Branding is one of if not THE most critical part of starting a small business beyond having the original business idea. For big companies, branding is what makes them a household name, but smaller businesses can overlook how important it is to form a brand before you can begin to generate any kind of marketing movement.
One of the most accurate definitions of branding comes from John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing.
So, here you go. Branding is the art of becoming knowable, likable and trustable.
I like Jantsch’s definition because he puts branding directly in the preparation to be marketable. You must be likable and trustable with a clear message to give the consumers you hope to win over.
With this definition in mind marketing then becomes the act of taking the elements of that personality and exposing them to the ideal customer at the ideal time in the ideal setting. Elements like a company name, logo, images, metaphors, colors, words, look and feel, dress, attitude, networks, consistency and vision.
If marketing is doing then branding is being. Often the two are so integrated strategically and tactically that it’s hard to say one comes before or is more important than the other.
In all my projects, the first step is define a clear branding message before you even begin to think about your marketing plan. As you form your brand, you should have your target audience and market in mind. You want your brand to be likable by anyone who might use or view your product. With consideration to consistency throughout the timeline of a campaign, it’s best to also revisit your branding messages and symbols periodically to make sure that they still define the company and message moving forward. A solid brand can tell a customer more about your company than a sales pitch if you establish it, and it is best to have a strong branding platform in place with your business idea or name.
Without a solid brand, people will not know who you are, or even worse, they might make one up for you with which you don’t agree. Losing the chance to brand yourself is devastating to a new company in winning over you target market. It’s hard enough to change an established brand once it is out in the open, but it is even harder to establish one over a pre-existing negative brand label.
Make sure you brand yourself before someone else does it for you.