What is Branding?

Categories // Branding

A Deep Dive into the Correct Definition

A few weeks ago, I met my friend and fellow business owner for lunch and brainstorming. We helped each other generate ideas to build our businesses and reach new clients in the rest of 2017. We talked about people we know who might need the other’s offerings. 

My friend looked at me, scrunched up her face and said, “I’m not sure how I could explain to people what you do because what you do is so…..”

As she searched for the word, I panicked a little. Her face didn’t make it seem as though the word would be positive.

“It’s so nebulous,” she said with a smile, satisfied with her word choice.

While I’m not a theoretical mathematician -- work I’d consider “nebulous” -- I agreed with her. I’m a branding expert and I think the word, “brand,” and the concept of branding, are confusing.

This gave me the idea to make branding less nebulous. Less confusing. In this and some upcoming posts, I’ll provide an overview and detailed breakdown of branding and the branding process because I believe both are critical concepts every business must master. After all, this is precisely how great brands distinguish themselves from all others.

Rethinking Your Brand Strategy? 3 Questions to Ask First (and 3 Easy Makeover Solutions)

Tags // Brand Audit, Brand Strategy, Brand Touchpoints, Branding, Rebranding

Let me ask you a question.

When you hear the word “brand,” what do you think it means?



Marketing tactics?


Sure, these all play a part in branding. 

But, in fact, branding is much more than just these items.

I like to say branding is what people think, feel and expect whenever they interact with your company. 

Branding is an overarching image. 

It’s ingrained in everything you do—your operations, your message, all your touch points and your marketing.

It’s the DNA of the company.

When a company is thinking of rebranding itself, it can feel quite overwhelming. 


So before you dive deep into the world of rebranding and hiring a branding strategist, it’s important to ask three questions first to determine where your brand currently stands. 

Based on your answers, you can take a few simple steps to start bringing your brand into alignment or you can hire a branding consultant

Visual Facilitation: 3 Key Benefits of Using Visuals in Strategic Meetings

No one thinks about how much meetings cost a company.

Do you?

I didn’t think so.

Let’s take a look at what a typical meeting might cost.

Let's say you and seven of your coworkers have a two-hour meeting.

If the average annual salary is $45,000, the cost of salaries alone is $450. The annual cost is more than $23,000!


With that kind of cost at stake, are you getting a decent return on investment from your time?

If not, is there a more productive way to hold meetings?

In fact, there is—with the help of visual facilitation. 

How to make your time at a conference more fun

Categories // Visual Thinking

Have you ever been tasked with sitting at the company booth at a conference or a trade show?

Maybe it’s for a company you work for or you’re there with your own business. You’ve got your folding table, a banner, maybe some drapes, a pile of brochures and cards a mile high and maybe you’ve got some fun SWAG. Pretty standard stuff.

You might get a few people to take your goodies and you might exchange pleasantries and business cards with a some folks, but you don’t get the level of engagement and connection that you’d hoped for.

In this scenario, you’ve spent money on your exhibitor’s spot, which means that you don’t have money to spend on other things, and you’re not sure if it was worth it. You also spent a couple of days manning your table and you probably didn’t get a chance to network with many attendees and the people you’d hoped to meet.

The time you spent also took you away from your business which means that you missed out on opportunity to work on your business or to serve clients.

So, how can you make your exhibitor experience better and more fun?

I’m about to tell you how.

When Should Start-ups Think About Branding? Sooner or Later?

Categories // Branding

It’s a chicken-and-egg question, isn’t it?

When should start-ups think about branding? Sooner or later?

Let’s take a short journey to find the answer, shall we?

When a company first starts out, it might have brand touch points like these:

  • A logo.
  • Some business cards.
  • A company name.

A start-up usually has some basic elements associated with branding but it doesn’t have what I would call a “cohesive brand.”

Branding is more than a few basic touch points

It’s highly likely that start-ups haven’t done any deep thinking and planning about what their brand means. They’ve probably been more focused on the business model and the products and services they sell. 

Brand Building Blocks 214

Why You Need a Target Market (and How to Pick One With Laser-Like Focus)

Categories // Business Strategy Tags // Target Market

You’ve seen a laser beam, right?

A laser beam generates an intense beam of light.

That beam of light is tightly focused; it’s not a random spray of particles.

In fact, laser beams are so tightly focused that doctors use them in surgery for precise cutting and healing.

So what do lasers have to do with your business?

The same concept of laser focus applies to your marketing strategy.

You want your marketing strategy to be laser focused—not randomly sprayed—and aimed precisely at a specific group of people you want to communicate your message to.



Friday fun: Einstein quote visualized

Categories // Visual Thinking

I've decided to have a little fun on the blog on Fridays. 

During the week, I generate at least four dozen doodles and sketches related to my work in branding and strategy projects and when facilitating I fill the walls with pictures and words. Since I'm so visual, it's something that I must do to understand concepts, ideas and how thing work. On Fridays, I will post a picture of a visual I did for fun and tell the story behind it. Sort of like VH1 Storytellers with sketches.

This week, I decided to play with a visual for one of my favorite quotes: 

Brand Strategy: 3 Common Preplanning Mistakes to Avoid (and Their Solutions)

What drives a company to think (or rethink) their brand strategy?

  • Is it because the company asked customers what their brand stands for and everyone gave a different answer?
  • Is it because they asked employees what the brand means and no one knew?
  • Or is it because the competition refreshed their brand so they also should?

Companies undergo a brand strategy based on any one of these factors or some combination.

Either way, the company’s research indicates people are giving different answers about their brand message.

As a result, nobody has a clear idea of what the company does or what it stands for.

The company feels like it’s having an identity crisis

If a brand doesn’t have a clear identity, it becomes just another commodity.

The first step to avoid becoming another commodity is to put a plan together to create a brand. The first phase of putting a brand strategy plan together is the preplanning phase. Here’s how a typical preplanning phase would roll out for many companies.

10 Costly Business Consequences of Not Listening (and how to truly listen)

Tags // Employee Engagement, Listening, Strategy

Believe it or not, this is a true story.

One time the CEO of a company I was working with gave a speech to an audience of about 200 people. The speech was well received.

After the speech, a small group of people approached the speaker with questions they felt the CEO could answer for them.

ceonotlisteningWhen everyone left, I went over to the CEO and said, “It looked like you had a lot of people interested in what you were talking about. What did they say?”

And the CEO responded, “I don’t know—I wasn’t listening.”

Not listening?


But hang on a minute

What’s wrong with not listening sometimes?

After all, the CEO probably thought he’d never see those people again, right?

Why bother making an effort to listen to people you think you’ll never see again?

Strategic Planning: 3 Myths Senior Executives Can Abandon

Categories // In General…

Have you ever wondered why most strategic planning sessions include only the senior leaders? 

In fact, these planning sessions rarely include anyone else.

Clearly, there must be a good reason, right?

Well, it turns out there isn’t a good reason.

It’s simply become a time-honored tradition. And that tradition is based on two factors:

1. Including only senior leaders is the status quo

It’s often a best practice across many companies. Companies, in general, assume that senior leaders are the best people to create the strategic plan.

2. Companies are structured a certain way

Most companies are structured so that they have front-line employees, the ones who do what the business does. Then, as those employees progress in their careers, they are promoted to management positions.

But this way of doing business has negative consequences for any business

  • The plan sits on the shelf once it’s been created (because the plan wasn’t created by people who are involved in the product, service or the operation of the company).
  • The plan has a narrow focus and lacks a rich source of information (because it lacks a variety of input from people throughout the organization).

As a result of this process, three myths developed that executives should start abandoning now.

How to find a brand new market...visually

Categories // In General… Tags // Blue Ocean Strategy, Branding, Strategy

I have been contributing to a branding program overat Restaurant Branding Roadmap which has been great fun since it combines two of my favorite subjects - branding and restaurants. My research has included lots of reading about the restaurant industry and documenting the details of my dining experiences from food to ambiance to service to unique concepts. This week, I was reminded about an exercise you can use to eliminate your competition - in any industry. You can draw a picture of a market and see a new opportunity.  

The restaurant industry is filled with thousands of concepts. Some of these breakthrough ideas are pioneering at first and later become brand concept legacies (think Starbucks) while others become short-lived fads that start with one innovator, a hot new food idea and then quickly become a not so special restaurant concept that many will imitate (think your average yogurt spot). New restaurant concepts, trends and fads, often take a common path. They open, earn media buzz and lots of word of mouth chatter and soon copycats emerge and you find marrow-filled dishes and red bean ice cream everywhere.

A Picture is Worth (roughly) a Thousand Words

Categories // In General…

I had been planning to write the story behind this chart for some time and was reminded to do so by a tweet from fellow visual strategist Tristan Ozero. Thank you for prompt, and here is the story in just over 1000 words.



Categories // In General…

What the heck is a visual strategist??

Welcome to the ring effect blog. I'm Jocelyn Ring and I am a visual strategist. You might be asking, "what the heck is that and how did you become one?" The short answer is that I have taken knowledge from education and business experience, lessons learned from lifelong passions and information gleaned from lots of books on a variety of subjects and mashed them all together.