Often we hear people talking about branding like it’s an esoteric voodoo thing that only Fortune 500 companies can afford to do. Or that small business owners should ignore branding because it costs a lot of money and they need to be focusing on sales and cash flow. Or that you need a big national advertising agency to create a successful brand.
This couldn’t any further from the truth.
There is nothing voodoo about branding at all. It’s just potentially misunderstood by many small business owners.
So what is branding?
Branding is easy to define once you realize that a brand is basically a reputation. It’s what people think and say about you or your company when you’re not around.
So that means branding – the act of building a brand – is how you conduct and present yourself and your business on a day to day basis. Everything that you and your company does will paint a picture in people’s heads about who and what you are.
If you thought that branding is just plastering logos all over town, you’ve missed the train completely. In fact, one of the biggest misconceptions people have about branding is that you have to do anything extra at all! Branding is not a separate exercise that comes after you’ve finished with marketing, sales, advertising and PR. It is your marketing, sales, advertising and PR.
Branding is in everything you do, and most importantly, the manner in which you do it. Regardless of what marketing system or strategy you follow, how big your budget is, what industry you’re in, you are going to have to advertise, market and sell your business. And branding is about what you say, how you look, and where you are when you do it.
For example, if a company uses bargain-basement colors on their billboard (e.g. red on yellow), what would your impression of that company be? Probably something along the lines of they have discount stuff at low prices, right? Would that be the right color scheme to use for a high end home audio retailer? Probably not. But it might be perfectly appropriate for a pawn shop or a liquidation outlet. The point is the billboard costs the same in either case. What you do with it is going to make the difference.
So shed your mindset that branding is not for you, that you’re too small to brand, you don’t need it at this stage in your business, or you have to spend a fortune to brand yourself.
You’re branding yourself already, whether you like it or not.
The question you really need to be asking is: “How can I shape that brand to my favor? What choices can I make to get the best results from everything I do?”