When you ask most people this question, their answer typically centres around the logo, referring to famous examples such as McDonald’s and Coca Cola. So often when discussing this issue with small businesses, they talk about getting a logo done, leaving the impression that they consider that once the logo is complete, their brand has been completed. This reality is reflected in the fact that most small businesses allocate only a small amount of money to brand development; namely just sufficient to cover the cost of the logo.
With the advent of sites like Fiverr, people can see the cost of brand development as being a couple of hundred dollars. The lack of understanding of what a brand is and its importance, is also reflected in the fact that it often does not take precedence in either the creation of a business or when purchasing an existing business. In my experience those businesses that achieve “cut through” are ones that from the outset, put significant emphasis on creating and building their brand.
So, what exactly is a brand? Quite simply, it is the way in which the outside world perceives your business. How that brand is created, is by way of multiple layers that come together to form the physical, mental and emotional image of that business. A nice logo and a few ads play only a small part in the brand creation. Successful brand creation can result in loyal fans who will defend you, support you and promote you to others.
If a brand is more than a logo, what goes in to creating that brand? It includes everything from:
- The story behind how this business came about.
- The background of those that created or currently own the business.
- The vision for the business.
- The values of the business.
- Products & services that you offer.
- Standards of service provided.
- They way in which you solve customers problems and the impact on them.
- The presentation of staff, premises and product and services provided.
- The way in which staff interact with customers.
- The tone, nature and location of any public communication.
- The manner, form and nature of client communication.
Your brand is built on everything about your businesses very existence and its impact in the public.
Taking into account the above, a brand is not just created, it is built over time and can be subject to change both for good and bad. A brand is not something that it built and forgotten about. It is very much alive! Imagine, you build a brand that is centred around being “green” then news leaks out one day that you have done something major that was not “green”. Consider the impact on your brand! A brand is a constant work in progress!
Everyone has a brand; some are just stronger and more obvious than others. The question is just whether it has been systematically planned and developed or whether it is just developed by the businesses very existence. Most businesses do not stand out. By undertaking a planned process to developing a brand, does not guarantee that you will achieve iconic brand status, but it at least gets you thinking in the right direction.
Your brand sits at the heart of your business and potentially influences everything. It can either be weak and barely noticed, or it can be all powerful and pump energy that flows throughout your business. The choice is yours!