out of your brand.

In no particular order, here they are.

1. When in Doubt, Do What the “Big Boys” Are Doing
2. Be Professional, Not Magical (In Other Words, Don’t Shoot for Moon When You’ve Got Swiss Cheese in the Frig)
3. Doing Something Original Will Backfire

When in Doubt, Do What the “Big Boys” Are Doing
Creating a brand is about creating something that will stand out and be recognized for its differences. To copy what the leaders in your industry are doing will only serve to remind prospective customers about them, not you and your unique attributes.

What to do? List out what the leaders are doing and then isolate what you can offer that they aren’t offering. Something that may be more of a niche, or a better way to deliver a similar product, or a better designed user experience.

Be Professional, Not Magical
This is the ultimate trap: focusing on being professional, proper and corporate. In some schools of thought, those words “proper” and “corporate” are dirty words and liabilities. Take a page from Sir Richard Branson of Virgin: Be bold and dare to do something magical. Or like Seth Godin would put it: Be remarkable.

What to do? Establish what is the average, usual and acceptable. Then figure out how to raise the bar. You can even ask yourself what Seth Godin, Richard Branson or Steve Jobs might say or do in your particular industry.

Doing Something Original Will Backfire
Whoever said this was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Did you ever realize that what we take for granted today as ordinary and usual started out as an original idea?

  • The Eiffel Tower was laughed at and criticized when construction was complete, yet is now one of France’s most revered landmarks.
  • The Beatles were rejected by the Decca record label (since guitar music was “on its way out”) before changing the world of music (and music sales) forever.
  • Apple broke all the rules with their unique gallery-like retail stores to become the most profitable destination in the retail world.
  • This list can be expanded to everything from fire, to toilet paper to the invention of electricity and the phone.

What to do? Brainstorm with some friends who bring new viewpoints to what you want to solve, and very likely some originality will surely surface. Initially some of it may sound crazy, but so did the idea of transporting one’s voice over a distance as touted by Alexander Graham Bell.

When Golden Rules Should Be Traded in for Cash
So anytime anyone suggests you follow some of the above “golden rules,” doing the opposite might be your best strategy yet.

About the author: David Brier is Chief Gravity Defyer of DBD International and the author of branding bible for those sick and tired of average results: Defying Gravity and Rising Above the Noise. You can follow David on twitter here.

The Branding Lesson I Learned Where I Shop

This is a guest post from David Brier. His information is below. If you’d like to submit a guest post, click here.

When I am not solving clients’ branding problems, I am planning the next delicious meal for my wife and myself. I make a mean (and ridiculously succulent) Tandoori chicken breast, a mouthwatering peppercorn-marinated filet mignon and a killer cappuccino, but I digress….

jfk_gourmet1The Places I Shop (and Why)
I shop at two primary places for food and cooking ingredients. One is a natural food co-op and the other is a more upscale supermarket. I have my usual routine between these two shopping venues.

But one day, I realized something. I shopped one of these 5X more than I shopped the other. Hmmmm…

I looked at why since, after all, I know my clients would enjoy a 5X increase in customer traffic. Here’s what I discovered.

Same Shit, Different Day
The supermarket provided the same stuff. In other words, I went there already knowing what I was going to buy, nothing new, just routine.

The co-op on the other hand not only sold some usual suspects I would routinely purchase but in addition, during each visit, I always went to their small floor-standing cooler that showcased the day’s salads, unique re-heatable meals, little hand-made munchies, etc. In other words, they had something new and different everyday.

Compared to my weekly visit to the local supermarket where I spent a couple hundred dollars, I would go almost everyday after work and spend between $20 to $40 each visit.

What’s This Got To Do With My Brand?
I looked at this amazing difference between these two destinations and why one was getting 5X the amount of traffic from than the other. I asked myself, “Could this principle apply to any brand?”

After a little analysis, I discovered this applied equally to online destinations as well as brick and mortar destinations.

I find I visit sites that offer something new and different, and I am not alone. Look at Copyblogger, Threadless or Mashable and you’ll find the basis of these leading online brands is “something new and different all the time.” Heck, it’s even part of the brilliance of the amazingly successful iPhone with all of its “new and different” apps.

Stagnancy is the Road to Brand Death
The days of the stagnant Web site and the stagnant brand are over. Your brand must be relevant, meaningful and—above all—fresh. The more it’s fresh and fluid (which happens to mirror the increasingly fleeting attention spans of most consumers and clients).

Mirror your clients attention span and you’ll be the next star in your industry. Stay stagnant and your brand will die a quick and sure death.

Lesson learned: Embrace your audience’s interest and attention span and you too can see a major increase in loyalty, traffic and engagement.

About the author: David Brier is Chief Gravity Defyer of DBD International and the author of branding bible for those sick and tired of average results: Defying Gravity and Rising Above the Noise. You can follow David on twitter here.

What Color Is Your Brand?

VERY smart video here from William Arruda about colors in branding. A must watch really.

A couple of things to take away from this video.

1. Color means a lot. You really need to consider the lessons learned before you build your brand.
2. See how fun and easy this video was? You can make a video like this pretty easily. Get some good content, throw a soundtrack on there, slide some words and graphics in, and bam, you’ve got a video that is now sharable and viral. Try it.

Here’s a few videos I did a few years ago on personal branding.

Dominos Pizza Gets The Poop End Of The Social Media Stick

Write this one up as the downside of social media. It’s painful to even post about this because I feel so bad for the Dominos Pizza brand. I mean, this is just brutal to watch and read about, but it has to be pointed out that this is the world we live in now. So, sorry Dominos.


If you go read this story (found from Huffpost), you’ll find out about a few completely horrible humans, err, scumbags who were working for Dominos who took some videos of themselves picking their noses and putting it on people’s food, and then wiping their butts with a wash cloth and washing the pizza pans with it.

I don’t want to put the videos here, but you can watch them here. Prepare to be disgusted and angry.

Again, this is completely disgusting and those people who did this should not have only been fired, but brought up on criminal charges of some kind.

Now back to the bad news for Dominos. Social media is going to allow this to spread, and fast. There’s really nothing they can do. It’s not libelous or untrue so they can’t have lawyers take down the videos and “news”. All they can really do is respond and hope it buries itself.

The VP of Communications had this to say on the site we found the story on.

Hi, Jeremy.

We just got off the phone with the franchise owner, who was absolutely dumbfounded by this. He has told us that he will be terminating their employment effective immediately. We suggested that he call them and get a written statement from them, asking them to “explain” (to the extent anyone can, really) their actions. We are also seeking legal counsel to see what kind of action we can take against them for damage to the brand.

You are welcome to use anything I’ve sent to you in the past 24 hours. I do want to thank you for bringing this to our attention…I just wish it hadn’t been posted so prominently on your web site…while it was certainly fair game, it does hurt the company and the thousands of people we employ in this country whether it’s intended or not.



Tim McIntyre
Vice President, Communications
Domino’s Pizza, LLC

On one hand I’m glad that this type of thing can be exposed in such a way. I mean, if I was eating from that store I’d be VERY glad to know that those people are gone. But on the other hand, I feel bad for the brand, and it brings up a powerful discussion of social media and branding in today’s world.

What would you have done if you were Dominos? What could they have done beyond what they’ve done already? How would you handle this?

If I was Dominos, I’d just hope it disappeared. But unlikely.

Challenging times ahead for this new world we live in.

Video Book Review: The Perfection of Marketing

The Perfection of Marketing puts you in the room with James Connor, a leading brand expert to hear the exact advice he’s given to over 200 CEOs on the most efficient methods to build their brand and increase marketing ROI. Culminating from 12 years of work, these best practices are battle tested for small and midsized businesses. This practical guide gives you the detailed playbook run by The James Group, a brand strategy and full-service advertising agency in New York City, which has made more money for 95% of their clients. Skillfully written in narrative style, this book is a must have for any CEO who wants to grow a company through marketing. With a summary and key questions at the end of each chapter, The Perfection of Marketing provides a clear path to marketing success.

The Perfection of Marketing

Creating Lifetime Customers

Have you ever thought about the lifetime value of a customer? Your customers? It’s huge. If you knew that your average customer spent $1,000 with you every year, then it’s pretty easy to calculate the average amount of money they will spend at your business for the next 30 years or more.

Case in point, my local auto mechanic. They know the value of a lifetime customer. Here’s two examples to prove it.

Example #1
Last summer I took my car in before our Summer trip to have the brakes changed because I thought it was time and they were squeaking. Two hours later I got a call saying “Their is nothing wrong with your brakes, you’ve got another 10k miles on them easy, come in and pick up your car, no charge.”

That’s instant trust. At that moment I knew I’d never have to take my car anywhere again.

Example #2
Last week I took the car back in because a piece broke above the tailgate which caused us to not be able to open the back gate. My mechanic looked it over for free, and ordered the part. The part came and we dropped off the car to have it fixed. A few hours later they called to tell us to come pick up the car, however “We were able to fix it without using the part, it was easy. So we’ll send the part back and the labor only took a few minutes, come get your car.”

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Can you give me one reason why I would ever, ever take my cars to another auto shop ever again? I won’t.

That’s the power of a lifetime customer.

Here’s what happens now. I will tell everyone I know about them, and I’ll go out of my way to do it to. I’ll also never question them in the future. If they came back to me with a big price tag next year, I’d say fix it, I trust you.

Again, are you seeing it yet? Are you seeing the power of this approach?

You can build lifetime customers too, if you follow the simple rules like my auto mechanic does. Any business owner can do this, in any industry.

Stop treating your customers like you hate them, and instead, start treating them as your friends.

You’ll be amazed at the results.

If you liked this blog post, you might also be interested in this podcast I did with a customer service pro named John Dijulius.

The Big 3 Auto Companies Branding Failure

Last night I was having a conversation with my very smart friend Zoran. We started to talk about the auto-makers asking for a bail-out, and about how the CEO’s of those corporations blew it by flying into the congressional hearing each on their own private jet.

Pretty dumb, we both agreed. The media ate it up, and every American did too. A horrible branding mistake that comes from super-rich dudes being so completely out of touch with the rest of the real world.

Anyway, Zoran then gave me a different scenario that those CEO’s should have followed. Here’s what he said as best as I can remember.

Here’s what those 3 CEO’s should have done Jim. They should have hopped into a hybrid car, all together, just them and a cameraman, and drove that thing to Washington over a 5-day or so span. With stops in Ohio and PA and where ever else they could stop on the way to DC.

They should have notified the press all along the way, including telling them when they would pull up in front of Congress so the press could be there to see their arrival. And here’s the best part, they should have not showered, and should have been in the same suits they were in when the left, except now their suits would be all wrinkled, and their faces unshaven and all of them looking like they just spent a week in a car.

They should have walked into Congress looking like this. Sat down and said essentially, “We get it. We just spent the last four days, all three of us, in a hybrid car together, traveling across the USA to Washington. We know this was the right thing to do. We know we need to save our companies, but we also know we need to help save the country. We’re ready to do it. Will you help us?”

So that’s it. I was blown away by Zoran’s idea. Not sure if he heard it somewhere else, but I couldn’t think of a better “pitch” than that.

But that’s not what happened, and, well, the country is going to pay for it, literally.

Branding is everything. Sometimes you need to think before you act. This would have been a good time to do that. Remember that next time you’re in a crisis.

Introducing The Biz Web Coach, My New Brand

Over 12 years ago, I took a job on faith at a “new media company” in Cleveland, Ohio. Was this Internet stuff going to be big? I wasn’t sure. The first day on the job, they sat me down, handed me a html book and said, “learn this”. So I did. I had no Web experience (who did at that point really?).

Fast forward to 2008 (almost 2009, wow) and here I am… an experienced Web professional who’s pretty much done it all online, and been exposed to all the possibilities. Call me a “guru” if you wish, I dislike that word, but in reality, I’m a teacher.

For years I’ve written blog posts and consulted with small and large businesses about how to be successful online. And I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it. There is simply nothing more satisfying than watching someone who you’ve guided experience success, then the gratification of that person or company contacting you to tell you about how you helped them.

So today I’m proud to announce that I’ve decided to take my “Web teaching degree” and focus it into a new business called

What Is
It’s a membership site built for small businesses and brands who need a teacher or Web expert in their back pocket. Someone who can help them when needed with specific advice and guidance. Someone who they can count on to help them ensure they don’t make all the mistakes everyone makes.

You know, not every business can afford to hire a consultant like me. I get tons of calls every week from people who just want a few answers, and some minor advice… not a 10-page Web strategy. Of course, I would always just help those people free of charge, and I will continue to do so.

The point of is to give a low-cost, yet high-quality, coaching or consulting option to thousands of businesses and brands who need something a bit more than free help, but not as much as a full-time consultant.

Here’s an even better way to explain it… here’s what it’s not. It’s not info products. It’s not dvd’s to order. It’s not a guidebook or step-by-step system to follow.

Instead… it’s access. Access to me. The last thing that anyone wants nowadays/anymore, in my opinion, is yet another guidebook, or dvd set, or ebook that if full of information about how to get it done. Don’t get me wrong, all of things are good, and they will help you, but in all honestly, wouldn’t you rather have access to the person who wrote them instead?

I think you do, and that’s what is. So go explore and tell me what you think. Hey, you may even want to sign up! I look forward to having you.

The next post will focus on the full rebranding of Jim Kukral. Remember, this blog isn’t going away! More to come.

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