Branding Your Small Business

Branding your small business is a major cornerstone to your marketing campaign’s success. Those are words I strongly stand behind. So you can imagine my curiosity when I recently saw the book Branding Only Works on Cattle: The New Way to Get Known (and drive your competitors crazy) by Jonathan Baskin sitting on a shelf. As a Texan, the book not only had creative appeal, but the title also prompted an immediate contradictory response from my brain. I bought it on the spot.

It was a good book. Baskin argued that old marketing tactics like cute taglines and fluffy ads on television and in print no longer work. Instead, marketers must understand how the services they offer affect consumer behavior. The theme I took away from the book is it does not matter how great the marketing campaign you create is if your service is subpar and your messages are contradictory. However, I disagree completely with the title. Branding works on cattle, but it can also work for your business – if you do it right.

What is Branding?
Your brand is how people define their experience with your company, both what they expect to receive before they use your business, and what actually happens when they utilize your services. Branding, then, is how you go about defining this experience through generating customers, converting them to patients, and then satisfying their every expectation of your brand.

In almost any business, understanding and creating a great customer experience is the key to defining a successful brand. Customers who come to you expect quality service or products. You cannot compete with expectations. You can compete with an experience.

What is one of the strongest brands in the world right now? Apple. Why? They have created a unique customer experience. You are cool if you own an iPhone, an iPod and an iPad. You feel cool for carrying it around. You feel cool for spending a high dollar amount on a tiny object. You have bragging rights that others without the i(Insert Product) don’t have, and you are in the club with those who do.

So how can you convert Apple’s strategy to your small business? Easy! Build your brand on creating a unique customer experience.

Building the Experience
There are three blocks you can start with to build your  brand: Convenience, Fun, and Pleasant Atmosphere.

Block 1: Convenience
By default, your business should be convenient to access

Block 2: Fun
Figure out ways to make visiting your business fun.

Block 3: Pleasant
The final starting block for creating a great customer experience is developing a pleasant atmosphere, where customers enjoy coming to your business. Consider offering cold bottles of water or free coffee. Also consider playing music in the hallways, but be cautious of the type of music you play and the volume level.

Remember, you don’t have to live on a ranch in Texas to develop a good brand. You can define your brand as an experience, and then make sure your staff helps you keep the momentum going to maintain that experience for each customer who visits your business.

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