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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

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden raises admission $1

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.

The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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