I was on the phone the other day with someone who told me in no uncertain terms that “branding, for most businesses, was a waste of time and money.” This person’s position was that branding was OK for companies like Xerox or Nike, but far too expensive and far too time-consuming for average businesses, who can’t create a household name with their brand.
If you’ve been following the blog for any length of time, you can imagine how the conversation ensued, but, I can see this person’s point, it’s just that they missed the real reason that branding matters for businesses of all sizes. While a happy outcome of branding might be attaining a household name a la Sony or Apple, the real benefit of branding is efficiency… efficiency with time, money, action, and effort. Jeffrey Harmon from Orabrush explains it this way: “Attention is a scarce resource. Branding is the experience marketers create to win that attention.”
While we often get wrapped up in the marketing elements of a brand (logo, tagline, etc), the most important elements of the brand is consistency. Sergio Zyman, Author of The End of Advertising As We Know It, suggests that, “A brand is essentially a container for a customer’s complete experience with the product or company.” And so it follows that a consistent representation of that business across the complete swath of a customer’s experience will make the business more memorable.
Every business (and person) has a brand, whether they intend to have one or not. Small businesses need to pay just as much attention (if not more) to every aspect of the way they interact with their customers as the large brands do. After all, small businesses have to stretch word-of-mouth as far as it can go, stretch marketing dollars to their limit, and can’t afford to throw money away on frivolous marketing opportunities. For medium-sized business, the stakes are even higher. Mid-sized businesses have the real opportunity, with a great brand, to create top of mind awareness, and achieve household-name status within their geographic region. And that benefit is equally as powerful as benefits large businesses receive from good branding. And of course, large-business has the potential for real payoffs with a great brand on a National and International scale.
At the end of the day, branding is about consistency, it’s about efficient use of resources that leverage each other to achieve a 1 + 1 = 3 affect. And what business couldn’t use that? Size doesn’t matter, BRAND does.