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The Entrepreneur’s Corner

A strong verbal brand can empower your company
Did you know that right now, someone could be judging your company’s brand based on your email, website content or recent newsletter? After reading each piece, what impression do you think they have: a consistent, well-crafted brand experience or a disjointed story that fails to support any unified purpose?

Whether or not you’re directly involved in your company’s marketing or communications, every touchpoint you offer the marketplace affects your brand’s reputation. At Zuula Consulting, we find that while many companies have a thorough understanding of their visual brand (logos, colors and overall design standards), they frequently overlook another highly important component: the verbal brand.

A verbal brand unites and guides your messages’ content and personality so your audiences cohesively understand your company. From our perspective, an effective verbal brand must address three key components: your brand purpose, brand story and brand voice. Your brand purpose captures the reason why you’re in business and how you’re different than competitors. Knowing these details helps identify your brand story — the unified message expressing your company’s purpose. With those attributes established, you create your brand voice: the tone, personality and key phrases that share your brand story in all communication.

Together, these pieces build a solid brand experience where you reinforce exactly who your company is, what you value and why your audiences need you — with every communication. Without a succinct, powerful verbal brand, you risk confusing consumers with inconsistency, creating doubt about your company’s purpose and strength.

In fact, imagine your business is an actual person. And with every contact, their personality differs: One day they’re soft-spoken and demure; another day, charming and outgoing; and yet another day, abrasive and serious. At first, their inconsistencies confuse you. Eventually, your inability to understand them makes you question whether they’re dishonest. With distrust embedded, you now avoid seeing them at all.

The same goes for a business.

By communicating unified, accurate messages about your company, you fuel trust — and understanding of your brand — to consumers. When your company consistently meets (and exceeds) that trust, you develop solid brand loyalty.

And in today’s environment, trust is not easy to come by. According to the Harvard Business Review, 62 percent of adults in 20 countries trust corporations less since the recession hit. Diminished trust ultimately leads to lower brand value. Decrease the brand value, and you’re constantly challenged to differentiate yourself and reinforce your purpose.

So, in our time-crunched, recession-wary world, how do you effectively communicate value while engaging your audiences so they trust what you provide them?

Start by ensuring a common understanding unites all your communication with brand-focused messages that speak directly to your target market’s unique needs. For in the end, if you can’t move the market to choose your company over another, you risk losing them altogether. And when you look at companies with amazing loyalty behind them, such as Apple and Disney, your brand — and your customer’s experience — has the ability to last a lifetime.

Deanna Lorianni is co-owner and principal of Zuula Consulting, a writing firm specializing in verbal branding, copywriting and writing coaching. Contact her by e-mailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), calling (804) 308-3194 or visiting http://www.zuulaconsulting.com .


Community

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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Registration ends today for the Varina High School Athletics Booster Club Golf Tournament, to be held May 18 at The Brookwoods Golf Club in Quinton, Va. Entry fees are $75… Full text

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