Too many entrepreneurs think too shallowly about what a brand actually is, but when done right, branding can make a $100,000 piece of real estate worth millions, and a $5 shirt worth thousands. It’s something very important to pay attention to especially because it’s one of the lowest cost and highest ROI investments you can make in your business. Branding separates companies from commodities. It enables them to compete on other metrics than price, and allows them to maintain firm positioning in the market–not always because their product is best, but because their brand it trusted. In this article, we’ll talk thoroughly to answer the question, “What is a business brand?”.
In short, a business’s brand is how they are perceived in the market, or their company’s reputation. Businesses can be intentional about their brands by ensuring quality, paying attention to customer experience, being consistent in their marketing, creating high quality content, and being ethical.
In addition to what the business puts out intentionally, the company brand is also effected by customer reviews, customer posts online, pictures, and perceptions from people outside of the company. Entrepreneurs should be very careful to create a valuable brand because branding adds immense equity to businesses.
The Commodity versus The Brand
Let’s get practical…
How often do you go to the store or shop online? When you’re looking around and you see a popular brand name, how does that effect or influence your perception of the product or service? When you see a name you’ve never heard of before, how does that effect your perception of the product or service?
For most people, when their at the store, they can imagine a brand for different product lines. For example, if you think about Dishwashing soap, you may think about Dawn, Ajax, or Palmolive. When you think about soda, you may think about Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, Sunkist, or Mountain Dew. The list goes on an on.
As an entrepreneur, you want to carve out placement in customer’s minds for your niche. When your brand reputation is established, it gives you lots of leverage. Think about it…
Coca Cola can price their drinks higher than generic brands because they are well known and well trusted. When you consider buying the generic competitor to Coca Cola, you feel somewhat uncertain about whether you will get a quality product, whether the taste will be equivalent or better, and the uncertainty causes many customers to shy away from experimenting with new brands.
We all want our money to be spent well rather than wasted, so choosing trusted brands is one way many consumers “protect their money” and prevent it from being wasted. Your goal as an entrepreneur has to be to establish the brand authority and equity that when someone sees your name, they have a general idea of what to expect and confidence that their money will be well spent.
- 1/3 of consumers have a brand in mind when they go shopping. (Source: Gartner)
- 44% of US consumers plan to give gifts purchased from brands they are loyal to, during the holiday season. (Source: Kettle Fire Creative)
- 59% of global consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them. (Source: Nielsen)
- Franchising is all about licensing a brand. Frachisors like McDonald’s get paid upwards of $50,000 to use the brand (including patented processes) to produce the same products and services from multiple locations.
- Well established companies like Trump, the NBA, Nascar, or Disney charge royalties plus thousands (millions or even billions) of dollars for the use of their brand because it associates the contracted product or service with their brand quality standard.
- Established companies don’t want to risk losing the trust of customers so they are very careful about the use of their brand. They are slower to try new products or color variations because they take serious the equity established in their brands.
What a Business Brand is Not
- solely a physical appearance
- an excuse to deliver mediocre products
- an accurate representation of a person or business–it’s a perception
- established overnight
- set it and forget it
A business brand requires consistent presentation and production of equivalent quality products, services, and culture. If you’ve created one product and have one transaction with a customer, it’s difficult to have a solid brand identity shaped from that one experience. For example, Walmart is a large and well established brand. Every time you visit Walmart, you create a perception of the brand and build or diminish your perception of the brand.
1. Create a Mission Statement and be on a Mission
According to Top Nonprofits, a mission statement should be “a one-sentence statement describing the reason your program or organization exists”.
Some good examples are TED, “Spreading ideas” or The Human Society “Celebrating animals, confronting cruelty”. The mission statement should not be a romantic idea of what you think other people want to hear. A mission statement is not simply website or business plan fluff. It’s important to your reputation, what people will come to know you by, and it helps position you in other people’s minds. You want your mission statement to be clear, concise, and memorable. It should be a brief explanation summarizing the actions you plan to do.
Don’t just write a mission, be on a mission!
2. Create a Vision, Purpose, and Dream Statement and Leverage them with Action
The best definition I’ve heard of the vision, purpose, and dream statements comes from Michael Gerber. He said:
A Dream is a Great Result. The Great Result you intend to create.
A Vision is the form your company is going to take.
A Purpose is the outcome you intend to create for your customer.
A Mission is the method through which you’re going to realize your Dream, Vision and Purpose.
It’s important to visualize what your company will look like in its optimal form. Will it be a company of one? Will it be a company of hundreds? How many people would you like to impact? When you allow your imagination to shape the grandiose image of your business at its optimal place, and you articulate this into words, this is your vision.
The dream is the statement that’s usually bigger than you could actually accomplish but is your verbal profession of an illusion where you exterminate one of Earth’s problems. For example, Martin Luther Kings’s dream was to see black people and while people joining hands, ending racism, and experiencing freedom (paraphrased). The dream doesn’t have to be something you accomplish in your lifetime. Instead, it should be a cause big enough that leaves room enough for other people to get involved.
The purpose is an outcome like “80% or more graduation rates”, “1 million people with $1000 emergency funds”, or “500 small business owners who create 1000+ employee enterprises”. It’s like fuel for you. It helps you stay grounded and motivated.
3. Build Intellectual Property Assets
Intellectual property assets includes trademarks, copyrights, patents, website content, digital real estate like website domains, or training manuals. While real estate has value, intellectual property can be leveraged to multiply the value of physical property by the thousands!
Intellectual property adds a display of the creativity, innovation, and personality of a company. Consumers don’t simply like brands, they like what the brand stands for, the culture, the personality, and the aura. The underlying likable factors of a brand can be appropriated thru intellectual property.
4. Create Culture in Your Business
Establish core values along with the mission, vision, dream, and purpose statements. While these practices may seem minute, they become daily mantras–statements that are used to sort thru decisionmaking and right and wrong.
For example, in the Air Force, our core values were “integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do”. When we would be reprimanded, we were reminded how our behavior did not align with the core values. When we were rewarded, we were reminded how we are being rewarded because of our demonstration of the core values. Daily, when we made choices, whether in customer service or otherwise, when no one is watching or in large crowds, we had in mind the core values.
Core values are a foundational building block for a sound company culture. It’s a daily mantra and a personification of who you want each person in the organization to be and the behaviors you want them to demonstrate in a very concise statement.
It’s important for a brand to be honest about the good and the bad. Often times, brands want reviews that are not their “favorites” to be omitted. Look at a brand like “Donald Trump”. He has a very strong and established brand where millions of people know him well enough that they could go on and on with dialogue.
He has people who speak highly and people who don’t. His fans and naysayers contribute to his brand, and help people who may not have heard of him to have a clearer perception of what to expect.
We can all agree that he’s a business man, the US president, very opinionated, bold and no-nonsense, a father, husband, and real estate investor. There are many other terms that can be associated with his brand, and because he doesn’t spend all of his time omitting bad reviews, we’re able to balance media and opinions to shape our own.
Address wrongful statements and do your best to satisfy customers, but be okay with the fact that everyone will not be satisfied. You have to provide consistent products and services to establish your brand: rather than bending and maneuvering to be a people pleaser.
6. Build Customer Relationships
Customer acquisition is one of the highest costs in business. Relationships are the foundation of every business. It’s important that entrepreneurs don’t overlook the customers they have because their focus is on acquiring more. Go deep rather than wide. Build the relationships with your customers and watch your referrals increase, your retention increase, and your customer acquisition costs go down.
As you get responses from your customers, you’ll learn more and more about your brand. As you learn more about branding and how your reputation is being portrayed to others, continue to improve it. If you’re being seen as arrogant and you want to be seen another way, create a plan of how you will modify your actions and statements to transform your brand image. If you’re seen as flaky and inconsistent, make a new commitment and stick to it. Branding is largely about consistency, persistence, and reputation building.
Final words answering, “What is a Business Brand?
This article was created to answer the question, “What is a busines brand?”. Branding adds immense equity into real estate, intellectual property, and overall business transactions. I hope you can take the nuggets from this article and translate them into a massively successful brand, and come here to tell me about it!
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Now, it’s Your Turn…
Have you started working on your personal brand? What things have contributed or taken away from your brand image? What additional advice would you give for others asking, “What is a business brand?”. Leave your comments, questions, and feedback below.