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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

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

Cultural Arts Center announces 2014 fall class schedule

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.

The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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