Friday, May 18, 2007

Good Stuff Worth Sharing

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Clear and Simple Branding Basics

Are you confused about branding? Not sure branding is important for libraries? Then you definitely need to read Branding: How to Keep Your Practice from Being Plain Vanilla by Stewart Gandolf and Lonnie Hirsh. Yes, it's geared toward dentists, but the concepts are the same no matter what business you're in. This is a very clear and helpful article. They've stripped out the marketing jargon and added in a lot of good tips, such as:

Everything must tie together - from how your phone is answered, how long patients wait, and your choice of uniforms ... to your technology, your manner, your location (signage, building, entrance, furniture, colors of the walls), which services you promote, and much more. If you decide you want to be the “leading-edge dentist in town,” you can’t limp along with a 1970s Brady Bunch look-alike office.

All of that is so true for libraries too. If librarians and staff wish to be perceived as research and information professionals, then that image needs to be reinforced in everything, from the customer service you provide, to the publications you produce and yes, even down to the clothes you wear. When I was an intern at a credit union, the president explained that dress-down days and casual clothing weren't ever allowed because we were in the trust business. Who are you more likely to trust with your hard-earned cash, the uber-professional in a crisp suit and tie, or someone in jeans and a t-shirt? While I like to wear jeans to work as much as the next person (more probably), he was right.

The article also offers are some critical brand-building points to consider:

Start with the patient’s value system...Effective branding communicates to the tastes, attitudes, and sensibilities of the buyer, not the seller.

This is one we often miss. Talk about the benefits patrons will receive (save time, money, hassle), do research at home in your pjs, or get a better grade on your paper.

Identify a value-added edge over the competition. What is highly unique about your practice that delivers value to the patient over and above whatever else is available in the marketplace? Whatever issue you choose to compete upon, it needs to be the one thing that best characterizes the experience, and has to be the centerpiece for everything you do and say about the practice.

Be willing to offend someone. By definition, your positioning must be unique; therefore, you cannot be everything to everyone. The challenge will be to appeal to many, while recognizing that your positioning cannot be universal. Being everything to everyone is not unique, and that’s the same as vanilla.

Guard your brand zealously. Once you’ve created your brand, you should beware of the trap of carrying the message banner for others.

Deliver a consistent experience. People prefer consistent quality to nasty surprises, and a brand isn’t really a brand if the practice doesn’t deliver a consistent, high-quality experience. That’s why it’s easy to understand why budget-minded American students traveling through Europe often pass on local fare to eat at McDonald’s. Remember, just a few negative experiences can blow your brand credibility and betray the trust you’ve worked so hard to build.

Deliver consistent branded communications. In addition to delivering consistent in-office experiences, you must effectively communicate your brand message at every marketing opportunity. This means your Yellow Pages ad, Web site, brochures, etc. (Our next article will cover practice brochures, which should be the foundation of your marketing and branding communication.)

This is a tricky one, especially at libraries where there isn't a marketing or PR person who coordinates all the writing and design needs. When you have multiple people producing Web sites, brochures, fliers, presentations, etc., it's hard to be consistent. Especially in those kinds of situations it's important to have logo guidelines, a style guide and a point person or two to help you provide a consistent look.

(Hat tip to Jill Stover for pointing this article out.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

‘I Love My Library’ Video Contest Offers $10,000 Prize

I just read about Gale's 'I Love My Library' video contest in the Library Hotline. The contest is open to both librarians and library users. This seems like a good thing to tell library users about. I wish I had seen it earlier (you'd think $10 grand would generate some buzz) but there's still two weeks left to enter.

Here's the scoop:

Post a video that describes what you love about your library and how it serves your community and you could win the $10,000.00 grand prize in Thompson Gale’s ‘I Love My Library” video contest to split with the library you designate.

Load your video on librareo, Thomson Gale's YouTube channel, before midnight on Friday, May 25, 2007 to enter. By June 1, 2007, Thompson Gale judges will determine the top five finalists based on creativity, unique portrayal of love of libraries and the services they provide, and overall appeal. The top five videos will be featured on for a nationwide vote that will be held June 1-11. The video with the most votes wins the grand prize.

Find the complete contest rules, downloadable video releases and sample videos on Gale’s Web site.