So you've started a new business. Congratulations! You have probably heard by now that all…
If you thought branding was a concept that only major corporations had to worry about, you would be wrong. With the internet providing a global stage to even the smallest of entrepreneurial endeavors, no business person can afford to leave his or her brand to chance. A bad or obscure brand will almost certainly leave you wallowing in obscurity. A shiny, sparkling brand, on the other hand, and the sky’s the limit. And when we say brand, we’re talking about a lot more than a logo. Read on!
Logo is Still Important
Since we like to immediately contradict ourselves, let’s talk about your logo, which is the foundation upon which brand-building occurs. The simple truth is that a great logo makes your company instantly recognizable, which is a good thing. Think of golden arches or a familiar swoosh on the side of basketball shoes. In a world dripping with too much information, a great logo could cause people to slow down and look rather than speeding on past. The lack of a logo is often a short trip to obscurity.
Stand for Something
The idea of building a brand starts with the logo but quickly moves into other territory. What association do you want to spring into a potential customer’s mind when they see that logo? Quick service, quality product, friendly employees, generous return policy? The list could go on but you get the idea. It’s the qualities you inject into your company that create the trust the logo inspires…hopefully. If you do it right, that’s what should happen. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. That sales aphorism is true – up to a point. When building your brand, you’ve got to sell the sizzle AND the steak. In other words, outrageous techniques to draw attention are fine as long as you have something of quality to back it up.
Your Brand Points to the Future
Now that we’ve started to add some meat to the concept of branding, let’s talk about the future. Eventually, most companies decide to expand their line of products or services. Generally speaking, a business that never changes anything, shrivels and dies. Careful attention to your brand along the way makes it easy to implement the marketing and communication strategies that allow you to move beyond your initial mission. Too narrow a brand and you’ll find it tough to grow.
Somewhere along the way, a certain fast food joint’s founders realized that 87 percent of their sales came from three products – cokes, fries, and burgers. They pared down their menu to reflect this reality and the rest is history. Of course, the fast food market in the 50’s was vastly different than today’s, so the current menu reflects an increased interest in healthy and gourmet choices, but that’s not what matters here. Once the initial reputation of good food delivered fast was established, they could do whatever they wanted.
The bottom line is don’t focus so narrowly on your present products and services that it’s impossible to expand beyond the brand in the future.
Strong Brands Are Money in the Bank
Remember that trust we talked about earlier? It’s more than a way to gain new customers and repeat business. It’s an asset also. The reality is that publicly-traded companies routinely are valued at many times the sum total of their hard assets. Why is that? The brand, like we’ve been saying. And this doesn’t only work for international conglomerates. Even on the local level, the best known brand of any particular type of business in town will be worth more than all the others.
The Bottom Line
Don’t take brand-building lightly. It likely will be the most important asset your business will ever own and might even be the difference between ultimate success and failure. Start thinking about what qualities you want your brand to reflect, and then make it happen.
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