You’ve probably heard people talking about how important it is for every business to create a brand – regardless of whether it’s a Fortune 500 company or a one-person business. But, if you’re like many entrepreneurs, you may not know the true purpose of a brand and the benefits it can have on your business.
What Is a Brand?
The reason why brands are so misunderstood relates to the fact that they aren’t a tangible object. You can’t pick up a brand, and you can’t really even see it. Some people say that branding is the logo design you use or the font on your brochures. Unfortunately, they’re wrong.
For example, let’s look at Louis Vuitton, a designer brand that many Hollywood stars wear at award shows. Celebrities like Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and Cate Blanchett strut the red carpet in “LV” styles. If you described the LV brand, what adjectives would you use? Things like expensive, luxury, or designer to the stars might come to mind.
Jaclyn Smith is another designer. She sells her clothes at Kmart. Knowing that, how would you describe her brand? You might call it low-cost, fairly priced, or a designer for everyday wear.
But how do you know that? You can’t pick up the brand for either Louis Vuitton or Jaclyn Smith. Logo recognition might let you pick out their clothing, but other than that, those brands are defined by your perceptions.
What is the Definition of a Brand?
Seth Godin, a world-renowned author and marketing expert, says:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
That’s why you could describe those brands. It is the collection of perceptions that create a brand, and not any one tangible aspect.
Do You Need a Brand?
A brand helps consumers choose one product or service over another. That’s true for your business too. Every entrepreneur faces a complex market filled with competitors; you need a brand to stand out from your competition. That’s critical
Without a brand, Louis Vuitton would be just another designer.
Until you, as an entrepreneur, have defined your brand, you’re just another person starting a business.
Yes, You Can Define a Brand
You may think, “But I do the same thing as every other (appraiser or home inspector or insurance agent or mortgage loan officer or real estate agent).” That’s not really true, but it might feel that way sometimes.
Consider bottled water – what could be more generic than that? Nevertheless, the brands have differentiated themselves. Evian lets you “live young,” Perrier is “the ultimate refreshment” and Fiji is “created entirely by nature.”
You can create your own brand by thinking about the things you do that are different from your competitors. For example:
- Look at your competitors’ websites to determine how your services differ from theirs.
- Pay attention to what your clients say about why they choose to work with you.
- Pay attention to horror stories you’ve heard in your industry; your strength may be how you help your customers avoid those pitfalls.
Do you have a brand? How does it translate online? If you don’t have a brand, now is the time to create one. Use it to grow your business by standing out in an industry crowded with competitors.