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Does My Business Need Branding?

April 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 96

Simply put, your brand is the image of your business in the minds of your customers. It is a perception of who you are and what you stand for. Many experts describe a brand as a promise, an expectation that the consumer has about your product or service. But the important thing to know is that whatever the perception is, it is the reality for that consumer and changing that perception can take time, money and a lot of effort.

Indeed, we all have a mental image of the major brands out there whether it's McDonald's, Target, Buick or Kleenex. If I suggest that you think of laundry detergent, I'm certain a particular brand will come to mind. So what makes these brands so enduring, so easy to conjure up in our minds? It is two things: consistency and communication.

Let's take a hypothetical and typical small business - a hair salon. Now, most hair salons offer pretty much the same services - haircuts, blow dry, styling, color, etc. They might also offer manicures, waxing or even pedicures and some full-service salons offer massages, facials and more. So if Acme Hair Salon comes along and opens up in the neighborhood strip mall, just how do they go about separating themselves from all the other salons? How do they create a brand in the minds of customers?

We start with something called the UVP - the unique value proposition. Essentially, the UVP is what makes your business different from everyone else. You may have expertise in coloring hair, or doing wedding hair-do's, but whatever it is will form the core of your brand. Once you've determined what your UVP is, then you have to build your business around it. If hair coloring is your expertise, then make sure all of your staff are actually experts and can talk about it knowledgeably. Decorate your salon to show off your expertise and advertise it to everyone who comes in. You may even select a name for your business that reflects your UVP. This is the "communicating" part and it includes any advertising or promotion you do. Whatever your message is, it won't mean anything unless your customers hear it.

Next comes "consistency." You can't be the hair dye experts today and the wedding up-do experts tomorrow and the facial experts next week. If you are constantly changing your advertising message, logo, salon decor and even your staff, then pretty soon your customers will lose a sense of what your business is all about.

Let's get back to the big brands - McDonald's for instance. If you drove up to one of their restaurants and saw pink arches outside instead of "golden arches," you might decide not to go in. It would probably strike you as a fake version of the real thing. Or, if you went inside and all they served was tacos and burritos, you would be a little confused. The power of the McDonald's brand rests in the knowledge that no matter where or when you go there - whether it's in England, Russia, or right around the corner - you can buy the same hamburger made the same way with the same fast service.

One last thing: you have a brand already, whether you know it or not. Your customers and consumers in general have an image in their minds about you. The question is, is it the right one? Is it the image you want them to have about you? And if you're not sure, then this is a great time to get started on building the brand you want.

Kim Deppe is president of Deppe Communications, which helps small businesses build brands with traditional and online marketing strategies. For more information, visit or call (904) 524-0170.

Source: EzineArticles
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