I'm not a brand, am I?!

personal branding

Branding is a waste of money, who needs it. I certainly don't. I'll leave it to the big boys, the Starbucks, Apples and Coca Colas of this world.

These companies spend huge amounts of money on packaging and staff training, something I certainly can't afford to do.

All my spare cash goes on advertising and marketing my company.

If this is you Stop right there, you need to realise everything you or your company does is affecting your brand.

If you've been reading this article so far and agreeing with everything I've written then you're not fully grasping what constitutes a brand.

You may be a sole trader, a new startup business or even an established company but one thing you all have in common is that you all own a brand.

Branding is not just plastering your logo across every piece of marketing you produce. It's not just getting colour coordinated clothing for your staff.

A brand is all these things and more.

The way you interact with customers, the way you answer the phone. The experience people have when they enter your shop, buy your service or simply ask for a quote goes to build your brand.

All those social media sites or forums you belong to carry your brand in the avatar you use and the interaction you have with other users. The language you communicate with online goes to build your brand and word of mouth certainly passes quickly if you're doing it right.

Branding done in the right way makes a big difference.

Apple is renowned for its' excellent packaging, anyone who's purchased a product will know how not just buying the product is exciting but the unwrapping of the box is thrilling in itself. The style and feel is all its' own.

Now if you're sending out products and you're budget isn't vast, forego the fancy box instead concentrate on what's inside, especially if the product is rattling around like loose change in your pocket!

The fancy box and lack of safe carriage tells the customer you're only interested in looks, not substance. Wrap your product in some nice paper, maybe include a fragrance depending on your trade but in all cases wrap it in cotton wool/bubble wrap!

Include a voucher to entice a customer back for repeat business, it's easier to retain a customer than to attract a new one.

Quality over quantity

That cheap business card you hand out also carries your brand. Think about redesigning it, changing the paper or shape.

You and your staff's appearance carries your brand as well, dress well, look your best.

More importantly, good old fashioned service, being treated how you would like to be treated, sticks in the memory and builds your brand.

If you're on a tight budget then just do whatever you can and do it well, to the best of your abilities.

A brand is not just a logo, it's your reputation.

Is your brand all it could be?

Comments

Barry Welford's picture

Consistency is King

I couldn't agree more. This should be paramount in people's thinking. Yet it isn't. How many people have different avatars or different user names in different social media. What a missed opportunity.

Richard Dewick's picture

Brand exposure

Very true Barry, if you're trying to broaden your brands exposure then a consistent appearance is required to remain in people's minds. The image above would be perfect for someone with it's bright colours and memorable look! If anyone does adopt it do let me know :)

Ed Roach's picture

Branding

Keep the real branding story going Richard. The fact that many businesses think their brands to simply be their logos and marketing materials are doing themselves a great disservice. Flip out the word brand and replace with reputation and so are starting down the branding road with the right mind-set. You brand image is the fun part of branding, the rest of it is where the real work is. Look at what I'm doing here. What ever opinion you build of me as your read my opinion is either helping or hindering my brand.

The strength of my brand is forever fluxuating. If you were able to watch a flow chart of your brand it would no doubt look like a stock market chart. Up and down with every move you make. Your challenge is to make the relationships with your target audience as powerful and consistent as you can all the while differentiating yourself from the competition.

The truth of the matter is you can choose to ignore your brand - BUT then you would just be allowing your competition to define you. I'm sure they'll be kind.

Richard Dewick's picture

Reputation Management

Like it Ed, whatever you put your name to goes to build or damage your brand and that includes comments on blogs or forums that are poorly worded or have simple spelin erors.

I like the analogy of the flow chart, many businesses have suffered down turns in reputation but it's being able to recover from those dips that builds your brand still further.

As you say Ed, define your brand before other define it for you!

Mel Painter's picture

Protecting your rep

Hi all

Really interesting reading this thread on branding as too many small businesses do think it's for the big boys and you need a big budget to do it. I like Ed's comment, if you just replaced the word 'brand' for 'reputation' it would make you think about it a lot more. As word of mouth is the best advertising there is branding/reputation is paramount to getting and maintaining business. I hadn't really thought of it before but I guess every comment you leave on a site can help or hinder your rep. What do y'all think about this in regards to sites such as Facebook. There's a lot of stories about how employers check out potential employees by researching their Facebook page, I guess clients could do the same!

Mel

Janine Flynn's picture

Branding

A most interesting and thought provoking article and comments that I find particularly relevant as it's my name on my work; using my personal name has applied a natural standard for my baseline.

I have no backgound in marketing and until recently, I didn't give this type of detail any thought but now I'm inclined to wonder about a business that hides behind an impersonal name. The prospect of putting my own name out on everything was intially quite daunting for many reasons but the simple fact is that if I don't think it's good enough to stand by, then it isn't good enough - full stop. And when it is good enough, where is the problem? So reputation is and will continue to be an important criteria for me.

I hadn't made that equation between reputation and branding, now I have a far clearer understanding, thank you.

regards, Janine

Richard Dewick's picture

Facebook reveals a lot!

@Mel Facebook is open to people searching and finding you so best keep your page closed to non friends, check out your settings page! It all counts towards your brand though, that's why it's good to have a distinct identity.

There's a site offering credit cards under the same name as me but as soon as you visit the site you'd realise we are 2 separate companies! A strong identity can protect you sometimes.

@Janine Thanks for visiting and commenting, I hope to see you back here soon :) A lot of people get confused by the term 'Branding' thinking their logo defines them. It's part of the mix but not the be all and end all. Make your name stand for quality and professionalism Janine and your work will sit side by side with that reputation.

Good luck, do check out Janines fine art prints they're great.