“A Bookshelf Brand.” It sounds like it might be a compliment doesn’t it? At first glance, you might think of the bookshelf as a place where you keep your important stories and reference resources. I can see how one could think that way, but I have a different idea in mind. To me, a bookshelf brand refers to brands that are inactive for any reason.  

 
You might be a bookshelf brand if:
1. You have no idea what your brand values are.
Your values are the foundation of your brand; to have none leaves you floundering. If all the stakeholders have differing values, then nobody knows what your brand stands for. Brand consistency will always be a major problem, ultimately confusing your customers. Start developing your values today and be sure to define each so that all your stake holders have a clear understanding of you.  
 
2. You’ve actually gone through a branding process and the report is gathering dust on that bookshelf.
Watch to see whether you’re a planner or a doer. Bookshelf brands just love to plan. It’s easy and non-threatening. Doer brands are on the high ground. But to get that advantage requires commitment and effort. It takes work to drive a brand forward instead of languishing on a shelf. Doers take risks. Doer brands are the ones you read about in the press. A planner brand is a missed opportunity.
 
  3. You’re not actively marketing yourself, whether that is online or offline.
A bookshelf brand allows your competition to define who you are. This sort of brand believes their audience will find them, not the other way around. This is definitely a lazy brand. You see them all around you. This is the business person who says, “I’ll get a brand when I need one,” not recognizing the fact that they already have a brand whether they want one or not—and it’s not flattering.
 
  4. You’re not controlling your brand image.
Not having consistency in your image is costly and confusing. When everything in your brand image matches, everything is swell with the world. But if nothing or very little matches, you are telling a confusing story to the world. Image consistency builds trust and confidence. It works on a sub-conscious level, allowing you to believe that the McDonald’s experience in New York City will match the one in London, England. Recognizing that consistent image on the street gives you the confidence to cross the threshold.  
 
5. You have no compelling story to tell.
It’s a big problem if your brand stands for nothing and just follows the lead of the competition, lost in a sea of sameness. Your brand isn’t a leader. Without a compelling reason to look into you, your brand is easily forgettable. If your brand just reacts to competitive moves, then you only reinforce their positions. You see this with retail brands when they tout price matching. If your only story is a cheaper price, you had better hope the competition doesn’t have deeper pockets.  
 
Conclusion: Take those books off the shelf and get your brand happening. Tell a compelling story that will resonate with customers and get them to consider you beyond price. Give them a reason to love you. Stop thinking about branding and start doing something about it.
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Ed Roach
For more than 25 years, Ed Roach has worked with hundreds of successful small businesses by helping them develop unique brand positioning strategies that differentiate them from their competition. Ed appreciates working with companies who see the value of going beyond mere slogans and have a desire to sell from compelling positions, and consults predominantly with businesses facilitating his proprietary process, "Brand Navigator." This branding process effectively focuses a company's brand, delivering a positioning strategy that can be taken to their marketplace. He is the author of "101 Branding Tips," a book of practical advice for your brand that you can use today.

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