If you are in any sort of business at all (and I am guessing you are if you’re reading this blog) you understand just how important branding can be.
Whether it’s a corporate brand such as Nike or a personal brand such as GaryVee, or a even small business brand such as your local clothing boutique… branding is a critical component when it comes to raising awareness about your company and gaining loyal and rabid fans.
When it’s done properly, it seems to attract your “right people” almost as if by magic. (OK that may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight I swear!)
The Problem Behind Branding
The problem most folks run into when they think of branding however, is buying into such thoughts and paradigms like “I don’t have the budget for that.” Or “I don’t need a brand strategy with my business… my prices/products/whatever speaks for itself.”
Well, your prices/products and whatever does speak for you actually, and so does just about every move or decision you make when it comes to you and your business. The bottom line is if you aren’t using a branding strategy, it really doesn’t matter.
People all around you are branding you anyway. And good, bad, or ugly you’ve got an image to the rest of the world, whether you intended it or not.
Now wouldn’t you rather take control of that image yourself instead of letting the rest of the world dictate it?
Shite I know I would!
Maybe I’m a bit of a control freak or something (OK so I really am, and what?!) but I’d much rather learn all I can about branding and create a strategy that reflects exactly what I want it to reflect rather than leave it up to the rest of the world!
Per chance it goes back to my high school days of not liking to be pigeon holed as “the jock” or “the nerd” or “the goth chic”… so I pretty much did and wore what I wanted, when I wanted and became a person that was uniquely me. (And I’m certain I pained many an eyeball in my quest to express my “creativity and uniqueness”! lol)
Power to the People!
Anyhoo, the point is that learning, understanding and implementing brand strategy puts the power of how people perceive you into your hands. You call the shots and have the power to entice other people to love you or hate you, depending upon your stance. With all that said, why the hell wouldn’t you want to brand yourself or your business?
Take back the power people! (Climbing down off my soapbox now and dusting of my hands.)
To that end, I’ve got quite a treat for ya’ll actually. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a book recently written by the lovely Maria Ross of Red-Slice.com. That’s her right there below:
The book is called “Branding Basics for Small Business- How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget”
I must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it’s one I’ll likely end up reading again and again, it’s just that good.
Maria has this wonderful ability in her writing to break things down into simple language anyone can understand, and to make a topic that can often seem a bit ethereal suddenly seem real, tangible, and totally doable.
She uses plenty of real world examples to illustrate her ideas, and goes to great lengths to define exactly what the differences are between branding strategies and marketing strategies (hint: they aren’t the same thing people!), as well as to let you know point blank that branding is NOT public relations or social media.
According to Maria, branding is the foundation upon which all of those different components sit. And a strong brand strategy will help you focus your actions and create marketing, PR, and social media campaigns that fit your business like a glove.
That means you don’t waste time and spend your hard-earned dollars implementing ideas that simply aren’t a fit for your “right people.”
Maria understands that branding isn’t just about slapping a logo on some paper and calling it a day. Your brand is a compilation of things like the promise to your people, the way you interact with your people, and the expectations your people have of you.
It’s a combination of the visual (things like logo, design, etc), the verbal (how they “hear” you in your web copy, presentations, etc), and the experiential (how they experience your brand via the buying process, customer service, etc).
As Maria says:
“Once you can acknowledge how you change people’s lives… you can better understand how to convey that across all communications.” (Read page 47 for more on this!)
And really I think the best part of Maria’s book is that she makes no bones about the fact that implementing a branding strategy isn’t just for the big guys anymore. It’s for anyone who’s willing to put forth the effort and do the damn thing already. Any business can use the information she’s given inside this book to create a compelling, winning brand strategy that works.
Sneak Peek at a Partial Table of Contents
- What is Brand and Why Does It Matter? (page 5)
- Building a Brand That Can Change with the Times (page 26)
- Rabid Fans: Your Logo Should Be My Tattoo (page 29- my fave section!)
- How to Build Your Brand Strategy (page 51)
- Ten Key Questions to Building Your Brand Strategy (page 52)
- Question 5: Who and Where is Your Audience? How Can You Find Them? (page 63)
- Applying the Brand Strategy (page 85)
- Brand Building Blocks: Creating Your Visual Identity System (page 92)
- Operationalizing Your Brand (page 119)
And soooo much more that I can’t detail here. You just have to get the book and read it for yourself! Oh and that part I mention is my fave, regarding your logo being a tattoo?
She talks about Harley Davidson and how they’ve created a brand with such a rabidly loyal following that people not only wear HD merchandise, they also proudly sport HD tats all over their bodies! Totally going to make a tattoo out of the BGB brand stamp, what do ya’ll think? Who wants to be the guinea pig? 😉
So to recap quickly… Maria Ross’s book on branding basics rocks, I can’t spell it out any better. Please show her some love and support by picking up a copy and raving all about it on your own blogs. Oh and Twitter too, she’ll love that. You can also friend her yourself, @RedSlice.
As always if you’ve questions, thoughts, or general ideas you want to sprout wings and send off into the ether… the ether is down below in the comment box. And stay tuned for tomorrow, I’ll be publishing an excerpt from Maria’s branding book that you won’t want to miss out on! Oh also, please don’t forget to share this post if you like it, it’s always mucho, MUCHO appreciated.
Maria Ross is the founder and chief strategist of Red Slice, a branding and marketing consultancy based in Seattle. She has advised start-ups, solopreneurs, non-profits and even large enterprises such as Microsoft, Discovery Networks and Monster.com on how to craft their brand story to engage, inform and delight customers. The following is an excerpt from her new book, Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press).
Silly assed but necessary disclosure- Any and all Amazon links you find on BGB are most likely run through my Amazon affiliate account. Yes, I stand to make a dollar or two if you use them. So don’t use them indiscriminately, I wouldn’t want you to make me rich or anything… you know those dollar bills add up. Just ask strippers!