Branding. This term has a specific meaning and purpose. A good purpose, one which helps brand managers create a product their customers care about – and choose above all others, even at a higher cost.
But what does it mean for a small business? One that offers services, not products – or one that sells others brands? (Such as a boutique)
Is branding so important in this case?
I remember playing golf with a friend who was about to finish college with a minor in marketing – he kept saying “I get marketing, it’s all about branding.”
I was playing too horribly to argue anything about branding but this comment stuck with me – I pondered it for a bit.
A brand coach will tell you “your brand is the most important aspect of your business.”
No. It isn’t.
Not to rock any boats but let’s be honest here: is your brand for your service-based small business more important than the level of service you provide? Is it more important to your local customers than customer service? What about profitability, your business plan, researching your target market – is branding more important than these things?
No, it isn’t.
Branding isn’t the same thing as Positioning. When I see many small businesses focusing mainly on their “brand” I most often see a business owner who has made the mistake of focusing inwards rather than outwards.
Your small business and it’s brand are only as good as the level of service you provide – it’s about being better, not catchier. It’s about creating word of mouth because you are awesome – not about having the coolest logo in town.
When you are big and powerful and have an ad budget that’s over ten million a year – talk about branding.
Until then talk about your customers. How to make things better for them, simpler for them, more streamlined for them – THIS is how you build a brand. It’s how Steve Jobs did it. He started with an idea – not a logo. He started with a drive to change the world – not to trick the world into loving his brand. The branding followed because he focused on user experience and customers – not because his ads tricked people into thinking his mouse trap was better.
A brand built on nothing is better left unbuilt.