It’s time for small business to think big when it comes to image and branding. You know, five years ago you never used to hear the words image, brand and small business in the same sentence. That was because it was assumed that to have a brand you had to be a multi national and branding was driven by mega amounts of advertising.
We now know that is not true, in fact every small business has a brand whether they want it or not! Now let me explain what a brand is because no one ever tells you. Forget all the technical definitions a brand is simply the values that your clients or customers attach to you image. This means when they see your logo, pass your shop or receive an email from you they get a “gut response”.
For instance I have a wonderful fruit and vegetable shop near me owned by a young Italian couple called Angelo and Maria. Angelo is passionate about fresh produce; he can talk for hours about the first of the white asparagus or a supplier of back figs. When I was in there the other day I took some tomatoes up to the counter and he asked me what they were for when I said a pasta sauce he shook his head and disappeared (with the tomatoes) out the back of the shop returning with over ripe roma tomatoes which were perfect for a past sauce. He also has two young sons who often help out in the shop after school when I was there the other day they were taking the outlet leaves off cabbages and learning the difference between the smell of basil and coriander. And Maria, she makes the best Tiramisu on the planet they can’t keep stocks of it in the chiller cabinet. So what values have I attached to their image, product knowledge, passion, family. In fact, I am always a little surprised when I don’t get the continental kiss on each cheek when I go there. So think about what “brand” your clients have given you. Be careful it’s not “that grumpy guy who never smiles” or the hairdresser who’s always running late. Think about what values you would like to have associated with your business and then start to build them into your marketing and customer service activities.
It’s also a good idea to do a simple image audit on your business. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds and can be very enlightening. Collect everything that carries your logo or business image. Letterhead, business cards, promotional flyers, photos of signage, snapshots of web pages, emails etc. Lay them out on a table or flat surface, step back and look at them through slightly unfocused eyes imagining you’d never seen this stuff before. Then ask yourself …How many businesses are represented there? If the answer is more than one you have an image problem. And the cause of most image problems is business owners. We tend to fiddle with our image and logos because we are bored but the end result is mixed messages for the client. You may have started your business with conservative, corporate image using navy and cream as the colours, and then things got a bit tight so you produced a lot of sales flyers in fluoro colours and then you had a new website designed by a hip young designer who created a great palette of green and purple. Imagine what all that is saying to your customer…..confusion reigns supreme!
Some of the things to look for include:
• How many businesses are represented?
• Am I presenting more than one image?
• Am I giving mixed messages?
• What values have I attached to my brand?
• Does my image reflect where I have been or where I am heading?
• Logos used in non standard ways
• Inconsistent paper colours/quality
• Different names on different material
• A radically different website
• Inconsistent use of fonts
• Style of language and phrases
• Positioning statements, USP’s and benefits
Look at all the material on the table and decide what needs to change to boost your brand values.
Remember that image and branding is all about perception. What people see is what they think they are going to get!
Linda Hailey is a well known small business consultant, regular quest on Kockie's Business Builders, keynote speaker and author who passionately believes it's time we took the pain and stress out of marketing and small business growth.
As a small business consultant she works with a wide range of businesses to develop marketing strategies that build reputations and business revenue. Her client list includes distributors, service businesses, retail outlets, health professionals, training and recruitment companies, tourism operators, graphic designers and even a funeral director!
Linda also works very extensively in regional Australia developing marketing plans for small towns and acting as a trouble shooter for small communities who are facing challenges ranging from the closure of a major industry to disruptive road works in the main street.
She is a respected keynote speaker on small business presenting in regional areas, interstate and overseas for government departments, corporate clients, franchise organisations and small business associations.
Linda is also author of two books:
Kickstart Marketing - The no nonsense system for boosting your business
Your Business, Your Future - How to predict and harness growth http://www.lindahailey.com.au/
Note from Editor: If you haven't already downloaded the Business Brand and Image Audit as a FREE ebook " Better Image ... Better Bottom Line.' Start your audit today!
Brand Yourself! And Jump the Q! Your personal brand should reflect your abilities and potential. Rachel Quilty, Personal Brand Strategist, known as ‘the Authority’ on personal branding and author of must- have book ‘Brand Yourself’. Go to http://www.JumptheQ.com.au for FREE strategic branding tips. Rachel encourages Jump the Q clients to think strategically when developing a personal brand to get that job offer, gain that promotion or win that client.
Jump the Q assists you to strategically and systematically leverage your professional profile and build your personal brand to become the authority in your industry. Get your free personal branding tactics and tips at http://www.brandyourselfblueprint.com
We assist you to develop your Personal Brand Strategy by:
- Discovering your purpose.
- Designing your best personal brand.
- Devising a personal marketing plan.
- Developing your Signature Brand.
Copyright permission: You have permission to use this article by respecting the copyright by publishing the entire article as it is with no changes and by agreeing to include the above reference at the end of the article, or where you quote the author in which case please include the authors name and company name. In the event you wish to use any or all of this content please advise Jump the Q.