Because Small Business is Big Business

What is a Brand?

brandWhat is a brand?  I’m reminded of scenes from one of my favorite American movies, Red River; namely, the branding of cattle in preparation for a historic cattle drive along the old Chisholm Trail.  Brands were visual symbols of ownership.  They depicted in graphic geometric shapes and/or letters the names of the various ranches:  The Circle R, The Flying P, and The Two Rivers are examples.  The brand message to all who saw it said, “This is mine, and it is separate from the rest of the herd.”

The most successful and durable brands like Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Ford, and Budweiser create a special relationship between the company providing the product and the customer—indeed, the brand becomes the product in the mind of the customer.

“Brand Bonding” results in the customer experiencing a feeling of ownership.  Recent television and print commercial scripts have the actors saying, “that’s my CVS,” “my Sprint,” my Tide.”  After multiple repetitions and images of people just like us embracing a product, an almost subliminal message becomes imprinted and oftentimes drives the sales decision.

Brand awareness is not just for big businesses.  It is of growing significance to the confidence and credibility of small businesses, as well.  When people are asked why they buy a certain product they respond by saying, “I’ve heard about it.”  Every small business should incorporate a branding strategy into its marketing plan.

Consider creating a “theme line” to accompany and expand your brand awareness to the buying public.  A theme line should be a few easy-to- remember words that underscore the mission of your business. Indeed, the theme line should be an offshoot of that mission statement.  When designing one, think of it as a permanent statement to be included in all advertising and promotion—whether it is oral, online, or printed.

In 1896, founder H. J. Heinz seized upon the slogan “57 Varieties,” although he had more than 60 varieties. Today, his company has over 3,000 varieties, but the theme line is still “57 Varieties.”   Not only has his company endured but also has his brilliant choice of a slogan which is now over a century old.  Others include:

  • “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”
  • “Breakfast of champions.”
  • “The pause that refreshes.”
  • “History made every day.”
  • “Building America.
  •   “Just do it!”

Want to know more about branding and marketing?  Check out the book A Guide to Small Business Marketing.