Branding in a Small Business Environment.

Every business has a brand, just some work on creating one while others do nothing and simply have one based on how they operate their business.

The local plumber that is reliable and is known for his fair prices, but has not spent a moment thinking about creating a brand; what is his? His brand is how people consistently see him. In this example the plumber is universally known for being local, reliable and fair with his prices, so that is his brand. Those are all important points, but he has made no effort to strengthen his brand. His brand is based solely on his history, so unless you know his history you will have no perception of his brand.

How can this plumber convey his brand qualities: local, reliable and fair with his prices to people who do not know him? That is where he needs to put some effort into his branding! That means conveying these messages any way he can including on his vehicles, letterhead, invoices, staff conduct, uniforms and so on. The more that you consistently convey these messages, the more effective the plumber will be in building his brand, which ultimately means the value of his business.

What do I mean by staff conduct and their uniforms? How can they be used to convey these messages? With the staff, if they arrive on time, are courteous and do a great job, then this behaviour is consistent with the brand image that the plumber wants to portray. What about the clothing? Firstly, being well presented in a uniform, conveys the subliminal messages that the firm is organised, professional (so must know what they are doing) and that you are more likely to be able to trust them! Then there is the possible messaging on the uniform. Under the employee’s name, it could say something like, “your trusted local plumber”.

So many small business owners say that they do not need a brand. They have done well all these years, so why waste their money? This is often all true, but what about when they come to sell their business? If your business is all based on you, then you risk that most of your clients will then go elsewhere when you leave, not making it attractive for anyone to buy your business.

Take the example above. If he comes to his senses and realises that he needs to spend time and money on building his brand, what difference will that make, when times comes to sell? He will have neatly presented vans with consistent sign-writing, the staff will all wear uniforms and behave consistently with the brand qualities above. His advertising, premises and all communication will all convey the same messages. This means his brand will be strong, therefore well known.

Given his effort to convey his brand, chances are, due to this effort, his business will be more profitable. His brand will be more than just him, it will be his whole business, so if he were to leave, there is nothing to suggest that those brand qualities will leave. This will make his business more valuable and more attractive to sell!

Every business owner needs to sell at some point. Do yourself a favour and put a concerted effort into building your brand. There is a good chance it will make your business more profitable and it will certainly be of great benefit when you come to sell!

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