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The latest news on Branding from Business Insider

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    mispronounciations

    Few things are more frustrating than hearing your own name mispronounced.

    You want to correct the person. But you also don't want to offend or embarrass them — especially if that person is your boss.

    Though it can be awkward, career experts say you should make sure people say your name correctly from the start. After all, they point out, your name is your personal brand. That's something you want shared accurately, especially in a work context. And the more someone says it wrong, the more accustomed they'll become to the mispronunciation.

    "It's important to set it straight in the beginning," says Vicki Salemi, a career and human resources expert and author of "Big Career in the Big City.""You're your own brand. So you want to be introduced correctly at a meeting."

    When you find yourself wanting to correct a mispronunciation, one tactic to consider is simply restating your name. This allows you to say the correct version of your name without explicitly correcting the other person.

    This is particularly easy to do during any sort of introductory exchange, says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TheLadders"Restate your name as you're shaking hands," she advises. If you've just been introduced at a meeting or other event, she adds, you can say something like, "Hello, again, my name is Amanda Augustine, and I'm from TheLadders."

    If you've already met the person and missed the opportunity to restate your name, Augustine says it's best to pull the person aside and politely tell them how your name should be pronounced. "The most important thing to remember is the delivery," she counsels. "Make sure you're not being defensive. Always keep the tone casual and friendly."

    Finally, if you're going to appear on TV, radio, or at some other public event, Salemi suggests preempting the chance of error by telling the person giving your introduction how your name should be said.

    At the end of the day, most name mispronunciations are honest mistakes. No one wants to address someone incorrectly, so will be happy to make the correction. In that sense, it's your duty to others as much as to yourself to let people know if there's an issue.

    "If you don't correct someone else's pronunciation, no one else is going to do it for you," Salemi says. "They might not even know they're saying it wrong."

    What are your most pressing workplace challenges or concerns? What questions do you have on how to get ahead in your career today? Email the Business Insider Careers team at careers@businessinsider.com, and we’ll find the answers.

    SEE ALSO: 10 Etiquette Rules For Meetings That Every Professional Should Know

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    name tag

    Sam or Samantha? Bill or William? Should you opt for short and friendly, or formal and serious? 

    Experts say that not only can you use a nickname at work, you should, since doing so could boost your career. According to a study conducted earlier this year by job search site TheLadders, people who go by shorter names tend to earn more money.

    From an analysis of nearly 6 million names, the study found that every extra letter in a person's name tended to correlate with a $3,600 drop in annual salary. That was true of names as similar as Sara and Sarah, Michele and Michelle, and Philip and Phillip. Over a 40-year career, the corresponding loss in earnings can amount to nearly $150,000.

    LinkedIn discovered a similar correlation between short names and success in 2011, when it analyzed the top CEO names around the world. The site's analysts found that the most popular ones — names like Peter, Jack, and Fred — were either already short names or shortened versions of common first names. Frank Nuessel, a names specialist, told LinkedIn such abbreviated names are often used to "denote a sense of friendliness and openness." 

    Beyond compensation benefits, experts say nicknames can provide several other advantages. Nicknames can often sound less formal and more approachable. That can be especially valuable if you're in a creative industry, like acting or media, says Vicki Salemi, a career and human resources expert and author of "Big Career in the Big City."

    On the other hand, if you're going into a more traditional career in Corporate America or on Wall Street, Salemi says you might want to stick with your full name for the sake of formality. You should also be wary of any nicknames that sound silly or childish, like "Bunny" for Barbara or "Mookie" for Michael.

    In general, women are more likely than men to stick with their full names in the workplace, perhaps to portray gravitas. The five top-paid names for women are Lynn, Melissa, Cathy, Dana, and Christine, according to TheLadders, and Christine is the most popular female C-level name. By contrast, Bob is the most common C-level name for men, and four of the five highest-paid male names contain four letters or fewer. According to Nuessel, female CEOs will often use their full names to "project a more professional image." 

    That said, a nickname can easily become part of your professional brand if you prefer it. As a general rule of thumb, any nickname that is just a shorter version of your given name is fine for the workplace, says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TheLadders. Salemi agrees that you can make a nickname work in any occupation so long as "you own it and you're proud and you're professional."

    For that reason, Salemi and Augustine both emphasize that it's important to decide how you want to be known from day one, and then be consistent across all channels. If you use a nickname on your LinkedIn, then you should have the same one on your resume, your Twitter, and any public professional accounts.

    "The idea is you're building your brand, no matter what level you are, so you need to be consistent," Salemi says.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    American Airlines Logo Redesign

    Last march, American Airlines unveiled its first major identity change in forty-plus years. The news broke as the carrier prepared to emerge from bankruptcy and prepared for its merger with US Airways.

    American had bucked more than three decades of design fads. It’s distinctive silver skin, tricolor stripe and gothic “AA” logo dated back to the days of the its 707 “Astrojets.”

    Heck, my first ever airplane ride, in 1974, was on an American 727 decked out in the very same paintjob that, until last year, was American’s signature.

    It was never anything beautiful, but what distinguished it was the logo — the famous “AA,” its red and blue letters bisected by the proud, cross-winged eagle. This was one of the last true icons of airline branding left in the world. Created by Massimo Vignelli in 1967, it was everything a logo should be: elegantly simple, dignified, and instantly recognizable.

    The redesign features a U.S. flag motif tail, a faux-silver fuselage, and an entirely new logo that is so unspeakably ugly that it nearly brings tears to my eyes.

    The logo — the trademark, the company emblem, to be reproduced on everything from stationery to boarding passes — is the heart of an airline’s graphic identity, around which everything else revolves. It has been said that the true test of a logo is this: can it be remembered and sketched, freehand and with reasonable accuracy, by a young child? The Pan Am globe, the Lufthansa crane, the Delta tricorn, Air New Zealand’s “Koru” and many others meet this criterion beautifully. As did the AA emblem. Maybe they need a tweaking or two over time, but the template of such logos — the really good ones — remains essentially timeless. American Airlines had one of the really good ones. And if you’ve got something like that, you dispense with it at your peril.

    I was at Kennedy Airport recently and had the opportunity to view several American Airlines jets — some in the old paintjob, others in the new one. I’m sorry, but there was nothing old or anachronistic looking about the AA emblem. It did not need to be “refreshed,” or “modernized,” as some have suggested. Particularly if you’re replacing it with something so utterly vapid.

    What exactly is that new, Greyhound Bus-esque logo? It looks like a linoleum knife poking through a shower curtain. If it’s not the worst corporate trademark the airline business has ever seen, I don’t know what is. I can’t imagine a kid with crayons trying to sketch it. Why would anybody want to? It evokes nothing, it says nothing, it means nothing. It gives American Airlines all the look and feel of a bank or a credit card company. I cannot believe how awful a mark this is, and how anybody signed off on it I’ll never understand.

    AA New Logo

    It's uglier, even, than the hideous Horus head of the new EgyptAir. It’s uglier, even, than the “rising splotch” that Japan Airlines came up with a few years back to replace its beautiful tsurumaru — the circular, red and white crane/Rising Sun it had used since 1960 (and which, by the way, JAL has wisely resurrected).

    I’m hardly the only person put off by the new branding. It was controversial from the start, and among those who hated it most were thousands of American’s own employees. Finally, last month, CEO Doug Parker put things to a vote, allowing the carrier’s employees to choose between the new look, or a quasi-retro design that incorporated both the old and new schemes.

    AA
    By a margin of about 2,000 votes, of some 60,000 cast, workers chose to stay with the new look.

    Parker says he is happy about the result. But if he got what he wanted, that’s probably because the vote was effectively rigged. Parker won by making the airplane’s tail the focus of the vote. This misses the point, because like it or hate it, the piano key tail isn’t really the problem. It’s the logo that’s the problem. Neither of the choices dealt with the linoleum knife. In fact, Parker’s retro design would have kept both logos in use — a ridiculous, half-baked appeasement that would have left the plane looking manic and jumbled. A company can’t have two logos.

    The smarter compromise would have been, and should have been, to keep the new tail, but dispense immediately with the linoleum knife and put the “AA” on the fuselage. Had this option been put to a vote, I suspect it would have won by a healthy margin.

    AA How It Should Be

    To be clear, I’m not arguing that American didn’t need a spruce-up. The striping and typeface were overdue for a revision, and livery changes are all but mandatory, it seems, when airlines exit bankruptcy. But I can live with the tail and with the faux-silver body paint. Doing away with the AA symbol, however, was a tragic and unspeakably bad call.

    Each time one of American’s newly painted planes taxis past me, I wince.

    ________

     

    By the way, the AA wasn’t the only iconic logo to bite the dust recently. Spain’s Iberia Airlines just unveiled a new look as well, and has parted ways with its well-known “IB” symbol.

    There has been an “IB” of one form or another atop the tails of Iberia’s jets since at least the ’60s. My favorite version, once seen on the carrier’s DC-8′s and earliest 747s, had the letters set inside a crosshatched globe, with the “IBERIA” name spelled out below. It was a handsome design, understated but unmistakable.

    There’s no denying Iberia needed a revision. It’s latest colors and stripes were cluttered and overwrought. But their replacement is bland and generic, and the IB is gone entirely. Like American, they’ve turned to some banal abstraction instead.

    And like too many other liveries of the last fifteen years, the new Iberia centers on a supposed “in motion” theme, featuring yet another, as it has been called, Generic Meaningless Swoosh Thing.

    Somewhere is a vending machine. Airline executives drop in a million dollars worth of consulting coins, and out pops the latest, curvy-swervy variant of the GMST. These arcs and curves are meant to be “sophisticated.” They suggest “movement” and energy and who the hell knows what else. But all they really do is make your airline indistinguishable from everybody else’s. Consider the latest looks of Avianca, El Al, TACA, that of Indonesian carrier Garuda, just for starters. With very few exceptions (Thai Airways and Aeromexico), these designs are so dismally uninspired that it’s hard to look at them without yawning.

    MORE ON AIR CARRIER LIVERIES AND BRANDING IN THIS ESSAY.

    SEE ALSO: New Documentary On TWA Flight 800 Is Insulting

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Elon Musk

    The trick to raising your company's stock price is simple: hire a hot CEO.

    That's not a joke. While it's previously been shown that better-looking CEOs earn bigger paychecks, these attractive execs also are associated with higher stock returns and stronger gains on M&A deals, according to a new research paper.

    In "Beauty is Wealth: CEO Appearance and Shareholder Value," University of Wisconsin economists Joseph Halford and Scott Hsu discovered the link between attractiveness and company profitability after examining the looks of 677 people who served as CEOs of S&P 500 companies between 2000 and 2012 and the performance of their companies' stocks at various points.

    To come up with the attractiveness metrics, Halford and Hsu used a "Facial Attractiveness Index" (FAI) that crunches aspects of facial geometry (something long linked to universal standards of beauty). They then compared these scores to various measures of stock performance and compensation, and came up with four main conclusions:

    1. Attractive CEOs receive a "beauty premium." Halford and Hsu confirm prior research, which shows that more attractive CEOs receive higher total compensation than their less attractive peers. This pay difference is known as the "beauty premium."

    2. Stocks rise when attractive CEOs start their jobs."We find that FAI has a positive and significant impact on stock returns surrounding the first day when the CEO is on the job, indicating that shareholders seem to perceive more attractive CEOs to be more valuable," Halford and Hsu write.

    3. Attractive CEOs get larger surpluses from M&A deals. Halford and Hsu say this finding is linked to the notion that hotter CEOs are more persuasive negotiators. This allows them to negotiate greater surpluses during M&A transactions and see greater stock returns when the deals are announced.

    4. Stocks rise if the company's attractive CEO appears onTV. Having a hot CEO boosts a company's visibility and public image. Halford and Hsu find that when attractive CEOs appear on television, their companies tend to see improved stock returns. Talk about effective marketing.

    "The findings suggest that CEO appearance matters for shareholder value and provide an explanation why more attractive CEOs receive 'beauty premiums' in their compensation," the economists conclude.

    SEE ALSO: The Sexiest CEOs Alive

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    logo olympics

    A few weeks ago, Business Insider counted down the 10 worst logo changes of 2013.

    There was Yahoo's disappointingly minor change following a month's work of prospective new designs, and the bizarre, "hip" twist made by professional services giant Ernst & Young.

    But while these changes were certainly unfortunate, they don't come anywhere near the completely ridiculous fails companies have made in the past.

    We're talking about completely inappropriate stuff, like the London 2012 logo, which was accused of resembling everything from Nazi paraphernalia to Lisa Simpson performing oral sex. 

    And that's just scratching the surface of our 15 worst corporate logo fails of all time.

    London 2012 Logo

    When London unveiled its £400,000 2012 logo design, the masses were unimpressed.

    Some claimed that it looked like "some sort of comical sex act between The Simpsons." (Note the figure resembling Lisa Simpson).

    Others opined that the logo resembled a swastika.

    On the flip-side, Iran threatened to boycott the Olympics since they believed the logo spelled out "Zion."

    Pick your poison, but the logo seemed to be a resounding fail.



    Catholic Church's Archdiocesan Youth Commission

    This was the 1973 logo for the Catholic Church's Archdiocesan Youth Commission.

    Yeah.



    Arlington Pediatric Center

     

    Oh no, there's more?

    Who's approving these logos?



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    rebecca garcia teaching

    Bono, the U2 frontman and uber-ambassador to Africa, once was asked how he manages to hold his own in conversations with economists and heads of state when discussing debt relief and financial plans for Africa.

    He replied, “If someone can’t explain to me very quickly what this particular theory is, I’m not coming up to the conclusion that I’m stupid and they’re smarter than me. I’m just saying, ‘You’re not very good at explaining, try it again.’” This same philosophy holds true for entrepreneurs. 

    No one — and we mean no one — outside of your business cares about your “optimized processes,” “monetized solutions,” or self-anointed “leading provider” status. Using this sort of jargon, fancy words or contrived language is not the way to move your company forward with people outside your company. And don’t come back at us with the “but everybody talks that way” excuse. That’s a cop-out, and it’s dangerous. If you’re using the same words as everyone else, you’re not differentiating yourself from the competition: You’re just using commodity language to describe your commodity service. 

    Which brings us to two terms common in the business world that are a big no-no: “dumbing it down” and “high level.” There’s nothing dumb about making complex theory, technology, or business plans clear and simple to understand. And there is nothing spectacular or impressive about speaking a language no one can comprehend.

    You need to get to the heart of the matter with a description that anyone and everyone can understand. It actually takes a lot more work and intelligence to pull off. Yet, some senior executives don't always think this way. They tend to say things like, “Oh, I don’t want to dumb it down” or “I want to keep it high level” because it’s easier to use abstractions and jargon than it is to communicate and deliver a core message with conviction and credibility. But you may isolate the end user — be it a customer, employee or vendor. The fix is simple is to start with a clear, simple core message so you reach everyone in the audience. Then you can dive into complexity.  

    The phrase “high level” needs to get out of your vocabulary too. It typically leads to abstract, esoteric, and indecipherable drive. Translate the high-level concept into a meaning simple meaning your audience will understand. Illustrate it with stories and clear, concrete language that describes why your audience will care. 

    So to get your point across, it is best to focus clarity, concreteness and “low-level” communication. 

    SEE ALSO: Your Time Is Worth Money, So Stop Wasting It

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    uncle samCheck out the Business Insider Jobs section >>

    As part of our new partnership with CareerBuilder.com, each week we'll feature one of the awesome jobs advertised on the Business Insider jobs board.

    To learn more about this opportunity click here

    Follow Business Insider Jobs on Twitter here

     

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    After seeing a 4% decline in sales in its flagship U.S. breakfast unit, Kellogg CEO John Bryant said in a call with analysts earlier this month that the company is moving away from cereal toward other options like eggs, toast, peanut butter, and yogurt.

    It's sad news for cereal lovers everywhere, but these 10 nostalgic cereal boxes from the '70s and earlier will remind us what we love about our favorite childhood breakfast.

    Like Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Krispies also used a caveman spokesperson to champion its chocolate milk-making cereal.

    Vintage Cereal Boxes, Cocoa Krispies

    Lucky Charms used to come with only four types of marshmallows — hearts, moons, stars, and clovers — but Lucky the Leprechaun was still the magical mascot.Lucky Charms vintage

    Before it was known as Honey Smacks, Sugar Smacks cereal went through a number of major changes, from the name to sugar content to the mascot. This creepy-looking clown was found on boxes in the '50s...Sugar Smacks vintage

    ...and the Smackin' Brothers in the '60s, before finally being replaced by Dig'em the Honey Smacks frog in the '70s.Sugar Smacks vintage

    Toucan Sam was a little two-dimensional back in the day, and there was less variety in the colors of loops in your bowl.Froot Loops vintage

    You probably know Sugar Pops as Corn Pops today, but the ingredients are basically the same as they are now.Sugar Pops vintage

    Similar to Froot Loops, Trix was also limited in the colors it originally introduced before adding its beloved grape, lime, wildberry, and watermelon flavors. From round spheres to fun shapes, the cereal went back to spheres in 2006. Trix vintage

    Kix is probably the most consistent cereal around, keeping the distinctive ear of corn on the box and the slogan, "kid tested, mother approved."

    Kix vintage

    Cap'n Crunch has seen over a dozen iterations of his sweet, crunchy cereal. Pamela Low, the cereal's creator, aimed to capture "want-more-ishness" in making the popular breakfast choice.

    Cap'n Crunch vintage

    Frosted Flakes dropped "Sugar" from its name around 1984, but still relies on Tony the Tiger to advocate for a balanced breakfast. The cereal is now available in a reduced-sugar variety as well.

    Frosted Flakes vintage

    SEE ALSO: 21 Sad Photos Of Dead And Dying Kmart Stores

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    apple

    Brandirectory has released its list of the world's 500 most valuable brands, which is measured by estimating the future revenue attributable to a brand and determines the value a company would be willing to pay to license its brand as if it did not own it. 

    In terms of individual countries, U.S. brands occupy 185 of the 500 spots, including 9 of the top 10.

    Japan is second as the brand value of its three biggest brands — Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda — increased in value by more than 30%. 

    The survey notes that Germany, France, and the UK complete the top 5 while China, the world’s second biggest economy, comes in 6th in terms of total brand value as its brands are still developing.

    Notable rises from last year include Verizon (from 10 to 5), Nike (60 to 35), and Allianz (75 to 38) while drops include Shell (from 12 to 18), Home Depot (18 to 25), and Marlboro (57 to 81).

    Check it out:

    Screen Shot 2014 02 18 at 7.20.46 AMScreen Shot 2014 02 18 at 7.21.06 AMScreen Shot 2014 02 18 at 7.21.33 AMScreen Shot 2014 02 18 at 7.29.57 AMScreen Shot 2014 02 18 at 7.32.05 AMCheck out all 500 >

    SEE ALSO: The 50 Best Brands To Follow On Twitter

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    chevy silverado

    Chevy has been cranking out commercials this month, none of which address a big question when it comes to buying a new car: the price.

    The brand's Super Bowl spot, "Romance,"features a bull looking for love in the new Silverado pickup.

    "The New Us"features a mix of real-life gay, interracial, and straight couples, all of whom would love the new Traverse crossover.

    In "The New Premium," the babysitter is so impressed by the family's fancy Tahoe that she jacks up her rate by 50% as she is driven home. All three ads are touching or funny, but none feature a dollar sign.

    That's odd for a mass-market brand that competes largely based on price.

    At a media lunch this week, Chief Marketing Officer for Global Chevrolet Tim Mahoney explained the brand's rationale.

    Ads can address three issues, he said:

    1. Emotion: Is this brand for me?
    2. Justification: Will this car do what I need it to do?
    3. Affordability: Can I pay for the car?

    "The New Us" is all about the first one, with a bit of the second: The customer should think, I like Chevy because it's an inclusive brand, and my family can fit nicely in the new Traverse. Same with "Romance"— I like Chevy because it makes me laugh, and I can carry heavy things in the new Silverado HD.

    The brand has eschewed addressing cost in these high-profile ads, Mahoney said, because "the minute you start to talk price, you're dead."

    That's partly because there's only so much you can cover in a short TV spot, and Chevy would rather focus on its brand image and the cars themselves. But more importantly, the ads are meant to draw potential buyers in, to the website or dealership.

    After "Romance" aired during the Super Bowl, Mahoney said, visits to Chevy's website jumped 80%. There, shoppers can easily find the information not covered by the commercial, like price, specs, and standard features.

    For the record, the Silverado Heavy Duty, Traverse, and Tahoe start for $32,405, $30,795, and $44,600, respectively.

    SEE ALSO: Elon Musk Says Tesla's SUV Will Be More Popular Than The Model S Sedan

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    When I have the opportunity to talk with the marketing executives of most companies, they tell me how important branding is to their business. However, when I peel back the onion, I too often find that a majority of these executives don’t really understand the importance branding or how it gives them control over their other marketing strategies. In particular, they don’t seem to understand how good branding gives them better control over pricing and distribution.

    What Is Branding?

    So everyone is on the same page, it is helpful to have a good understanding what branding is. To do that, it is important to examine its underlying building blocks – Corporate Image and Positioning.

    Corporate Image. In its most simple form, Corporate Image is the image of the creator of the products that are to be sold, which is usually an organization, but could be the inventor of the product in the case of a famous scientist, entertainer, or politician.

    Positioning. Positioning is related to the image of each product that the organization or inventor has created. In creating the image of the product, a company can use a combine or separation strategy.

    1. Combine. If the Corporate Image of the organization can help sell the product, Corporate Image will be used in creating the Positioning of the product. A good example is Diet Coke. The positioning of Diet Coke benefits from being associated with its creator – the Coca Cola Company.
    2. Separation. If the Corporate image of the creator or owner of the product is detrimental to selling the product (BP rebranded ARCO gas stations as BP and changed many back to ARCO after the oil spill), or if the image of the product could negatively impact the company that created it, a separation strategy is used to position the product. A good example is Tab. When taste tests were performed, TAB (which used saccharin) had a funny after taste so the Coca Cola company decided to separate TAB from Coca Cola (the name has no reference to the company). Another example is Hidden Valley salad dressing owned by Clorox. Using Clorox in the positioning would most likely turn off buyers.

    To Better Understand Branding

    I find that discussing Corporate Image and Positioning is often not sufficient to help clients and students understand branding. They need to know (1) the underlying components of Positioning and (2) the various ways marketers look at branding.

    Underlying Positioning components. Positioning, or the product brand, is comprised of two main components that I metaphorically call the “Lock” and the “Key.”

    1. Lock. The Lock is the target audience segment that has a need for the product.
    2. Key. The Key is the image we need to create for the product that fits that need better than competitors.

    There is also a bigger lock and key for the organization that underlies corporate image. The corporate lock has to be bigger to cover the company’s entire target audience and so does the key since the image has to fit all the company’s products. For example, the “lock” for the Lexus brand is luxury car buyers that want a more reliable car. The “key” (embodied in its division slogan) is the “Pursuit of Perfection” — the continual striving to make better, more reliable luxury cars.

    Various ways of looking at branding. To better understand brands it is useful to examine the various ways marketers view brands.

    1. Relationship with the marketplace, or target audience.
    2. Shortcut to purchase (if I have a relationship with Diet Coke, I don’t have to think which brand I should buy when I go to the store, which saves me a lot of time and hassle).
    3. Competitive advantage.
    4. Added value over competitors.
    5. Uniqueness.
    6. Differentiation from competitors.
    7. Elephant’s trunk (focus on that uniqueness).
    8. Value Proposition.
    9. Niche (can refer to both the lock and key).
    10. Filling an empty space in the buyer’s brain.

    How Does Better Branding Give Marketers Control Over Pricing?

    The more uniqueness that marketers can build into the key component of positioning of each of their products, the more they can control the price. Why? If marketers can make the key both desirable and unique for the lock, the target audience is more likely to pay the price since buyers cannot get the same product image anywhere else. For example, you can buy a baseball for roughly $3.50 in a sporting goods store. When Mark McGuire hit his 70th home run that broke the the home run record at the time, that baseball sold at auction for $3 million in 10 minutes. When Barry Bonds shattered the career home record previously held by Hank Aaron, that ball sold at auction for $752,467.20.

    Company product examples

    O.K. you might think that my examples do not relate to company products. Actually the concept is the same, but your argument would be convincing to most. So let’s look a couple of company examples. If you want an iPhone, you have to get it from Apple. People that buy them typically love them, and are willing to pay the price. That’s why the price of an iPhone is double the average price of an Android phone, and the gap has been widening. What about Christian Louboutin shoes? They have red soles — an element of his brand’s uniqueness. To those in the target audience, they are desirable. As a result, the price of many models are over $1,000 a pair. Even though there are many ‘knock offs,” the originals are flying off the shelves.

    What the market will bear

    If your branding gives you sufficient uniqueness and desirability, you can employ a pricing strategy that optimizes profits. It is often called a What The Market Will Bear (WTMWB) price. This strategy sets the price based on the “maximum” price the market will pay for the product. This strategy typically works because those likely to buy a new product – the Innovators and Early Adopters – are not particularly price sensitive. Additionally, buyers of high-end brands typically care far more about style, quality, function and status than price. If there is considerable uniqueness and desirability built into the product brand, your company can employ a WTMWB strategy. This will give you really good gross profit margins that enable you to achieve your desired gross profit targets so everyone is happy.

    How Does Better Branding Give Marketers Control Over Distribution?

    Once your branding gives you greater control over the price, you also realize more control over distribution. Why is this? In classical distribution channels, you can typically sell your product through four common channels…

    1. Direct to the end buyer via a personal sales force.
    2. Direct to the end buyer using direct marketing techniques, online and off.
    3. Through one reseller (which I call a Big Dealer) such as a big box store or value added remarketer.
    4. Through two resellers that are typically called Distributors (Wholesalers) and Dealers (Retailers).

    If manufacturers sell direct through channel 1 or 2 they typically need a price that is double their cost of sales to realize their 50% gross profit target – resulting in an end buyer price, or MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) of 2C (C represents the cost of sales). If there is one reseller in the channel, manufacturers typically need an MSRP of 3C so they and the one reseller can make sufficient money to successfully remain in business. If there are two resellers in the channel, the MSRP has to be 4 to 5C for all to realize a sufficient return. Since great positioning (uniqueness and desirability in the key component) gives sellers control over the price, it also enables them to use all channels of distribution. The further away manufacturers get from uniqueness in their positioning and branding, the fewer channels they can use to profitably sell their products and the less money they are likely to make.

    Win-Win

    Because great positioning, or branding, gives businesses greater control over the price and distribution building blocks of marketing, they can sell their products for more money to more people using not only their own marketing resources but also those of the resellers. After all, most resellers have their own locations, sales people, marketing strategies, and implementations of those strategies. With the prices and gross margins that result from great positioning, everyone in the channel makes money, the customer is happy, and everyone lives happily every after as they taught us in grade school. These are just a couple of reasons why understanding branding and its underlying building blocks of Corporate Image and Positioning are so important to a successful business.

    Hope this post helps yours, and that you’ll invite me to some really good parties when it does.

    SEE ALSO: 12 Documentaries On Netflix That Will Make You Smarter About Business

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    anne hathaway oscars

    As Hollywood approaches the home stretch of the awards season, with the Emmys, VMAs, Golden Globes, SAGs, Grammys, WGAs, and DGAs in the can, and the Oscars still to come, it is useful for entertainment marketers (and all marketers) to understand the contribution awards can make to your brand and bottom line.

    What Awards Do For Your Business

    There are so many things that winning awards do for you. The following are just some of them:

    1. Validation. Awards validate your brand and product.
    2. Credibility. The validation is credible because it comes from an independent, third party that has evaluated your product relative to your competitors.
    3. Brand. The brand equity of the award-giver is transferred to you. That is the award has its own brand identity (Oscars, Emmys, Grammys) and you benefit from its brand strength.
    4. Uniqueness. Since there is usually only one winner, the award gives you a unique distinction you can promote in your marketing.
    5. Trust. As a result of the above, your target audience will believe and trust that your product is better because it won the award.
    6. Promotion advantage. Once you are nominated or win, you have a tangible reason to promote your unique achievement to distinguish you from competitors.
    7. Promotion leverage. Award sources and the news media will also promote your winning to further their own agendas, which can give you substantial promotion leverage and more credibility.

    Academy Awards

    Since the Academy Awards, or Oscars, have perhaps the greatest brand footprint of all the entertainment awards, it is useful to look at how being nominated and winning contributes to success of all those involved in making and distributing the movies being awarded.

    How Much Does It Cost?

    The cost to make an Oscar statue is estimated between $500 and $900 — depending on the cost of gold which, as of this writing, is $1254.70 an ounce.

    What’s The Payoff?

    Being nominated for an Oscar can translate to a huge payday for all those involved in making the film. Winning it can bring in much more. The Oscar is an iconic symbol of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences brand that serves to validate both the movie and talent involved in making the film.

    Marketing The Films

    When used in marketing campaigns, this validation stamp increases the desire of moviegoers to see the films and the talent being honored. It also keeps the movies in theaters longer — boosting box office receipts. And it substantially increases downstream revenues from DVD sales, streaming, downloads, and cable TV revenues.

    Advertising During The Broadcast

    Advertising on the Oscars broadcast brings in a big payday for the network that carries the show. This year, commercial time was sold out before Christmas and hit an all-time high— commanding between $1.8 million to $1.9 million per 30-second spot for the March 2 telecast. That was good news for ABC, the network that will be airing this year’s the 86th Academy Awards.

    Payoff For Winning

    According to IBISWorld, the best picture winners over the previous five years had an average production budget of $17 million and earned an average of $82.5 million at the box-office — generating a 485.6 percent margin. They earned $35.2 million in box office revenue, or 42.8%, before being nominated; $29.4 million, or 35.6%, after they were nominated; and $17.9 million, or 21.7% after winning the Oscar. In 2010, The King’s Speech, garnered $138 million in domestic box office — over $100 million more than was expected before it won. In Hollywood, talent agents and managers estimate that their clients will get a 20% boost in pay for their next film if they win the award for Best Actor or Actress. This is why experts estimate that last year (2013) studios spent roughly $10 million to promote the top contenders for best picture.

    Nominations Pay Off, Too

    Even though winning the Oscar does wonders for movie careers and box office receipts, there is often a considerable pay-off for just being nominated. Per IBISWorld, movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar from the 2007 to 2011 awards seasons had an average production budget of $42.1 million and earned $104.2 million in box-office revenue for a 247.2 percent margin. They earned $81.2 million in box office revenue, or 77.8%, before being nominated; $19 million, or 18.2%, after they were nominated; and $4.2 million, or 21.7% after the awards show. The King’s Speech was initially projected to gross $30 million worldwide. After receiving 12 Academy Award nominations, the revised estimate was over $200 million. After winning the Oscar for best picture, its worldwide box office surpassed $427 million with domestic DVD sales adding nearly another $32 million.

    According to Reuters, an Academy Award nomination can boost ticket sales by one-third and cause a jump in the DVD sales of movies no longer in theaters. When you add downloads, streaming and cable TV revenues, the monetary rewards from receiving a nomination can be substantial.

    Looking at it from another perspective, in 2014, the 9 Best Picture nominees have already grossed north of $642 million since being released. Last year’s 9 top nominees have grossed $1 trillion since release! Taking the difference (even though this year’s nominee’s are expected to do even better), the value of being nominated is nothing short of Wow!

    Many believe the top contenders that are still in theaters, American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street, could see their gross sales double between the time they were nominated and the time the awards presentation airs on March 2nd.

    Turning Nominations Into Profits

    Award nominations can also mean the difference between profits and bankruptcy for some movie productions. This is why marketers go to great lengths to promote their movies for the Oscars long before the nominations are announced in January. They spend from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars promoting their films for an Oscar nomination.

    It is reported that Harvey and Bob Weinstein spent millions promoting The King’s Speech and timed the release of the film to accelerate the Oscar buzz and boost the number of nominations. While actual figures are a highly-guarded secret in Hollywood, some peg the promotional investment in the King’s Speech to rival the $15 million the Weinsteins spent on promoting Shakespeare in Love in 1999.

    This year, American Hustle and Gravity are tied for the lead with 10 nominations each, followed closely by 12 Years a Slave with 9.

    Marketing Investment Pay Off

    The Oscar marketing strategy paid off again last year with Argo winning best picture after Warner Brothers invested an estimated $10 million to promote the film. The previous two years, the Weinstein marketing magic is credited with securing a Best Picture win for the Artist in 2012 — a silent, black & white, subtitled film and the King’s Speech in 2011. Over the past 20 years, the film with the most nominations has won 15 times. This bodes well for this year’s two top nominees — American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street (10 nominations each).

    The Winner Is…

    Whoever wins the awards on March 2nd, one thing is certain — the Oscar brand is alive and well. Veteran movie marketers that know how to capitalize on the brand image of this famous statue can enhance their own brands as well as their bottom lines.

    SEE ALSO: Here's Which Best Picture Nominees Made Back The Most Money, Ranked

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    UNIQLO SoHo

    Japan's Fast Retailing is in talks to purchase J. Crew for as much as $5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal

    Fast Retailing is the parent company of Uniqlo, which has exploded in the past decade, becoming Asia's biggest clothing retailer. And its leaders have ambitious goals to make the brand the leader in retail worldwide.

    Uniqlo, which focuses on mass-producing affordable basics in dozens of colors, got its start in the Japanese suburbs. Less than 20 years later, it's laid its stake along swanky shopping streets in major global cities.

    What's the story behind the company's success?

    Additional reporting by Megan Durisin.

    The first Uniqlo opened its doors in Hiroshima, Japan in 1984.

    The company is a division of Japanese retail holding company Fast Retailing, with Tadashi Yanai at the helm. In addition to Uniqlo, Fast Retailing owns brands including J Brand, Theory, and Comptoir Des Cotonniers and National Standard.



    The company originally called itself "Unique Clothing Warehouse." By joining those words together, Uniqlo was born.

    The name is pronounced "YOU-nee-klo" in English. 



    In the early 1990s, the Japanese economy hit a major slump. And Uniqlo's cheap clothes got popular fast.

    The Japanese economic downturn is often called "The Great Recession" and lasted for an entire decade. It was bad news for the country as a whole, but Uniqlo reaped major benefits by catering to citizens who were trying to cut back on spending.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    digorno

    JCPenney, Denny’s, DiGiorno. The proof is in the pizza—Weird Twitter’s gone normal, and in a fittingly weird twist on the “if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” hypothetical, it’s actually working.

    The bridge in question is what some people would call sanity, others, standard social media strategy.

    The jump: joining a growing trend in which large, established corporations promote their brands by mimicking the hilariously oddball tweets you'd normally find coming from popular corporate parody accounts like @UntitledAirlanes or “Not Burlington Coats.”

    “Brands definitely ‘borrow’ successful tactics wherever possible,” said Andrew Cunningham, community manager at Huge, a digital agency that handles social media for brands like Cap'n Crunch and MTV. “It's about surprising people, and these brands are willing to take risks, especially risks with proven success in the channel. The question now is, is it on-brand, and is it sustainable.”

    JCPenney’s now-infamous “Mittens” Super Bowl stunt exemplified the trend, and did well for it: according to JCPenney senior manager Kate Coultas, the misspelled, grammatically bleak tweets garnered the brand 10,000 followers and 130,000 mentions the night of, making it the most mentioned brand without a Super Bowl ad.

    No small accomplishment, even with the account manager’s briefly questioned sobriety (see above: the stunt perhaps wasn’t entirely on family-friendly brand). But it was unique for sure, weird for certain, and that’s exactly what it had going for it.  

    “People want to laugh, and that creates engagement,” said Tyler Alexander, The Second City’s vice president of digital media. “These brands aren’t stupid. They understand that if you want to increase your engagement and reach, you have to create content that people want to share. And the type of content that does really, really well on Twitter and Facebook is generally light-hearted and comedic.”

    DiGiorno might be doing it best, with tweets like “Go out if you must, but know in your heart that pizza will be counting the minutes until you return,” but Denny’s careful blend of joke and genuine will probably set the precedent for more cautious companies.

    The brand regularly features tweets hashtagged “supertroll” alongside promotions and otherwise sincere dialogue, and while they rarely go as all-out as JCPenney ventured, it’s a sustainably amusing, okay-funny voice in the feed. It just seems normal—just their goal.

    “We’re trying to reflect what that conversation already is, where the engagement’s already happening. So that’s more current events, interesting things in the news, what’s going on on TV tonight,” said Karen Mawhinney, vice president at Erwin Penland, which handles Denny's social media. “Those engagements are happening in Twitter already, so our strategic approach was to join that conversation instead of pushing product and promotion to people in an unnatural way.”

    This kind of Twitter presence seems like a social media dream, with its low costs especially appealing as traditional media budgets are squeezed across the board. But the danger emerges when okay-funny veers dad-funny; both in real life and virtual, the desperation-tinged kiss of death.

    “Most brands still don't know how to function in the social space. They’re like an awkward parent chaperone at a high school dance,” said Steve Babcock, creative director at Evolution Bureau, JCPenney's social media agency. “The key in all of this is to not try too hard, it always shows. Be confident. Be interesting. And be willing. This is the place to explore and experiment.”

    SEE ALSO: The 10 Biggest Myths In Advertising

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    Laura Yoga

    When Laura Kasperzak began an Instagram account to document her yoga practice, she had hoped to get 100 followers. 

    Now, more than 600,000 people look for her daily updates, either photos or videos of her in insanely difficult yoga poses, while donning funky patterned leggings.

    The New Jersey resident and mother of two has been doing yoga for 16 years, usually really early in the morning, before anyone in her house is awake. 

    She started her Instagram account about two years ago, when her niece asked her to "follow her" on the platform. 

    So how does she get those perfect shots every single time?

    There's a lot more to it than you think.

    After she finishes practicing yoga, Kasperzak sets the timer on her Nikon camera to photograph herself working on what she practiced on that morning.

    Then the camera takes one photo every 2 seconds, and she chooses the best frame to upload to Instagram.

    The photos that earned Laura Kasperzak 600,000 followers

    Here's just a sampling (some of the photos feature her adorable toddler, whom Kasperzak refers to as her "mini."):

     

    Here she is doing a handstand split. Oh sure, easy.

    From Instagram to full-blown business owner

    Thanks to a massive following, she was able to join up with her high school friend Masumi Goldman to create TwoFitMoms, a business that focuses on health, nutrition, and, of course, yoga.

    The two 36-year-olds currently offer weekly, affordable classes (just $5!) and occasional workshops in New Jersey, and the friends have started leveraging their following to help build the brand. 

    Masumi also has a wildly popular Instagram account:

    Masumi told Business Insider that the dream of TwoFitMoms began when Kasperzak and Goldman began hosting monthly Instagram yoga challenges together a year and provided step-by-step instructions, photos and tips for each yoga pose they presented.

    "These monthly challenges were a huge hit with the growing Instagram community, and our followers seemed to appreciate the detailed instructions and commitment to teaching," Goldman said. "Laura suggested we attend a yoga teacher training program to become certified yoga instructors. That was the first step in making our Instagram hobby a more serious endeavor and, ultimately, a business."

    Haters to the left

    With 600,000 followers and images that focus mainly on Kasperzak's body in yoga poses, we wondered if she ever avoids the comments, as one typically does on the Internet. But to the contrary, she reads every one.

    "I usually just delete and ignore the rude and insensitive comments. Sometimes I will respond if I feel as if they just don’t know about yoga or what I am doing," Kasperzak said, adding, "but there are so many positive comments that outweigh the negative."

    What's next?

    The women are looking forward to traveling over the next year and growing their business.

    "We can't wait to meet more of our followers [on Instagram]," Kasperzak said. "We're excited."

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    Social Media 2

    There’s a vast difference between running social media profiles because that’s the de facto expectation of businesses these days and actually building a substantive social following that contributes to your business goals.

    Any of the following 10 signs may be indications that you’re veering closer to the former scenario:

    1. You don’t update regularly. The number-one cardinal sin most new social media marketers commit is not sticking to a regular posting schedule. If your followers see your profiles run dry for more than a few days (let alone a few weeks or months) at a time, they’ll fall out of the habit of checking in with your business.

    2. You aren’t gaining followers. Acquiring followers isn’t a perfect way to measure social media success. However, if your social following isn’t growing as a result of your marketing efforts, you need to reevaluate your strategy. Try to come up with something new that will engage a larger number of people across wider demographics.

    3. You broadcast, rather than engage. It sounds cliché, but social media is all about the conversation. If you’re constantly broadcasting — that is, sending your thoughts out into digital space in a one-way fashion — you’re missing out on the powerful benefits that can come from true engagement.

    4. You use your social profiles like ad streams. Under no circumstances should you treat your social profiles as just another avenue to send out your sales pitches and marketing messages. The content you share on social networks should be informative, engaging, entertaining and/or conversational. Veering too often into sales territory is a surefire way to get your followers to tune you out.

    5. You autopost updates across all your social profiles. The types of content that perform well on Facebook are different from those that do well on Twitter, which — again — are different from those that garner engagement on Pinterest, Google+ or any other social network. If you’re autoposting a single update to all of your different social channels, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect effectively with followers on each site. 

    6. You haven’t established social brand guidelines. Part of good branding is establishing a set of guidelines that dictate how you control your company’s image in public — and social media shouldn’t be exempted from this process. A good social brand guidelines document will include specifications on all of the following (among others that may be relevant to your company):

    • Who is responsible for updating your social profiles
    • How frequently your social profiles will be updated
    • What types of content you’ll post about
    • How you’ll use imagery in your posts
    • What type of “voice” you’ll use when posting

    7. You use a “post-by-post” strategy. Though it might seem like social media marketing is a “spur-of-the-moment” activity, the companies that get the best results are those that develop an overarching strategy for connecting with their followers. If your business doesn’t yet have this in place, invest some time in setting overall social media goals that’ll drive your individual daily posts.

    8. You ignore (or delete) negative social mentions. No matter how “good” your company is, negative social mentions happen. And when they do happen, there’s only one way to respond. Instead of ignoring — or worse, deleting — the message, offer your sincerest apologies, a candid explanation of what went wrong and any actions you plan to take to either compensate the offended customer or ensure the issue doesn’t happen again in the future.

    9. You don’t respond to customer posts quickly. According to a survey conducted by the Social Habit, 32% of customer respondents who contacted businesses for support via social channels expected a response within 30 minutes. To make matters worse, 24 percent expect a 30-minute response regardless of when the initial contact was made — even if it was made outside of business hours.

    The bottom line? When a customer asks you a question, you’ve got to respond quickly. If monitoring your individual profiles is too cumbersome, consider tools such as Hootsuite [free] or Sprout Social [plans start at $39 a month] to simplify the process.

    10. You aren’t tracking return on investment. Finally, keep in mind that while social media conversations are important, your business needs to receive some tangible value for your efforts — and you’ll only know if you’re getting out more than you’re putting in if you track ROI. No matter what kind of outcome you hope to achieve through social media marketing, there’s a way to track and quantify your efforts to ensure your resources are being allocated wisely.

    SEE ALSO: 5 Steps To Becoming A ‘Highly Recommended’ Brand On Social Media

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    In the wake of the Breakfast Taco, some Taco Bell products have gone completely unnoticed.

    Taco Bell tweeted today that it had partnered with The Hundreds, a clothing line and online magazine that calls itself the first "social merchandising company," to create a pair of Taco Bell-themed socks.

    The socks feature cartoonish drawings of tacos and burritos, with toes in the brand's goldenrod and purple branding colors. They do not yet appear in The Hundreds' or Taco Bell's online stores.

    More importantly, it turns out Taco Bell-themed socks are no where near the weirdest item in the fast food chain's online store.

    There are skateboards, beach towels, sport watches, and more. The only thing missing is a plush Chihuahua toy.

    Here are 5 surprising finds available for purchase on the Live Más store:

    5. Socks: Even Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza gets a shout-out in the quirky pattern. And notice the sauce packets scattered by the model's feet.

    4. Rings: Taco Bell launched these custom-made rings — styled in cursive, wire jewelry — as a nod to the Beyoncé song, "(Single Ladies) Put a Ring on It." Seriously. A social media manager said that the company gets marriage proposals on a daily basis, and created the rings as a promo to foster consumers' continued passion for the brand. ($24.99)

    taco bell rings

    3. Speakers: We thought this black and white speaker might resemble a salt shaker, however it appears to be just a gimmick-less gadget with a hefty asking price. But you know if this 1979 Taco Bell theme song were still in use, you'd be blaring it on loop. ($59.99)

    taco bell speaker

    2. Foam Hat: Bearing the resemblance of a traditional taco with ground beef, lettuce, and cheese, these foam hats are as ridiculous-looking as they are hunger-inducing. ($14.99)

    taco bell foam hat

    1. Onesie: The footie pajamas, with the brand name screen-printed down the leg, will inspire dreams of hard shell tacos wrapped in pillowy tortilla blankets. It's the perfect Fourth Meal attire. ($59.99)

    taco bell onesie 

    We originally found the Taco Bell-themed socks on Grub Street.

    SEE ALSO: Here's Taco Bell's Incredible-Looking Waffle Breakfast Taco With Bacon

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    Planet Fitness gym

    Once a month, national gym chain Planet Fitness has a free pizza night.

    So many members come in for these food-filled evenings that the health club franchise usually gives away 250,000 slices each time, for more than 3 million pieces a year. That's probably not surprising when you consider that Planet Fitness recently hit 5 million members and is now the fastest-growing gym chain in the U.S., according to co-founder and chief executive Chris Rondeau.

    What's taken the company, which began in 1992 as a small operation in Dover, N.H., to a nationally dominant chain? Rondeau says its all about targeting the right audience.

    Most health clubs, Rondeau explains, cater to the roughly 15% of Americans who consider themselves fitness nuts and love to work out. Planet Fitness's goal, on the other hand, is to attract the much larger percentage of people who want to be healthier but may only use the gym a few times a month.

    "The rest of the industry is fighting over that 15%," he says. "We're going for the other 85%."

    To accomplish this, Planet Fitness has mixed fitness with fun through its monthly pizza nights and a bagel breakfast on the second Tuesday of the Month. Its facilities sport mostly bright yellow and purple equipment, with an emphasis on cardio and weight-lifting machines. To keep costs down, the company omits amenities offered by more upscale gyms, such as juice bars and personal trainers. Membership fees run as low as $10 per month (plus a $20 startup fee), and many locations are open 24/7.

    Beyond being affordable, Planet Fitness has built its reputation on maintaining a non-competitive workout environment. If someone attempts to lift too many weights or seems to be grunting under the effort, staffers can set off a loud siren called the "lunk alarm." On some occasions, particularly egregious lifting offenders have been asked to leave and then escorted out by police.

    What's more, Rondeau thinks the focus his company has on basic products like weight and cardio ends up being a strength, rather than a detractor. There's always "a lot of fads" in fitness, he explains — aerobics, kickboxing, and lately, spinning — but the cardio and weight machines are the timeless essentials.

    If further evidence is needed that Planet Fitness has a broad appeal, Rondeau points out that the gym's 5 million members account for roughly 10% of the 50 million people in the U.S. who belong to a health club. The gym has more than 750 locations nationwide, with the heaviest concentrations in the Northeast, Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas.

    At least right now, Rondeau isn't planning any big changes in the model. He says the $10 price tag and the uncompetitive atmosphere are the two big reasons Planet Fitness has been able to differentiate its product. As he likes to put it, if all the other gyms are selling hamburgers, then Planet Fitness is offering pizza. 

    SEE ALSO: Here's Why Whole Foods Lets Employees Look Up Each Other's Salaries

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    Big Gay Ice Cream truck

    Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff, the founders of popular food business Big Gay Ice Cream, discovered early on that the customers who connect with your vision from the outset can become an invaluable resource down the road. 

    At a recent panel sponsored by the American Express U.S. Small Merchants Group, they explained how an army of devoted customers propelled Big Gay Ice Cream from a fun hobby to an acclaimed franchise in just a few years.

    The business started in the summer of 2009 as a way to pick up some extra cash. Quint, a trained classical bassoon player, decided to rent a used Mister Softee ice-cream truck because he needed a second job to afford living in New York City. He was tired of traveling with orchestras and wanted to take advantage of the weirdest business opportunity he could find. His musician friend Andrea Fisher got him the ice-cream truck, which he slapped a rainbow-cone logo on. Petroff, his boyfriend, was working in human resources for a clothing retailer, and figured it would be fun to come up with a unique menu.

    Quint told Gothamist that he relished the idea that people would talk under their breath about a middle-aged white gay man driving an ice-cream truck, and he wanted to make the joke before they could — and so the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck was born.

    Rather than devising a business plan — which he has yet to do — Quint decided to connect with each customer on a personal level and give them a product they couldn't get anywhere else. Soon there was a cult following for the beat-up truck with a gay-pride logo selling ice cream topped with ingredients like wasabi powder and curried coconut, along with creations like the Salty Pimp cone (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip).

    The food-truck trend and New York City's open culture gave them a boost, but their success wasn't just a matter of luck or having a good gimmick. Quint said he worked hard to earn each customer's few dollars while he manned the truck, making the desserts and engaging locals. "I worked my ass off that summer!" he said. Gourmet magazine named him "the friendliest street vendor of all time."

    Quint found that giving people a quality, personalized experience was turning them into more than customers. He remembered thinking "those first hundred people are going to be the ones that will have your back forever."

    "They're really your first employees," said Petroff, referring to a startup's initial brand advocates. They're "your marketing team, your PR company."

    "They were the ones online telling their friends to come and see us. They were the ones in line telling other people to come get in line, and they're still the ones on our Facebook," said Quint.

    He and Petroff developed their Facebook and Twitter presence by taking time to interact with fans and potential customers. "People liked that we had an online personality," Quint told Business Insider.

    By 2011, success driven by their hardcore fans compelled Quint and Petroff to dedicate themselves to the brand full-time and open a shop in New York's East Village, followed by another in the West Village in 2012. In May 2013, USA Today named Big Gay Ice Cream the fifth-best ice-cream parlor in the world and ranked it No. 1 in the U.S.

    Quint and Petroff are about to open a third parlor in Los Angeles and have plans for expansion.

    Quint said the customers who were telling their friends that they should line up at the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck five years ago are still curators of the company's culture.

    "If somebody new writes us a question on Facebook, I don't answer the question right away, because [those loyal customers are] the ones who step up and answer it," said Quint.

    "We built this little freakazoid army early on," he said of Big Gay Ice Cream's incredibly passionate brand advocates — "and, yeah, they'd do anything for us."

    SEE ALSO: 17 Successful Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Productivity Hacks

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    When companies set out to design logos to brand their products, they often go above and beyond to create recognizable and memorable graphics.

    Over and over again we see examples of corporate logos with hidden visual messages buried inside.

    NOW WATCH: 5 Subliminal Sex Messages Hidden In Ads For Wholesome Brands

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