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MARKETING CONSULTANTS

Small Business Branding from Costco…Aisle 12

Small Business Branding from Costco...Aisle 12

When small business owners find out that I’ve spent a great deal of my corporate life at large companies, they all say the same thing.

“You don’t understand.

We’re too small to have a brand.

We don’t have time for strategic plans.

We don’t do that.”

 

Truth be told, they don’t understand.  Most of the business rules that apply to multi-national, multi-tiered, multi-billion dollar businesses also apply to small and mid-sized businesses.  And yes, even to start-ups.  Here are the Big Four:

  1. Mission statements matter.
  2. Meaningful core values matter.
  3. Respecting the market and your partners matters.
  4. Living 1 , 2 and 3 above creates your brand foundation

 

Costco

I went to Costco yesterday after a long hiatus. I walked through those doors and I swear I heard angels singing and harps playing.  Heaven!   Not only did I save $300 on my new eyeglasses and $75 on the Vitamix 5200 but the store was clean, Costco employees were all quite professional and well spoken … and I got a huge frozen yogurt for $1.35.  In many ways, Costco hasn’t changed in the last few years.  But, what does this have to do with small business branding.

First thing to understand is Costco’s mission:

“To continually provide our members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices. In order to achieve our mission we will conduct our business with the following Code of Ethics in mind:

Obey the law
Take care of our members
Take care of our employees
Respect our vendors”

 

Many people believe that missions and strategy and core values only live on paper.  There are billion dollar companies who do just that.  Sad, but true.  But, those who take the time, thought and energy to create mission statements and core values that are meaningful to the company and the market put themselves in the game.  Those who have the focus and discipline to live and breathe their mission and values are far ahead of the game.  They will build a firm foundation for their brand, an operating code for employees, differentiation from competitors and a connection to their customers.

4 Comments
  1. Hey Susan,

    I wholeheartedly agree. I used to work for a small business where we didn’t have a mission statement, core values, etc and it was noticeable. Since we didn’t know who we were or who we wanted to be, we constantly shifted directions, stalled and floundered. Whenever I brought the idea of creating a mission statement to the table, upper management always agreed that it would be a good idea but stated that we were just too busy (putting out fires) to focus on stuff like that.

    I believe that a little focus would have gone a long way.

    Good article!

  2. Hi Adam ,
    I agree. It’s a shame that so many small companies don’t realize that strategy isn’t just for big corporate entities.
    Thanks,
    Susan

  3. Hi Adam ,
    I agree. It’s a shame that so many small companies don’t realize that strategy isn’t just for big corporate entities.
    Thanks,
    Susan

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