Branding Your Business
What is Business Branding and How To Brand Your Business
Nope, that’s not branding.
Small business owners think about marketing. They think about sales and advertising. But too frequently they don’t think about their brand, perhaps because they think it’s covered by the aforementioned disciplines. And it is… sort of…
So what is branding? If you ask your graphic designer friend, he’ll tell you it means having a snazzy logo. Your teenager would tell you it’s all about having a Facebook page and a cool blog. Talk to your ad guy and he’ll jump into planning an awesome campaign to get you on the map. All good ideas. But all wrong… sort of…
With branding your opinion… doesn’t matter.
Your brand is the sum, product, quotient, function, and exponent of all the opinions everyone who’s heard of it has about your business. Everyone except you, that is. As a small business owner, your vision matters, but your opinion doesn’t. Accept that you’re biased and incapable of truly viewing your business like a prospective or current customer and you’ll avoid the common pitfall of thinking your customers should love your business as much as you do.
We’ve done alright without branding…
Your logo, advertising, and social media presence are all components of your brand, but should be kept in the toolbox and used appropriately as needed. But before you can start building, you need to know whether you want the final project to be a doghouse or a birdhouse. Many small and medium businesses have already launched and generated significant revenue before they start thinking about how they’re perceived. This is totally fine for a little while because most startups are entirely focused on a single product or service they hope will fill a gap they’ve identified in the market.
If you’ve already made your first thousand, or million, don’t think it means you’ve transcended the need for a strong brand—when the pains of quick growth catch up to you, the opinions of everyone (except you) start mattering a lot more. This is where the plan comes in, and it’s better to have it ready and waiting than scramble to figure out who you want to be when you’re spread too thin. Though you may not have started thinking about your brand yet, everyone that knows your business exists is already busy forming opinions about you. Now that you’re thinking about it, let’s start with the basics. You want opinions about your company to be centered around two big things, what you do, and how well you do it.
Branding- What you do
Apple, the world’s most valuable brand, is now synonymous with attractive, user-friendly consumer tech. That’s “what they do.” So what does your company do? What need are you satisfying? What gap are you filling? And not only what, but who? Whose needs are you satisfying? Have you identified your target market and attendant segments? If you can answer these questions clearly, you can start thinking about what you want people to think and feel when they hear your name or see your logo. If you don't know, hiring a creative agency like StuckAxiom can be very helpful in finding new angles to market your business from.
What can we take from this example? Once you have decided what your company does, you need to decide how you are going to communicate what you do to your customers. Are you going to be funny? Alarming? Serious? Adventurous? All of these strategies can work, but decide which will work for your potential market, and develop a way to communicate your message in that way. Orabrush has received praise after praise for the way they presented their product. This makes their brand valuable.
Branding- How well you do it
Every opinion has a qualitative aspect. People that use Apple products usually feel like no one meets their needs better. Are you the best at what you do? If you’re relatively new, probably not. Of course, you can get there, but don’t despair during the interim. Hopefully your business has strengths to offset the areas you need to improve. The important thing for your brand is that people associate you with quality and satisfaction, and most people are willing to deal with a few negatives if the overall experience is good enough.
One way to create brand awareness on how well you do what you do, is to focus on what is different between you and the competition. Going back to Orabrush, their competition is the toothbrush and mouthwash. What did their very first video talk about? It talked about how toothbrushes and toothpaste don't do as good of a job at curing bad breath as their product did (in very graphic form I might add). Think about what you do that is slightly better than your competition, and do a simple comparison that makes it easy for people to see that your brand is better (or cheaper) than others.
Branding- A word on reality
Remember that branding is about opinion, not reality. Is Apple really the best? Is Orabrush really the best? Let’s not get into that, but the point is that while the quality of their products is important, it’s the perception of the company that matters most. Part of your brand has nothing to do with what you sell, but how you sell it. This is where the advertising and logo design, and corporate citizenship, and public relations come in.
Use YouTube and Facebook and Twitter to build the image you want people to associate with your brand. If you want to be funny, post funny, relevant things on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. If you want to be alarming, post new studies and statistics on those channels.
Just remember that today’s consumers are smarter and more empowered than ever before, and they can smell a phony from across the food court. Opinions will quickly sour if you don’t live up to the image you’re selling.