Surprise! You’ve Got a Brand

Posted by on Mar 18, 2009 in Brand Planning | Comments Off on Surprise! You’ve Got a Brand

Surprise! Youve got a brand.

Surprise! You've got a brand.

I am both a consumer of brands and a professional who builds brands. Brands lured me into the business of advertising many years ago with their promise of big, creative projects and a deeper understanding of what motivates consumers.

For years, I strutted the long hallways of global communications agencies, proud to be one of a team of “brand stewards”, “brand builders” and such. I worried about complex issues of brand architecture, sub-brand launches, and managing an evolving brand with existing equities.

Somewhere in the haze of big budget campaigns, however, I became more intrigued by the world outside these giant corporations. As a student of human nature and consumer behavior I craved a closer connection to the world in which these big brands lived. The giant boardrooms weren’t cutting it any longer. Leaving corporate America to work as an independent consultant, I found an equally fascinating universe comprised of small businesses.

Many simply dismiss the idea of branding themselves, saying instead, “We don’t have time for branding exercises and creative briefs; and we certainly don’t have funding for large scale television ads or glossy magazine layouts.” What is the role for branding in the sub-culture of small and solo businesses?

In my life as an entrepreneur, I asked myself this question all of the time. However, a recent post from John Jantscharticulates much of what I have come to realize over the past few years and inspired me to share my beliefs about branding.

  1. Branding isn’t a frivolity – for many small business owners, there is a core focus on the work they do, the service they provide, the product they sell, etc. Earning your stripes in small business means having laser focus on meeting people’s needs and competing in the tough spaces like price, service, and responsiveness. But all good small businesses also take their business one step further, establishing personal relationships built on unique traits that are true to who they are as people. They build a real reputation. And this, in fact, is the holy grail of branding – what big packaged goods companies and fortune 100 corporations strive to create.
  2. Branding isn’t hard – in fact, many of the biggest branding experts urge corporations to think of branding as defining a personality “the best brands are like your favorite people”. It doesn’t require expensive campaigns or complex documents. And it doesn’t mean you need to speak a language no one else understands. It simply means you must get to the core of what makes you you, and stick to it.
  3. consistency, consistency, consistency – perhaps the biggest pressure on a small business brand is to stand firm when pressures mount. Think of your brand and yourself as one in the same. You wouldn’t change who you are as a person because a customer or set of customers requested it. So stand equally firm with your brand value.

All of this suggests we, as branding experts, can throw away the fancy work shops and brand development processes and simply get down to a good solid conversation about who small business owners are – and help them see how powerful that is in their business.