Can You – Should You – Brand Your Small Business? Of course! Here’s how:

I tend to be passionate about some odd things (I can tell by the way people look at me sometimes, like my husband who called me a “Twitter-geek” last night; I took it well actually.) Anyway, one of the things I’ve been passionate about is effective branding. It’s an issue that I find that many people-even really smart business people and sometimes even really, really smart communication professionals, don’t really fully understand.

Recently I was asked to provide some insights for a major business publication about how small businesses can develop a strong brand and how they should do this. I jumped at the chance!

First a definition: Branding is about the combination and alignment of all of the elements of the marketing mix – price, product, place and promotion. “The brand” is defined by a company’s external audience, but can be impacted by the company’s actions and activities.

As I work with clients, and what I shared with this reporter are the following recommendations:

1) Define your desired brand image. How do you wish to be viewed by your target market? What are the most important attributes of your brand identity? (I also recommend that they develop a brand that is designed to differentiate them from their competitors – there are far too many “me-too” brands out there and they tend to not be very effective.)

2) Determine how your target market (not people in general, but *your* desired market) defines your brand.

3) Identify the gaps.

4) Determine how you might make changes to any of the elements of the marketing mix (your product, its price, its distribution channels and access, and how you communicate about it) to move consumers closer to describing your desired brand identity. (Note: in some cases, assessing consumers’ perspectives may point to new branding opportunities for your business that you hadn’t previously considered.)

5) Expand your focuc beyond logos, slogans and colors! While logos/slogans, etc., are often considered to be “the brand” they are simply a reflection of the brand. These elements are very important from the standpoint of providing reinforcement and a recognizable symbol to reflect your organization and its brand, but they are not the brandThey represent only a piece of the overall branding effort.

*Everything* a business does (large or small) impacts the perception of the brand from a market perspective. That includes things like store furnishings. It includes how employees dress and interact with customers. It includes the bags that items are put in when they’re purchased. It includes how quickly you process an order, or a return. And, yes, it does include your web sites, your advertising–and your logo.

I’ve written a few other blogs on this issue over the past couple of years that I pulled up to share with this reporter. They still provide relevant information, IMO.

The 5th P in the Marketing Mix – People  

What Makes a Brand Strong 

Beyond the Logo – Building Your Service Brand

Ask Your Customers to Define Your Brand 

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