In ranching country, branding has a slightly different meaning than in the advertising world, yet it’s still pretty much the same. You burn an image into the consumer’s mind to differentiate yours from theirs. Works for cows, but essentially if you want to keep the consumer’s attention, you’d better spend some time branding. Small businesses generally don’t have funds to do it well.
We all think we can name at least a few brands, but go ahead and try to define it and you’ll see that it’s really a fuzzy area indeed. The ‘personality that identifies a product, service or company’, is what we think most people believe. It goes on and on with other aspects, but the ‘perceptions, feelings and images’ that customers and community have of the brand is important.
Ask yourself if you can quickly identify your brand. Is it simply your name, like John Johnson, Attorney at Law? Is it a picture like the leading insurance lady in your area? Or is it a graphic or abbreviation used on your business letterhead, cards, invoices, etc, like UPS, IBM? You need to hone in on it and if not, you need to develop one that is essentially what you want the community to remember when they see it. A good part of your marketing plan should include a well defined and thought through brand.
What if you have several products, services or companies under one operating budget or place of business? How do you decide to market them all, without exceeding your budget? Do what you can to decide ‘what is the biggest seller, most valuable, most desirable, etc. and then drill in on a common brand. Put your money where you can get the biggest bang for the buck.
Whatever your brand is determined to be, you should use it in all your advertising and marketing efforts. The colors, fonts, pictures, slogans, etc. should all be consistent – the items that we want the consumers to remember. Once you focus in on that, you can easily add depth to your marketing plan, like handing out cards that are magnets that give discounts on return visits that look like the billboards, that show up in the yellow pages, and pop on to the TV or appear in the newspaper. Only your budget will determine where and how you execute your marketing plan, but a well thought out brand is an essential first step.
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