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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


A company vision can be thought of as a snapshot of what the company should be by a certain point in time. Visioning is a valuable tool in realizing the company mission. It answers questions like: “When we acheive our mission, what is our company doing, how big is it and what does it look like? What are we known for and how do our customers and clients feel about us? How does management and staff feel about the company? The vison is the guiding light that prevents the company from getting lost in the woods of an ever changing marketplace.

A great vision is inspiring. It can get everyone in the company excited about coming to work. But the vision has to be starategically sound and not just wishful thinking. To be realistic, it must be attainable. A vision is not a strategic plan. The vision articulates where you are going; the plan tells you how you’re going to get there. You start that planning work only after you’ve agreed on the vision. Creating a plan without a vision is like trying to get directions without knowing where you are going.

VISION = A.S.I.F (At a certain point in time)

What is the company doing? What are its product(s) and/or services(s)?
How large is the company, physical plant(s) and staff?
What is the company known for and what is its market share?
How does the market feel about the company, and how does the staff feel?

Examples of excellent vision statements: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

MacDonald’s: “McDonald’s vision is to be the world’s best quick service restaurant experience. Being the best means providing outstanding quality, service, cleanliness, and value, so that we make every customer in every restaurant smile.”

Avon: “To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfillment needs of women - globally.”

Macy”s: “Our vision is to operate Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s as dynamic national brands while focusing on the customer offering in each store location.”

Southwest Airlines: “Our vision is to expand our locations both domestic and overseas by being the largest and most profitable airline company to achieve both short and long-haul carriers efficiently and with low cost. Also to be an airline carrier that has the most productive workforce to guarantee the best flight possible for each and every passenger.”

Quote  of the day: “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” Jack Welsh


Business planning is about creating an outline for success.  They are many different types of plans, but the main tools of the trade are the overall business plan and one or more strategic plans.

The primary purpose of the orverall business plan is to create a written outline that evaluates all aspects of the economic viability of the business venture including a description and analysis of the business prospects. Preparing and maintaining a business plan is important for any business regardless of its size or nature, but it will not ensure success. Combined with a correct assessment of the changing economics of the business, the plan will provide a useful roadmap as well as a financing tool. Things change, however, so it is important that the plan is periodically updated.

1. Cover sheet
2. Executive summary (statement of the business purpose)
3. Table of contents
4. Body of the document
A. Business
Description, Marketing, Competition, Operating procedures, Personnel, 
Business insurance
B. Financial data
Loan applications, Capital equipment and supply list, Balance sheet,
Breakeven analysis, Profit and loss statements, Three-year summary,
Detail by month, first year, Detail by quarters, second and third year,
Assumptions upon which projections were based, Pro-forma cash flow
C. Supporting documents
Tax returns of principals (partners in the business) for last three years, personal financial statements
Copy of franchise contract and all supporting documents provided by the 
franchisor (for franchise businesses)
Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space
Copy of licenses and other legal documents
Copy of resumes of all principals
Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc. 

Strategic planning determines where a company is going, how it’s going to get there and how it’ll know if it got there or not. Different types of strategic planning can be utilized and the type depends on the life cycle or stage of development of the company, the culture of the company, types of issues the company is facing, and the rate of change in the marketplace.

Vision-based or goals-based planning derives from what the company wants to achieve at some point in the future.  The plan articulates what the company has to do to achieve the vision.  Its designed to work back from the future to the present. Issues-based planning clarifies current issues the company must address and how it will address them.  Issues-based planning works from the present to the future.  

Other types of strategic planning include scenario planning, organic planning and real-time planning. 

Quote  of the day: “You can’t overestimate the need to plan and prepare. You really can’t over-prepare in business!” Chris Corrigan

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Perhaps one of the most important tools in developing the company brand is often one of the hardest to understand and create. It is the mission statement. Simply defined, a mission statement is a short written statement defining a company’s reason for existence. It should embody its philosophies, goals, ambitions and mores. A company that operates without a mission statement, will at the very least lack direction. True success is unlikely when there is no definition of what that success constitutes. 

A good mission statement accurately explains why your company exists and what it hopes to achieve. It articulates the company’s nature, its values, and its work. It is clear and succinct, and incorporates socially meaningful criteria and measurable goals. To be effective it should resonate with the people working in and for the company as well as with the customers and clients of the company. Ideally it expresses the company’s purpose in a way that inspires commitment, innovation, and resolve.


P - Purpose of the company.
What needs and opportunities exist in the market place to be addressed?
A - Activity of the company.
What will the company do to address those needs?
V - Values of the company.
What principles and beliefs will guide the activities of the business?
E - Ethical Practices
What procedures will be implemented to achieve those principles and beliefs?

A few examples of well written mission statements:

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream: “To make, distribute & sell the finest quality all natural ice cream & euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment.” 

The Elephant Sanctuary: “A Natural-Habitat Refuge Where Sick, Old and Needy Elephants Can Once Again Walk The Earth In Peace and Dignity.” 

Sun Microsystems: “Solve complex network computing problems for governments, enterprises, and service providers.” 
Starbucks: “Establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles as we grow. 
The following five guiding principles will help us measure the appropriateness of our decisions:
Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.
Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting, and fresh delivery of our coffee.
Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.
Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.
Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

Quote  of the day: “Show your mission to your mother, if she does not understand it, start again.”

Monday, August 22, 2011


If the logo represents a snapshot of the image of the company, then the slogan represents a snapshot of the company message. An effective slogan can not only say a lot about the company, but can be a valuable tool in building the brand. Much like logos where “less is more” and simplicity is better than complexity, the best slogans are “short and sweet.” The trick is saying a whole lot but with very few words. 

Much like an effective company name, the slogan needs to say what the company does, and how it does it, hopefully peaking interest in the how, and inviting further investigation. The unique selling proposition, otherwise known as the reason why your company is different and better than everone else is of tantamount importance. It’s very important to avoid platitudes like  “Town’s Best Plumbers,” or “Service with a Smile,” yet still convey the message that you are the best, or at least the best choice, and that your service is freindly and professional.

Much like good logos, the  best slogans are clever and original, but don’t let being cute take away from the message. Again, don’t copy or even paraphrase another company’s slogan, especially if it is well known. How good can you really be, if you can’t even come up with an original slogan?

Some examples of slogans that do a whuping good job:

Nantucket Tourist Board: Some People Only Live This Way Two Weeks a Year! We Deliver Everything But the Baby
Miami PD Bomb Squad: If You See Us Running, Catch Up!
Castrol: It’s More Than Just Oil Your Calling is Calling An Evil Plot to Destroy the World. Enjoy.
Farnham Associates: Brand Out from the Crowd.

W - What You Do
H - How You Do It
U - Unique Selling Proposition
P - Peaks Interest
I - Invites Further Investigation
Quote  of the day: “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”  Winston Churchill


There is probably nothing more important and more significant in identifying a company than it’s logo. The logo is the single most important tool in establishing the company’s image and creating the brand. It is the symbol, the icon that represents the entity, it is the face that goes with the name.
To be effective, logos must contain several qualities, not the least of which is about being less. In good logo design “less is more,” and simpler is definitley better. It is important that the viewer know  immediately what they  are looking at. The image cannot be overly elaborate or confusing. The viewer must first know what it is if we want him to remember what it represents.
Speaking of remembering, the logo needs to be memorable so it is quickly recognized with each exposure. Distinctive images that stand the test of time work best. This is not to say that the design must be contemporary or “modern.” “Retro” images can be very effective as long as they are universally recognizable. “Retro” images can elicit fond memories in the viewer,  a fondness that can carry over to the company represented by the image.
It goes without saying that the logo must be appropriate to its purpose. While the use of animal graphics would make sense for a per store or vet, it would make no sense for an attorney or car dealer. Unless of course the attorney specialized in personal injury cases or the car dealer was named “Lion Motors.” 
Logo designs should always strive to be original. Of course it’s impossible to know what every other company’s logo looks like, but it is never good to intentionally copy other’s logos, particulary if they are very recognizable or popular. Legal ramifications aside, the practice will definitely hurt your company’s credibility.

Needless to say, a logo should be eye catching. Clever and interesting carry the day, and boring is just plain boring. And the interest must transcend just the use of color, because a good logo must read and maintain its identity in a single color and in black and white. Symbols and designs that have layers of meaning or can be interpreted in multiple ways, are usually interesting and can be very effective.

Logos very often include the company name, but it is not a requirement. It is a requirement that the logo is easily recognized and immediately illicits a recollection of the name even when the name is not a part of that logo. 


I - Intelligible
M - Memorable
A - Appropriate
G - Genuine
E - Eye Catching
Quote  of the day: “About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends.“ Herbert Hoover 

Friday, August 19, 2011


As marketing consultants and graphic designers we seldom get to offer input on company names. When clients come to us, they almost always have a name in mind, and often have already registered that name with the proper bureaucracies. This is unfortunate because the company name is by far the most visible feature of any company and thus provides the greatest opportunity to make an effective and positive impression.

A successful brand is always associated with a recognizable name. The more the name can say about the company, the more effective a tool it can be in establishing the brand. To the extent feasible, without getting verbose or confusing, the name should  incorporate the elements of who, what and how and be interesting and invite further investigation. 

In our market place on the Big Island in Hawaii it seems nearly every company is named “Kona This” or “Big Island That” or “Aloha Something.” Not necessarily bad, but in the former case it’s redundant as your market already knows where they are. In the later case it’s marginally descriptive, very overused, and usually suspect, not unlike “Honest Bob’s Used Cars.”

Other Names may incorporate the names of the owner or principal(s), not necessarily a bad idea if the company is primarily the people involved, as is often the case in professional and service businesses. “John Doe, Attorney at Law,” “Smith Plumbing” or “Bob’s Painting,” however, do little to convey more than minimal information, and have no marketing value at all.

Better Names might say something about what the company does, plus how it does it, and how it may be different or better than the other guy. Better names may also incorporate an element of curiosity, or multiple meaning, or interesting alliteration. Yet the name still needs to be “short and sweet”, or in other words, easy to say, understand and remember.

Some of the best names in use today contain some or all of these elements and have become part of the national lexicon. Names like Google, Under Armour, Pay Pal, Jiffy Lube, You Tube and Farnham Associates Marketing Solutions.

Following is an outline on how to WHIP up an effective company name.

NAME = W. H. I. P.

W - Who are you? What do you do?
H - How do you do it? How are you different and/or better?
I - Does your name Invite further investigation?
P - Does your name Peak customer/client interest?

Quote  of the day: “In modern business it is not the crook who is to be feared most, it is the honest man who doesn’t know what he is doing.”  William Wordsworth 

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Very few concepts in the business lexicon are as misundetstood as the concept of brand. Often thought of as a company’s image as may be representated by its logo or possibly its logo combined with a catchy slogan, the brand is really much more. It is nothing less than a company’s identity as defined by its owners and principals and as percieved by its customers and clients.

Brand can be thought of as having two components. The first is image, the component created by the company and including the tangibles such as name, logo, slogan and marketing graphics, and intangibles including mission, vision and goals.

The other component, and equally,  if not more, important  is experience. This is how the company is perceived by its customers and clients. It includes such concepts as understanding, credibility, connection, motivation and loyalty.

The term brand, in and of itself,  connotes neither good nor bad.  Companies that have established a recognizable brand, either through planning and execution, or through simple longevity may or may not be regarded positively in the business and consumer communities. Companies with well known brands such as Apple, Google, Ikea, Nike and Mercedez Benz would be considered by most people as solid, reliable and worthy of their business. Companies with equally well know brands such as Lehman Brothers, Countrywide Mortgage, Circuit City and Blockbuster, on the other hand, not so much. 

Therefore, when we talk about branding, we are really talking about positive, successful branding,  creating an identity that is widely recognized, but also widely respected and appreciated. We all want to “Brand Out from the Crowd,”  but hopefully in a good way.

I. IMAGE (Definition)
1. Mission - What you want to achieve.
2. Vision - How you plan to achieve it.
3. Goals - Steps in accomplishing the plan.
4. Name 
5. Logo
6. Slogan
7. Graphics

II. EXPERIENCE (Perception)
1. Understanding
2. Credibility
3. Connection
4. Motivation
5. Loyalty

Quote  of the day: “Success is not about being the best solution, but about being the only solution.”