The power of a strong brand draws people. It allows people to trust you much more quickly than a weak or nonexistent brand. Unfortunately, a lot of companies have weak brands.

Three Questions

1. What do I mean by brand?
2. What do I mean when I talk about properly branding your company to the Hispanic community?
3. How do you properly brand your company to the Hispanic community?

These are three very important questions and when the answers are applied, you can have good people waiting in line to work and help you make a lot of money selling your products and services to the Latino community.

I would like to take each of these three questions in order.

This article can change your business and will definitely change the image of your company to the Hispanic community. If you transpose the principles and apply them to your American workers and clients, it will transform you there, as well.

Question No. 1: What is a brand?

Going back to the Old West, you can picture the cattlemen branding their cattle so they could always identify which animals belonged to them. This is the origin of the term brand. In today's world, a brand allows you as a business person to identify which clients are yours. More importantly, when a client is properly "branded" by you, they will identify themselves with you.

A brand is not a logo or a trademark. A logo is a word or a few words manipulated by a graphic artist who hopefully understands how to work with typography. A trademark is the graphic that many times accompanies a logo-like the Nike Swoosh. That trademark is so strong they don't even need the logo anymore.

A brand is not something you see, it is something you feel. It is, as Marty Neumier says in his excellent book The Brand Gap, "a gut feeling."

Your brand is what people feel about you. A strong brand is what people feel about you and your company in their heart and gut. A strong brand elicits immediate trust and goodwill. A weak brand makes people doubt the company and seek work elsewhere.

Companies with strong brands do not have to worry about their clients; they worry about how to provide their clients with better products, services and systems. Weak companies with weak brands are constantly looking for new clients and constantly looking for people who want to work with them. It's called turnover.

Question No. 2: What do I mean when I talk about properly branding your company to the Hispanic community?

When you are properly branded to the Hispanic community, you don't have turnover. In fact, you will always have the best workers-and (very important these days) the best documented workers. Again, branding is how people feel about you; it is an emotion. Coca-Cola's market capital presently is $120 billion. Of this value, $70 billion is attributed to the value of the brand, only $50 billion to the actual company products, services and systems.

How much is your brand worth to the Hispanic community? You want people to hear your company name and say, "Que daría por trabajar ahí?" o "Si compro productos ahí es donde los voy a comprar, confío en ellos, excelente companía." In English, "What I would give to work there," or "If I buy products, I am going to buy them there. I trust them-what a great company."

Do they say this? Most construction-related companies I know have nowhere near this type of branding power.

This takes us now to the answer of the third question.

Question No. 3: How do I properly brand my company to the Hispanic community?

This is the meat and potatoes question. Again, branding is all about trust. It is all about a feeling in the heart that says, "I can trust this company." It makes people think, "I feel good purchasing here and I know I don't need to check around," or "I can go to work for them and know for sure I'll be treated well."

The million dollar question is how do you get the Latino person to trust you, to see you and your company, and immediately feel this sense of security and trust?

The answer is simply to keep your word. Never tell a Latino something and then go back and tell him or her you're sorry but it just didn't work out. We are very skeptical and non-trusting people in the first place. Secondly, information travels very quickly in our society. We talk a lot. E-Bay doesn't fly in Latin America because we don't trust easily. You must keep your word when you say something. Do a lot of little manageable things often, rather than one big thing every once in a great while. This is first and foremost.

Second, you must show a sincere and genuine interest in our people and culture. Sponsoring a soccer team and then actually showing up for the games and rooting for your team, and talking with the people is just one example.

Right now I have in front of me several pieces of literature and handbooks that are handed out to Hispanic employees. They are straight translations from English to Spanish. The Spanish even reads like English. This is not good branding. There are no visuals and the ones that are used are exactly the same as in the English manuals.

To make matters worse, in my perusal of the manuals, I also found several misspellings. This is probably due to having someone in the shop who is supposedly bilingual do the translations. This is poor branding and produces the gut feeling that the Latino person may be a necessity in your company but he or she is not a valued person or client.

You must make adjustments. We are a different culture, a different people, and we have a different way of thinking and processing information and life. This is a fact.

In a nutshell, yes, logos, trademarks, color schemes, company T-shirts and all this good stuff can help with branding but these things are not the brand. Perhaps they support the brand but they are not the brand. The brand is the feeling of trust and confidence people feel when they hear the name of your company mentioned. This goes for people who work for you and your clients. Without either group of people, we are out of business.

If you would like help in this area, let me know, I'll be happy to listen to your needs and give you my best feedback.

Happy branding. If you don't do it, then your company will always be worth less than half of what you think it's worth when you look at your financial reports.

Just take a look at that branding giant, Coca-Cola. Bottoms up!