Gene Simmons, lead singer for the band Kiss, once remarked that while he liked being in a rock and roll band, he loved being in a rock and roll brand. Aside from being a cool turn of phrase, just what did he mean by that? Think about Kiss for a moment. What images and feelings come to mind? Probably that distinctive Kiss logo, the white makeup, outrageous shows, some wild stories. Kiss carefully cultivated that billion dollar bad boy image and it’s worth a fortune to them.
That is what Simmons meant; being in a rock and roll band is great, but it’s the brand that pays the bills.
What do you think of when you think about Mercedes Benz, or Wal-Mart, or Apple Computer? Each one of these businesses evokes very clear thoughts, feelings, and images. Each has a strong corporate identity, a brand, associated with their name.
And it is no accident.
These businesses spend a ton of money and effort getting you to conjure up those specific images and feelings when you think about their business. Why? People love brands. They will pay more for a brand. They trust brands. Like Kiss, these companies know too that the brand pays the bills.
So the idea of creating a brand for your business is really quite important. While it might seem that creating a brand is beyond your reach, that branding is a concept for the “Big Boys,” think again. Branding is something every small business can, and must, do too.
Here’s why: Boiled down to its basics, a brand is the essence of what makes your business unique—it is your distinctive promise to your customers. Are you the inexpensive lawyer, the holistic market, the green computer consultant, or what?
Without a brand, you may find that instead of being all things to all people, you are nothing to no one. A brand is a hook to hang your hat on, so that people remember you, which is probably more important to a small business than anyone else.
But how do you create that brand without a million dollar corporate budget? While maybe it is not as easy, it is yet very doable.
The key is to carefully think about what your business is, what makes it unique, who your customers are, what it is they want, and then build around that. That’s the essence, because once you have your corporate personality nailed down, almost all other decisions will hinge on that: Your name, logo, sign, slogan, pricing, website, social media moniker, ads, even the location you choose. A discount clothing warehouse will put all of those things together far differently than an upscale clothier.
The important thing is consistency. By thinking through your desired image, creating it, and then consistently reinforcing that image again and again in all you do, you can rest assured that you will rock and roll all day (if not party every night!).