Should You Be Branding Your Small Business?
Virtually every small business owner has heard the word “branding” and been told he or she needs to be doing it. But there can be confusion about what, exactly, is meant by the term and how it is different from marketing, planning, operations and all of the other things that a business owner is responsible for doing every day. So let’s break it down. First, a definition of branding.
What is a brand?
A brand is a promise. It is not a logo or a tagline. It is not package design or spiffy uniforms. It is an emotional connection between the company and its customers that creates an image or understanding of the company at a “gut level.” Let me give you an example. There are multiple brands of baby shampoo that you can buy, but I’ll bet you immediately thought of one – Johnson’s Baby Shampoo*. With that thought came an image or understanding about the product – perhaps it was “no more tears” or the image of a smiling baby with shampoo in its hair and a loving mom bathing the child.
Both of those things, along with other images that may have come to mind from your own childhood, are part of the company’s brand for that product. Johnson & Johnson has worked diligently over the years to build that brand identity and they have done a great job.
You Already Have A Brand
So, what does that mean for a small business? The truth is that your company already has a brand in the minds of your customers. They already know something about the company, your services or products based on their experience with the firm. The question is whether it is the image you want them to have.
Your branding activity should be deliberate and thoughtful so that you can be sure your customers – and future customers – know who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. By specifically managing your brand to align with your company’s core values and its business goals, it will be easier to do the right kind of marketing that increases sales.
In the next few blog entries, we will review specific steps that small businesses can take to build, and manage, their brands. Stay tuned – and email me if you have any questions or issues you would like to have included.
*Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is a registered trademark of Johnson & Johnson.