Entrepreneurship: To Brand Or Not?

Entrepreneurs around the world deserve commendation. They take risks where others fear to tread, they think out of the box, they are not afraid to try new ventures, and they are usually champions of innovation. In a developing country such as Nigeria, the risk is even greater, as entrepreneurs assume all the risks and rewards of launching a new business. The high degree of initiative required to manage any enterprise goes to show that entrepreneurship is no mean feat. (more…)

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7 Reasons why a Church Should Brand

Alder’s Ecclesiastical Practice developed a cool infographic on 7 reasons why a church should brand.

Our Ecclesiastical Practice is focused on a single mission: To help churches tackle 21st century realities.  The Practice provides trend and issue research to help churches identify the real needs of society. It facilitates strategy and planning sessions. It also offers design, messaging and digital/social media support.

Here are some insights on Church Branding:

  1. Church is mission focused, outward facing and people oriented. Therefore, its brand must be approachable.
  2. A church’s message must be relevant and contemporaneous. Parables and stories can be used to illustrate truth.
  3. Language, culture and technology evolve. A church must therefore adapt its message delivery while retaining the essence.
  4. A church must be a true reflection of the standards and quality of its Principal.
  5. Standards and structure place a demand on accountability within a church.
  6. Branding provides visual and language guides for a church’s social media efforts.
  7. Branding helps a church articulate its message for a global audience via social media.

To see how the elements come together in Church Branding, read a live case study here:





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Disrupt Your Industry

In the world of enterprise technology, one name towers above the rest – a mammoth. It’s a company whose hands are in so many profitable pies, it’s easy to wonder how it keeps up. Its product have changed the way we live, learn and interact. It has opened up tremendous opportunities for information distribution and sales.

Despite amassing huge wealth, the company’s motto remains “Don’t Be Evil.” That company is Google, a disruptive organisation.


Disruptive companies are the rave. They radically upturn existing ways of doing things. They look at business models and ask “Why are things done this way”? They say, “We’re going to do things differently and create new paradigms”.

Disruptive companies rip the corporate rule book to shreds, rewriting a whole new book.

According to Clayton M. Christensen who coined the term disruptive technologies, a disruptive innovation helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.


How low-end disruption occurs over time.

In contrast to disruptive innovation, a sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks but rather only evolves existing ones with better value, allowing the firms within to compete against each other’s sustaining improvements.

There are three lessons we can glean from Google’s disruption and apply to any industry or market. They are:

  1. Create a new market or ecosystem

Google created a profitable business from search and online advertising, deepening the industry and pioneering a new monetization model for “eyeballs” and “click throughs”.

The lesson here is that while product originality matters, the creation of a monetization model that actually works is what qualifies you as a disruptive innovator.

  1. Scale up to own the product pipeline

Google’s successful product offerings include but are not limited to:

  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Google Docs
  • Google Maps
  • Google Now
  • Android [acquired in 2005]

Each product interacts with the other and the idea is to own the customer so completely that it would be disruptive (see what we did there…) to go elsewhere. So as you use Gmail, it makes sense to attach heavy files with Google Drive. You also use an Android phone so your Gmail syncs seamlessly.

Apple employs the same methodology with its “i-ecosystem” – you can seamlessly buy music on iTunes and sync with your iPod. You can even buy that iPod with Apple Pay.

While other companies may have their own versions of some of Google’s products, the inventiveness and originality of thought that goes into providing an interrelated pipeline of products which create a market system is the hallmark of a disruptive company.

Take Google Now for instance. Google Now is one of the more ambitious evolutions of Google’s search software. The idea is simple — it predicts what you need to know before you do based on your habits, stored information and search history. It will show you upcoming appointments or tell you when you need to leave to get home on time.

It will give you a preview of your route, with one-button navigation. It will also show upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. Or, it can display weather information for upcoming travel destinations. A bit creepy…yes. And that’s just the beginning. Using its advantage in search and its rich store of consumer data, Google is set to create new markets in data mining and predictive sales.

  1. Drill down to develop promising new markets

Although Google is known for big bets, it also has incredible depth and coverage in niche areas. For example, the company created an interface for Cherokee speakers (a language of about 20,000 people). In doing so, it is poised to become a preferred service provider in that market.

If Google’s tremendous success over the years is anything to go by, disruptive innovation is definitely the way to go for organisations that wish to make big plays into new markets and industries.

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Personal Brands as Political Equity



The election season is almost over in Nigeria and political jingles will soon cease renting the air. Until then, the usual suspects huff and puff as they jostle for the limelight of public attention.

Elections in Nigeria are typically colourful for many reasons – the promises made by candidates; the achievements adduced as reasons for votes and the social media bants amongst others. They also throw up personalities – the old guard reasserting their relevance and upstarts who scream, “away with gerontocracy”! This time around though, other personalities have jumped into the fray. The political stage is playing host to crooners, thespians and comedians – and not just as brand ambassadors or endorsers. The Glitterati, banking on the power of their personal brands are determined to actively trade them for political equity.

Abolore Adigun (9ice), Desmond Elliot, Kate Henshaw and Tony Tetuila to name a few are towing the footsteps of their western counterparts – Al Franken, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan and Clint Eastwood as they make the transition from big screen and stage to Government house.

A famous example of an entertainer turned politician is Arnold Schwarzenegger of the Terminator Trilogy fame. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, in which he served from 1990 to 1993. He was Chairman of the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under Governor Pete Wilson and in 2003, he won the recall election against Governor Davis to become the Governor of California. Schwarzenegger was then re-elected in California’s 2006 gubernatorial election, to serve a full term as governor, defeating Democrat Phil Angelides, who was California State Treasurer at the time. However, his approval ratings hit an all-time low of 27% in 2009 and 22% when he left office in 2011, with a state budget deficit of $28 billion.

Another example of an actor turned politician is Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan initially chose a career in entertainment, appearing in more than 50 films. While in Hollywood, he served as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild. In 1964, he began his political career as a Democrat. He announced in late 1965 his campaign for Governor of California. Ronald Reagan accomplished in 1966 what US Senator William F. Knowland in 1958 and former Vice-President Richard M. Nixon in 1962 had tried: he was elected, defeating two-term governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, and was sworn in on January 2, 1967. Shortly after the beginning of his term, Reagan tested the presidential waters in 1968. He was re-elected Governor in 1970. Reagan became president in 1981 and served for two terms. His approval ratings in 1988, shortly before he left office, were at 63%.

So, can personal branding readily translate to political success? Here are a few considerations:

  1. The political system must be mature enough to give political neophytes a shot. The rules must be clear and celebrities must meet the requirements.

In 2001, Wyclef Jean, a Haitian rapper, musician and actor established “Yéle Haiti” a charitable organisation known legally as the Wyclef Jean Foundation and incorporated in Illinois. The foundation became active in the aftermath of 2004’s Hurricane Jeanne, when it provided scholarships to 3,600 children in Gonaïves, Haiti with funding from Comcel. On August 5, 2010, he announced his bid to run for President but on August 20, 2010, his bid for candidacy was rejected by Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council. He was turned down because he did not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Haiti for five years before the November 28 election.

  1. Making the leap to politics takes a lot of planning no matter how strong a personal brand is.

Voters need to buy into the ideas and promises of celebrities. Volunteers must be organised and political apparatuses set up.

  1. Celebrities must have a clear and working knowledge of the issues and challenges faced by their would-be constituents.

To succeed in politics, Nigerian celebrities will need to address all three of the foregoing considerations and add a big dose of tenacity to garner the political equity required to successfully run for or perform well in office.

Sometimes, celebrities are called upon to play the role of technocrat and not politician like Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD), in the role of Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta State or Weird MC, vigorous campaigner for Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of Osun State and a Special Assistant for Culture and Tourism.

In conclusion, a strong personal brand is potent political equity and is an incredible asset if parlayed alongside other political structures.

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BrandIQ | 11 Rules For Naming Your Brand

Does your brand name ring a bell? What message does it convey? These are some questions to ask when assessing a name. When naming your brand, there are really no hard and fast rules. A brand may be named after the founder as in the case of Dell, Ford and Dangote or after a geographic location just like Eko Hotels and Suites or Bank of America. You can name your brand after countries, for example Nigerian Breweries and American International Group or even after its operational definition. University Press is an example of a brand named after its operational definition.

Although the decision is yours to make, there are certain “christening” rules that should guide you.


“First” is a common example of such words. Today there are a lot of brands that have “First” in their names.


Never give your brand a name without thinking through. You don’t want to end up with a name that is unpleasant to consumers.


Using shock strategy may grab attention but shocking brand names can also backfire. French Connection UK, FCUK as originally spelt, initially had this problem.


Consider the environment in which your brand operates. This matters as certain cultures may not accept some names. Find out if your brand name will be accepted in your area of operations.


A name can mean different things to different people. If you intend to operate beyond your immediate environment, you will need to consider what your brand name means in your target countries or across different cultures.


Don’t copy names of other brands especially well known brands. It is wrong to do so. You may get away with it when you are not well known but the moment you become successful, you could have a law suit on your hands.


Not every name can be a brand name. While there is no harm in naming your brand after yourself, don’t do so unless your name has “brand quality”. Also, stay away from native names that are difficult to pronounce.


Naming your brand is serious business. Don’t fool around with your brand name. For example Common Sense Limited is not a good name because it says nothing about your brand.


Religion is a sensitive issue therefore there is a need to be careful about names with heavy religious implication. You do not want to put off people with a different faith unless it is a religious brand.


Check for the availability of your name as a domain on the internet. Since most internet names have email extensions, you should consider limitations you will face if your domain name registration presents difficult options.


Consider how your brand name sounds particularly over the phone. You don’t want people making faces each time you mention your brand.

In conclusion, a name says a lot about your brand and can be the deciding factor between customer attraction and repulsion. Choose wisely.

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BRANDIQ | 7 Ways to Create Brand Differentiation

Ever been hit by confusion in a store over the sheer amount of choices before you? Confusion sets in because you have no clear preference or can’t distinguish between available products. This daily task of choice can be a burden for the consumer. So, as you develop your business, a key question to ask is “what will distinguish my product or service from those of competitors? What will make it different?”


Brand differentiation is an organic factor in branding. Besides the quality of your products, it provides another layer of value. There are 7 ways to create brand differentiation; what we call the Brand Septagon.


brand septagon








The Brand Septagon

Uncommoditise your product or service

Starbucks Coffeee







Product commoditisation occurs when your profit margins are so thin, you must sell volumes to break even. Competing products abound and the customer has no particular reason to buy your products. An example of a company that successfully uncomoditised a popular product is Starbucks.

Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse in the world and leading retailer of specialty coffee revolutionised the product by creating the distinctive Starbucks experience. Some people go there to be alone with their thoughts or be together with their friends or listen to incredible music. Starbucks is more than just a coffee place.

Create corporate distinction







To create corporate distinction, ensure your organisation is known for a particular area of speciality. An example is Google’s global dominance in Internet search. The organisation distinguished itself through search quality and innovation. A remarkable feat is the adaption of the word ‘Google’ as a verb which has earned a place in the dictionary. Google continues to set the pace with new inventions like Google Glass.

Celebrate your customers









A secret to attracting and retaining customers is to make them feel special, different and appreciated. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (MOHG) connects its advertising campaign to international celebrities who regularly stay at the hotel and consider themselves fans. Fans include Kevin Spacey, Christian Louboutin and Jane Seymour. Mandarin Oriental donates $10,000 to any charity the fan chooses.

Retain your customers

200px-Virgin.svg (1)







You must ensure that customers don’t leave unexpectedly. Make exit difficult by tying them in through loyalty schemes or points. For example, in an attempt to penetrate the American market, Virgin America offered a free round-trip ticket to any location in America after four paid round-trips.

 Make it easy for customers to compare the advantage of one product over another










Share your price advantage or new product features on your website. For example, the world’s largest retailer, Amazon sells electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and other consumer products.  It makes price comparison between vendors easy.

 Make it hard for new competitors to access your market









Raise the competition bar through promotion of excellent standards, innovation or value added items. This makes it difficult for competitors to penetrate your market or steal market share. An example is Microsoft Office. Microsoft offers a full bundle of useful products to customers at an unbeatable price. Consumers love the offer and competitors find it difficult to match the breadth of offerings provided in the single package.

 Stoke desire











Change the status of everyday utility products into objects of desire. Nike, one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel elevates sport shoes into must-have items through partnerships with some of the biggest names in professional sports.


Putting the knowledge of the Brand Septagon into practice will help to differentiate your business. Take the time to score your business or product on the 7 parameters.


BrandIQ is a series by Alder Consulting on why you should brand yourself or company.

Copyright Alder Consulting 2013. All Rights Reserved.



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Alder Strategy | Revisualise your Brand

Putting your business on the road map to success requires effort and consistency. Even after defining the corporate essence and raison d’etre of your business, attention should be given to other strategic aspects that will ensure long term focus. An important aspect of a business owner’s branding strategy is the business vision. There are 3 methods you can employ to define your brand vision. One is the Possibility Exploration Approach. It employs the use of your imagination, and helps situate your business in the future. For example, American IT Corporation, HP’s business vision statement is “To view change in the market as an opportunity to grow; to use our profits and our ability to develop and produce innovative products, services and solutions that satisfy emerging customer needs”. hp logo









Another method for crafting your vision statement is Comparative Revisualisation. You think of a successful company in your genre, and tell yourself, “I can be like them…” You parallel your dream to their size, scope, depth, reach and character or flavour. Just like Stanford University whose vision statement is “Become the Harvard of the West”.

Stanford University logo




Another approach to envisioning is the Introspective Approach.  This method requires a great deal of visual introspection and meditation. When married together with biographical and aspirational fragments, it yields a high level of potency. You can read up stories on great brands like Apple, Google, Toyota, and Ferrari.






















As you read these stories, idea words and phrases jump at you to stimulate your thinking. As you keep on thinking, a visual character will emerge. As you keep on meditating and exploring the dimensions, the future is made clear, teased as it were from infinity. You then need to put your thoughts down in writing.

As you read about the businesses that interest you, also study the men and women behind these companies. The more biographical the stories are, the more beneficial they are to you in envisioning your corporate future. Ultimately, your business vision is a story being told into the future, starting from now. It is progression and not just a statement.

Here are some lessons to note:

Avoid unrealistic vision projections. Reappraise your vision to suit your changing environment.

Once you’ve achieved a vision, you should review it and set another.

You need to reach into yourself to pull out the vision.


Alder Strategy is a blog on brand strategy for businesses and brand practitioners

Copyright Alder Consulting 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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BrandIQ| What Your Logo Design Says About You

An erroneous notion is that branding should be left for bigger organisations. Another way to think about it is to say only bigger organisations are entitled to prosperity and sales. There are things companies miss out on when they shrug off the simple details of brand development. Although business isn’t an easy feat, there are tools that can help along the way, such as design.

Research Before Design

The logo of a business says a lot about it. Creating an image that truly represents your vision, organisation, product or service is non-negotiable. With just a logo, a fundamental element of branding, you subtly persuade others to make economic choices that align with your business interests. They give you attention, are intrigued & are attracted to you. (Creating loyalty after that first look is another thing entirely). So, whether you are a business owner, personality brand, knowing the fundamentals of logo design is important.

The word logo is derived from the Greek word “Logos”. “Logos” means story, explanation and organising principle. You could say that the logo is a design argument based on logic and research. It is a persuasion through analysis and rational appeal. Aristotle (384BC – 322BC) was the first to create an encyclopedic system of philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics. This means that the logo is a visual representation of something really deep – the organisation’s DNA and aspirations. It is the starting point in the creation of corporate identity. Whether the logo is meant for you or your client, apt research is imperative. What is the brand personality? What is the message?

There are 8 logo typologies categorised by Alder Consulting. The first logo typology is Geographical and describes geographical space or location e.g Heart of Africa

fortis group


Another type of logo is Real descriptive which logo literally describes the organisation for example, Apple.


A type of logo is Nomenclature where the logo is the name of the organisation e.g Microsoft


An Alphabet Soup logo are based on acronyms or derived from the letters of a business name e.g IBM (formally International Business Machines)


A Symbolic logo uses icons that evoke certain aspirations e.g Nike, the tick mark which symbolises Yes! Just do it!


Another logo typology is Attributive which describes the attributes of an organisation. An example of an attributive logo is First Bank. It describes the bank’s position as the first founded in Nigeria.

First Bank

A Whimsical logo typology has humorous connotations e.g Leaping Lizards.

Leaping Lizard

Combination typology is a combination logo e.g Nomenclature and Symbolic like WaltDisney or Alphabet Soup and Symbolic like HSBC

Combination: Nomenclature & Symbolic

walt disney logo

Combination: Alphabet Soup & Symbolic

hsbc_logo (1)


Originality Helps

Original art may be employed to make a more impressive statement about your company. This can be trademarked more easily than a clip art.

Ease of Production is Key

Create a logo that is easy to reproduce and is functional while being memorable. Once a logo has been designed, be sure it translates well on business cards, letterheads, 3D design and so on.

Pay Attention to Cultural Contexts

Understanding your users and the context of use is also important. Details like typography, colour, scale and shape may have cultural connotations. What colour suits your industry? What does green connote in your market? How about blue or red?

Consistency matters

A brand must be authentic as its core and its visual representation must be consistent in the marketplace.

A collection of consistently applied symbols creates a recognisable graphic language for your brand. Sticking to a particular structure matters. It’s either symmetry or pattern; circles or squares; top or bottom.

Finally, every logo is a story. Make your logo communicate a story without giving away the ending. Intrigue your audience.

BrandIQ is an educational series by Alder Consulting pertaining to branding and why you should brand yourself or company

Copyright Alder Consulting 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Alder Strategy |The Four Drives of Marketing: Sleep, Thirst, Hunger and Sex

In the life cycle of every business, there exists a tipping point. Whether there’s an element of luck in getting there or a deliberate attempt to make it happen, surely there is a ‘science’ to building a successful business.

This science is predicted on four drives – sleep, thirst, hunger and sex. As plain as they might seem, the drives provoke a primal need in customers to patronise a business and purchase its products and services. They also determine whether customers have an emotional or functional attachment to brands and businesses.


table of drives

Brands that sell sleep and thirst are functional in their approach while emotional brands sell hunger and sex.

In its progressed form, sleep signifies peace, equilibrium, stability and predictability in a business or product. For example, Marriott is reputed for world class hospitality & service. It is not only a place to get a good night’s sleep, but also provides peace of mind and predictable standards across the world. Global discount supermarket chain, Walmart provides consumers with stability and assurance of everyday low prices.



Another drive is thirst. Thirst’s progressions include refreshment, intellect, pursuit of knowledge and innovation. A functional brand known for its delivery of thirst in its primary form is the beverage giant, Coca-Cola. For Google, thirst takes on a deeper meaning. The company constantly searches new ways to innovate while making the world’s information universally accessible and useful to consumers.



In its primary state, food literally comes to mind when you think of hunger. An example of an organisation that sells food is McDonalds, the world’s largest hamburger fast food chain. Progressed dimensions of food are drive, energy, progress and ambition. A functional brand that delivers on hunger is American athletic shoe and apparel company, Nike. Its slogan encourages you to “Just do it”.



The last of the four drives is sex. Though sex in its primary form is obvious, its progressions include passion, excitement, pleasure, joy, newness and sex appeal. A brand that is primarily associated with sex is Playboy. Virgin takes things a step further by associating its brand with newness, excitement, fun, cheekiness and an element of risqué marketing.



The interesting thing about the four drives is the scope they portend for an organisation’s marketing.

Focusing on the deeper dimensions of the four drives creates product distinction and marketing appeal. It also provides breadth for innovative and intriguing messaging.

How can the four drives influence your marketing today?  What are you really selling?

Alder Strategy is a blog on brand strategy for businesses and brand practitioners.

Copyright Alder Consulting 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Alder Strategy | Are you a Commodity or Brand?

Imagine your business in the assemblage of global brands; reputed for innovation, integrity and excellence. It’s become a great place to work; a case study for competitors and start-ups. Then imagine where your business is today – fighting for survival: constantly convincing clients to pay what your products/services are worth; commoditised by competing providers and fighting endless price wars.

You have tried every method in every strategy book to escape the commodity trap. You’ve even tried branding and design because you’ve heard it can differentiate your business. Perhaps it’s time to stop, take stock of your methods and revisit some brand fundamentals.

A basic feature to note about business is that it has two definitions. The first definition is descriptive and functional while the other is conceptual and brand based. The second definition is what separates branded businesses from commodities. It is known as conceptual definition. So powerful is conceptual definition that it drives product innovation, HR, culture and vision. It is the very essence of your business, its philosophical underpinning and corporate building block.

Here are some examples of conceptual definitions and their business implications:

Functional Definition

Travel, entertainment, financial services and consumer products group

Conceptual Definition

Rebellion against the establishment and provision of cheaper and qualitative alternatives

Business Implications

Drives product innovation – Introduction of quality air travel at cheaper rates

Drives marketing – Use of cheeky, risqué advertising

Drives culture: Informal ‘no-ties’ work environment

Sample Virgin Atlantic Advert


Functional Definition

Integrated financial services group

Conceptual Definition

The world’s local bank

Business Implications

Drives recruitment: The bank engages locals with deep knowledge of the market in each country it operates in

Drives marketing – Use of community icons and traditional lore


Functional Definition

Global discount supermarket chain

Conceptual Definition

We save people money so they can live better

Business Implications

Drives supplier negotiations – A focus on getting the best prices possible from suppliers so the cost savings are passed on to consumers

Drives HR policies – family members are allowed to work in the same store, as it’s believed this increases the standard of living for the whole family

Functional Definition

Consumer electronics manufacturer

Conceptual Definition


Business Implication

Drives product design and customer segmentation – A poetic approach to manufacturing, raises the standard of design and appeals to consumers with an appreciation for abstract art

Sample Bang & Olufsen Product

Conceptual definition is the formula for brand differentiation. Once you uncover it, ensure you dimension your business and brand expressions with it in mind; from visual identity to the kind of staff you recruit to product design.

The consumer electronics behemoth, Sony suffered a sharp decline when the corporation deviated from its core conceptual definition which was: “Pioneering Spirit”. Competing brands like Samsung and Apple now dominate the product innovation space

[Lesson: A business without a unique conceptual focus will become commoditised and will be left with no other option but to compete on price]

The concept of your business is the reference point that allows you to move in a logical sequence as you develop your brand. It saves you from what is technically referred to as ‘failure cost’- the aggregate cost of not doing things right from inception. It enables you to use your resources judiciously to reinforce who your organisation is and what it stands for, thereby achieving message uniformity.

More importantly, it helps you develop a brand essence that’s tied to your heart and guts if you’re an entrepreneur; something you strongly believes in and that represents you. That way you are not trying to be what you are not. Instead you manifest who you are and project what you most care about. Your business becomes an “essential” offering that goes beyond the profit motive. It becomes something consumers buy into and are passionate about. (cf. Apple)

So, take the time to write down the concept of your business. What is it all about beyond making money? What wakes you up each morning beyond survival?  What can you do for customers that will bring you immense joy? You will be doing yourself a world of good when you finally articulate your conceptual definition. So, start now.

Alder Strategy is a blog on brand strategy for businesses and brand practitioners

Copyright Alder Consulting 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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