Archive for October, 2010

Your Small Business Brand – What a Personality! (Part II)

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Brand Consciousness Exercise

Your business has an audience of involved stakeholders. These are your employees, partners, sponsors, and whoever else that come in contact with or “touch” your customers.

Owning a successful brand includes the art of controlling the image you want those customers to have of you. Thus, since your stakeholders help shape that image, it would be prudent to make certain they know what that image is and how you want it reflected. That being said, can you honestly say those stakeholders have an equal understanding of your brand and its attributes, and how you want to be perceived by your customers?

  • Do your stakeholders know what your brand promise is to your customers?
  • Do they know why you’re different or better than your competitors?
  • Are they cognizant of the intangibles that keep you ahead of the pack?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions then you might have some work to do.

Your brand in part is your label and what you want your customers to see, think, feel and know about your company. If your stakeholders don’t have guidelines or a blueprint to follow to project that, you need to create or redefine your brand strategies now.

Common Conundrum

A strong brand image is one that influences buying decisions and shapes perceptions held by your customers and prospects. It makes people trust that image and allows you to command a premium price for your product or service.

Creating brand philosophy or thoughtfully planned strategies to market and project that brand image and reputation is the first step to enforcing them.

However, before we list a few important elements of a Brand Strategy Planning Program, I thought it advantageous to clarify common business branding issues.

For a number of small business owners, their brand is not the easiest thing to understand and translate for them. This is a very common conundrum.

So, to review – your brand is not just a logo and slogan. It’s the result of all experiences your company creates with customers, vendors, the media and employees. It’s the image and great business personality they see, the primal feeling they get and what makes them remember your organization. Understanding the image and feel that people associate with your company is the platform on which your strategies are built.

Drafting a realistic Brand Strategy Planning Program that’s professional and stays well-managed is now in order.

Next: Part III – Brand Strategy Planning Program

Your Small Business Brand – What a Personality! (Part I)

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Your small business. It has its own great personality, with an intangible essence and a certain perception to those at any level of awareness of it. So, realize it or not, your business already has its own label or “brand” – whether it’s a good one or a not so good one – and it’s the recognizable “face” that differentiates your company from the pesky competition.

Love it, like it, or hate it, YOUR BRAND IS YOUR IDENTITY! It’s who you are, who people perceive you to be, and should be treated as one of your company’s most valuable assets.

Simply said, your brand is not just your logo and slogan, but the image, impression and reputation behind them as well. It’s also what people consciously or unconsciously feel about your company, and it’s the overall “trigger inducer” when deciding if to get involved.

Let me add quickly and emphatically:

Building brand awareness is often not a focus for busy small business owners, but regardless of how small small is, retail or B2B, your business needs existing brand strategies to strengthen its image to secure an edge in increasingly competitive markets.

Control Yourself

Brand sells. Your business needs a solid brand reputation or you’re at a disadvantage. Today, branding has become much more than just a trendy business word and is an essential element of selling in the new economy. It conveys your uniqueness, focus and values through the art of creating a consistent, recognizable and unified voice or personality. Unfortunately, in many organizations, confusion reigns as the unified voice or personality is really multiple voices and personalities. Their strong, proprietary image becomes diffused, weak, confusing and out of control.

Bart Crosby, one of the first marketing experts focused on branding, jokingly but compellingly said, “Cowboys all know you can’t brand nuthin’ till you tie three of its legs together, slam it to the ground, control it and sedate it.”

The key word here is control.

There are sometimes many mixed messages spiraling out of an organization, pulling in opposite directions, and you need a logical, methodical branding strategy to plan, attack and control those messages.

Next: Part II – Brand Consciousness Exercise