If you scour the Internet or read business publications, you will quickly realise that the buzz-word of our times is “branding”.
Your brand is what people think of youMany clever people motivates the business owner to brand him or her self, in order to distinguish them and their businesses from the competition. If a business has a brand, it follows logically (according to the advisers) that you have something which people will remember and which enables people to distinguish you from your competitors.
I have no argument with those theories.
What I want to draw your attention to, is that most business owners act as if their logo is their brand. Advertising, design, printing and signage companies all tell you that you need a distinctive logo to brand yourself and distinguish your business from others. And they often use large brands such as Coca Cola and a variety of beer companies as examples.
Branding is more than a logo
A brand is much more than a logo.
A logo is part of the branding toolbox, but it is not a brand in itself.
A brand is everything you do that distinguishes you from competitors and it includes logos, colours and other advertising.
But most important and most neglected, is the fact that your brand is what people think of you. Coca Cola is probably one of the strongest and most enduring brands of all times, but when Coke changed their recipe, the business suffered, despite it being such a strong brand.
Much has been written about this episode, but it clearly indicates that a brand in the mind of the consumer should not be tampered with, despite what market research may indicate. The Coke event also illustrates that a brand lives in the mind of the consumer, not in a logo.
A logo, colours, advertising material and all other marketing aids, should work together to create a distinctive image in the mind of the consumer. That image is your brand, and because it lives in the minds of people, it is emotion-based, not reason-based.
The emotion your brand raises in people when they are exposed to your brand, is your brand, regardless of your logo or what you think or wish people should think of you.
In my introductory course to social media, The Time-saving Social Media Course there is a fairly detailed discussion of what your brand is, and what distinguishes brands like Coca-Cola and Red Bull.
What the small business owner should concern herself with, is to create a brand that will survive the requirement that your brand is what people say about you when you are not there.