No long ago, I had a conversation with a friend who runs
a small service business. He had recently read an article about branding and
asked me what I thought about branding for a small business like his.
After we talked for a while, we fleshed out a few main points. Here’s a
summary of these points. Read them and you’ll see my thoughts on branding have
little to do with advertising, logos, promotions and other more traditional
tools people often associate with brand building.
What is your brand?
Your brand is your whole business. It’s more than what you tell people (your
marketing). It’s how you treat people. It’s what they think of you based on how
you treat them.
Your brand is your reputation. It’s the sum total of what people think of
your and your business. Your customers, potential customers, vendors and peers
all have a perception of your company. Your brand is nothing more than that.
Can you build a brand?
Yes, absolutely! Every person and business has a reputation. That’s their
brand. You can choose to proactively influence your brand. Or you can leave it
to chance. When you leave it to chance you let others define your brand for you
on their terms, not yours.
How do you build a brand?
Everything you do builds your brand. It’s not just a logo, a slogan or ads
you run in the local paper. In fact forget about them. They do very little to
build your brand. Your brand is built one contact at a time. Everything you do
and say builds your brand. Make it count.
First steps to building the brand you want
Start by deciding what kind of business you want. Describe how you want
others to think about, talk about and feel about your company. What perceptions
do you want people to have about your company?
Then determine what actions you and your employees need to take to create and
influence those perceptions. Create standards for how you do business that will
show people the kind of company you want your business to be.
Your company is what your customer’s experience. Manage that experience and
you’ll create the brand you want.