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Archive for February, 2012

QR Code FAQ’s

February 24, 2012 By: azjogger Category: Marketing & Sales, Technology

By Chris Jenkin

What Are QR Codes?

QR codes are little black-and-white two dimensional barcodes. These barcodes  can be scanned by a mobile smartphone (like an iPhone, Android, or Blackberry)  in order to fulfill a multitude of purposes

What Does QR Stand For?

QR stands for “Quick Response.” As the name implies, these codes provide a  very speedy way to complete a multitude of functions.

What Can Quick Reponse Codes Do?

These codes can do a multitude of things. The most common thing they can do  is bring a user to a website landing page. For example, when a user scans a QR  code, they may be brought to your web page on his or her mobile browser. Whoever  makes the code can decide on the website URL that the user will be brought to.  These codes can also do a remarkable amount of other things as well, making them  very versatile.

How Do These codes work?

These codes store data in the same way that all barcodes do. QR codes can  come in a variety of “models” meaning that they can hold a small amount of  information, or a very large amount of information, depending on the model.

QR technology can:

· Open a video

· Collect contact information

· Process a donation

· Make a phone call

· View a map

· Enter a contest

· Interact with social networking sites

· Coordinate a scavenger hunt

And much more!

How Much Do These Codes Cost?

The basic technology is absolutely free! Once you’re using a QR generator,  you can quickly and easily create as many free codes as you’d like.

The more specialized codes do have a cost associated with them, depending on  which code you would like to make.

How Easy is it to Scan a Quick Response Code?

It literally takes only a few seconds to do! A smartphone user simply needs  to download a free easy-to-install reader onto his or her phone and then snap a  photo of the QR code. It’s that easy!

Where Can I Download a Code Reader?

In order to download a QR reader, follow these simply instructions:

  1. Sign into your respective account and go to your app marketplace (Android  Market, iTunes Store or BlackBerry App World)
  2. Perform a search in the search box for “QR code scanner” or “QR code  reader”
  3. Choose a QR scanner or reader of your choice
  4. Select “install” or “download” and follow the prompts to complete your  installation.

It’s that easy!

Will Quick Response Codes Help My Business?

Certainly! Mobile marketing is the fastest growing advertising sector in  the world. QR technology is becoming more and more ubiquitous, and users  are becoming increasingly accustomed to scanning them!

Chris Jenkin is a CEO for Gotcha! Mobile Solutions, Inc He writes/blogs during his free  or spare time. Writing about Mobile Marketing and QR Code Technology. You can  visit Gotcha!’s blog for  more informative articles relating to Mobile Marketing.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Chris_Jenkin

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6883952

What Plans Have You Made to Recruit and Retain Employees With the Right Stuff?

February 24, 2012 By: azjogger Category: Human Resources, Management, Operations

By Tom L. Randie

That is an important question and one that many H.R. professionals and others  with hiring authority face every business day. That is, how do you know when you  have made the right choice on an employee? Mistakes are costly, disruptive and  embarrassing. I know because in almost 40 years in leadership roles, I made my  share.

Here’s the challenge

Almost all pre-employment testing is focused on the  skills and knowledge of the applicant. You can get that from the resume and  reference checks. Virtually all firings or resignations were a result of the  employee’s attitude or behavior, and you did little to nothing to assess those  traits before making the offer, granting a promotion, etc. I cannot recall a  single incident in the 25 years I was a credit union CEO where we fired anyone  because they lacked the skills and knowledge to be fully competent in their job.

Every termination, whether it was voluntary or not, came about because the  employee became unsupportive, difficult and in other ways displayed a negative  attitude and/or behavior in the workplace.

It is commonplace today for job applicants to report early to H.R. and be  instructed to sit at a PC so they may complete a battery of assessments that  demonstrates that they can add, subtract, and solve riddles. After 90 minutes of  assessments, the applicant is ushered into an office and a verbal interview  takes place.

In cases of executive positions, the applicant may spend the entire  day on-site meeting with other team members and going out to lunch. At the end  of an expensive and time-consuming undertaking, the person empowered to advance  that applicant or make a hiring decision…YOU…is not prepared and has  conflicting data. You did not ask the applicant “what”, “which”, and “how”  questions and both you and the applicant are left without a clear objective or  plan of action.

The main thing assessments reveal is that it has been a long time since high  school or college and their math skills are rusty. There was no clearly defined  problem, question or challenge before you started asking the applicant to take a  battery of assessments, so the outcome is not satisfying to anyone. What  criteria do you use for making hiring decisions? Test scores or experience?  Accomplishments or assessments?

Contributions to their employer and community or  can they solve an equation? Skills and knowledge or attitude and behavior? How  will you know whether you made a “good” decision? What attitudes and habits do  you currently possess that you know are influencing your decision-making? Do  they help or hinder you? Why?

You get paid for getting things done. Hiring the wrong person is not one of  those things. Most of our decisions are made with little conscious thought and  we execute decisions based on past experiences. In other words, we keep doing  the same things.

Make a personal commitment to no longer conduct hiring  decisions in the usual way. Take the first step in what is a new path and define  what you want to see and affirm in an applicant’s values, decision-making  capability, and if they share your company’s vision.

Of all the research I have conducted, the Values Index is the best tool to  measure if the applicant or person being considered for promotion or other  assignment possesses the profile that will give you and them the best  opportunity to succeed.

To receive a FREE assessment of your leadership characteristics, contact KES  Group at [email protected].

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tom_L_Randle

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6849404

Did You Hire Tim Tebow on Friday and Charles Sheen Showed Up For Work on Monday?

February 24, 2012 By: azjogger Category: Human Resources, Management

By Tom L. Randie

We have all done that in our professional lives and the decision had  consequences. Some of us have made that mistake more than once, or re-hired a  former employee with equally disastrous results. Rarely has the attitude and  behavior of a former employee different than when you asked them to find  employment elsewhere or they quit. The marketplace is flooded with unemployed  applicants that have glossy resumes and references are seldom verified. An  applicant that needs a job is likely to say just about anything to gain your  acceptance.

Employee Turnover can be costly

The costs of employee turnover have a significant consequence on your limited  resources. It also has an influence and usually not a positive one on the other  employees. They wonder if you or your human resources department has a clue  about hiring the right people for the job. What have you done to assess whether  or not the applicant shares the traits that you want and the company and its  customers deserve?

I want to help you make the right hiring choices. There are hiring processes  and hiring profiles to provide a holistic approach. The Department of Labor  talks about this approach and recommends a battery of assessments. Let’s look at  three profiles that are readily available, easily administered, proven and  affordable and that my investigation has uncovered as the best of breed.

What natural talents do you have? As the leader of the organization you lead  people and manage things. Using the DISC Index we’ve seen scores as they relate  to superior performance in a variety of roles. There is no ideal or perfect set  of scores for any role as the variables that affect success are many. Those  variables may be taken into consideration by a trained coach after interviewing  the leader in their environment, carefully looking at the scores in context and  with whom the leader will be working, etc.

Why are you motivated to use them? Turnover is expensive, as is not achieving  the goals of the organization through motivated employees who share your vision  and have accountability. Getting the right employees in the right positions and  who share the values of your organization can make or break your career or  business. The opportunity costs of continuing to hire or retain employees who  are not excited or engaged, communicate well with other team members, or don’t  possess the ideal benchmarks for their role, i.e.: sales,  management/supervisory, and customer service increases the chances they will not  be successful in the role you placed them. Can you afford to continue taking  that risk?

What are you looking for? That depends on the role that you are recruiting to  fill or retaining an incumbent that isn’t meeting expectations. Is customer  service an oxymoron in your business? Are your teams pulling together or part?  What is it that annoys you in communications with your team? Which of those  groups do you have the most difficulty with? You have to decide the types of  things that are vitally important to the role, i.e.; call center, and then  determine through proven assessments that the employees now in those roles  possess the ideal traits. Did you hire Tim Tebow on Friday and Charlie Sheen  showed up for work on Monday?

What is it you need to measure? DISC Index is usually my recommendation if  the leadership says that getting their ream to better understand each other is  the objective. A Values Index may be the choice if a leader says their employees  are not excited or engaged. The third profile often used is the Attribute Index  which is my choice if a leader says to me that it is an individual employee  performance issue. The Attribute Index is the first suggestion I make to a  leader so we can determine their leadership talents. That is where the change  has to begin, with the leader of the organization.

To receive a complimentary assessment of your leadership characteriscs,  contact KES Group at [email protected].

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tom_L_Randle

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6843541

Exit Strategy for Potential Investors– Important for You and Them

February 16, 2012 By: azjogger Category: Financial, Management

By Ian W. Harvey

When it comes to raising equity, the most important aspects of any investor’s  decision to invest are: 1) How they are going to get their money out? And, 2)  What they are going to make when they exit the deal. This can often be a  complicated matter to explain and, if neglected when developing your business  plan, could end up costing you the financing you need to build your  business.

First, an exit strategy is much more than just what your company is going to  be worth at some point in the future. Understanding what your investor needs to  see is an essential element of your presentation. For example, if you investor  looks for a 2 to 3 year exit then don’t show him a 5 year exit plan.

A well-conceived exit strategy for a prospective investor will look at things  such as; who the potential suitors are for the business, what kind of  professional assistance you will require to properly market the company and  achieve the desired valuation, whether an IPO makes sense for your business,  among other factors. Showing that you’ve put considerable thought into their  exit strategy can give you an advantage when they are deciding on the next  investment for their portfolio.

Play it Consertively

When you plan an exit strategy, the issue of valuation will inevitably come  into question. While it is possible that your company with $1,000,000 in revenue  and breaking even will reach $500,000,000 in sales with 30% EBITDA by the end of  year 5, it is simply not likely. A huge “watch out” for any investor is when an  entrepreneur with a vision is wearing rose-tinted glasses. So, play it  conservative and make sure that your growth and anticipated enterprise value are  somewhere within the realm of possibility.

However, be careful… being too conservative can turn an investor off your  deal – nobody wants to see flat line projections with five years of losses  ahead! If you honestly think that is where your business is going, do yourself a  favour by shutting the doors and getting started planning your next venture -  never try to set an unrealistic performance expectation to raise capital.

Knowing that you are going to fail and taking the money anyway will kill your  reputation in the financing community and possibly even your industry.

When possible, provide a potential investor with examples of other companies  in your industry that have achieved the type of success that you are projecting.  Depending on the type of investor and stage of growth your company is in, it is  not unreasonable for an equity investor to expect a 3 to 10 times return on an  equity investment over 3 to 5 years.

Understand the Intensions of a Term Sheet From a Business Perspective

If you do manage to attract the interest of an investor who likes the exit  strategy you have presented, be sure to protect your ability to enjoy in the  success of the business down the road. While a good lawyer with extensive merger  and acquisition transaction experience is a necessary resource to protect your  interest from a legal perspective, it is important to make sure that you  understand the intentions of any term sheet or discussion you have from a  business and practical perspective.

For example, it is not uncommon for  investors, even if in a minority position, to insist that they have significant  influence when it comes to business decisions or raising additional capital -

Understand What Your Potential Investor is Looking For

They may also want to ensure that they get their return of capital and any  gains paid out in priority to the other shareholders (i.e. you and you other  shareholders). If you are comfortable with the idea of having an investor who is  going to be self-serving in this respect, then this may work for you.

Many  companies would not have the balance sheet strength to sustain such a cash flow  hit just to pay off an investor, sometimes leaving the remaining shareholders  trying to create additional value in a company that is stripped of its book  value and all but insolvent. In short, understand what your potential investor  is looking for and make sure that they are not in a position to strip the  company of the value you and your team has work so hard for when it is time for  their exit.

http://www.smbedge.com

SMB Edge! was created based on the fact that there are many Small and  Medium-sized businesses (SMBs) without the resources or access to the  information owners and managers need to make well-informed decisions in the  current economy.

Please visit SMB Edge! to gain access to the information and resources your  company needs to thrive!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ian_W_Harvey

How to Get Financing for Your Business Venture

February 16, 2012 By: azjogger Category: Financial, Management

By David Z. Reynolds

Brief overview: It does take money to make money! There are costs to be  covered by entrepreneurs seeking large amounts of $$$. Be prepared for what is a  fair cost, and what is not…

“It takes money to make money” is very pertinent when it comes to raising  millions of $$$ for a new business. There are very real costs involved in  creating that winning business you have in mind. You will soon find that the  costs of employing professionals to work on your new project takes a lot of  money – unless they are shareholders…

You also have the long list of licences,  permits and approvals that you shall usually need to acquire. It can get to feel  that you’re paying out a lot of money. But that is part of the cost of securing  your financial future – this stuff is necessary, and it costs money.

It’s also true that when it comes to raising money from investors you have  the costs of getting your business a top quality business plan, cashflow  forecasts, and some basic modelling of the business to show that it’s robust and  ‘bullet-proof’ in changeable conditions.

There are also a few financing  consultants who can guide you through the application process with an investor.  If they are experienced and capable, they should know what the investor needs to  feel safe investing in you and your project.

Business Plan is key to face-to-face meet

Without a good business plan you’re not going to get to face-to-face with the  investor to make your pitch. Many would-be business developers then find that  approaching an investment source costs money too. A broker should only charge  for success – a commission at settlement of your financing.

Be wary, and check everything. Since the Global Financial Crisis a huge  amount of capital has been destroyed – severely limiting the ability of banks  and other financial institutions to fund investment. Be just as wary of the  ‘famous names’ as you are of those you’ve never heard of…

The company you  approach may have been an active investor in the past, but check on how much  they are currently investing…

However, an investor may also want to be paid for you lodging an application.  This is valid – because they need to know who you are and whether you’re  ‘credit-worthy’.

Investor due diligence costs you money – and it can be quite a lot of money.  If the investor doesn’t live in your country, they shall want to have their  people travelling to make on-site inspections, face-to-face interviews with  everyone associated with the project. They have to. It’s unavoidable.

If you’ve  been working with good people, who can deliver, then they shall be working 12-16  hours a day on the due diligence, and avoiding partying and girls. The other  sort you don’t want to be involved with…

Overall budget for the application process to be about 0.5% of what you’re  seeking. So if you’re applying for US $50,000,000, that would involve costs of  about US$250,000 in the whole process, application and investor due  diligence.

David Z. Reynolds is a senior Financing Consultant who’s been working for  investors analysing investment opportunities for 12 years. He has undertaken due  diligence for many investors on many continents. He is the senior partner in GPC  Business Plans who can be found at http//gpcbusinessplans.com GPC provides free information for entrepreneurs that assist in guiding them  into developing their business and through the funding application process with  investors.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=David_Z_Reynolds

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6641036

How’s Your Mobile Brand?

February 02, 2012 By: azjogger Category: Management, Marketing & Sales, Operations, Technology

By Maria Duron

Though the Internet has changed the way people across the globe talk and reach out to one another, mobile smart phones have really pushed the limits in what can be achieved through technology. Being able to access the Internet using your mobile phone enables you to obtain information anytime, anywhere. And if there’s one thing that’s growing rapidly in the world of business right now, it’s the use of mobile apps.

Smart phones are popular because they are easy and intuitive to use

What makes mobile smart phones so popular is how easy and intuitive they are. Though you may think that most users of smart phones are the younger generation, think again – because of the intuitiveness of these mobile phones, more and more users over the age of 45 are also using these gadgets.

With mobile users continuing to rise significantly, brands nowadays are jumping in the mobile bandwagon so they can reach and engage more consumers. Even small business owners and direct sellers have started to realize the importance of mobile branding in their campaigns. But how exactly can personal brands successfully utilize mobile? What are the key factors in ensuring mobile success?

The web and mobile platforms are two entirely different things

One of the things where brands go wrong is thinking that the web and mobile platforms are the same, and that users are looking for a similar experience of the web on their mobile smart phones. Nothing can be further from the truth. Even though there are lessons to be gained from using the web, mobile is a whole different arena – it basically puts the power in the hands of the individual.

First of all, mobile smart phones give users a smaller screen to navigate. So it takes a bit of creativity to ensure that your consumers have an excellent experience of your brand through their mobile phones. One of the very basic and simple ways you can do is to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile browsers, so that people visiting your site through their mobiles would not be directed to your regular website, which will look ugly on their smart phones.

Also, when it comes to mobile, there is the saying that less is more. Flash, for example, doesn’t work in most mobile browsers, so it might be better to leave that off for your mobile site. And people don’t really want to be bombarded with too much information when they’re on their mobiles – think simple, quick, and interactive. These are the qualities that most people look for when accessing sites and apps in their smart phones.

What you want is to give your consumers something that they can quickly understand and encourage smart interaction. Something they can manage as they go about their busy lives. It’s truly different from what they want to encounter while leisurely browsing the web at home.

Though the technology has improved, it’s still all about connections and engagement

For direct sellers, the days of organizing parties by sending invites in the mail or calling up people on their home phones are gone… nowadays, parties and gatherings are being planned online, invites are being sent through social networking sites and emails. But even though the technology has made things significantly easier, it still doesn’t change the fact that succeeding in business for both direct sellers and small business owners is all about connecting with their audience and engaging their consumers. Mobile access simply makes it a lot easier to connect with people on the go, and keep updated on your business wherever you are.

It’s important to define your plan before jumping in

Of course, it shouldn’t mean that just because everyone is doing it, you should go ahead and do it too. You need to define your goals and come up with a solid plan for your mobile campaign. Typically, businesses go into mobile because of three things: to increase traffic to their site, increase customers, and to increase marketing ROI. And you also have to know how to measure the success in your mobile campaign, so you can evaluate whether it’s worth it in the long run or not.

The coming years will surely bring more technological advancements in the way people interact with the brands they love through mobile. As a direct seller or small business owner, you really can’t ignore the mobile platform since experts predict that it’s going to gain even more popularity in the years to come. If you aren’t yet ready to put your mobile brand into place, it may be a good idea to start learning the ropes so that you can be ready when the time comes.

Maria Elena Duron, CEO (chief engagement officer), buzz2bucks | a word of mouth marketing firm, is skilled at making networks “work” and harnessing powerful online and offline buzz, she facilitates online visibility services and word of mouth coaching and workshops – taking companies and professionals from buzz-worthy to bucks-worthy, http://buzz2bucks.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Maria_Duron

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The Essentials of Proper Business Branding

February 02, 2012 By: azjogger Category: Financial, Management, Marketing & Sales

By Tony Jacowski

The Brand is the Identity
A brand may refer to products or services, but  branding involves much more than that. It is the process by which those  offerings and the values of the company are communicated to the buying public.  When done correctly, this process can clearly identify any company and enable  customers to clearly see exactly what makes that company different from all of  its business rivals.

Understand the Audience
When projecting an identity to the buying public,  make sure that the identity is consistent with the needs and vales of potential  customers. It is great for a company to have a personality, but that personality  will mean nothing if it fails to resonate with customers. Every attempt to  create and establish a company brand should only be done after extensive  research focused on audience sensibilities is completed.

Use the Right Methods
Brands require tools. These include logos,  recognizable company colors, a motto, and other easily identified methods for  distinguishing one company from another. While it is easy to get caught up in  the overall look of any logo or design, it is important to always remember that  customers care less about the actual aesthetics of these tools than the fact  that they are consistently used, and therefore, remembered and recognized

Be Consistent
Indeed, consistency is the key to successfully establishing  a company identity. Logos should remain fairly consistent over time. A company  motto that reflects the business’ core values should remain the same so that  customers come to identify the company with those ideals. Keep it simple, but  steady. Even a bland company motto or unattractive logo will take root in  customers’ minds if they are seen and heard on a consistent basis over time.

Use a variety of Mediums
Today’s companies cannot just rely upon the old  methods of communication. In addition to print media and broadcast  advertisements, companies should also develop clearly branded websites and make  use of the full range of social media available today. Every method for  communicating with customers is an opportunity to further develop the company  brand.

Focus on Value and Values
The brand should ultimately be associated with  values. To accomplish this, every interaction with customers must be  accomplished with those values in mind. This includes every advertisement, every  display, and every bit of contact between employees of the company and the  customers they serve. Many businesses become so obsessed with the external  aspects of creating their brands, that they neglect the very real role of  employee decorum demonstrated by actual contact with customers.

When executed properly, any strategy for building a brand can reap huge  rewards for the company. Entrepreneurs who adhere to these basic principles of  business branding will find themselves experiencing greater success as their  corporate identities become firmly established in the public mind.

Aveta Solutions – Six Sigma Online ( http://www.sixsigmaonline.org ) offers online six sigma  training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts,  and yellow belts.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tony_Jacowski

Rebranding and Repositioning– The Right Brand Strategy Makes All the Difference

February 02, 2012 By: azjogger Category: Financial, Management, Marketing & Sales

By Phillip Davis

As companies grow, product lines expand and market conditions change,  business owners often find themselves with a company brand image that no longer  reflects who they are or what they do. Perhaps they started in a niche market,  or with a very specific product, and built their entire company identity around  it — and the business now serves a different, bigger or more diverse customer  base.

What to do?

A sure symptom of this brand misalignment is the constant need to explain or  clarify what the company really does. Or when an owner pines “We’re more than  just (fill in the service or product category.) At this point, a new brand  strategy is obviously in order, but it begs the question “Do I need to  reposition my company or completely rebrand it?”

Reposition if the name is right but the message is wrong

Repositioning a company makes sense when the company brand name is well  established and not in any way misleading. In other words, it’s not so much an  issue with the identity as it is with the message and focus.  Apple expanded beyond its original core product line of computers, but that  didn’t require a change in their name. They simply dropped the word “Computers”  from their name and shifted their branding to reflect their “Think Different”  philosophy. They no longer position their brand as a “computer company” but more  as a cool, digital lifestyle provider.

Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure felt restricted by their brand image as a  racing school. It affected their approach to advertising, marketing and product  development. After carefully determining their core value proposition, they  re-emerged with the tag line “Full Throttle Living!” The emphasis  shifted from the cars to the experience. And that experience has since been  expanded to include World War II re-enactments and firefighting drills. They now  position themselves as a lifetime adventure company that simulates a day in the  life of an adrenaline-charged professional. That’s a big departure from a racing  school, and that’s the power of repositioning.

Old Spice has made a concerted effort to reposition its brand from a stodgy  aftershave product to a cool, contemporary array of “fragrant man goods.” Their viral video  campaign has served to introduce a whole new audience to this once  old-school cologne.

Rebrand if your company name causes confusion

Rebranding comes into play when the original company identity has grown  outdated, confusing or outright misleading. The owners and staff can all agree  on the brand’s current position and message, but the customer can’t get past the  name itself. CompUSA struggles to brand itself as more than just computers.  Radio Shack remains mentally tethered to an old technology and a dilapidated  building. Burlington Coat Factory sells more than just coats. At some point, the  cost of clarifying a brand becomes such a drag co-efficient that it makes more  sense to start with a clean slate.

Would 3M be recognized as a global leader in innovation if it had remained  The Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company? Popular consumer electronics  company LG rebranded twice, from the original legacy name of Lak-Hui Chemical  Industrial Corporation to Lucky Goldstar, and in 1995 to their current moniker  of LG with the tag line “Life’s Good.”

Repositioning and rebranding keep a company current, relevant and  profitable

Both repositioning and rebranding serve the goal of greater brand clarity.  Repositioning highlights a company’s emerging role and redefines its new  territory in the marketplace, (often while keeping the legacy name in place,  e.g. Apple) Rebranding addresses the outward facing identity of the company,  typically the name and visual components, and helps to alleviate and/or correct  misconceptions about the direction of the business (e.g. 3M and KFC).

Rebranding and/or repositioning offer unique and specific benefits when  applied correctly. Clarifying the brand identity and market position allows  potential customers to place the company in the right mental “box” for easy and  accurate recall. This type of intuitive branding reduces customer confusion,  improves bottom line performance and positions your company for continued  success. With careful consideration, rebranding and repositioning will have your  customers remembering and revisiting you more often.

How about your company? Have you considered or attempted a rebrand? If so,  share the ups and downs of your experience so others can benefit.

Phillip Davis is president and owner of Tungsten Branding, strategic company branding consultants specializing in name development,  rebranding and brand positioning.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Phillip_Davis

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6789335