Breaking Down the Brand Myth

For many small business owners, it seems there is no word that frustrates them more than when marketers use the word “brand”. The word gets tossed around like the penultimate marketing goal. Business owners seem to feel that how you develop a brand is cloaked in secrecy and being a brand expert is part of a special sect in the marketing world.

I firmly believe your brand, (otherwise known as the way you communicate about your business in the market place) is the single most powerful tool in the small business arsenal. But let me take a moment and break it down for people in terms of what it really means for your business and why you should leverage your brand everywhere in everything you do.

Definition of Brand

A strong brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive market. Your brand is your promise to:

  • Your clients
  • Your staff
  • The industry you serve

It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

brand1

Here’s where people get branding wrong:

  1. Your brand is not a logo. It’s the tone, manner, visual image and the overall presentation of your business to the marketplace.
  2. Your brand should be a reflection of your clients and the attributes of your ideal customer.
  3. Your brand is not about you or what think is cool, pretty or good. It should be about how well prospects will immediately connect with your company and see themselves reflected in the way you present yourself.

Here’s the only thing that matters….

It is measured by what people think of you and who they perceive you to be.

To make a brand successful, you have to incorporate a lot of things. Take a moment and thing about your brand in these terms….

  • Uniqueness – Does your name, logo, colors, tone, etc set you apart in the marketplace?
  • Recognition – Is the logo and name easy to recognize and explain what you do?
  • Memorable – Does the name and logo grab your attention? Is it easy to remember?
  • Descriptive Value – How well does it convey what the organization does and its services?
  • Visual Tone – Is the tonality of the logo appropriate for the target audience?
  • Adaptability – Can the logo be extended to multiple applications? Can it be easily produced in a variety of sizes and contexts?
  • Timelessness – Is the name and logo able to transcend trends? Is it able to portray the company into the future as it evolves and expands?
  • Associations – Can the logo be associated with ideas and objects that work with the identity as the company evolves?

Brand Objectives

Brand objectives should be universal for any company. If you are not achieving the following objectives, you are spending time and money on the wrong activities that will not drive value to your business.  Branding should:

  1. Accelerate sales success.
  2. Clarify and differentiate your message and positioning in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
  3. Communicate why you are the best solution in the marketplace for your target market.

Brand Personality

Your brand personality should represent the user of your product or service (not the personality of the people in your company). It needs to evoke emotion and create a reaction when prospects look at your marketing material.  Brand personality addresses:

  • Corporate Goals (practical goals) of the end user.  “Here is what I “get” when I am done working with this company”.
  • Personal Goals (emotional goals) of the end user.  “I think I could work with these people; they share my values and I could learn from them”.

Defining Your Brand

It’s really important that as you work towards leveraging the strength of your brand in your marketing program that you put edges around it. We can all think of brands that stick out in our mind and we have lots of really poor one, no doubt. Here’s a quick example of how you might define your brand:

Should Be……… Should Not Be……..
Intelligent  Complicated
Benefit-oriented  Product-oriented
 Sophisticated  Exclusive
 Friendly  Assuming
Superior   Authoritative
 Fun  Abrupt
 Concise  Presumptuous
 Conversational  funky

The “should be” column is a direct reflection of your customer. The “should not be” column could be a reflection of your competition. Whatever edges you choose, pick some and start developing a brand for your business. It speaks volumes in attracting the right customers to your business and is one of the best investments you will ever make.

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