Nike has its famous “swoosh”. Rice Crispies has the “Snap, Crackle & Pop” triplets. KFC has its unique fragrance. So, you know that giant companies are distinctive by a specific sound or taste or smell or touch or visual. But so what? How does that help the all-important entrepreneur, the small businessperson? The answer is that it does not help at all. The way large corporations brand themselves is totally unrelated to how you brand yourself or your small business.
A startling statistic on branding is that 97% of entrepreneurs are not branded. To an outsider (that means a prospect), every Realtor, every butcher, every electrician, every professional, etc. all look exactly the same. So, it is a struggle to compete since you don’t stand out. To get business when you are not branded, you need to play the odds – that means make lots of sales calls and hope for the best. Or, you can spend lots of money on advertising or social media or whatever. But, it is all a huge waste of money and time. So, most entrepreneurs simply cut their prices to get business and hence live dangerously on razor thin profit margins.
The next startling statistic on branding is that the few entrepreneurs who attempt to brand themselves choose the wrong aspect of their business or themselves to brand. They choose what actually everyone else in their industry does also, hence they are not unique or branded. Examples include claiming that you are excellent in customer service or available at all hours or been in business for over ten years or you continually upgrade your skills by taking ongoing courses. When I ask such misguided entrepreneurs if there are others in their industry who do customer service or have long hours or lots of years of experience or keep educating themselves, the sheepish answer is always “well, yes, I guess”.
My first comment about branding yourself is not going to seem very helpful, but it needs to be said. There is no rule or formula for branding, for if there were, everyone would follow that rule and all brands would be the same and that would ruin the brand. For you see, a brand has as its purpose to make you stand out. Being the same as everyone else is the opposite of a brand. That means that branding has some science and a lot of art.
You need to select an aspect of what you do that truly stands you out, makes you different, has others exclaim “wow”. Think of all the five senses – notice what others in your industry talk about and see if you can select something else to use to create your brand. To use a product example, Proctor and Gamble owns Folgers Coffee. Maxwell House was the world leader. Folgers wanted to overtake Maxwell. So, the Product Manager of Folgers studied all other coffees and noticed that they all focused on their taste. So, Folgers focused on its aroma. Instead of TV commercials showing smiling people sipping coffee and exclaiming how wonderful it tasted. Folgers created TV commercials showing people smelling he aroma of coffee and waking up refreshed, without even drinking. The result? Folgers raced past Maxwell House to become the #1 selling coffee in the world and has retained its position for decades to this very day. Notice – Folgers is not any different now than when it was #2. The taste nor the aroma have ever changed. Just the branding.
Products, people, businesses – they all can be branded for greater sales and higher profit margins.
If you wish to learn about branding from me and indeed actually be branded by me, simply attend one of my powerful branding experiences: