Branding is one of the most important aspects of building a company (or persona) but it is so often overlooked. Consider what Larry Popelka recently wrote:
Most consumers no longer shop for products. They shop for a company. With a plethora of product choices, it has become far too difficult and time-consuming to attempt to evaluate each offering. It is much easier to determine if the company you’re buying from shares your values and is likely to provide a good experience.
As a consumer, I most definitely agree with Larry. How can you take the time to evaluate each product choice to determine the best quality, best price and most environmentally friendly? You can’t, it’s impossible. This is why Branding has become so important, it’s basically a short cut and a time saver to help us make buying decisions.
I touched on this in an earlier post positioning Apple vs Microsoft. I focused mostly on how the leadership differences between Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer is determining the direction of each company. Yet, included in that equation is the respective brands they have built.
Apple – sleek, stylish, different, consumer friendly, trendy.
Microsoft – Techy, corporate, windows, software, stiff.
Although both are great (and hugely profitable) companies, the brands could not be any more different. In the previous post I go to great lengths and in detail as to who is the better bet for the future. It’s all about the Brand.
This can also apply when building a personal brand. There are millions and millions of people in the work force, and quite frankly, they are all your competition. When 100 people apply for a position or a board of directors is evaluating 5 executives looking for one to become the new CEO, personal branding and what each person is known for will be a huge influence and make the difference between receiving an offer or not. This is one of the main reasons I have started to write and reach out to so many different people in the technology and startup communities. I understand I must work just as hard to build my personal brand – what other people believe I am to be – as I am working to build a company brand. I know it will be a difference maker sometime in the near future.
Lessons for founders and entrepreneurs:
- Define your Brand; determine what you are and what you stand for as an executive and as a company
- Describe it in detail but simplify the meaning for people so they will remember you
- Align your Brand and your market positioning to connect with your target market
- Connect your Brand with a deeper consumer purpose
Image courtesy of Flickr user NiallKennedy.
Branding is definitely the biggest concept I struggle with explaining to clients when working with them on marketing their businesses and services. It gets looked at something that is optional and not worth the expense. The first instinct tends to be to get the information out without thinking about the overall packaging and the long-term goals.
You’re not talking about branding here; you’re talking about their visual image, which definitely is not branding. Branding, as originally defined, is the position you occupy in the minds of your customers. That can happen with no advertising, no logo, and no visual imaging.