The Brand Factor

It's crucial for small businesses to set themselves apart from their big-box rivals now by building a brand and name recognition.

What’s your favorite TV commercial of all time? No one can forget the Budweiser frogs, the “time to make the donuts” guy for Dunkin’ Donuts or the basketball shoot-off between Michael Jordan and Larry Byrd for a McDonald’s ad. My favorite, though, would have to be for Empire Today. Growing up in the Chicago area, where the business was solely based before going nationwide a few years ago, I’ve probably known the 588-2300 jingle since I was about 5 years old.

The advertising eventually worked, too, because I hired them to install a shower and tub liner in March. Just like the commercial promised, a friendly rep came the next day for a consultation, and we got to talking about the commercials. Apparently, the gentleman who starred in the commercials for decades is named Lynn Hauldren—he was an advertising copywriter working on the Empire account in the ’70s and wrote the trademark, catchy tune. When Empire’s original owner, Seymour Cohen, couldn’t decide on the right spokesman for the job, Lynn volunteered and the rest is history. Although the spokesman is now animated, Lynn is still providing the voice and, on the side, sings in a barbershop quartet.

To me, Empire isn’t just a company that sells laminate flooring and window treatments—it’s a brand that, first through their advertising and later through their customer service, I’ve come to know and love. As small business owners, this is the kind of feeling you want to inspire in every customer that walks through your door.

This issue of America’s Best teaches you how to do just that. Our cover story, “Branding Your Business,” features advice from some of the best branding experts in North America. Think creating a brand name is just about having an attractive logo? The pros believe that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Getting the word out in an effective way is just as important to the success of your business. Advertising has a reputation for being expensive, but it’s something you can’t afford not to do. In this issue we show you how to advertise your business when on a budget. There’s a cost-friendly option for every price range—find yours now!

Plus, we take a look at some of the most recognizable small business TV commercials in rotation today in “Commercial Success”. Learn from your peers how their often-wacky, but always memorable, TV advertising led to more name recognition and resulting sales. Make sure to visit to see videos of the commercials as well!

We’d love to hear your branding and advertising success stories as well—e-mail me at and we'll post them online!

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