Branding is a one hot topic, although it is wildly misunderstood. To make things
even more confusing, branding is often tossed in the same basket as marketing
which makes its application to an entrepreneur or sole-practitioner even more
While out speaking on branding, the question that I hear most is “How do I know if
my business or service is brand material?” With businesses opening left and right,
and more and more closing each year, I’m glad there are smart business owners
open to understanding the issue.
If you’ve found yourself asking the same thing, don’t worry you’re not alone.
Perhaps, this can shed some light.
At a recent luncheon, the same question came up again in a different way. I was
seated next to an attorney whose sole practice focuses on elder abuse cases, he
asked me in rapid succession (a manner that showed me he’d be great in court):
“Isn’t branding for businesses that make a lot of stuff?”
“Doesn’t branding apply only if you want to sell a lot of stuff?”
“Isn’t branding pointless for my kind of business?”
Smiling, I fired back, “yes, yes, and… no”.
Yes, branding is most often associated with businesses that make a lot of stuff. Yes,
branding is advantageous if you want to sell a lot of stuff. No, branding is not
pointless because every business makes something (or offers a service) and wants
to sell it. Branding is about making your product or service known to as many
potential customers as possible, consistently, with the most effective use of your
time and money. Branding is about repeat business. Branding is about effortless
referrals. Wouldn’t that be a benefit to ANY business, especially yours?
To help you gain more brand-worthy clarity, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I really passionate about what I am doing with my business, service or
product? And I mean REALLY! If not, is there something more you can be doing in it
to turn your passion switch on? It takes an amazing amount of energy and
persistence to make a business take hold in the customer’s mind. With more and
more businesses competing for headspace, it’s imperative that you set yourself
apart. If you are not cooking with the fuel that passion gives you, you’re missing out
on a very crucial element that could mean the difference between thriving and
2. Do I have a big vision of my business, service or product? Do you dream of
reaching lots of customers in different ways with your product or service? Do you
see a way to deliver your product or service to an increasing amount of people with
less and less effort? Did you create a mindset or special approach in your field that
can be delivered in a variety of mediums, i.e.- speaking, books, audio CDs,
consulting, etc. Do you envision moving beyond an hour-for-hour way of providing
your service? All of these support a big vision. , Not only do we begin from the
inside out, when approaching your brand, we create from where you will be in five
years as if it is now. Small vision does just that, keeps you small. The choice is
3. Is my product or service a real benefit to lots of customers? It’s important that
you answer this one as honestly and openly as possible. I was very passionate and
had a huge vision for a career as a mime! (Yes, you read that correctly… a mime.)
However, no amount of passion and vision would make people buy it on a large
scale. Thanks to Marceau Marceau, the mime card had been played out. You may
find that by being truthful with your answers will lead to branding even better
products and services.
4. Am I prepared to surround myself with a team or the knowledge to accomplish
the business success that developing my business as a brand delivers? The plus side
of being an entrepreneur is that you may wear many hats in your business. The
negative side is that you feel like you have to! The truth is, you don’t! You’re an
expert in your field and you need to honor that expertise by supporting it with a
variety of other skill sets to make your indelible mark; logo design, copywriting,
website design, your marketing plan creation and execution, and others. The
important thing is that you realize…you’re in command…because it’s your ship! And
being a commander takes knowing where you want to go, gathering the maps to
make the journey, and the crew to make it happen.
If your answers to these questions are yes, then you have the makings to develop
your business as a brand. You just need the knowledge and practice to do so. If
you’re shaky on some of the questions, find out why. Even if you never develop your
business as a brand, solid yeses to these simple questions will only make your
business more successful and more enjoyable. After all, isn’t that we all want?
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