Small Business Branding: The Personal ConnectionBy: William Arruda
To succeed with your small business and keep it on the right track, use your personal brand - your unique promise of value. Because in the world of small business, the corporate Brand is the personal brand of its leaders. These brands are inextricably linked. You need only look at successful entrepreneurs like Ben and Jerry, Richard Branson and Bill Gates to see that entrepreneurial ventures take on the values and passions of their leaders. According to Nation's Business Magazine, "Branding is the hottest concept in marketing today, and, it's an idea that is not just for the deep-pocketed, highly glossed Coca-Colas and Nikes of the world. An increasing number of independent-business owners are embracing branding as the guiding philosophy for building their companies."
Being true to your personal brand ensures that your business stays on course and remains highly differentiated and valuable to your target market. Christophe Ginisty, Managing Director of the Communications Firm Rumeur Publique, says "Buyers are putting their trust not only in a company, but in the leaders of that company. For small businesses, the leaders are often even more important. It is critical to ensure that the leaders are an integral part of the corporate communications strategy and that their personal brands are clear, relevant and accurate."
Building your business around your brand also enables you to obtain the highest level of satisfaction and fulfillment from your hard work. The first and most important step in brand building involves uncovering your unique promise of value. This helps you to identify what is truly important to you, what makes you unique and what values will drive your business decisions. Understanding your true personal brand enables you to stay on target with your business and make strategic and tactical decisions that are consistent with your values, your passions and your goals.
Once you have a clear understanding of your differentiation and its relevance to your ideal target audience, you can build a brand communications plan to get your message out to those who will make your business a success. These communications need only be focused on your target market. If your target market is everyone in the world, you will need a communications budget the size of Coca Cola's. That's why focus is the key. Although it seems counter-intuitive, the smaller you make your target market, the greater your chances of success.
Like with all strong brands, once you have established an authentic and differentiated brand that is relevant to your target audience, you must ensure that all aspects of your business are reinforcing this brand message. Developing brand guidelines that clearly describe what is on- and off-brand for your business will help guide you as your business grows.
So when developing a branding strategy for your small business, take a good look at your personal brand. And through the clear and consistent expression of your unique promise of value, your business will thrive.
© William Arruda, 2004
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