It used to be small business owners could avoid all the talk about brands and branding. No one knew if the concept was just hype that would eventually fade – like many business ideas – or if it was going to be around for a while. Well, it’s here to stay and you can’t ignore it any longer.
In fact, if you’re like most owners, you’ve ignored it for too long all ready. It’s time to get serious about developing your brand. The more mainstream the concept is the more your customers expect it. More and more often how you create and manage your brand will be directly linked with your sales.
The idea of creating a brand for their business is confusing to a lot of owners, mainly because they think of branding as an “it”. They believe a thing (i.e. website, logo, catch phrase, product, service) is the brand. But, it isn’t a thing. Your brand is how the customer perceives and experiences your company.
The experience is composted of and produced by several different components, which make up the whole. These parts, when put all together, create an image or idea about the business in general and its products specifically. Let’s look at an example of how the parts of a brand contribute to how it’s perceived by its target audience.
What do you think when you see the word Nike – the Wimbledon short dresses controversy, funny/inspiring/stupid commercials, football, shoes, a surprise announcement to discontinue its golf equipment, swopes, Olympics, Iron Nun, how hard it is to navigate the web site on your phone? Each piece contributes to Nike’s general brand, both the good and bad.
The need to create a brand can seem overwhelming. If you’re like most owners, you’re probably having trouble keeping up with all the other things a business needs (production, regulation, finances, quality, personal). But, it doesn’t have to be difficult or mystifying.
It’s nothing more than a comprehensive, “whole package” way of selling. The way to create a brand is to break the process down into small manageable pieces that you, your employees or other professionals can do over time. Part 2 of this series will look at the specific components you’ll need to put this package together.