Written by Lori Thiessen

I’m so old that I remember a time when branding just meant taking a fresh-from-the-fire hot piece of metal and searing it into the hides of poor, unsuspecting cows.

Branding has now become the by-word on everybody’s lips as THE way to succeed in business. While I don’t think it is the only element in a successful business, it is necessary to distinguish yourself from the herd, so to speak.

Remember that the average attention span has decreased considerably and the load of media stuff coming at us all the time has increased exponentially. And, yes Virginia, there is a correlation between the two.  So your  business brand needs to sear the brain matter of your potential clients like the flame-red brand on a cow hide.  Can your potential clients feel the sizzle of your brand?

When Gregg and I started the Coffee Shop Office Project, neither of us were strong on the branding (marketing) side of business. We knew we had to do it but didn’t know exactly what it meant or how to do it. So we just tried to choose a name that would kind of say who we were and what we did. Then we stopped.

In an effort to get our branding sorted out, I’ve been doing some research on the topic. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Definition of branding, according to the American Marketing Association:

name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.

1. Part of brand development means you have to pin down exactly what your business does. This may seem like a no-brainer but sit down with your trusty paper and pen and list everything your company does and how it delivers its products and services. It will take a while, trust me.

2. Imagine what your ideal client is like. Who are they? Where do they do business? What are their values? Where do they hang out the most? How will your product/service fit in with their lifestyle?

3. If your business was a person, what would it be like? What are its values? What kinds of attributes does it possess? meticulous professionalism, laid back , fun, urbane, ecological, etc.

4. Are you really comfortable with the personality you developed for your company? If you aren’t,  you may want to re-think it.

5. Compare the personalities of your ideal client and your company. How well do they match up? If they don’t match up that well, then you might want to re-think it.

6. Choose a name that reflects the personality of your company.

7. Create a tag line that reflects the personality of the company and also says what it offers. Think of it as your business’ pick-up line; the better the pick-up line, the more clients’ attention you will hold.

There are oodles of information on branding out there in old-fashioned book form and online.  As a starting point, check out the article:  What is Branding and How Important is it to Your Marketing Strategy? By Laura Lake at about.com.

Also, if you are looking for a real, live person to give you some help, I can recommend Liz Gaige of Marketing Navigators (http://www.marketnavigators.ca). Gregg and I hired her to help us with our branding confusion. She guided us to a clearer vision of what we wanted to project to do and how to achieve it. We just haven’t made the time to implement those ideas. Anybody know a professional butt-kicker?

Even though Liz is based in Vancouver, thanks to the wonders of technology, you may be able to engage Liz’s service in the virtual realm.

I would recommend hiring a marketing strategist overall if you are feeling fuzzy about how to brand your business. Achieving greater clarity is worth the time and money. It’s an investment in your business.

Branding takes a while to get right but in the end being clear about what your business does can pay major dividends. I believe it will help you work more effectively and calmly because you know exactly what your company does and who your clients are.

It also helps your client to know your company better.  The more familiar a client feels with a company the more likely they are to use your company’s products/services again and again, and they will recommend their friends and family. Bottom line–more efficient, effective branding could lead to repeat business which equals increased revenue.

Q: What books or online resources on branding have you found most useful?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!