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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

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.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

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.

New Italian restaurant opens in Short Pump

Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.

Henrico native to appear on Travel Channel show


A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”

The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.

The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.

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