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.
Bail Bonds Chesterfield VA

Applications for Leadership Metro Richmond Class of 2018 now open

Applications for the Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR) flagship program Leadership Quest are now open at http://www.lmronline.org until May 1. Community leaders from Ashland, Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan and the City of Richmond are encouraged to apply.

All interested candidates are encouraged to attend a recruitment reception March 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Markel Corporation, 4501 Highwoods Parkway in Glen Allen. The reception will give candidates the opportunity to meet current LMR members and learn more about the organization. > Read more.

Reynolds CC 4-week, 8-week classes start March 7


Classes start March 7 for Reynolds Community College’s second 8-week and third 4-week spring semester sessions. Registration for both sessions is currently open and runs through the start of classes. Students can register 24 hours per day online by visiting http://www.reynolds.edu. Students can also register in-person in Enrollment Services located on each campus. > Read more.

Public comment sought for plan to reduce impacts of natural disasters

The joint Hazard Mitigation Technical Advisory Committee for the Richmond and Crater regions is seeking public comment on the draft update of the Richmond-Crater Multi-Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Hazard mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the potential impact of future disasters. The 26 localities of the Richmond and Crater regions maintain the plan to collaboratively identify vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and develop long-term strategies to reduce or eliminate long-term risks. > Read more.

Democrat VanValkenburg kicks off Gen. Assembly campaign


Senior students at Glen Allen High School will get a personal touch when studying elections with their AP government teacher.

That teacher, Schuyler VanValkenburg, recently announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 72nd District seat in the House of Delegates. If he earns the nomination, he will run against Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, who has been unopposed for 10 years.

VanValkenburg, a 2004 University of Richmond alumnus who majored in history, is running for office for the first time. Although he has lived in Richmond since he began his undergraduate studies, aside from one year spent in Seattle, he said he never felt it was his time to run. > Read more.

Construction begins on JA Finance Park at Libbie Mill


School and business leaders from around the region, including (pictured, from left) Simon Hodges of Dominion Resources, Daphne Swanso(president of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia) and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas, gathered at Libbie Mill Library Feb. 23 for the Junior Achievement Finance Park construction kickoff. > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Given the warm weather lately, Saturday’s RVA Polar Plunge Winter Fest, benefiting Special Olympics Virginia, might actually be enjoyable! Other weekend events you’re sure to enjoy include the 14th annual Richmond Kids Expo at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the Richmond Symphony and The Taters in concert at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and the Richmond Ballet Minds in Motion Team XXL performing at the Henrico Theatre. This is also the last weekend to check out HATTheatre’s production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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The Weinstein JCC will host a Women’s Night Out at 7 p.m. The Center will be transformed into a knee-slapping, kick-up-your-heels honky tonk where ladies will enjoy Tex-Mex food and drinks, country music and line dancing. Learn about the Jewish cowboys and explorers who helped pioneer the American West. Cost is $18 for members and $27 for nonmembers. For details, visit http://www.weinsteinjcc.org. Full text

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