So many of my company’s clients want to brand themselves–to be known in a sea of competitors as the best. And while this is certainly possible, it takes deep pockets and lots of time — something most small businesses don’t have.
And so I say that branding is a luxury.
What I mean by this is that there are many other things that will bring in sales more quickly than branding. I define branding as anything done to make your company stand out in a sea of non-differentiated brands, and that includes everything from your logo to sponsoring events locally and nationally.
So Coca-Cola stands out as superior because its name is affiliated with the Olympics. Petco stands out because its name is on a stadium in San Diego. But people don’t see these brands’ names and go out to buy their products. There’s not a direct correlation between branding and sales. (Feel free to argue with me on this point; I know some of you will!)
The actions you should be taking before you get to branding include:
- Making sure your product fits the market you intend it for
- Sales efforts directed at your target audience
- Promotions that reflect what your customers want
- Advertising in targeted publications
- Public relations: getting coverage in local and national media, as well as blogs
- Social media, supporting the above efforts
Many small businesses tend to try to mimic the branding efforts of large corporations, and it’s simply not possible. There are different blueprints for each. Small businesses should focus on intimately knowing their target audience and communicating with them in a meaningful way. They should draw customers in with sales and promotions, then work to build loyal customers through trust and communication.
Branding is the icing on the cake; it’s what comes after you’ve successfully mastered the product and sales formula, and want to move forward to further establish recognition of your brand’s name.
So if you’re a small business, work on reaching more of your target audience through the channels above. Then laser in on them and build trust. Branding can wait.