These are not-so-subtle reasons as to why people want to hire us over other branding agencies.

Dave Murray

The Dangers of Bad Brand Strategy

Readers of my other blog posts might know the mission of Mayniax Branding. They may even be able to recite it, themselves. Come on, say it with me: “Our job is to give gutsy business owners and entrepreneurs a shot at better lives by branding the hell out of their businesses.” Ahh, that felt good to type. But, what happens when an entrepreneur or business owner doesn’t know much about branding or brand strategy? Or worse, what if they think they don’t need to know anything about it?

I recently had my first meeting as a member of a marketing committee, where there was talk of adding two brands to three existing, and struggling, brands. It quickly became apparent these people were ignorant to the ways of the branding arts. They were focused on the wrong things, and worse, could only suggest things to the real powers-that-be, rather than make any changes themselves. I felt bad for them, because I’ve seen this movie before. They’re screwed, and I can’t save them.

When the top people don’t understand brand strategy, bad things happen. Sometimes, it’s a simple case of brand extension causing employees to work harder on more brands with the same resources. This puts unneeded stress on employees, and results in one or more of them quitting for greener pastures.

Sometimes, however, it’s a whole lot worse.

Ya Hate a Bad Apple

Gil Amelio, the man Steve Jobs replaced shortly after going back to Apple, knew a little bit about strategy. Brought in as a turn-around expert, Amelio realized one of Apple’s problems was that the company had lost its focus. And, in an effort to re-focus, thousands of people were fired. The sad reality is, for the sake of Apple, that was the right move.

I have to think the previous regime didn’t set out to fire thousands of people, but their ignorance of brand strategy caused it to happen. They tried getting into too many markets with products that Steve Jobs once remarked as having “…no sex in them…” When Jobs came back, in order to really focus Apple, even more product lines were cut. And again, the sad reality is, for the sake of Apple, that was the right move.

Microsoft and Nokia

On April 25, 2014, Microsoft bought Nokia. In July of 2014, Microsoft laid off 13,000 people. In September of 2014, Microsoft laid off another 2,100. And the majority of those 15,100 employees were Nokia workers. So, what the crap happened?

Satya Nadella, the current C.E.O. of Microsoft, happened. Specifically, his “…vision of a leaner, meaner Microsoft” – which, if true, is a good brand strategy move – happened. Just as Amelio and Jobs had to re-focus Apple by cutting thousands of employees, so too did Nadella with Microsoft. It obviously sucks for those thousands of people who got pink slips, simply because the former C.E.O.s – one of whom was Bill Gates – didn’t know about brand strategy.

A Ringless Saturn

Since 1959, General Motors has had problems with brand strategy. They seem to have that “but we’ve always done it this way” culture that impedes innovation. And because of that, 2,000 workers in Spring Hill, Tennessee were laid off.

Saturn had become a powerful brand all its own, with a “…unique power train, its polymer body panels that didn’t dent or rust, its sand-cast aluminum engine block and its no hassle, no dickering retail sales experience…” General Motors and the U.A.W. disapproved of Saturn people not thinking of “…themselves as G.M. Subordinates or as U.A.W. card carriers,” and proceeded to destroy everything that differentiated Saturn from other G.M. brands, until all their vehicles were just like all General Motors vehicles: the same vehicles with different nameplates.

In Conclusion, Class…

Apple and Microsoft ended up having to fire thousands of people because of brand expansion – putting their names on too many products in too many markets, which made it so neither brand stayed in the minds of potential customers. Thousands were fired from Saturn because G.M. didn’t understand just how important differentiation is in the marketplace. And in all three cases, ignorance led to tragedy.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and C.E.O.s can destroy careers, lives, and even towns, simply because they’re ignorant to brand strategy. Or, they can talk to branding experts, and be heroes.

Which one are you?

Stay gutsy, gang!

Low End Mac: Gil Amelio fires thousands, Steve Jobs Returns.
Tech Times: Satya Nadella wants “…a leaner, meaner Microsoft.”
Forbes: General Motors halts Saturn’s differentiation
Slate: 2,000 people fired from Saturn.

Dave Murray

3 Huge Reasons You Want Us As Your Branding Team!

We’re often asked why businesses should hire us, over other firms, to do their branding. It’s an important question, because the answer’s a big part of any brand. It speaks to differences, after all, and those are what your brand strategy uses to stay in clients’ and potential clients’ minds.

So, let’s get to it!

Reason 1: Our “why.”

We tell the world we do this so we can give business owners a shot at a better life. That’s very true, and here’s why.

For years, my parents ran a cleaning business in Jackson, Michigan. Most of their business was through word-of-mouth, and it was feast or famine. My sister and I were enrolled in private schools, however, and never knew just how bad it could be. They always made sure we were taken care of, many times at their own expense. It was my great dream to retire them, myself. When dad died, so did that dream.

As silly as it sounds, I regret not having the knowledge then that we have, now. I know branding would have gone a long way toward making their business successful.

In the years since, we’ve seen the same thing happen to those we’ve come to know as friends. And I take it very personally.

Reason 2: We’re a really good team.

I type that with full confidence because we hear it a lot from our clients. Of course, we think half the reason they say that is because they enjoy the show. Vanessa and I have worked together so long, we’ve naturally developed a rapport that’s hard to emulate in business. And that rapport shows as we fire quips at each other during client meetings. I mean, c’mon, our name’s not Mayniax for nothing!

What our clients don’t see, however, is how well we work together behind the scenes. There’s a lot of research, a lot of brainstorming, and a lot of trips to Starbucks to give us the change of pace that tends to help us push through that final brand strategy block.

And yes, there are a lot more quips.

Before I tell you the third reason, I want you to think about the following:

1. Apple, the number one brand in the world, according to Interbrand, didn’t get that way because they went after every target market with all kinds of products. They got that way because, when Steve Jobs came back, he eliminated a lot of extraneous lines.
2. If you read our Lego blog, you’ll see they did the same, eliminating any and all lines that didn’t focus on who they are as a brand. And that’s those little building bricks.
3. Five Guys Burgers and Fries has kept their menu extremely small. Two years ago, they were lauded as America’s Fastest Growing Restaurant Chain.
4. Chipotle only sells Tex Mex food made from whole foods, and is growing pretty quickly!

On the flip-side, Sony’s electronics division is bleeding money. Big time. Why? Because they put their name on everything! Sony can’t stand for one thing in someone’s mind when their logo’s plastered on every single kind of electronic product out there. Fun Fact: Sony actually makes money by selling insurance in Japan.

The point is, the more focused your product / service, the more likely you are to have success. It’s been proven time and time again in the history of business.

Reason 3: We’re the only team in Washtenaw County – Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Manchester, and Barton Hills – and one of only two teams in Southeast Michigan, to focus entirely on branding.

So, when the time comes for you to research branding teams, and you notice the other ones offer several services, you’ll know they don’t know what they’re doing…because they can’t even brand themselves.

And with those wise words from Admiral Ackbar, take care, and as always…

Stay gutsy!