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A Brand to Die For

I am often asked, “What does it take to create a successful marketing campaign?” The reality, at the heart of it all, is the client’s brand essence; how that brand is represented and how to and perceived by the market. All successful marketing and advertising strategies spring forth from this basic tenet – brand essence.

What qualities does the brand stand for? What can the brand do for me, as a consumer, or member? How can the brand enrich my life or otherwise provide me value?

These are some of the questions that consumers silently ask themselves as they interact with the messages and touchpoints that are related to your brand.

But what does it take to create a brand that people identify with, support or spend their money on? How does one create a brand…well, to die for?

As a Social Intelligence Architect, I must continually hone my skills for the benefit of my clients. This means always advancing my understanding of social and communication dynamics. As a result, I can create effective messaging scenarios derived from a strong brand essence. The result is targeted traffic and ultimately sales, for my clients.

The agencies that represent entities like Nike, Target, Dell, Microsoft and countless others understand social and communication dynamics and deliver prime examples of successful brands. But other brands which you probably wouldn’t even consider (yet are perhaps even more influential), can illustrate the power that a brand can hold and deliver within a given marketplace.

The Most Powerful Brands You Would Never Think Of

You wouldn’t normally think of the Hell’s Angels, the Latin Kings or the Mexican Mafia as “brands,” but they most certainly are. In fact, these brands exhibit some of the strictest brand management strategies in existence and it’s paid-off for these entities in event the most turbulent of times.

The Hell’s Angels, for example, are a legitimate California business entity known as the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation (HAMC); replete with corporate bylaws and yes, a very well-known brand. HAMC, in the past has brought suit against market giants like the Walt Disney World Company over infringement of their brand. HAMC is very strict – even with their own members – as to how the HAMC logo and related, accompanying patches are to be arranged and displayed. Simply to be allowed to don the coveted official leather vest with logo is even an arduous process that only a select few are offered. And even then, the HAMC logo and patches must be worn in adherence with the corporate guidelines.

The Latin Kings brand is a gold colored 5-point crown on a black background. The 5-points and the black and gold colors all signify specific attributes about the brand (its essence). The 5-points, indeed, represent love, respect, sacrifice, honor, and obedience. Gold represents the sun and a bright future, while the black represents the past.

The Mexican Mafia’s brand is an open hand with the letter inside the palm. The M, of course, signifies the Mexican Mafia and is its established moniker; known and respected the world over.

Each of these organizations has developed a fierce following from both “internal” members and “external” admirers. Each has a brand management system (and a related code of conduct) which ensures their members utilize and represent the brands in only the ways specified by the entities themselves. Deviation from these brand management and conduct guidelines can result in death.

Truly, these are brands that people die for. But why?

In no way am I condoning gangland-style tactics or illicit activities, nor am I suggesting the use of violence, fear, or intimidation in your customer loyalty programs and brand acceptance strategies.

All sociological arguments aside, there remains an interestingly powerful component to these brands. Never mind that inculcated members have replaced their allegiances to God, country and family with allegiance to the brand and all that it encompasses. The real take-away from this striking analogy is the weight that each of these brands carry to those who are not gang members, but yearn to be.

The answer to creating a brand that people identify with, support or spend their money on is born out of a necessity that it helps to fulfill. In the case of these gang examples, their brands evolved to represent solutions to their “consumers’” needs; the need to be accepted, the need to have shelter, the need for protection, etc…

Start Buying Rental Property With This 5-Step Process

If you’re very new to all of this, you’re probably wondering how to dive in to the wonderful world of buying rental property. I’ll share with you what worked for me, and it involves 5 specific steps:- Find a good real estate agent
- Practice running the numbers
- Conduct physical inspections (drive-by’s & showings)
- Make an offer & negotiate
- Manage the contract processSTEP #1: FIND A GOOD REAL ESTATE AGENTEventually, you will need your own “team,” including a real estate agent, mortgage broker, insurance broker, title company, attorney, home inspector, and a handful of trustworthy contractors. But with the exception of a real estate agent, your team does not need to be brought together right out of the gate. You will gradually assemble it as you go.STEP #2: PRACTICE RUNNING THE NUMBERSAsk your new broker to send you all the active 2-8 unit multifamily rental property listings in your target area, and practice running the numbers to identify the most beneficial ones. As long as you know a simple formula and have a few key numbers from the property, can use those numbers to do rapid-fire “back of the envelope” calculations to quickly screen properties for financial practicality. Read my property valuation article to learn how to do this.STEP #3: CONDUCT PHYSICAL INSPECTIONSOnce you have a list of financially viable multifamily rental properties, take some time to do drive-by’s. Whether the numbers work or not, you do not want to get any property in an especially bad area (in fact, you’ll find that the numbers usually work best in such areas…you get what you pay for!). Plus, while not a flawless science, if the outside looks like it’s falling apart you may want to pass.After this process, you will have a list of maybe 3 or 4 properties to look at with your Realtor, instead of, say, 10 or 15. Have your Realtor schedule weekly showings, and bring a notebook to jot down notes so you can later use this info to adjust your bid amount.Keep physically inspecting properties with your agent in this manner every week and do not get discouraged. The majority of rental properties you come across will be poorly maintained and/or overpriced. Tenants beat them up, and many, many landlords could care less about maintaining their investment.So, buying rental property takes time. All I can say is be patient, and remember that the more deals you inspect, the better deal you are likely to get when you finally pull the trigger.STEP #4: MAKE AN OFFER & NEGOTIATEOk, so you’ve run a bunch of initial numbers, did a bunch of drive-by’s, and physically inspected a bunch of hot prospects with your agent. Finally, you’ve found a 2-8 unit multifamily rental property you’d like to purchase. Time to negotiate!STEP #5: MANAGE THE CONTRACT PROCESSYippee, your offer was accepted! So now what? Well, there are various steps that round out the process of buying rental property:- Get the property “under contract”
- Initiate title work; note that some states require an attorney
- Conduct a property inspection
- Get an appraisal
- Arrange financing
- Get property insurance
- Get a property survey
- Review settlement documents and close the dealThis may seem complicated if you happen to be new to all of this, but it’s really not. After you go through the entire process once, you’ll be ready to start buying rental property like there’s no tomorrow!
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