Do you give your brand the attention it deserves?
Most of us understand branding when it comes to buying things. We tend to have our favourite brands in clothing, perhaps electrical items, cars, food, restaurants and pretty much everything we buy.
Even if particular brands aren’t out favourite, we might value some other quality that is important to us. For example a budget airline that we know offers us the cheapest fare but lousy service can still be considered a favourite brand.
We create a connection with brands, they evoke emotions, we have a sense of ownership even with some of our favourite products. This is particularly noticeable when we visit a supermarket. Most manufacturers and even large service providers are under no illusion as to just how important their brand is. They invest a great deal of money to develop their brand, to modify it over time and most importantly, to protect it at any cost.
But do we think the same way about our brand in our own business? I’ve been rebranding businesses for many years. I’ve seen tiny businesses that have built incredible brands and become global organisations because they invest in developing a strong visual brand and they know how to portray their brand across every medium. They are consistent in all that they do and this is one of the absolute fundamentals of successful branding.
These businesses have also learned to give their brand meaning. They are brave enough to tell the story behind the brand. They share their journey, the ups and the downs, the challenges, the trials and tribulations - everything. Think Ben and Jerry Ice Cream from the USA. Easily the most recognisable ice cream brand in the world, that basically started with two crazy entrepreneurs bucking every industry norm to achieve global success.
Their brand weathered many storms and remained intact and grew stronger, even after it was sold to a multinational corporation. In fact the Ben and Jerry brand out survived the business in many respects and that’s because it was built on a strong story, a real story, powerful imagery, social connection and ridiculously unyielding owners who had incredible passion.
There are many stories today of these small start ups growing into incredible global giants and behind most of them, the common theme is a strong brand. It’s easily recognisable, it’s easy to remember, it’s different, it has a good back story, and it’s accessible to the people.
The moral to the story is that as business owners, we need to appreciate just how important our business brand actually is. It’s not a set and forget item, change your logo once every ten years and you will be fine. Every single thing we do in our business (and I mean every single thing) will influence our brand.
Every email that is sent, every invoice that goes out, every kilometre driven in a company sign written car, every phone call made (and received), every voice mail message, every bill paid (or unpaid), every post on social media, every interaction that we have, every visit to our website, every customer experience, who we partner with - all of them combined will either be building our brand or eroding our brand and we need to be very aware of this.
Building our brand is something we are clearly doing all day everyday, yet most people are not aware of it. What does your office say about your business? Is it on brand? If customers come to your building and your toilets are dirty, what does that say about you and your brand? If you drive around in a beat up old company car, covered in sign writing, what does that say about your business? If you’re a terrible driver and a menace on the road in your sign written company car, what does that say about your business? Think long and hard about everything in your business and ask yourself if you need to be doing more to build and protect your brand.
The big pay off is that if we really are building our brand, if we are really doing the right things and adding great value to our brand, then we get the benefit of this because our business will be more attractive to not only potential customers but also potential buyers. People see the value in acquiring a business with a strong brand because generally they are easy to grow.
Last but not least, if you go to the effort, expense and daily action to do everything you can to make your brand more valuable, surely you should make sure that you protect it legally? No where near enough businesses do this. Protecting your brand legally is another excellent way to add value to your business. It makes you look more professional, you’re protecting what is often the biggest asset in your business and once again, you make your business more appealing to potential buyers down the line.
The most resilient, long term successful businesses I have worked with all give their brand incredible attention and it shows. Consider just how important your businesses brand actually is. Give it the attention it deserves. Don’t treat it as an afterthought, and regardless of how small your business may be today, look to protect it both in your day to day actions and through legal channels as well. Treat this as one of your greatest forms of business insurance.
About the contributor:
Andrew Griffiths is Australia’s leading Small Business author with 12 books published and currently sold in over 60 countries. He is widely acknowledged as one of the leading minds in the Small Business space. He is a regular columnist on Inc.com out of New York, a Small Business commentator for CBS, a Mentor in the highly acclaimed Key Person of Influence programme and much more. Touting his own unique style of street-smart wisdom and inspiration, Andrew really is one of a kind. Website:http://www.andrewgriffiths.com.au