Big brands have a lot going for them – their logo is instantly
recognizable, their products and packaging are familiar, and they often
have a brand advocate who “represents” the brand in its marketing
Sometimes these brand advocates are the business owners themselves
(think Steve Jobs of Apple), but, more often than not, they are
paid representatives of the brand (think Howie Long for Chevrolet,
or Valerie Bertinelli for Jenny Craig).
And brand advocates don’t just belong in the realm of big business,
they can be equally valuable for small business, if not more so. And you
don’t have to pay someone to do it for you – your greatest brand asset
Case in point, small business success story: CakeLove.
Owned by Metro D.C. Small Business Person of the Year 2006, Warren Brown*
(pictured right), CakeLove is a successful retail bakery with seven
thriving locations across the metropolitan Washington D.C. region.
A former litigation lawyer turned entrepreneur, and now somewhat of a
superstar in the cake business, Warren Brown is a hugely successful
brand advocate for his small business. In this “Profiles of Success” video, the Small Business
Administration stepped inside the doors of CakeLove to capture Brown’s
insights on how he uses his personality, vision and growth strategies to
build and advocate the CakeLove brand.
Here are Warren’s five tips for small business branding success:
1. Make sure your Customers know “the
Face” Behind the Product.
Invariably one of the biggest reasons that small businesses fail is
because of the persistent absence of the business owner. Whether you own
a bar, a hair salon, a gift shop, or a landscaping company – the brand
experience starts and ends with you.
You only need to look at a few episodes of business makeover TV shows
like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Tabatha’s
Salon Takeover – to witness what can go wrong if a business is
left to run itself. Without an actively engaged owner, employees lose
motivation and structure, which can quickly lead to sloppy service, a
poor product, and customer churn.
And while it’s true that a business owner needs to build a business
that can function independent of its owner’s physical presence, when it
comes to building the heart of your brand, you have make sure
your customers know and connect with the face behind the product – and that means being there.
As CakeLove’s Warren Brown has learned: “The business really
thrives when the energy of the owner is there“.
2. Find the Right Balance Between
Being There and Having the Business Run Without You
While inserting yourself at the forefront of your business is
something to strive for, it can also work against you. What happens when
you are not there? Will the customers still come? Will your staff still
function? How can you grow when you can’t let go of the reins?
As Warren Brown explains: “My father used to run a bar and he
would be there and be successful, but then he could never leave the bar
because the customers would come in, and, if he wasn’t there then they’d
leave and the bar would just kind of collapse.”
At the end of the day it’s about seeking balance. How?