Don’t be tempted to think that a brand and a logo are one and the same thing. Your logo is a part of your brand’s identity but your brand is so much more than that. Your brand is what people understand about your business, what they see, hear and feel about you. And it’s not just your customers and prospects who are influenced by your brand but also your staff, suppliers and your network.
Branding isn’t just something for big corporates either; it is just as relevant to the solopreneur as it is to the global enterprise. A well-conceived brand can be a differentiator between your business and a local competitor so it’s worth taking time at the outset thinking about how you want people to think about your brand.
What is a brand?
Our purchasing decisions are frequently brand driven. When you buy a new car you probably have a choice of cars that meet your criteria but the chances are that you will be more drawn to one brand than another based on past experience or reputation. When I bought my first car there’s no way I would have bought a Skoda because the brand had a reputation for unreliability which has taken years to shake off. I wouldn’t have considered a Volvo either for totally opposite reasons, its reputation for safety made it too middle aged for a 21 year old!
You can probably sum up most well-known brands in one or two words. Take our leading retailers for example; what one or two words would you use to describe each of the following:
- John Lewis
- Harvey Nicholls
- Marks and Spencer
Whichever words you’ve chosen you have probably not used the same words to describe two different retailers. That’s because the brands have done enough to differentiate themselves in the way you feel about them. The chances are that you don’t regularly shop in all of them and your buying behaviour may well have changed over time as you have moved out of one brand’s target market and into another.
I wonder if the words that you have chosen are the words that the brand owners would have liked you to choose. For instance did you use innovation when describing Marks and Spencer? It is one of the company’s core values but may not be the first word that people think of when describing the brand. And that’s the thing about branding. Branding is how people perceive your business not how you describe it. That doesn’t mean you have no influence on your brand but it does mean you can’t control it.
This is another short extract from my book now titled, ‘Founded after 40’. I’m currently looking for branding stories to share in the book so if you have a story you’d like to share about how you built your brand or some of the mistakes you’ve made along the way I’d love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with Book as the subject. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.