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Your Brand Exists In Spite of You.

Your Brand Exists In Spite of You.

What is a brandBrand(ing) is a pretty simple concept.  So, why do so many people muck it up?  Too many people just don’t understand what a brand (or branding) is.  In a recent meeting with a local business I asked what they thought their brand represented.  The answer: “We’re just a small company.  Branding is for big corporations.”  I know there are many people who feel the same way and I have 6 words for them – Not true.  Not true.  Not true.

Your brand exists in spite of you.  Your brand exists whether you advertise or not.  It’s your choice whether or not to harness the power of your brand … or whether to let your brand manage you.  I’d take the first coption.


So, What is a Brand?

Here are the big 5 guidelines of what a brand is.

  1. Your brand is the truth of your business (or yourself).  It’s the essence of who you are in relation to you customers.
  2. Your brand can be aspirational … but don’t wander too far from your truth.  You won’t fool anyone if you claim customer satisfaction as your strength if you don’t respond to customers … and occasionally hang up on their phone calls.
  3. The essence of your brand has to have meaning to your customers.  Do your customers care if your hair salon is technologically savvy?
  4. You don’t get to choose whether you’re going to brand your business.  It’ll happen with or without your flowery taglines, advertising, Facebook posts and tweets.
  5. Great brands are not defined by a tagline or advertising.  It is defined by what you do, who you (really are) and how you respond to your customers’ needs and wants.  Your tagline, advertising, etc. helps you to communicate your brand.


What’s the Difference between a Brand and Branding?

Here’s a very short list of branding examples.  Branding are the actions that have the potential to define and/or communicate your brand to the public.  But, remember that, without defining your brand that communication loses (almost all) value.  Go back to Rule #1 – Your brand is the truth of your business.

A tagline


Facebook page

Twitter account









How Do I Define my Brand?

Define your market, your customers, and the unique need that you (can) own.  Think about what your unique competitive advantage might be.  Volvo owns “safe cars”.  Apple owns “simple, accessible technology”.

Think about what truly matters to your customers.  Get a big sheet of paper and write down answers to these questions:

  • How do you address your customer needs better or differently than your competitors?
  • What are your customers concerns, needs and wants?
  • What do they expect from your business?
  • What are your biggest customer complaints and compliments?

Now look at your answers and look for some big trends.  If most of your customers constantly complain about not being able to reach you by phone then your issue isn’t just answering the phone – it’s customer service or accessibility that you need to respond to.  The bottom line is figuring out the unique truths of your business that will help you to consistently exceed customer expectations.


(Em)power Your Brand.

Once defined, your brand needs to live.  Promote consistently.  Reflect the brand in all that you do.  And, when competition intrudes on your brand, make it better.  Brands must evolve over time to maintain their edge.  Think about Apple.  Their branding, as demonstrated by their products and services, are constantly evolving as others intrude on their space.  You need to work on constantly strengthening and evolving your brand.

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Susan is a marketing leader who understands the creativity required to insure enduring success. She is smart, innovative and committed to getting it right.

K. SharpeC.E.O.Sharpe Partners

How We Can Help You.

We are marketing consultants based on Long Island, NY. Over the past 20 years, we've built fierce market leaders in a broad range of businesses - from tiny start-ups to global Fortune 500 companies.  Our experience spans multiple industries from consumer electronics to financial services and from food services to photo.  We're looking forward to talking to you to see how we can help take your business to the next level.