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Brand is one of those terms that is bandied around quite a lot so that there is a lot of confusion among business owners about what really matters to their bottom line.
In my next post I will explain why brand management is so critical to business success, but first, let’s start by defining what we mean by “brand”.
For one thing, you don’t need to be big or a household name to be a “brand”. We all have a name, a way of dressing, talking, and walking and subjects we are known for or topics we tend to talk about.
We have beliefs and opinions, and a certain personality. In short, we’re all known for something. People have a certain response to us or think of us in a particular way. That’s our brand.
Personal vs Business Brand
In the same way that anyone alive has an identity so that the world can tell one person apart from another, so your business also has an identity – a brand – that is quite separate from your own personal brand.
A company is a different person in the eyes of the law from its founder. Even if you haven’t incorporated your business and are a sole trader doing business under a trading name (or even under your own name), your business identity will be separate, albeit it may be an extension of you.
Designing Your Brand
How you design your business is critical to your long-term success.
Unfortunately, there is so much confusion in the market about “brand” that people don’t easily recognise what to do. One misconception many people have is that branding is all about getting designs done for their business – creating their brand identity.
While visual design is an extremely important component of a brand, it is just one of them. Before you go to anyone to help you “brand” your business or yourself, you should first thoroughly think through your business model, and how you are going to create a good business and brand that’s reliable and known for delivering on a specific promise.
The visual identity is the final aspect of the brand to put in place. Although designers and marketers will be able to help you to fine tune your thinking during the branding process, there is a lot of work that you need to have done before you put yourself in the hands of a third party to be branded. You will get much more long term benefits from the exercise if you don’t jump in too quickly to get your visual identity work carried out.
Prioritise working on your business to think through what the market opportunity might be in your space and get some temporary designs in place for your brand in the meantime.
Differentiation is key
Then think about how to differentiate yourself.
Is there a segment of the market that is underserved that you could initially serve? That doesn’t mean you’re going to limit your business to only serving that market sector. You won’t be stuck with just that one niche. It’s quite common to have several niches.
For example, Slaten Law in its early days some 20 years ago stumbled on the pest control industry when it helped a few clients from that industry. This was a finite universe, where everyone went to the same conventions and read the same publication, Pest Control Today. So, the firm’s website was revised to feature crawling termites ….and bugs…” The firm went all in on serving that industry.
The firm’s website today has moved on considerably. During its journey to its current situation, it identified further markets, such as Dram Shops, Automotive, Nursing Homes, and therefore no longer used a Pest Control focused website. But the firm’s experience illustrates how powerful it is to focus on one narrow niche at a time.
Once you decide on your initial niche, give yourself time to test the market to assess how it responds to your offerings
Next, find out about Branding Strategy.
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