You hear it all the time about companies, marketing, and the company "brand". But WHAT IS a company brand and why is it important to the success (or failure) of your business? Branding has many meanings and definitions. A brand has been known as your company name, a slogan your company uses, a logo, the products you sell, the services you offer, a symbol you use to define your company, or a combination of these items. A "brand" has evolved over time to be these terms and more. A company brand is more than these mere objects.
When the world was starting out in the good 'ole cowboy era cattle ranchers used branding irons to define and inform others which cattle was there's. Branding in the cowboy sense was as simple as you could get. The cowboys, ranchers, and eventually the slaughter houses knew where the cattle were originally from.
In today's terms a brand is who your company is perceived as. For us as a company over the last four years a brand has been the elements, confidence, words, personality, team members, culture, and the creativity of our company. We believe your brand is everything related to getting your word out and changes in context based on where it is being talked about. In our own world of marketing our company we market ourselves not as small business experts or better than company X. We market ourselves as thinking differently, writing differently, and going back to the old days of giving more than people expect.
We have written articles in the past about branding and what the text book definitions are. A brand is something people talk about even when you are not around. Your brand is what your competition talks about, what they strive to grow past, and your brand is one item that will either make your competition strive to be better or be envious of you. Your brand ultimately defines your small and growing business. The more you can get consumers, businesses, and those that see themselves as your competitors talking about you then you are marketing at the highest possible level.
Your brand should deliver a message that let's people know your message, defines your credibility, will reach your target audience on an emotional level, brings those that want your products through your sales funnel, creates loyalty, and reaches the needs and wants of your current customers and prospective customers.
Your branding will exist through the entire life cycle of your company. From the first touch you make with a customer all the way through the support cycle. You need to be consistent, fun, true to yourself, authentic, show your true colors (e.g. your culture), and most importantly invite people into your brand. This will create the foundational piece to market your small business to the masses by building trust, showing them that you are real, and truly with an open heart want to help them solve their problem.
In conclusion, by building your company brand you will be creating a loyal following of customers that want to get behind your product and they will be more inclined to promote your business. Make certain that as you define and create your brand that it relates with the audience that you are targeting, does it stick to your core company values, is it simple to understand, is it honest, and those outside of your target audience.