Your Brand - More than the Sign Plastered on your Building
When was the last time you gave some serious thought to your brand?
When was the last time you gave some serious thought to your brand? Some small business owners are obsessed with their brand, while others think that a brand is something that goes on cattle. With so many urgent matters requiring the attention of a small business owner, who has time to delve into branding? There’s a payback awaiting those who make the effort to understand what a brand is and how it can create value for the business.
Your brand is a trustmark. In the same way you have a personal reputation, your business has a brand that is a combination of what you project in terms of values, and how they are perceived. Too often, a business does nothing to manage its brand, which is unwise. In the same way you take care of other assets – such as fixing a leaky roof – it’s important to invest in managing and growing your brand. Here are some facts about brands that are important for businesses of all sizes to embrace:
- You have a brand. Even if you’ve never done a thing to create or manage your brand, you have one. There’s no vacuum here. In the same way you have a reputation as a person, your business has a brand. If you’ve done nothing to manage it, then you have accidental branding. A business that has consistently delivered quality and served customers well can have a great brand image, even if it has done nothing to manage it. However, that same business may be squandering an opportunity to fully leverage its brand.
- A brand is not a logo. Your logo is a visible representation of your brand, but they are not one and the same. The brand comes first and transcends the logo. In fact, a clear understanding of the brand ideally influences logo development and design.
- A brand is an asset. As such, it has equity. We can easily see the equity many premium or luxury brands have, such as Lexus or Apple. But every brand has some equity, no matter the size. Ideally, your brand conveys your values and helps express the reason your business exists and who the business serves. When it does this well, it adds real value to the business that is sometimes referred to as goodwill. In the same way we seek to grow the equity in our more tangible assets, a business should do the same with its brand.
- Your brand differentiates you. Like a fingerprint, a brand is unique to a business. It sets you apart from all others and helps communicate why you’re different, better and the ideal choice with which to do business. This differentiation is why firms jealously protect their brands, and you should too. It is also why some firms periodically re-brand themselves, so that their brand better reflects the value and differentiation they provide.
If you think you should pay more attention to your brand, the place to start is with an assessment. The simplest way to do this is to ask your customers to provide some insight. Questions to ask them might include:
- Why do you choose to do business with us?
- Have you ever referred someone to our business? If so, why?
- What do you think the core values of our business are?
- How, beyond the products or services we provide, do we provide value to you?
- What is the most recognizable aspect or part of our business?