Every company has a brand, from the largest companies like P&G to the smallest mom and pop store. Small business branding is about creating an experience or a promise that resonates with your customer. Your brand is what customers consider when shopping or doing business with you. It encompasses your look, your logo, your reputation, and the “bucket” into which you fit in the mind of a customer.
Branding helps your business create an identity. Once you know that identity, it is easier to figure out who your customers are, and where you can find them. Are you the “high quality for a premium price” option like Apple, or are you “Quality at a bargain price” like Target? If you’re a “high quality” brand, you may advertise in more high-end publications, provide catalogs with thicker, glossier paper, or put ads on websites that attract a more affluent audience.
It is your job to define your brand, or hire a consultant or firm that specializes in branding. As John Williams notes in this piece in Entrepreneur, you have to answer these questions:
- What is your company’s mission?
- What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
- What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
- What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
These items are only determined by doing customer research, and that’s a key step to take before you lock down your branding. Note also that there is a difference between creating a brand, and branding. Creating a great brand can be an asset, according to that article, but having a confusing brand can be a huge liability. The article cites RIM, who has 4 different models of “Blackberry Bold.” Which one is which? Who knows? The company’s sales are down for many reasons, but a confusing brand can’t help.
As a user of Wicked Start, you can jump over to Section 10 on Marketing, and under item 1 for branding you can download our white paper on Branding. That will help you get started with asking and answering some of the key questions that will help your company achieve brand success.