I was reading an article about some young women who started an online business in 2013. Mind you, this is an obscure online business, which is still in the “start-up” stage, but for some reason, in the article they kept referring to their “brand”. My question is “What brand?”. You may have a business, but you don’t have a brand. You’re not a brand until people can identify your business by its logo, name and/or the products you sell. Starting a business does not a brand make.
Branding is the product of three elements - time, quality of service or product and customer recognition. Branding is something that comes as you build your reputation and cultivate a customer base. Branding come with longevity. It does not come when you start your business and purchase business cards.
So for the third time, let me reiterate – A business, without a customer base, without a reputation, without a track record is not a BRAND!
Coke Cola is a brand. Dooney & Burke is a brand. Macy’s is a brand. Firestone is a brand. Marc Jacobs is a brand. Walmart is a brand. State Farm is a brand. Samsung is a brand. Nike is a brand. Tiffany’s is a brand. Do you get it now? These are companies whose name and reputation precede them. Over time, they have built a customer base, they have perfected their product/service and they are recognizable.
Sally Jo, who decided to start Sally Jo’s Resale shop, started a business, not a brand. Now, in a few years, after she has built a customer base with returning customers who trust and believe in the products she sells; after she has become profitable and has a “recognizable” image (recognizable outside of her family and friends), then and only then can she call her business a brand.
Locally in my neck of the woods, there is a furniture store called Gallery Furniture, it started out as a small, working man’s furniture store, but now, 30 years later, it is a well known brand in the Houston area which caters to a middle class clientele. Gallery Furniture has only two locations, but everyone knows it’s founder and owner, who calls himself – Mattress Mac. Thirty years ago, Mattress Mac started a business which grew into a recognizable brand. When you say Gallery Furniture, you know you are going to get a quality piece of furniture. He built is brand the right way, with time, creative marketing, quality furniture and always keeping his promise to his customers.
We as business owners, have to be realistic about the state of our business. We can’t get offended because we’re trying to be something that we’re not. Just stick with your marketing efforts and in time you will be the brand you seek to be. But in the meantime, stop calling your business a brand when it is nothing more than a business.
She is mad and she is not going to take it anymore! The Mad Lady Marketing Blog is just her way to drive home the importance of marketing in business. With over 15 years of experience in marketing, graphic design and communications, this marketing expert is mad (crazy) about marketing and mad (angry) at small businesses that don't understand or utilize marketing to promote their business.
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