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Warning: Reading This Blog Post May Destroy Your Brand

Small Business Branding ServicesDo you have a brand?

To answer that question, many small business people point to their logo and say, “Yes, I brand my company in all the marketing I do.”

There’s one problem with that response.  Your logo isn’t your brand.

Another common answer to that question among small business people is, “No, but I’m working on a tag line.”  Unfortunately, a catchy tag line does nothing to brand your company or strengthen your competitive position unless it clarifies your competitive edge.

Sound like a crazy idea?  Let’s test it out.  What comes to mind when you think about Kmart®?  Pier 1®?  McDonald’s®?  Outback Steakhouse®?

If you’re like most people, you have a very definite mental image that comes to mind when you think of each of those companies.  Now, consider this:

  • Would your mental image change if Kmart® had a big green K on their building instead of a big red K?
  • Would your mental image change if Pier 1® was displayed as Pier One?
  • Would your mental image change if the McDonald’s® golden arches were red?

The point is that a brand is only represented by a logo.  The perception of a company is the company’s brand.

Effective branding is the result of a lot of hard work by the company’s executives to define a brand identity, and to burn that identity into the minds of their customers.

So, the moral of the story is:  Don’t just focus on which typestyle you should use to ensure that your logo projects stability, or which tagline makes the best play on your last name.

Take the time to brand your small company.  Identify your unique sales proposition, your most competitive strengths in the industry, and the mental image you want to create when your prospects see your logo.  Make the definition of your brand the story you sell, using your logo to trigger recognition in your prospect’s mind.

If you’d like assistance in branding your company, let’s talk about an approach.  Call 888-716-2418 or send an email.

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I Don’t Know What a Brand Is, But I Don’t Think I Need One

Why you need a brandI hear that sentence all the time.  “I don’t know what a brand is, but I don’t think I need one”.  I decided to take this opportunity to try to define the concept of branding to explain why you need a brand.

In a way, it’s like explaining why we need air.  So, please hang in there with me, and let me know if what follows makes sense.

How Can You Recognize a Brand?

Raise your hand if you recognize the car in the photo above. If you didn’t raise your hand, you know that it’s a sporty-looking car.    Just looking at the car, for all you know, it could be a hybrid with a top speed of 60 miles an hour.  That could be your perception just from looking at the photo.

If you did raise your hand, you know that you’re looking at an Aston Martin.  A 2010 DB9 Volante, to be exact.  And, now that the rest of you know it’s an Aston Martin, you probably have quite a different perception of the vehicle.

What do you know about Aston Martins?   If you’re a car buff at all, you know that James Bond was fond of Aston Martins.  So, does that fact make you feel differently about the car than when you thought it might be a hybrid?  Indeed.  Why?

Because you now perceive the car to be a hot sports car, capable of making beautiful women swoon, achieving high rates of speed, completing very sharp turns, and in the hands of  “Q”, launching rockets.  And, that perception is reinforced by other things you may know if you are a car buff.

For example, here is a short list of famous folks who drive Aston Martins:  Jennifer Lopez, Pierce Brosnan, Janet Jackson and Ryan Seacrest.  So, even if you’ve never driven an Aston Martin yourself, every perception you have of the car is consistent. It’s a hot car that anyone would love to own.

So, That’s It.  That’s the Brand.

Now, look at the photo again, and point to the brand.  You can’t, can you?  Why? Because a brand is a perception that has been implanted in the public’s mind.

It’s your perception of what the Aston Martin is all about.  And, you developed that perception because everything you were exposed to concerning that car reinforced its brand.

When people ask me what the end product produced by branding is, it can be difficult to explain.  There isn’t something you can see, feel or taste.  It’s not like a website or a marketing brochure.  And, that is a big part of the reason why branding is often misunderstood.

When we do branding, the end product is a market positioning statement and a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  Just words on a page.  But, the point is that you can take those words and use them to start implanting a perception in the minds of the people in your market area.

The branding process gives you the opportunity to clearly identify your target market, their needs, and how you satisfy those needs in a way that is DIFFERENT from your competitors.

Without a Brand, You’re Just a Another Face in the Crowd

It’s the “different from your competitors” part that is critical.  Until you know what the Aston Martin’s brand is, it’s just a car.  Until you, as a small business executive, have a brand, you’re just another page on Linkedin.

And, that’s why you need a brand.

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