When you decide to take your small business online, you’ll start reading a lot of people who’ll tell you that you need to have a strategy to brand your business. This is great advice. Your business does need a branding strategy (even if it’s not online). What’s not so great is that there are many “gurus” who only focus on those aspects of branding where they can make a quick buck from you.
It’s not that the services they provide aren’t needed – some of them are. It’s that they either don’t understand what branding truly is or they’re simply misleading small business owners into thinking their services encompass everything they need to know about branding. They like to perpetuate three myths.
Myth #1 – Your Logo is Your Brand
This myth has been spread so much that many people now think branding is creating a great logo and getting it in front of as many eyes as possible. Successful branding does require a consistent image, but running around in a black mask and cape doesn’t make you Zorro. Logo identity is important, but it’s not our brand.
Kleenex, Xerox, Velcro, Jacuzzi, AstroTurf, and many more companies became brand names without using logos at all. In fact, they were so successful that they became the generic name people applied to these products despite the actual manufacturer.
It’s the reputation behind the name or logo that makes the brand.
Myth #2 – You Control Your Brand
Throughout our history, we have branded livestock, people, and now we’re doing it to companies. The brand was applied by another person who chose whether it was a symbol of quality, ownership, or punishment. Whatever, or whomever, received the brand had no choice in the matter.
There have been those who’ve branded themselves, but these brands don’t carry the same weight. They can suggest to the viewer a certain way to think, or feel, about that person, but it’s ultimately the viewer’s decision to accept or reject the brand. It’s the same when it comes to your efforts to brand your small business.
Your branding efforts should focus on being a part of this decision process, but you must realize that you don’t (and can’t) control it.
Myth #3 – Branding = Marketing
Branding and marketing are often used interchangeably today. Marketing’s role is to develop an image and story for your brand, and then present it to your target audience as a suggestion of how to think about your company. These efforts will only be successful to the extent you give this suggestion credibility through your actions.
Your brand is created one action at a time from the person who makes your widgets to the salesperson that meets with your customers to your decisions in the boardroom. It is everything about your company – your culture, your products, your practices, and your ethics. It is these interactions over and over again that become your brand.
Until you fully understand this, your branding efforts will likely be in vain.
What do you think of when it comes to branding? What myths have you discovered when it comes to branding?
Photo Credit: Flickr/Charlie Llewellin