Branding: you are the brand

Branding: you are the brand

 Branding: you are the brand

What's in a brand? Everything! Think of these brands: Coca-Cola, Barbie, Hershey, McDonalds, Madonna, Pepsi, Bono, Microsoft, Kleenex, Xerox, Steven Spielberg, Dell, and GM. Did you notice that brands can be things, replicas of real people and people? Brands are the public perception of a thing or a person. Companies work very hard to establish their brand, sometimes failing when they try to link a secondary product to the popular brand. Does anyone remember the A1 chicken sauce?

The people and companies behind the above brands are well known. They are established. They have earned the right to place themselves where they are in the public eye. Are you or your product clearly associated with the solution you are looking to provide? And your product? And your name? How is it positioned in the market? As an entrepreneur, a small business owner, you must be very attentive to every detail and opportunity to brand yourself. You need to be the expert. Your product must solve the problem and the world needs to know. Therefore, branding may be the most important marketing challenge you face as your business plan unfolds.

It's about public perception. Is it real Coca-Cola? Does Hershey make the best chocolate? Does McDonald's offer the most nutritious and best tasting hamburger? Does GM make the best cars? We have been trained by marketers to make the above partnerships. We have been conditioned over time to accept advertising as real, believe it or not. In fact, these markers have been very clever. You cannot afford to be less convincing in your efforts.

As the CEO of your own organization, you most likely don't have the extensive resources of a major company or big-name star. You are probably the marketing department, the advertising department, the sales team, the accountant, etc. As such, you must remain very conscious of your image, the perception of each and every customer, and to a large extent, the market as a whole. Your market position, often dictated by the perceived quality of your products, your celebrity, your reputation for service, your leadership in your field, and your consistency will certainly have a lot to do with your brand's effectiveness. You are the brand.

As a brand, you must take the position that you will always be under scrutiny, under the microscope. Take the lead. He may not be the biggest guy in his field, but through leadership you can establish a market presence that will help you position yourself alongside the major players in your market. Take the lead on local issues or take a position on a national issue that relates to your product, service, and market. Through the partnership, you will be perceived as a market leader, regardless of your size. Try to solve a small problem and associate it with a larger one and you will achieve a level of notoriety, one that you can leverage to increase your brand awareness.

Your company must be credible. That is, your products and services must do what you say they will. It must also be personally credible. If you cannot be legitimately associated with your product or service offering, it will be difficult for the public to be receptive to such a contradiction. Honesty and integrity will be valuable assets to you as your market learns about you.

You must be consistent. You must find your niche, adopt your position, establish some position and build on it. If it changes every week or every time a new wind blows, people will not take it seriously. They will begin to doubt your leadership and find it difficult to perceive you as a credible source of their goods and services. You will lose any market positions you have gained and any leadership positions you have attained by tottering between various directions. The audience sees consistency as strength and strength as character. When you are a small business struggling to grow, your perception of the market is a critical factor.

Sure, your marketing plan should include these concerns, as well as the incredible importance of knowing your market image. Since you are the brand, few components within your business plan should receive more attention than developing public perception of you, your evolving market position, and developing your brand image.