How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce

If you are a business owner facing divorce, the thought of protecting your business from divorce can only add to the stress and strain that you are already going through. Unlike most property or personal assets, your business represents a personal investment of your own time, money, creativity and hard work. The idea that you might lose something you built because of an unfortunate turn in your personal circumstances can be both frustrating and frightening.

There are a few things you should keep in mind, both when going through divorce, as well as before divorce even seems a prospect to you. If you never get divorced, that’s great, congratulations. But by taking time to make sure your business is protected you can prevent many headaches, including every entrepreneur’s ultimate nightmare: losing your business.

Here are some things you should consider that may help keep your business intact and functioning:

Get a prenuptial agreement. Sure, it’s not very romantic to contemplate divorce before you even marry, but if you own a business it’s your responsibility to think about the possibility. Speak openly and honestly with your intended about your desire to keep your business separate from the marriage, and craft an agreement that is fair and prudent for both parties before you have any reason to be contentious.

Insert provisions into your business agreements to keep your spouse out of the business. This sounds cold-hearted perhaps, but if you are in a partnership or corporation you owe it to yourself, your partners, your employees and your shareholders to protect the business. You should already have a buy-sell agreement with any partners. This will typically state what should happen to the business should any owner’s status change, will outline any pre-set price agreements for sale of the business, and may contain language that limits your spouse’s involvement in the business. The buy-sell agreement, while it doesn’t protect you entirely from the events that may occur in a divorce, does provide a contractual framework and legal foundation for any future court rulings about the business.

Keep your family assets separate from your business assets. This is just common business sense, but it’s even more important in the event of a divorce. If you are using family money to fund your business, you are creating a situation where your spouse may have claim to some of your company’s equity.

Pay yourself. Similarly, if you are not taking a salary, or taking a salary that is less than the going rate for your line of work, your spouse can claim that you have taken assets that rightfully belonged to your family and put them into your business. In the eyes of the court, this may substantiate your spouse’s claim to a stake in your business.

Don’t involve your spouse in your business. Again, this sounds cold, but there are sound business reasons for keeping your spouse’s involvement in your business to a minimum. If you hire your spouse, it is prudent to terminate that relationship as soon as possible if you end up in a divorce. The greater the involvement of your spouse in your business, the greater the claim your spouse can make to a stake in that business.

Create a Property Settlement Note. This will outline in advance how your spouse is to be paid out for their share in your business, should your marriage be dissolved.

Put your business and its assets in a trust. This will protect the assets from divorce, as you will no longer technically own them. The trust becomes, in effect, the owner of the business, and not only its current assets but also its future growth will remain outside the parameters of your marital assets.

Trade your share of the marital assets for equity in your business. This is only relevant if you are already going through a divorce, but it can help keep your business intact. You can maintain your share in the business by trading off other assets that are less important to you.

Sell equity in your business to raise capital to keep it running. Not an ideal solution, but if you can convince investors to buy shares of your company, you may be able to pay off your spouse while maintaining your business functions.

Split the business. This is the least desirable course of action, as it either means that you will have to continue your relationship with your ex in a business context-which is rarely comfortable-or, worse, that you’ll have to sell your business and divide the assets.

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Forex Education Tips – 5 Steps to Successful Forex Trading

Close to 95% of all Forex traders will lose money. We’re not just talking about novices, either. Whether you trade Forex for a living, as a hobby or just for fun, odds are against your success. That’s a simply astonishing fact. However, the remaining 5% of Forex traders somehow manage to break even and there are those lucky few that actually make money in the currency market – consistently!Like the TV show says … “How’d they do that, anyway?”That’s the million dollar questions, isn’t it? Countless books, seminars and expos have been hosted to answer this very question. That sad fact is that thousands of books have been written and countless seminars and interviews have been conducted in an attempt to answer the magic questions. The reality of the situation is that there is no magic formula; no one single Holy Grail of Forex trading.So what do the successful traders do that the rest of us have simple not comprehended. They have mastered a process of winning where they combine and customize several factor to produce consistent results. They have mastered the Process of Trading.The Process of Trading is:Strategy > Money Management > Self-MasteryHere are some simple Forex Education tips to help you master the process of forex trading:Success Tip #1 – You’ve Got To Have a PlanYou must have a written business plan that will detail all aspects of your trading. When are you going to trade, how much to risk, strategies for entries and exits are just o name a few. To become a consistent (profitable) Forex trader you have to plan your trade sand trade your plan.

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Simplicity rules! Don’t make this plan too complicated. One sheet of paper for you mission statement and another for your trading plan should suffice. Anything more is probably too complicated.Success Tip #2 – Focus on Your Personal PsychologyKnowing yourself will allow you to master the discipline necessary to execute high quality trades with solid money management techniques. Lack of discipline is fatal in Forex trading. Go on a personal journey to identify you attitudes towards risk and money. Get intimate with your strengths and weaknesses as a trader and build in to your trading plan strategies to minimize those weaknesses and maximize your strengths.Different personalities lend to different trading styles. Get familiar with all the different styles and over time you will begin to gravitate towards one particular style. Don’t fight the urge like I did. I insisted I was a day trader, but had only limited results. I found my winning percentages were much higher when I entered swing trades. Guess what’s my bread and butter strategy now!Success Tip #3 – Be Realistic About Your ExpectationsThis is a hard one, I know! I am on the internet every day and the amount of advertising is staggering. Brokers are offering free education (fox in the hen house if you ask me), forums of all different trading styles and points of view. Gurus pushing their system as “the one” that will make you the big bucks. How do you get through all that noise?Let me tell you loud and clear right now – everyone is right and everyone is wrong. You have to make a personal commitment to become a successful trader, find a trading style that works for you and expect a slow and steady approach to wealth building through Forex.What works for me may not work for you. Expect to go through an exploratory period where you are learning and at the same time exploring yourself as a trader. Keep an open mind and don’t pay attention to all the noise out there.Success Tip #4 – Exercise PatienceRome was not built in a day and neither will your trading account. In fact, I tell all of my students that while they are studying to become successful Forex traders they should not look solely at their account balance as an indication of success or failure.By tracking and increasing your percentage of high quality trades you execute is a far better barometer of your progress than your account balance. Cause and effect rule here. Over time when you increase your probabilities through the execution of high quality trades your account balance will respond accordingly.Keep the focus on the process and with time your results will blow your mind.Success Tip #5 – Money Management Is Top PriorityI would rather have a shaky strategy and excellent money management techniques than the other way around. This topic warrants its own blog post to do it justice. Limited your exposure (read “risk”) allows for you to stay in the game and allow the laws of probability to work.

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Let’s take a casino for example. They need gamblers to frequent their slot machines to make money. Why? They have a game that has a greater than 50% chance of making money for the house. The more people that play the slots, the greater the casino’s profits.The casino controls risk by payout tables (always favoring the house!) and increases their probabilities by keeping gamblers at the slot machines (read “free drinks”). As a trader you must limit your risk by committing only 1% – 3% of available capital to a single trade. When you execute enough trades with a high probability strategy you too can clean up like the casinos – but only by staying in the game long term.In conclusion, Forex trading is not easy. It’s hard work and will test the limits of your patience and perseverance. If anyone tells you otherwise .., buyers beware! It can be a very rewarding and profitable venture if done correctly. In the end it is a profession that requires a learning curve and practical experience, no different than an airline pilot or engineer. Understanding how to approach and learn this game will allow you to reap all the benefits advertised. It is your Forex Education that you will master the Process of Forex Trading.

The Energy Healing Power of Natural Medicine

Natural medicine is a system that uses a variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. Alternative medicine is also known as traditional, naturopathic, natural or holistic medicine. Proponents of alternative medicine are not refuting the validity of discoveries in and the practical uses of conventional medicine, but are merely trying to put some things into perspective. Due to the widespread interest in natural medicine along with the disappointment and disenchantment with Western medicine, many people, especially in the United States and Europe, where conventional medicine has taken a dominant foothold, are seeking the advice and treatment from naturopathic physicians. These practitioners include herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and others, who advocate preventative health measures as well as recommend wholesome foods and nutritional supplements for their patients and clients. Considering the growing popularity and effectiveness of alternative health treatments and products, certified and licensed professional practitioners of such medical practices should be given their rightful and respectful place in medical society. Natural medicine has been proven not only to be safe, but more effective than Western medicine in treating many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and many other diseases as well

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The history of Natural Medicine and its roots can be traced back thousands of years to ancient cultures such as India and China. Ayurvedic (E. Indian) and Chinese medicine, along with their diagnostic and herbal systems, are still used in these countries extensively, as well as in the United States, especially in Europe, where alternative medicine is well respected. Chinese herbal medicine has a documented history of over 2500 years in China, and is now widely used by practitioners all over the world. It has been legally practiced in the United States. since the mid seventies by licensed acupuncturists. Homeopathy is also a well-known form of alternative medicine discovered in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, but was practically stamped out in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century by the American Medical Association. In 1938, though, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act finally recognized homeopathic pharmacopoeia as the legal equivalent of allopathic medicine.Another more contemporary and popular form of herbal medicine, called Western herbalism, can be traced back about two hundred years in America. Samuel Thomson, born in 1769, is considered the father of Western herbalism. He discovered over sixty different medically effective native plants by clinical testing, and on the basis of these findings, devised a theory of disease and botanical drug action. Randy Kidu, D.V.M., Ph.D., writes in his articled entitled A Brief History of Alternative Medicine: “The history of herbal medicine is interesting because herbs have been a part of our diet and pharmacy since man began roaming the earth. Coprophytic evidence (seeds and other plant part(found in preserved fecal pellets) points to herbal use by cavemen. Early herbalists practiced their trade since before recorded history in all parts of the world including China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, England, the Americas, and Europe. Many herbs are also mentioned in the Bible. Today, based on sheer numbers of folks who use one form of herbal medicine or another, it remains the most-used medicine worldwide.”Twenty-five hundred years after the advent of allopathic medicine, modern medicine is still grappling with the idea that herbal medicine could be an effective treatment, and not just quackery, although thousands of years of recorded history has proved its efficacy. A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of natural medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of natural medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but among Alternative Medicine practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well.

Skip The Lines – Bring The Amusement Park Right To Your Own Back Yard

There’s no shortage of things to do in Atlanta. From professional sports to amusement parks, there’s something for everyone. In fact, Atlanta is proud to house some of the nations largest amusement attractions, including the ever popular Six Flags Over Georgia. Children (and adults) love the thrill and adrenaline rush of the large roller coasters. However, one thing most people don’t like about amusement parks is the long lines. By the time it’s all said and done, you can spend several hundred dollars for your family to have an afternoon of fun, and only get a few rides in. This year, instead of spending the day waiting in long lines for short rides, why not bring the fun right to your back yard? With today’s technology, you can literally do just that! One of the advantages of living in a large city like Atlanta is that we have large rental companies that can make your special event feel just like a trip to Six Flags… complete with a train and an ice cream cart!

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If you’re trying to replicate the amusement park feel, there are definitely specific items that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. As mentioned previously, ice cream carts and trackless trains help make the special event feel more like a day at Six Flags.In order to make your next special event more special, try some of the following tips:

Head online to do some research on the party rental company that has the selection your looking for. If you want an ice cream cart to complete your theme park adventure, look around until you find what you’re looking for.

Don’t settle for the first website you see. There are literally hundreds of inflatable party rental companies in Atlanta. Keep looking for a website that offers a wide variety of rental items that you’re looking for.

It’s better to rent everything from one company. Renting in bulk can help you save money. Larger companies will offer discounts for larger purchases of multiple units and rental items.

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Having a day of amusement park fun is cheaper and easier than ever before. By bringing the amusement park to your front door by using a party rental industry, you can include more people at a lower price. So next time you’re planning a special day, instead of spending tons of money for just a few people and braving the long lines of amusement parks, invite the whole neighborhood and bring the amusement park right to your own back yard!

Get Freelancers for Your Business Services Needs

While running a business, there are many essential services that are required on a day to day basis. Business services are an important element of any business that ensures its survival. For small business that struggle to hire full time staff, outsourcing these services to freelance providers could be the ideal answer. If you decide to get freelancers for your business services needs, there is no doubt they would turn out to be reliable and a necessary part for your business processes.Once the company has found reliable freelancers, results will become obvious that the business will start to develop and grow into successful entity. There are many freelance websites which offer opportunities for both businesses and the freelancers to find each other and work together. One can find a lot of different business services offered by freelancers and it is these diverse resources that businesses will be able to leverage and improve their current situations.

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Whether it is accounting services, financial services, IT services or any other required service by the business, one can find experienced freelancers for all business service requirements. Once you get freelancers for your business you will find out how reliable, convenient and cost effective they are. To get freelancers whenever they are required, employers find they soon become a necessary investment. Freelancers have the ability to do anything in their chosen fields, it won’t take long before they become an integral part of the companies processes.To get freelancers is not a very difficult task; there are many freelance websites where one can find freelancers for every kind of business service. Freelancers can really make a big difference in the development and growth of a business through their efficient services. In today’s world, businesses are worried about their profit margins and are always on the verge of contracting their budget and expanding their profits. Hiring a freelancer for business services is a great way to cut costs effectively.

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Hiring freelancers for performing various business services has become a trend for many companies. It is a cost effective way to run a business, but make sure that the services you acquire from the freelancers are up to the mark. But overall it is a very effective way of running a business. The only thing required is to keep a close communication with the hired freelancer to make sure there are no misunderstandings along the way.It is well known that to get freelancers for business services is quite advantageous, especially for small business. Once the business founds a reliable freelancer, it has been proven that the business would benefit a lot from the services provided by a freelancer

National Center for the Performance Arts

The newly opened National Center for the Performance Arts, formerly named the Chinese National Grand Theatre, is the largest performing art center in the world. It is shaped like a massive, silvery dome in the heart of China’s capital that offers Chinese and international art performances of the highest standards. It hosts opera, ballet, musicals, dance, dramas and traditional Chinese performances.Situated west of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the National Center for Performance Art occupies an area of over 149,500 square meters. There are three gigantic halls located inside: a 2,416-seat opera house, a 2,017-seat concert hall and a 1,040-seat theater. Its goal is to become the center of Chinese performance art culture. The National Center for the Performing Arts took nearly five years to build at a cost of over 2.69million RMB.Designed by the famous French architect Paul Andreu, this imposing building is a fine example of modern architecture. It has been thought of as resembling an eggshell, a baozi (Chinese steamed bread), or even a giant bubble. The National Center for Performance Arts has been listed among the top ten architectural miracles by the USA, for its energy-saving and environmentally-sound design. The center has three firsts: it is the largest sky dome in the world, the deepest building in Beijing, and is home to the largest pine organ in Asia. As its prompters have said, the National Center for Performance Arts has a lush dazzling interior, sophisticated acoustics and a design that that is superior to most of Europe’s or America’s performing arts centers. This building is so unique that it stands out amongst the nearby government buildings in central Beijing and the imperial grandeur of the centuries-old Forbidden City.

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The interior design of National Center for Performance Arts, it is quite spectacular. The dome’s interior is paneled with long Brazilian mahogany spans, giving the expanse an amazingly warm feeling. While the walls of the theater, the smallest of the performance spaces, are covered in thick padded silk which is divided into red, purple and tangerine strips. The ceiling of the grey-white color-schemed concert hall consists of undulating waves of acoustical panels that resemble abstract art. On the exterior shell of the center, there are over 500 lights that shine like the stars in the sky, making the National Center for Performance Arts looks like a visitor from the outer space.Even though the exterior appearance of National Centre for Performance Arts is futuristic in design, it does not clash with nearby buildings. Surrounded on one side by a large pool of water, the reflections in the water form an impressive sight day or night. For this reason, National Centre for Performance Arts is said to appear like a “bright pearl resting in a lake.Most visitors to the National Center for Performance Arts, come for the performances, but there is much more to this beautiful building than just the three gigantic halls. There are also many smaller places located inside the National Center for Performance Arts such as: an underwater hallway, an exhibition hall, olive hall, library center, Press-release hall, souvenir shop, and a coffee house. In these locations, visitors or audience members can enjoy other aspects of this amazing building other than just performances.The Center’s management has hired the best performers from throughout China to perform. Musicians such as pianist Yundi Li, and Lang Lang are regulars to the National Center for Performance Arts’stage. Many foreign troupes are vying for a chance to perform during the center’s opening season. The first foreign troupe to perform on the stage of the National Center for Performance Art was the Mariinsky Ballet Troup of St. Petersburg(still marketed in the U.S. under its Soviet-era name, the Kirov Opera and Ballet). Although the center’s musical groups,ballets, symphony orchestras, and Chinese opera have received far less attention, they are also performed by some of the best artists in China.

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To allow each audience to fully and comfortably appreciate each performance, the National Center for Performance Arts has makes great effort in its design of the opera house, concert hall and theater. The materials used in the construction of the opera house were chosen for their ability to control sound. The ceiling of the concert hall is designed so that each audience member will enjoy an unforgettable experience. The theatre, the place with the most distinctive Chinese characteristic, has the most advanced stage facilities and the largest auditorium. Each seat in the National Center for Performance Arts is placed over an air vent which will allow each audience member to enjoy perfectly controlled temperatures, and each seat is designed with a muffling devise so that no sound will be made when audience members stand up,or sit down. These many different features of the center has been put in place to insure each audience member will receive the most from each performance they see.Even if visitors to Beijing have no interest in watching a performance at the National Centre for Performance Arts, a visit to the center will leave a deep impression on them. It is one of the most brilliant architectural designs in the world, and worth a visit.

Shifting to Industrial Goods – How to Make it Hassle Free

Shifting of Industrial merchandise or goods to new location is not an easy task. It is quite different from office relocation or household shifting. During the process you may need the latest technology for packing, loading, unloading and unpacking. You need to be very careful during the shifting process as even a small mistake can cause huge damage. But this risky task can be made easier by following some of the following tips. It will help you to move the finished products or industrial merchandise in safe and secure way.Plan before you Move- Before moving any goods to new location you have to make planning. It is one of the most important task which will surly else the moving process. As we all known that moving of industrial goods or business to new location is different from household shifting. You have to do it in a time frame so that you get back to your work without losing much time and money.

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Packing Process – Should Be Done Professionally- Packing of goods should be done in a proper way. It should meet the standard at the same time else your relocation process. You can to pack the heavy machinery items, containers, boxes, etc which takes lots of time. So it is better to hire professional and reputed packers movers. This will not only else the packing and relocation process but at the same time helps you to move the valuable goods in safe and secure way.- Ask the packers or the professional to use high quality packing material. You presence during the packing is very important as it will let the packers to add more effort in packing of the machinery items, fragile goods, furniture and finished product with utmost care.Hire Professional Moving Company- Relocation of goods is not an easy job, especially when it is industrial or corporate moving. Entire belongings have to be moved, in proper way as every single goods are important. For this process hiring the professional moving company can prove to be very fruitful.- Reputed movers can make the shifting easier, smooth and hassle free. They have team of expert professional who do the entire packing, loading, unloading and transportation taking utmost care of each and every single goods.Transportation Lorry- Should be appropriate and specially designed- Once the process of packing gets over, you have to transport it in a final location. For this you need appropriate transportation lorry which will help you in moving the merchandise in safe and comfortable way.

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- Most of the packers movers company provide goods carrier and transportation services. Make sure that you advice them to provide appropriate lorry for moving the industrial products to new location.What you need to do after reaching the Final Location?- Once the goods reach the final location, don’t start unloading the goods. First take the staff members of the moving agency to the place, where merchandise has to be placed. Advice them and they start unloading the goods. Your presence during the unloading is very important and rest of the work will be carefully done by the packers.These are some of the tips that you need to consider before moving industrial or corporate goods to new location. It will surely help you in shifting and the relocation process of corporate and industrial goods in safe and secure way.

Is Learning Tennis Important?

Learning tennis can start at various ages. Some pick it up at a tender age of 3 – 4 years old. Others do not have the opportunity until later in life. Nevertheless, learning tennis is important for all ages, especially for kids for the following reasons and arguments:• Tennis is a form of exerciseNo matter how you see it, tennis will always give you some cardio work out which makes it a form of exercise. Tennis involves running, sprinting at times, stretching for the ball, power and grace. It not only requires physical agility but mental prowess as well. I thoroughly enjoy tennis as it gives me a good work out;• Tennis stimulates the mindFor most people, tennis is merely a physical sport. Nothing more. But, if you look closely, you will realize that tennis requires more mental toughness and mental alertness than one would think it requires. For the competitive player, it is easily more than 80% mental than physical. Choosing the correct shot at the appropriate time is more important than just whacking the ball hard. This requires the mind to be nimble and agile to quickly discern the appropriate shot to make in order to win the point.

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• Tennis improves your social network and self esteem.We are all human beings. We require to be amongst people. Tennis will give you that opportunity to mingle and interact with people in a fun and engaging environment. It will help you to form or enter an already established social group. It helps to build you up as a person too. Not all of us are champion tennis players. That said, being able to hit a tennis ball well at times certainly gives me a sense of satisfaction and raises my self-belief a little more. It allows you to make more friends and feel that you belong.• Tennis improves your mental toughnessTennis, unknown to most players, requires one to really focus and execute an action within a split second. For competition players, tennis helps to improve their self worth and esteem. One has to be able to lose graciously, pick one self up and move on in life to the next match. Losing helps to humble oneself. It teaches one how to lose and yet be happy about it. One has to realize that here is more than life than just winning.• Tennis is good for young kidsIf you have the ability, let your kids try tennis at a young age. It will help to build them up physically and mentally. Tennis will open doors for these kids ie they may be able to get scholarships to various universities. It will help to toughen them up mentally. Of course, the physical aspects of tennis training will also make one stronger and fitter.• You could learn tennis and be a coachTennis can be a means for making a living for some. Ideally, a competitive player, once retired or being injured could decide to take some coaching courses and become a tennis coach. Coaching can be rewarding financially but more importantly it can also be beneficial emotionally as you see your charges grow up to be men or women of stature in society. For some, tennis could give you an extra bit of income while you are studying in university.

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• Tennis can be a businessApart from being a coach, there are many business aspects relating to tennis. One can open up a sports shop selling tennis gear and equipment. You can sell tennis rackets, tennis shoes, tennis bags and many other items related to tennis. You could start and run a tennis club with membership fees. It can be quite lucrative and fun at the same time. Organising tennis tours to various tournaments globally can be another venture to look into.Ultimately, if you ask any tennis enthusiasts what he thinks of tennis. You will get the answer that tennis has become a part of his life because of all or some of the reasons above. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for your first tennis lesson and you will not look back again!. Happy Playing and Learning!

The 7 Pillars of Branding

Although the question of branding has always been essential part of marketing and has been approached with multi-dimension models, sometimes these studies have been made without systematic approach or with full of redundancy or ad-hoc views. Unlike marketing which has the widely-known and usable, practical 7P-model, branding still misses such a sort of basic structure which makes the skeleton of all branding story.Here I am making an outline of such a simplified model to help people in successfully designing brands and also to better understanding the already existing ones. I collected 7 layers of the branding with 7 different tasks to be completed in everyday actions. I hope this can be useful for the readers, too.Right before entering this syllabus, we need to define what brand and branding is: in our view brand is a vision that is related to a specific company, product or any specific entity which lives in people and materializes to them. Branding is the art of deliberate control over the whole process.First pillar: Publicly knownA brand always defines a smaller or bigger group of people who are somehow aware of the product or the service in question. This is the prerequisite or trivial condition of all brands: if you are the only one who knows a specific service or uses a specific product and no information is publicized, the service or product is unable to evolve into a brand. This is the primary task of all marketing efforts, making our specific product or service (along with its whole branding costume) widely known on the addressed market: the majority of the marketing budget is used for this purpose. At this point we normally pay attention to the details of the publicity of all brands: target segment(s), its content, geographic, demography, media, communication methods, timing etc.Task 1: design and make your publicityHowever, the fame of a product or service is not exclusively based on the publicity gained (mostly depending on the money available for promoting the brand) via frontal, push-type of promotion. Money spent on communications is a very important factor to reach the second stage of publicity: the people involved in the communications flow will probably share the information with each other and start a – sometimes very simple and few words – discussion about the product or service heard. The act of sharing the information with each other happens or has happened with all known brands. Suggestions, opinions made in public are very important in articulating brand and thus creating or strengthening/weakening brands. This is why the importance of Facebook in contemporary marketing cannot be overestimated enough, or, with similar effect, the customer service/problem handling has always been focal point of customer satisfaction and branding, too.The publicity of branding therefore incorporates all means of sharing the information related to a specific brand or service. There are two basic type of publicities: there is of course the strictly controlled information sharing method (typically: marketing communications) and we also have to face a second publicity, the huge uncontrolled means of communication. When we are thinking on designing a new brand or just examining an existing one, we have to enlist all the ways how the specific brand gains publicity and sort them by relevance with regards to the public coverage and effect, making special attention to the uncontrolled ways of publicity.The success of controlling publicity is a key to profit from branding, however, public control will never mean information monopoly over the media and over the outcome: even situations when a company has theoretically 100% control over the situation (e.g. customer care desk at the office or shop), it is always a challenge to control what is exactly happening there, what is going to be told or heard. Thus, from micro to macro level the publicity always carries a huge uncertainty factor with regards to reach, direct effect and future implications.Second pillar: Associative and narrative – stories aroundThe discussions initiated and information shared publicly about a brand (or a branded product or service) would show up the next major characteristic of brands, that is, the power of the coupling or association related to the branded products or services. In other words, branding means that we create stories around a brand. Brand identity or personality, brand vision, brand promise are the official stories reflecting the narrative of a generic brand on different levels. Marketing creative planning is exactly doing the same around a specific product of a brand (e.g. ‘The environment friendly Toyota Prius’ as a story), while general brand stories (I mean the Toyota brand in the example) or associations are on higher level only. We therefore have to consider several layers of brand stories or narratives when examining them. It is very useful when these stories are consistent and formed professionally and are not contradicting to each other.

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Brands are incorporating many stories and ideas not just from individual products and services determined by the company but stories and ideas also coming from the public. Unfortunately – as we mentioned above – we cannot control the majority of the perceptions of our brand. Individual opinions, perceived qualities, good or bad experiences are building the narrative universe, or more simply, the stories of a brand.Task 2: define and drive brand storiesNotwithstanding the above, we can drive these brand stories and narrow them to the desired ones on at least two-three different areas. The mission statement of a company/organization is the very source of official brand stories and determines the branding direction via its written values and operational reasons. Secondly, the slogan or the tagline of a brand (like LG’s Life’s Good) is meant to embody the driving narrative story and works like a magnet: collects all the associations around a brand. The third layer of story comes along with specific products or services: repeating the slogans, taglines while inserting the logo of the brand on individual products/services makes the specific product or service painted with the general brand’s associations and qualities. The individual story of a product or service is like a topping on the branding cake. Pure brand campaigns on the other hand are always aiming outlining and fixing the desired main stories and narratives of qualities in the customers.Controlling publicity cannot be done without controlling the stories attached to a specific brand and seems the major task of all branding and communications managers. Here, we have to highlight a related issue which behaves like the blind spot of the branding: rebranding. Rebranding campaigns are to change the very basic story of a brand. This is the reason why these campaigns fail many times and real rebranding is a very seldom event.Third pillar: Concrete and multiplicative formIn real life we always give tangible forms to brands because we want to make profit from our money spent. Brand without concrete product/service to buy (or without a related person when we talk about personal brands) is useless or just a promise (like the newly planned Jolla mobile OS with only a demo video). The embodiment of a Brand is an essential part of its very nature.Normally we use the power of a general Brand Name for many individual products. An already existing brand hands over its potentials (its stories of qualities, usage, value etc.) to specific, individual products and even when we see a new product of an already known brand we are already having a presupposition or sense of certain expectations towards the brand new product. A VW car is perceived for many as a reliable one; however, it may happen that a much lower quality is introduced in a new model than what the brand had fulfilled at its predecessors.Task 3: make several appearances to utilize brand powerMost times we may say that a brand is transferred into several products and therefore it is multiplicative. It is very seldom that an earned reputation of a brand represented in only one product or service. For example the perfume 4711 seems to be transferred only into one product for a long time, but the brand’s product portfolio today consists of more than one item: after shave or even shower gel is also produced. Start-ups typically own only one product and normally the first product is the one that determines and forms the brand later on. Initially, the brand is typically built upon on only one product or service and this is why it is very sensitive when entering a market with a new company and a new product: it also determines the future brand and products the company assessed with.Personal brands, seen superficially, are not multiplicative: a person who has double face (see politicians) and therefore not able to form a consistent and concrete personal brand, are subject to lose their reputation and their face rapidly. This is because brands can have only one concrete (credible) story, without major contradictions. The multiplicative nature of personal brands should be investigated from another perspective. In case we regard a person’s appearances in public as concretizations and multiplications of his/her brand, we are closer to the truth and we understand better why celebrities and politicians are so keen on public appearances.Fourth pillar: Unique propositionThe history of branding is stemming from the wish of making a producer’s goods identifiable. This is not just to ensure the identity of goods but also to prevent from copying and forgery. The brands around us are still carrying these old attributes: the logo of the company/brand is expressing the uniqueness of a brand (supported by law as trade marks) and helps us to identify a specific brand in the universe of brands and signs.Sometimes it is very hard to make distinction based on the products/services alone: Pepsi and its rivals put in a neutral glass next to each other are unidentifiable, so the use of branding techniques is crucial for gaining profit for both companies. Just like in the cola case, the technological industry also heavily relies on the branding when selling its products or services: PCs, laptops, smart phones or internet accesses are very similar to each other. Or, a tax advisory service consultant firm is facing real challenges to provide specific brand vision.Task 4: find and use the means of brand differentiationsThe unique proposition of the brands has to be built up and shown for the public: the individual logos of brands on devices for example help the company to make distinction from their competitors and help the customers to identify different market players in order to make a personal choice of preference. Most times companies heavily rely on the unique brand distinguishers, like stories about their unique market segment, tailor-made products, additional services they provide etc. Sometimes, when stories among a group of competitors are very similar or compatible (like the Big Four Auditors) and even their service is similar, a common story may evolve around them focusing on more the similarity and indirectly expressing the exclusivity of the group members.Fifth pillar: ValueWhen we identify a brand on its telltale signs (e.g. design) or logo we do not think on what we see first (the product itself) but rather we focus on the brand value represented by the specific product or service. We may say (even without seeing the product) that if you are having Martin Logan stereo speakers that is very cool, but if you are having Philips that is not so awesome. Different brands represent different values: there are low-end and high-end brands with many in between. Start-up companies have to position their brand value on the axis predetermined by the existing market players. Making decision on positioning the companies’ services or products on the lower or higher end of this axis has nothing to do with ethical values: a low-end, cheap car helps many disabled or poor people without doubt. Rather, making the choice of brand values determine the market we are about to target. And this target market decision affects our business outlooks directly. When Toyota launched it Lexus series and decided to focus on the higher end cars they probably considered the higher profit option.The value of a brand is also expressed in a more measurable way. In general ledgers brands are valued as a part of the company’s goodwill and are very sensitive for new product introductions and for amortization, too. From financial point of view brands regarded as assets that have been created due to investment and are also subject to lose or increase their values.Task 5: define and carry brand valuesThe value of a brand emanates into individual products of a company and the value of the sold products affects the value of the brands. More surprisingly, the value of a brand may transfer over the buyer persona influencing the perceived value of a person in a certain group of people (see Apple fan-effect) while the network-effect of the public also modifies the brand value (exclusivity, limited models are also able to increase brand value).The relative price of a product or the whole branded portfolio both has very special connection with the brand value: the higher the price positioned the harder to imagine low brand value. This is because the narrative of the price (see Second pillar) influences the brand value. Other narratives of a brand (how durable it is, for instance, or which celebrities are using this brand) heavily effect the brand value, too. Similarly, the extent of public spread (see First pillar – how much the brand is known, how much spent on advertising) also effects the brand value.Brand value is determined by several other factors even not listed here. It is partly the result of deliberate actions of the company (market positioning of the brand and its products) but also exposed to external factors (like time) and public opinion.( LG’s rebranding from the low-end Goldstar brand to the higher positioned LG showed that value propositions of a brand require efforts in both areas. Grundig made the opposite U-turn when sold to Chinese company.)

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Sixth pillar: personal relationAll the pillars encountered previously are summoning on personal level because the nature and the definition of branding 100% relates to human feelings and perceptions. Most cases we can translate this personal effect and feelings to perceived brand values and the position of a brand in the customers’ head. People know or do not know, like or dislike brands, become haters or fans of brands, recommend or just accept certain brands.Task 6: turn personal relation to actionAs a result, this personal disposition of a brand clearly ends up in the relation to the act of buying. We, marketing professionals should not deny the aboriginal intention of our branding efforts to influence buying decisions on personal level. We are not just simply influencing people in business for the sake of general human aims: we do not want world peace; we do want to have our specific products and services sold. We want to convince John or Clair Smith as individual customers to select our service or product. This is the action we – or more generally: the investors – expect from any investments (including brand campaigns) made.Fortunately we not all live in the business sector, not all follow business aims (i.e. sales) in our lives. Surprisingly, non-profit organizations are not so much different from business ventures from this point of view. Non-profits also want to have a specific action to be reached: an action that is maybe appearing directly (like giving donation for starving people) but can be mental action or change to be targeted (for instance diversity campaigns).The personal relation to a branded entity can be outlined in a matrix where on the first axis we can define the readiness or probability of buying action (or in a non-profit: readiness for action) and on the second axis we may highlight the level of brand’s emotional acceptance.The personal relation to a specific brand with regards to the ultimate sales reason can be mapped as shown, but we should not forget that personal emotions and relations to brands are much wider than presented above: some people feel that their beloved brand is expressing also their way of life, involving several other actions well beyond a simple shopping; or just feeling neutral about a brand while the person is not going to be represented in any commercial situation (like myself with any hunting brands, although I know some of them).We should therefore identify very precisely the personal relations to our brand of our existing and potential customers and we should make focused actions to harvest the branding efforts we have previously made.Seventh pillar: Exposure to timeWe have already mentioned before the amortization as an important factor in brand values. The simple reason of amortization is that the brands (via materialized products/services) and the customers live in time.The general life exposure to time factor represented in concrete shapes with regards to brand itself and to its specific products/services. (Amortization is only the result of that process.) Brand perception very much effected by the products/services in timeline (e.g. how much up-to-date the product is reflects the brand’s state-of-the-art nature) and on the other hand the brand itself (without looking at individual products) also has an individual character which has its own life-cycle (how old a brand is, what type of products they represent).Task 7: Consider time: plan and replan over timeBrands do not last for ever and are changing over time, even without deliberate actions. Amortization expresses the time-factor in economic terms but all the pillars mentioned before has a time layer. The repeated actions of marketing campaigns, the product developments or changes in market environments change the face of the brand even if it is not perceived by the company. The sad story of Nokia is a perfect example of how this specific brand was effected by the time factor in all possible way, from the publicity of its phones (a complete new generation has skipped Nokia phones), through the changes in the narratives attached to the brand, with the refreshed need to be unique again to the sharp decline of the brand value.

Video Game Tester Jobs Can Jump Start You on Almost Any Game Development Path

Video game QA testing may be low on the game development totem pole, just above “personal projects” you’d never think about including in your resume. But used correctly, both can carry you a long way towards becoming a game programmer, story line creator, or graphics designer.It’s all about broader experience inventory and growth through progress.It would seem fairly obvious. Look at anyone in college working towards a career in a high paying field like medicine, and what do you see them doing? That’s right, working at any job in a hospital, clinic, or private practice environment (a relevant environment) which they can find. They know even a role only loosely related to the one they aspire towards in their chosen field serves as a stepping stone towards more relevant positions once the opportunity becomes available.As is the case in medicine, software development is a industry made up of many narrow roles. If you’re only focused on “qualifying for your desired role”, you may end up short changing yourself in two ways. First, by not recognizing applicable experience you’ve already obtained through non-professional work and personal hobbies. Second, by overlooking potential resume building opportunities while limiting yourself only to the ones not available to you.Let’s look at the first problem: “not recognizing applicable experience you’ve already obtained”.I don’t see this problem a lot in sales and marketing, regardless if it’s computer entertainment sales, advertisement sales, or used car sales. In fact, newer “greener” aspiring sales reps often need to learn a page from aspiring software developers about “Never put anything in your portfolio that someone wouldn’t pay you for”. Where the aspiring gaming professional falls short is recognizing what actually counts as valuable to those they present their resumes and portfolios to. They’ll often include what they consider “real job experience”, such as “Manager at Macy’s”, or “Audits and Accounting at Wells Fargo” (neither of which has anything to do with game or software development); but avoid including things like “my dorm mate and I wrote “Squares vs Circles” (an iPhone app) for fun while we were in college, it got 500,000 downloads within a month of release” (so what you are saying is, you wrote, developed, tested, and published popular and successful software on your own for fun?)It’s as if those aspiring to game development roles almost seem to have an “inferiority complex” when it comes to the kinds of experiences relevant to the gaming field. While considering any work they think of as “from a real company” with “a real paycheck attached” automatically more important. The thing is: the person looking over your resume doesn’t care about any of that. They’re not your dad who thinks you should get a “real job”, or your mom who worries about you’re “spending too much time on the internet”, they are people looking for someone with experience that has to do with games. Don’t discount experience because it was “just a personal project”. If you want to be hired in the area of game development you need to show how you have already performed successfully in game development. Whether or not you got paid, and regardless whether or not it resembles what you or your peers think of as “a real company”, “real work”, or “real professional”. What matters is that it was developing a game, and you completed the project as defined – or better. That’s what people want to hear about.

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Now take a look at the second problem: “overlooking potential resume building opportunities while limiting yourself only to the ones not available to you”.This one is a little trickier, because it requires a balancing act. You see, another important thing to remember is “Build your portfolio around a single focus”. I’m not going into detail about that here, as it mostly goes beyond the scope of this article. But, it needs to be mentioned as it’s the other end of the spectrum in so far as: on one level, you don’t want to overlook potential resume building opportunities, but at the same time, you don’t want to build a portfolio of non-relevant experience and garbage either.The best way to look at it is, if you have an opportunity to work in a position which is highly relevant to your desired role in gaming – say for example story line creator – by all means favor that work over work that’s less closely related. But when such positions are scarce or highly competitive, don’t overlook opportunity to work in any game development role – even if it falls outside the scope of the game development area you ultimately aspire towards.The reality is, jobs in game development are places where many come – but few may enter. There simply aren’t enough positions to fill in any one role for everyone who applies at the door. And even experience outside the role you aspire towards can help you as it gives you familiarity, exposure to a variety of technology, and broader experience with the roles of others you might have to later work with.The lowly and relatively low paying Video Game Tester Jobs.Compared to other gaming industry roles, video game QA tester is the lowest paying. According to The Game Developers 12th Annual Salary Survey (conducted in 2013), freelance and temporary assignment video game QA testers, with less than 3 years’ experience, earn an average of $22,000/yr., roughly equivalent to $10/hr. – assuming a 40 hour work week. This is because of the much lower amount of education needed to enter video game QA testing.However, consider those “working towards a career in a high paying field like medicine”, who I described at the beginning of this article; the ones taking “any job in a hospital, clinic, or private practice environment (a relevant environment)”. They’re doing this for a few good reasons. It helps to offset college costs, gives them a chance to gain experience and familiarization within a related work environment, and the jobs they take are often the “lower paying roles” due to lower entry-level education requirements – which equates to ease of entry. High turn-over rates as people in these positions attain the qualifications to move on to their desired careers, make these jobs readily available. And those who later move on to higher positions will have previous industry relevant experience to add to their resumes if needed. If needed being the key. If they don’t need it, or feel it would distract from experience more relevant to a particular job, they can always make less mention of it or leave it out entirely.Which bring us to the real question – why are those seeking software development careers so averse to including video game tester jobs along the way? Think back about the “inferiority complex” among “those aspiring to game development roles” which I spoke of earlier. And the corresponding “superiority complex” among those becoming “material” for higher paying, more respected roles such as graphics designer or programmer. When people think of, for example, becoming an environmental art designer, they often think of highly sophisticated technical skills, and expensive but well-worth-it college degrees – leading to well-earned and well-respected salaries. When people think of a QA tester job, they often think of someone who was lucky enough to get paid to play games.Video game quality assurance testing is seen by many as almost a kind of “red-headed-step-child”. Some treat it the same way one might treat a cheap book promising the secret to unbelievable income sold on a poorly done website alongside thin porn, payday loans, and mesothelioma related attorney services.The reality is – a video game tester job can provide the same things to the soon to be 3D character model designer that a clerical position with a small clinic provides to the soon to be medical technician, nurse, or doctor. Video game tester jobs are readily available, industry related, work with which you can offset other costs while in school or training for your desired role, gain experience and familiarity with the software development process, and which comes with relatively low entry requirements.Video game QA positions require only that you have a high aptitude for basic skills applicable to any job, such as attention to detail, ability to follow instructions, diligence, and being able to write reports. Yet they provide game industry experience, familiarity, and exposure to a wider variety of related technologies. Also, while QA testing may be “low paying” compared to other development roles, it’s actually on par with many part-time jobs that aren’t even career connected which people typically take while working towards their desired career path.

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The key is, don’t look at QA tester work as a job you “don’t take seriously”, consider it instead as a useful tool in a strategic plan. Consider those too good to be true offers you see promising “$4,000 a month playing games” for some small monthly fee. These offers are usually made by assignment aggregators. Assignment aggregators are companies in the business of offering a central location for freelance video game QA testers to find temporary video game QA assignments. Whether the promises of easy money come true or not, you could use those to get work (resume experience) handed to you even though you have not yet attained any work history or qualifications, in addition to some extra income. What you really want is for the assignments to serve as documented work history in QA Testing to support obtaining a regular entry-level position with a gaming company. You want to be able to say “I’ve completed projects in the gaming field”… as opposed to the other applicant who hasn’t.From here it depends on the options available to you, and your desired career path. If you’ve already chosen a career path in another game development role, then I’d recommend NOT moving all the way from freelance to full-time QA testing – as you want to focus your efforts on obtaining a job closer to your desired role. Until you do, you may wish to simply remain a freelance tester. Despite the lower hourly pay, this will give you the greatest flexibility and control over your time. Should you decide to become a regular part-time tester with a gaming company, the pay could actually outstrip many other non-career connected part-time jobs.If you’re still deciding when it comes to what role you want to have in game development, you may want to consider that QA testing does become more lucrative with experience – all-be-it not as quickly as in other development roles. It rises to just under $40,000/year as a full-time job with 3 years’ experience, and “maxes out” around $70,000/yr. Not as much as the $85,000/yr. you could be making as a programmer, but still fairly decent compared to other professional roles.Video game QA testing may be the lowest paid type of work in game development. However, those aspiring for such roles as game programmer, story line creator, or graphics designer would be wise to look beyond just work related to their desired role in game development.