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Larry Checco

Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications and a nationally recognized public speaker, workshop presenter, and consultant on branding and leadership. His books, Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization and Aha! Moments in Brand Management: Commonsense Insights to a Stronger, Healthier Brand, have sold thousands of copies both here and abroad.

Recent Posts by Larry Checco:

What's in a Name? Just about Everything!

"The name of our organization is too long, too hard to remember and doesn't reflect what we do." Or ...

Welcome to the Age of the New Normal

As an excuse not to change or do something differently, how often have you heard someone in your organization say, "Well ... this is the way we’ve always done it!"

Is Your Mission Getting Creepy?

I'm trying to launch two twenty-something-year-old sons. As they think about their futures and write and send out résumés, my constant refrain to them is "Don't chase the money; chase your lives. If you don't, you may—and it's only a possibility—end up with the money. However, you may find out later in life that you missed out on discovering your true passion and excelling at what you do best."

"Receptionist" vs. "Director of First Brand Impressions"

I needed to change my flight plans—and dreaded going through the process.

It's Not About How Your Message Is Delivered

I was part of a team conducting a focus group for a large nonprofit client. The focus group comprised representatives from the financial sector, a target audience this particular national nonprofit was most interested in cultivating through its messaging.

When It Comes to Your Brand, Details Matter

I was just about to make a positive remark about the attractive design on the cover of the document, when a colleague of the person whose department was responsible for putting the piece together blurted out, "Hey, Jim, the county's name is spelled wrong on the cover of your report."

You could have heard a pin drop as Jim (not his real name) flinched with embarrassment.

This scene unfolded during one of my branding workshops to a group of 20 county government leaders. It was at the point in my presentation when I gathered everyone around a large conference table to peer-review each other's printed materials. The purpose: To determine how well the materials reflected their respective departments' brands.

Was the error that was pointed out on the document a mere typo? Hardly. The document in question happened to be a financial report that was scheduled to be released to the public.

I saw a teachable moment.

Reassuring Jim that I wasn't trying to embarrass anyone but rather attempting to make a point, I asked the group, "If the county's name is misspelled on the cover of this document, how can we be guaranteed that the page after page of dollar figures inside are correct?"

In effect, the typo represented a breach in the trust Jim's department was trying so hard to restore under new leadership.

The episode reaffirmed what I had been telling the group from the outset; that there is nothing an organization can say or do that isn't a reflection on its brand, everything from how courteously its phones are answered, to whether or not staff is dressed appropriately, and, yes, even typos—especially if you're responsible for financial figures.

What the Public Perceives

The fact is the public picks up on all kinds of cues that provide them with insights—be they right or wrong—about who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why they should care, which I believe are the key questions any good brand must address.

Here's an example that demonstrates the other side of this coin.

The local affiliates of a former national client of mine operate thrift shops, which represent a significant portion of their annual local revenue streams. I had the good fortune to be asked to tour several of these facilities located in different parts of the country and to give my impression of what I saw.

In short, I was truly astounded by how neat, orderly, and well organized all of the thrifts were.

Things weren't piled on the floor, and shoppers weren't forced to rummage through boxes to find what they were looking for, as one might expect in a thrift shop. Rather, floor space was divided into attractive departments, some using iconic art work to let customers know which department they were in; the clothes were all neatly stacked or on racks, some attractively placed on mannequins; the furniture had all been restored and laid out as it might be in a high-end department store; the jewelry was all sorted and neatly displayed.

The message these shops implicitly conveyed to me was "If this organization is such a good steward of donated used clothing and furniture, it just might be paying the same kind of attention to detail with respect to the funds these thrifts bring in and the services it provides to its clients. This may be an organization I'd like to support."

Rightly or wrongly, perception is reality. And the perception this organization was tacitly conveying was "Trust us. We know what we're doing." A powerful—and desirable—brand message any organization would be happy to have.

The lesson: Pay attention to details. They matter when it comes to how people perceive your brand—namely who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why they should care!

Larry Checco, Checco Communications
© 2010, Checco Communications

Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications and author of Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization. Larry is a nationally recognized public speaker, workshop presenter, and consultant on branding.

A Good Brand Requires TLC: A True Story

My family has been going to the same dental practice for years.

Adjusting to the New Face of Need

Not since the Great Depression has our nation experienced such a wide distribution of need throughout all socioeconomic levels.

Tired of All the Doom and Gloom? This Is Your Time

Home foreclosures ... job losses ... health insurance, or lack thereof ... plummeting 401ks ...

Millions of Americans are hurting. And the hurt is crossing all racial, social, and economic divides. No one is immune. People who never in their lives have needed help may now be knocking on your door.

At the same time, while demand for your organization’s services is increasing, its ability to raise funds is decreasing.

Tired of all the doom and gloom? Need something to cheer you up? Consider the following:

The Most Important Part of Your Strategic Plan

Trust is at a premium.

Public skepticism regarding institutions and organizations of all kinds is at an all-time high. Trust, which many once took for granted—especially with respect to some of our most venerated for-profit, nonprofit, and government institutions—is now at a premium.

I travel around the country conducting workshops on organizational branding and leadership, mostly for nonprofits. During my presentations I show a slide and preface it by saying, "As simple as this slide appears, it's probably the most important slide I will show you today."