Attitude…

Your attitude determines your outlook on life. It colors everything you do. It affects how you respond to situations and how people respond to you. You, and you alone, are in total command of your attitude, and the results. This is power! A positive attitude is a feeling that you can, no matter what. A positive attitude means that enthusiasm is on your side. A positive attitude will help you overcome doubts, fears, and apathy. With a great attitude, you will never really fail.

Step up…and swing for the fences.

Oh, What A Year!

Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves.”
- Jawaharlal Nehru

I’ve been busy…

Like all things begun with good intentions, I intended to update this blog with great regularity. I certainly had the time to do so when I began. The economic recession meant that — as a marketeer — I difficult to even find the prospective horses to drag to water (sorry about the allusion to ‘you can drag a horse to water but you can’t make them drink’).

I had plenty of time on my hands to write, and I did.

Then a lot of things happened — both personally and professionally — that happily required virtually all of my so-called “spare” time.

So it now the end of the year. I look back and smile when turning the kaleidoscope that’s full of fragments of images of all that has passed this year. It was all fun.

Looking forward to the new year now, I am more eager than ever before to see and experience what may come.

I wish you, too, the absolute best for the coming year!

Do Good Ethics Equal Better Profits?

There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity.”
– Tom Peters

As the end of a year approaches that’s seen more than a few ethical lapses of integrity, I’d like to take a few minutes to bring up a point that is all too often lost in the media maelstrom.

How good are YOUR ethical practices?

How good are YOUR ethical practices?

Good ethics are good for business.

Whether you are trying to sell recruiting services or software, widgets or lollypops, financial products or better abs in 30 days; ethical practices that are based on moral integrity and fair, honest dealings will deliver better profits for longer periods of time. In fact, there is research that shows that businesses with a truly ethical culture enjoy better employee commitment and trust, improved investor loyalty and trust, and improved customer satisfaction and trust. All of which lead to higher profitability. (Curtis C. Verschoor, “A Study of the Link Between a Corporation’s Financial Performance and Its Commitment to Ethics”).

I don’t believe that there is any argument as to whether or not a business — whether a solo recruiter or a mega corporation – has a social responsibility to its stakeholders and to the global community at large to run their business in an ethical manner. They, and you, do.

The problem, and the challenge, is that knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two different things.

It’s a problem that is as old as mankind, and not one that will go away. Just as the recession we’ve been in can be traced to socially irresponsible ethical failures by individuals, businesses, government, and, yes, consumers. Just as the next recession will also be traceable to failures in human nature. It is not possible to legislate moral ethics and social responsibility — although many have tried and failed and others will keep trying.

That may seem both cynical and pessimistic, but it’s apparent that money still trumps all for many businesses and individuals. For example, a recent article in the New York Times pointed with glee at a group of freshly minted Harvard MBA’s who were going to take an oath to abide by ethical principles at their future jobs and careers. Yet fewer than 25 percent of that graduating class signed up to take the oath. Click here for the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/30/business/30oath.html]

The same article notes that ethics study programs at the college level are growing. One can only ponder why, and what impact, if any, they may have today or in the future.

So, are businesses today more socially responsible, or less? The Internet and other social media give consumers an amazingly powerful light to shine on those corporations whose practices are less than socially responsible. Those businesses who truly walk the talk will be socially responsible and reap the rewards. Those that don’t deserve to fail — assuming of course that the government doesn’t bail them out with our tax dollars.

I believe that learning the mechanics, methods and techniques of ethical business decision-making is absolutely necessary in order to be socially aware and responsible. However, it is no substitute for ethical integrity that is quite likely a combination of that which is ingrained into a person from childhood and their innate moral character. Thus, a businesses’ operations will reflect the character and socially responsible awareness of those employed.

At the end of the day then, when you’re counting the lucre from the deal you just made, you should be able to do so with a clear conscience.

The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.”
– Zig Ziglar

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You Named Your Baby Business WHAT?!

A 12-step Process to Naming Your Business Something You Won’t Regret Later.

Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of…”
– Socrates, Greek philosopher in Athens (469 BC – 399 BC)

BabyNameOne of the biggest mistakes a fledgling business can make is to mis-name itself. Over time your business will change, and the last thing you need is a name that doesn’t fit. It doesn’t matter if your firm is in the staffing or recruiting business or sells widgets like every other widget firm — your business name will define your firm for a LONG time. So you need to put some serious thought into it.

Herewith is my own 12-step process for coming up with a name. I’m not going to go into detail on the kinds of names you can use or other minutia (I favor coined names or neologisms for what it’s worth), for that you’ll have to do your own research — or better yet, contact me for help.

A 12-step Business Naming Process

Step 1: Get together your name selection team. There should be no more than three on the team. Why? First, you need some outside objectivity and thinking. Second, it helps to build consensus and buy-in — even though it is you who will still have to make a decision that you can live with.

Step 2: Define your business position, ‘elevator pitch’ and primary attributes. To name your business, you first have to define and position it in as few words as possible (I’ll be talking more about positioning in a future post).

Step 3: Establish your name selection criteria. For the most part an acceptable name might be based on the five criteria below, but you may have more or less criteria based on your business positioning.

  1. Articulate the brand’s attributes
  2. Be simple and easy to say and spell
  3. Translate well and be easy to pronounce in key international languages
  4. Be owned outright and defined (i.e., for a coined name)
  5. Be protectable: Trademark, Logo, Domain Name, etc.

Step 4: Review and secure whatever resources (such as books, software and/or outside naming consultancies) to assist in the name development process. You may start out brainstorming names with a variety of tools, then come to the conclusion that you need outside help. See the list of resources at the bottom of this post.

Step 5: Train Name Selection Team and those participating in name submission/generation on standard naming practices, methods, etc. This includes:

  1. Overview of the naming process
  2. Overview of naming development — what goes into a good name
  3. Types of names: Coined (neologisms), Evocative, Greek/Latin roots, Experiential, Adapted, Descriptive, Foreign words, etc.
  4. Sound & Language: Impact of pronunciation on meaning
  5. ‘Brainstorming’ and review process

Step 6: Review competitive product and company names and their positioning strategies. You have to avoid ANY miscommunication or infringement on their name or their position if you want to be successful (and stay out of court).

Step 7: Generate LOTS of names for review. You can’t have too many names to filter — I’ve seen more than 400 names developed for a “bet-the-business” product.

Step 8: First screening – kick out the obvious chaff at this step, but consider holding onto the really crazy names — you might just come back to them later.

Step 9: Second screening – filter names by your selection criteria, then develop rationales and possible taglines for names. This helps focus the meaning of the name for those who see it for the first time.

Step 10: Third screening – preliminary screening of names for trademark/domain use. Any name that can’t be registered as a trademark or as a dotcom must be discarded as it’s probably not worth your time and effort to pursue, unless you have deep pockets to buy it.

Step 11: Fourth screening – Select the name from your top candidates. Talk through it: How will your customers, partners, vendors and other stakeholders react to the name? Does it REALLY have the kind of positive connotations you want?

Step 12: Nuts and bolts time – make the name your own. Secure the domain(s), create a logo, trademark both the name and the logo and establish standards for using the logo and name.

Simple right? No. But a process will take a lot of irrationality out of the thinking that goes into naming your firm — and help you tremendously in branding your business for success as it should!

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Naming Resources:

www.igorinternational.com
www.namedevelopment.com
www.naming.com
www.namestormers.com
www.thenamingcompany.com
www.puretungsten.com
www.vibratonaming.com
www.trademrk.com
www.tmexpress.com
www.uspto.gov

Behind a Logo Design: Rivers of Praise Ministries

Hey, we need a logo for our business!”

ExclamationPointGoogle shows about 140 MILLION hits for “logo design”, and the pages are flooded with ads for logo designs starting as low as $39. Of course, you know that what you get for that price is probably something cobbled together from bits and/or pieces of other designs or the ubiquitous morgue files that all design groups have on hand. Yes, yes, your design will be “unique” — it’s got your business name in it, right?

But does it truly reflect the nature and position of your business branding? Probably NOT! I’ve designed many logos for various types of businesses over the years, and it takes more than a little effort to develop a meaningful logo.

Five Cardinal Rules

Much has been written about the basics of logo design, so I’m not going into any real detail here, but will mainly hit the highlights of what makes a good design that will represent your firm. Here’s what the folks at logoyes say are the five cardinal rules of logo design:

  1. Your logo should reflect your company in a unique and honest way
  2. Your logo must avoid too much detail
  3. It should work well in black and white (one-color)
  4. Your logo should be scalable
  5. It should be artistically balanced

You can read their more detailed explanations at: http://www.logoyes.com/Logo-Design-Help_The.Five.Cardinal.Rules.of.Logo.Design.htm

Ten Mistakes in Logo Design that Business Owners Make

Just as I’ve noted the general logo design rules above, there are common mistakes made every day by businesses who fail to think of the long-term strategic importance of their logo. Many businesses think of a logo as a tactical issue for their letterhead, signage or Web site. It’s not. A logo’s strategic importance can be seen in the brand value of companies, such as Apple, who have grown from start-up to global prominence. Interbrand does extensive research on this, and you can see the results of their ranking of the top 100 brands here (http://www.interbrand.com/best_global_brands.aspx). Look through the list — note especially the simplicity and power of the brand logos for these firms.

Isn’t that what you want to convey for your firm?

But in order to do that, you’ve GOT to avoid these ten common logo design mistakes, as defined in “Smashing Magazine”, an online design publication.

  1. Design By An Amateur
  2. Relies on Trendy Fads
  3. Uses Raster (pixel) Images
  4. Contains Stock Art
  5. Designed For Yourself Rather Than The Client
  6. Overly Complex
  7. Relies On Color For Its Effect
  8. Poor Choice of Type Font
  9. Has Too Many Type Fonts
  10. Copies Others

You can read the explanations behind these top ten no-no’s by designer Gareth Hardy here: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/06/25/10-common-mistakes-in-logo-design/

Now that I’ve given you an idea of what a business logo should convey, and how it should and should NOT be done, let me give you a recent example of a logo design I created.

Rivers of Praise Ministries Logo

In creating the logo designs for this organization, I first discussed the business with Verna Law, the founder and a well-known Christian singer, in a 30-minute phone call. I’ve a list of questions that I go through to determine the focal points of the business, the audience and the concepts that need to be conveyed.

This designer-to-client call is the foundation of the logo design process. Without a clear understanding of your business and its products, services, mission and goals, no designer is going to be able to do much more than come up with a pretty picture. It may be interesting — but it’s not a logo.

For the Rivers of Praise Ministries logo design, I focused on three major points impressed upon me by Verna:

  1. First, the logo should express a global interest in spreading the Christian gospel of Jesus Christ.
  2. Second, that the power source for Rivers of Praise Ministries is Jesus Christ.
  3. Third, that Rivers of Praise Ministries is devoted to evangelizing, training, encouraging and equipping other music worship practices so that the gospel flows out from the power source just as rivers and their branching flow.

Then the mental work begins.

A lot of things run through my mind as the designer in the logo design process. I make a lot of mental associations for themes and images, always within the context of solid design principles. I sketch out ideas and concepts, and, in doing so, make more associations between them. It’s during this time that, quite often, a “EUREKA” moment hits. The connection that conveys visually what is needed to the client/consumer/customer.

ROP-TreeSketchBranching rivers from a power source are like branches and roots of a tree growing outward.

From that point the design idea went through a great number of conceptual and graphical refinements. In this stage it’s important for me to work out the variables of what will or will not work, striving always for clarity and impact in the design of both the symbol and the type fonts used for the name.

Rivers_Logo-100pxSeveral preliminary designs were presented to Verna and her team and discussed. Further refinements were made. The end results are at right — and I’m very pleased with them. Their global interest is represented by a circle that enfolds the other design elements. Jesus is represented by a cross design as a central design element. The flowing “rivers” extend outward from the cross like branches and roots.

The design incorporates a well-integrated typeface for the name that emphasizes both simplicity and elegance without sacrificing readability. Two versions were created, one that stacked the logo and type elements and one that was set horizontally to place more emphasize on the name.

Central to the success of the design, the logo works well in different sizes, in positive and negative forms, and in both color and black and white. In short, they will be able to use it anywhere and everywhere — from a humble promotional pen to the most polished brochure or video production — and still build a strong and consistent brand image as they grow.

To see the Rivers of Praise Ministries logo at work, check out their Web site at http://riversofpraiseministries.org, designed by The Good Designs (http://thegooddesigns.com) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marietta-GA/Rivers-of-Praise-Ministries/107418822797

As you’ve seen, there is a lot that goes into a logo design done right. Need a good, thoughtfully designed logo for your business? I’d like the opportunity to help. I can create or manage your entire corporate identity branding — from design through copyright and trademark registration to integrated marketing and advertising communications. Contact me at pm@philmccutchen.com.

Resource Links:

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