What is a brand?
Let's start with the obvious. There are many definitions of what a brand is and it's easy to get lost amongst them all, which isn't very helpful if you're an SME that just wants a practical definition that you can apply to your business.
We recommend the following simple formula for a solid but flexible platform upon which to get started:
Brand = Reputation + Behaviour + Proposition
Reputation is what you’re known for. If somebody looks at your brand and can’t tell what you do almost instantly, you’ve got a problem. It’s not about telling people how innovative or passionate you are. You need to be more direct and relevant than that. The very least your brand must do is explain what you do clearly and quickly to your target audience.
Behaviour is the way you act. Some call it vision, mission and values but these are over-used corporate terms that are more confusing than useful. If you can, avoid them. Use normal and relevant language that people understand and connect with. Instead of vision, talk about what you're trying to achieve. Instead of mission, explain how you’re doing it. And then get on with doing it rather than over-worrying about the terminology.
Proposition is where the heavy lifting is. It’s also the bit that’s missing from most SMEs. It’s what links your brand to your business strategy by explaining it to your target audience in a compelling and relevant manner. Your proposition drives your sales and marketing and answers the most important question of all: ‘Why should I buy you?’
The Importance of Relevance
You may have noticed one word that appeared across all three. Did you spot it? It’s ‘relevant’.
The desire to be different is often the biggest elephant in the room for SMEs. “Our brand’s unique. Nobody else does what we do”. Please don’t fall into this trap and waste precious marketing resources. You’re highly unlikely to be unique and you don’t need to be. Being relevant is much more important than being unique.
Finally, you might be wondering about your name and logo, as they are what most people associate with branding. Yes, they are important, and you must give them careful consideration, but your reputation, behaviour and proposition come first. Get these sorted, and then think about your name and logo.