American Fidelity Assurance Company

Standing out in a regulated marketspace.
In a highly regulated category, where the differences between the offerings of supplemental benefits providers are small, a niche focus and the promise to offer a different opinion other than the status quo helps American Fideltiy stand out as a better alternative.

Choosing a Branding Company

When choosing a branding company, start with what they have accomplished

Choosing a Branding Company affects your successBranding companies promise to completely understand what your brand means. In the most basic sense, a branding company examines the logic and relationships between the services and products you produce or offer, and help better define the connections between disparate offerings and promises.

We try to clarify the values inherent in everything your brand does. This is an intellectual evaluation of everything you say about your brand and often it requires changes in your brand equities.

What are brand equities?

In a general sense, brand equities are the things your brand owns. Some are visual representations that Brand Equitiesare immediately associated with your brand. For example, when someone sees the silhouette of a hat with mouse ears, they immediately recall the Disney brand. These, like the NIKE Swoosh, are examples of a brand mark and are considered an equity— something the brand owns. Other visual cues can also be equities.

Pepto Bismol PinkFor example, a logo or a word mark is designed to be an equity. A specific color palette may also be an equity (like the pink color of Pepto-Bismol or the blue of Chase Bank) as can a shape (like the unique shape of the Coca-Cola bottle) or packaging (like Air Wick).

The conventional wisdom amongst branding companies Chase features the color blueis to identify something important about the brand and give life to that importance. This is why you see so many brands with a logo or brand mark that looks like what the brand does. This is why we have so many brands that are named after the technology or product (think Duracell and Energizer).

The purpose of all of these created equities is to help the customer or prospect remember the brand by creating associations. Human beings think visually and having something planted in their minds that is associated with a particular brand allows the brand to then place meaning and value in the minds of those they wish to influence.

When Choosing a branding company do they simply adhere to the traditional branding model?
The traditional branding model is about clarity but not importance

While some may do a better job with these tasks than others, most branding companies can point to examples of how they have created a brand by inventing these equities and identifying a distinct color palette. All the brand consultancy needs is a few smart and strategically thinking minds and a design team that makes appealing images.

Why Stealing Share rejects this model

The commercial world today is different then it was just a few years ago. Almost every category is crowded with competitors, so brands find themselves surrounded by strong competition. The customer has many choices and the field of battle is desperate to say the least. It is important to own something but that something needs to be important to the prospects you wish to attract and the customers that you wish to keep.

The Stealing Share Branding Model helps when choosing a branding company
The Stealing Share branding model includes the customer, research, brand anthropology and brand training

We ask more of your brand at Stealing Share than other branding companies. So should you.

The amount of importance your brand occupies is in direct relationship to what your target audience covets. If you want your brand to grow and steal market share from your many competitors then the foundations of the brand equities are going to be found in the beliefs and needs of the people you need to influence— not in the things you make or your company itself.

Persuasive brands find a way to merge the brand value itself with a reflection of the company AND the customer’s highest emotional intensity.

This is not easy to accomplish. It requires all of the parts of standard branding companies (smart strategists and talented designers) but also requires in-house market research and brand anthropologists who study human behavior and find ways to influence it. This rare element in branding science makes everything work together. The strategy, the research, the creative and the brand itself. Suddenly, nothing is the same and the game itself has changed.

So how do YOU choose a branding company?

Focus FroupStart by inviting us in for an hour of your time and we will change everything. Ask more of us because we brand for a purpose. It’s in our name and our brand DNA. Is it in yours? Our clients are aggressive, hungry and looking to grow. Clarity is what you want but purpose is what gets you there.

Brand Audit

The Stealing Share Brand Audit

As part of our standard rebranding process, Stealing Share conducts a comprehensive brand audit, an analysis that examines where your brand stands now and what it should be doing going forward. We also do brand audits for companies as a standalone exercise to keep the brand relevant and to check for brand drift (the over-complication of marketing influences on a brand message).

The brand audit looks at 9 distinct characteristics
The Brand Audit is a Critical View of the Current State of your brand

Many companies experience brand drift, in which the most important message, along with the singularities of tone and look, are lost among the increasing flow of less meaningful messages such as product benefits or table stakes of the category. Companies can backslide, and that is dangerous to your brand’s impact.

The Brand Audit examines every avenue of your brand communication, from printed materials to online messaging to advertising to public relations, and much more. The goal is to find where problems exist within your brand and then find ways to fix them.

We rate the performance of your brand on a scale of one to five (one being unsatisfactory and five being excellent) for the nine characteristics that have been identified as important to a brand’s health and persuasive ability. Remember: Stealing Share focuses all of its energy on finding the means for your brand to increase market share

The Brand Audit characteristics

  1. Meaning & Direction

    (How the brand is defined in the mindset of the customer)

  2. Positioning

    (The space that a brand wants to own in a prospective patient’s mind that sets it apart from competitors and explains why and when it should be their preferred choice)

  3. Differentiation

    (The perception on the part of a patient that a care provider, its brands and its products and services are different from those of competitors)

  4. Relevance

    (How meaningful a brand is to its target audience, based on the delivery of perceived functional and emotional benefits)

  5. Consistency

    (The uniformity of all the messages conveyed that speak about a given brand.  This includes: attitude and tone, logo, themelines, taglines, signage, signature systems, press releases, advertising and marketing, social media and internal communications)

  6. Brand-Product Relationship

    (The tangible relationship between the brand and the product value represented by the brand.  The product must be meaningful and make sense from the perspective of the brand)

  7. Equity Markers

    (A brand’s vantage points and points of differentiation. A tangible element that represents the brand and when seen, heard, or experienced reflects back to the brand favorably)

  8. Coherent Management

    (Brand management ensures all contact points, marketing, HR,  locations and external communications are adhering to the Brand Standards and Charter)

  9. Brand Equity

    (The practice of periodic market studies designed to measure brand meanings and associations to ensure continued market growth)

Because all of our work is actionable, we don’t leave you with just a list of problems. We give you the strategies and tactics to that will lift all those characteristics to a 5 rating, allowing your brand to work harder for you and create preference beyond the typical category benefits (table stakes) of price, convenience and good service.

 

A list of Market Studies and Brand Studies

Find an appropriate market study on a variety of categories
A global perspective

Stealing Share publishes market studies on a regular basis. Our researchers and brand strategists look at specific categories. They evaluate the competitive set and look critically at the brand positions claimed by the various branded products and services.

These market studies are useful dissertations on a variety of categories and are designed to give marketers insights into opportunities and trends.

In the past, our market studies have created interest and caused a stir in many categories, including but not limited to retail, airlines, banking, consumer products, packaged goods, technology and insurance. These have resulted in Stealing Share being asked to contribute opinions for many vertical publications as well as countless news papers like the NY Times, Washington Post, Barron’s, The Denver Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

Find Your Market Study

Telling the truth from a dispassionate perspective is not the best way to make friends and influence strangers. Often what we have to say is considered bold and direct. It is how we do business. Our job is to find opportunities for clients to steal market share. This means we are looking for problems in categories and places where brands can stand for something that is unclaimed and important.

Many of our clients have come to us after reading a market study and recognizing that we strive to tell the truth. They themselves are hungry for growth and recognize that if you want to win you need to make sure you do not simply follow the conventional wisdom. In this way, part of our success can be attributed to the clients that pick us.

We recommend that you use the search bar to look for more related articles and blogs on your category of interest.

  • Logistics – Parcel delivery market study Logistics particularly as it relates to the consumer delivery business is a two horse race. FedEx and UPS have long duked it out, in effect, having a duopoly over an entire category. One might argue that the US Postal Service ... Read more...
  • Marketing Major Appliances – A Market Study Introduction Step into a Home Depot, hhgregg or any of the other big-box stores and you can see just how much space is devoted to selling and marketing major appliances. Lowes and Home Depot now account for the lion’s share of ... Read more...
  • Beer Marketing and Differentiation Beer Marketing — Growing Beer Market Share Introduction The following glance at beer marketing will give you a quick peak into how Stealing Share operates and finds solutions. Of course, no branding project would be complete without market research and all too often beer ... Read more...
  • Predict the success of marketing. A Marketing Metrics Predict the success of marketing. Predicting that influence on brand strategy The Human Model | Motivators | Challenges | Desire | Familiarity | Leadership | Affirmation | Scope | Comfort | Change | Community | Summary By Tom Dougherty Introduction into the art of how to ... Read more...
  • Airline Marketing. Different is Better. Not here. Airline Marketing is Off-Track By Tom Dougherty A steadfast rule when stealing market share is not to follow the leader. Rather, it is of paramount importance to be different and better then the competition. Nowhere is that tenant more abused than in ... Read more...
  • Destination and Tourism Market Study A Market Study of Destinations and Tourism By Tom Dougherty The destination, travel and tourism market has done a great job of building the tourism category. However, they have not done so well when it comes to differentiating themselves within their own ... Read more...
  • Growing Market Share Branding in the B-to-B segment By Tom Dougherty B-to-B branding has its unique challenges. The marketing of B-to-B has exhibited a bit of a metamorphosis in recent years. Suddenly, brands are realizing that their advertising and marketing efforts need to look more like its consumer cousins. All ... Read more...
  • The Battle for market share in the Mutual Fund Industry Mutual Fund Market Study By Tom Dougherty The mutual fund industry markets itself by the investment philosophy that it is unnecessary to observe the market by brand name. To make matters worse, funds have tried to differentiate (brand) themselves by using independent ... Read more...
  • Growing Market Share in the Pharmaceutical Industry A Short Market Study of Pharmaceutical Brands By Tom Dougherty The pharmaceutical market battles over rather common sense table stakes. No one will purchase a medicine or drug unless it is deemed as effective. Likewise, no one will pay for a medicine ... Read more...
  • Growing Market Share in the Automotive Industry The Automobile Industry Market Study By Tom Dougherty The automobile market may possibly be the most competitive consumer market in the world. Ironically, it is also mostly barren of brand meaning. In this automobile industry market study we look at the broad market. There ... Read more...

Brand Training

Brand training that strengthens you from within

Brand training leads to market share growth
Every company needs the help of brand training

Stealing Share does what our name says: Help you steal market share from your competition by building actionable strategies arising from anthropological research. However, in order to grow for the long term, it is not enough to only steal your competitor’s customers. Organizations must also work to insulate existing customers from the “pull” of competitors and live the brand so its promise is fulfilled. Our training programs are designed for just these purposes.

We employ the Socratic method in our brand training. Its key principle is that the best learning occurs when knowledge is gained through questioning and discovery, rather than lecture and telling.

Participants are asked a series of questions within the context of the organization’s brand that will assist them in understanding their individual roles in fulfilling its promise. This process is designed to maximize the integration of the organization’s brand into the participant’s daily responsibilities and tasks, penetrating deep into the individual’s conceptual framework and assisting them in understanding that what they do on a day-to-day basis affects the brand and your customers.

Creating stewards

Our brand training sessions enable participants to more effectively engage and inspire those who report to them, motivating them to be stewards of the overall strategy and helping them to understand its effectual nature in both internal and external contexts.

The brand training process is designed to affect participants in two distinct ways:

    1. IDENTITY – Move perception from process-oriented to purpose-oriented. That is, enable participants to shift their thinking about their organization as a provider of goods or a service to the strategic view of a deliverer of the organization’s brand strategy.
    2. RESPONSIBILITIES – Again, move perception from process to purpose oriented. Assist participants in moving from the perception of being individuals who carry out functions, activities, or processes to the strategic view that they are generators and enforcers of brand-enhancing customer experiences, interactions, and communications.

Brand training makes you win
One size does not fit everyone

The process is carried out over a series of training sessions. During these sessions, employees learn the function that brand provides for the company as a whole, your customers and those who are currently not choosing you.

They will then understand what your brand means to the customer and to themselves. For our clients, this usually means presenting a snapshot of the research, but it also demonstrates the promises and how they affect the employees’ day-to-day responsibilities.

For key executives, department heads, and HR, the process can also be designed to “train the trainers,” by giving them the tools, words, and Socratic framework to go into the organization and conduct additional sessions as needed.

Sales Training

For many companies, the sales force represents the primary marketing mechanism. Most commonly, the sales force simply sells product benefits and costs, with the relationship between a sales rep and a customer also being key.

But the best sales forces are those that can emphasize the brand so it is an emotional trigger for the prospect. This makes it easier for sales people to get in the door and meet with people who previously were unavailable, while giving greater meaning to product benefits.

That leads to better sales and more opportunities.