Today’s post is a guest post from Cori from Big Girl Branding. Cori is a freelance “ghost” and the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding. She’d also like to note that ‘big’ does not mean what you think it means. It was meant to indicate being a grown up. Sigh… Of course you probably didn’t get that, and it totally loses its effect when she has to explain it. But feel free to stalk her on Twitter if you’d like to discuss her reasoning.
Get this people… it’s not only the big players who can wield the mighty sword of effective branding.
You, my lovely start-up entrepreneur, no longer have to sigh and beat your chest with sorrow over not having the branding budget of larger companies and established businesses.
The truth of the matter is that if you want to brand yourself and/or your business, you can definitely do so — even if you’re only just starting out.
The most common—and I dare say the biggest—mistake that new entrepreneurs make is that they always think of themselves as a speck of dust when compared to the ginormous rock that is a multi-national company.
It’s certainly not healthy to compare yourself to someone who’s likely had years and years of experience on you and that constant whacking of your head on the wall dramatically really won’t help you much in the success department either.
No, the trick is to believe, both in yourself and your business… and only then will you have the power to really make things happen.
So if you want input from the peanut gallery… my verdict is branding is necessary… and you need to jump off the fence and just do it already!
Just doing it however then begs the question of how? How do you brand? And isn’t branding the same as advertising?
Umm good questions and no… branding and advertising are not the same.
Branding is a more integrated approach to reaching out to your target market and letting them know you exist. Advertising thinks along the lines of producing results in the shorter term, whereas branding focuses on a more long-lasting vision that allows people to remember you long after all the promotional events and materials are dust.
Simply put, you brand to let others know who or what you are and what makes you different from the rest of the crowd. You find something unique and exciting that basically encapsulates your entire business (or personal) philosophy and you play it up to become a sort of mantra or tagline.
To get all new age-y… your brand is your company’s soul, and to be successful you have to know how to position your brand in such a way that you get people’s attention.
Your brand is NOT your company logo. It is NOT some label that you slap on your product packages or a line that you chirrup at the end of every customer call. A brand is something that’s (again with the new age-y) tangible and intangible at the same time.
Sounds pretty Zen, right?
If you ask me, branding is really more akin to philosophy and religion than to advertising or marketing. For branding to really work, you have to make a connection between the products and services you offer and the force that drives you to do your work.
Branding goes beyond creating an image or a reputation for your company. Even the big players are beginning to appreciate the wisdom behind marketing strategies that puts their product or service within the realm of the personal.
A car isn’t just a car.
It’s the vehicle you drove to bring your eldest child to her wedding, and even if you were feeling jittery and sad all at the same time the car’s smooth motions soothed your emotions and made it all bearable. You love the car because its brand stands for everything that you believe in, like reliability and responsibility. And then there’s that emotional connection linked to your daughter’s wedding.
So why should you bother to brand?
A brand may be the only thing, or even the ultimate thing, that will sway a buyer’s decision to buying one product or service from another. In the car example I just gave, the driver will most likely buy the same brand the next time he wants to get another car because he knows that it works for him. He’s made mental associations to that brand that resonates within him in some way.
And what, with all the incredibly stiff competition across all markets right now, entrepreneurs need any help they can get to stay afloat and branding is the perfect tool to help you not only stay afloat, but leave your competitors choking in your entrepreneurial dust.
See, I know you’re nodding your head there!
Now that you know what branding is and how important it is to your entrepreneurial success, how do you go about creating your own brand for your company?
It’s fairly simple. There are three easy steps to a successful brand, and we’ve actually already covered all of them. The steps can be summarized though into a handy little acronym- D.P.C.
- Developing your brand.
- Packaging your brand.
- Communicating your brand.
Like I said earlier, a brand is more than just a label. Sure, the visual effectiveness of your company logo and the solid ring to your company name will help people to remember your brand more easily, but don’t concentrate too much on these overt things.
Develop a brand that clearly reflects who you are and what you do. That means focus on the deeper and more fundamental values that anchor your business.
- What is it that you want your customers to remember you by?
- Why should they come back for more of your services and products?
- How do you treat your customers, suppliers and employees and what does this say about you?
Packaging your brand becomes easy if you know how to seamlessly translate your beliefs and values into a label or package that people can appreciate. We like to think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but more often than not, beauty is in the actual presentation of the product.
Make sure that your packaging ties up neatly with your brand so people will believe and really be converted. If you say that you’re an environmentally-friendly brand then minimize using non-biodegradable materials as your product packaging. That’s the sort of contradiction that people really notice and remember and that you DON’T want sullying your brand.
Finally, communicate your brand in such a way that people will not hesitate to abide by your philosophy. The best communicators for your brand are your customers because only they can attest to the quality of your service or product and the truth of your branding claims. Make a good impression in each and every task you take on. Do so and your customers will only be too happy to help you spread the word.
Still not convinced that you should brand?
Sit back and watch your competitors’ profits go through the roof and their business turn from small to medium to large. Watch them as they go from zero to sixty on the success meter in about two seconds flat.
The longer you brush off branding, the less relevant to your market you become. And no relevance equals no attention equals… well… no business. It really is just that simple.
Cori is a freelance “ghost” and the creative brains and dubious brawn behind her blog Big Girl Branding. She’d also like to note that ‘big’ does not mean what you think it means. It was meant to indicate being a grown up. Sigh… Of course you probably didn’t get that, and it totally loses its effect when she has to explain it. But feel free to stalk her on Twitter if you’d like to discuss her reasoning.
Thanks to be.refereshed for the image