Say what you want about the flamboyant rock band, Kiss, but whether you like (or liked) their music, one thing is clear – these guys knew how to market their business, their band and their brand. The Kiss logo and look are in fact iconic at this point. They have sold well over 100 million records and they remain a top-selling band, even today.
So when lead singer Gene Simmons says something about marketing, I listen. Indeed, one of my favorite quotes ever came from Mr. Simmons: “I like being in a rock-and-roll band,” he said “but I love being in a rock-and-roll brand.”
What did he mean by that? Well, he knows of course that being in a rock band can be fun, but having a brand is what creates longevity and money. What do you think of when I mention the band Kiss? Probably the over-the-top makeup, a constant-party attitude, maybe one garish song or another. That is not by accident. Kiss has worked hard to make sure that their desired brand traits – the ones I just mentioned – are what we think of when we think of them.
The brand pays the bills.
What do you think of when I mention:
All of them have distinct corporate personalities, which is another way of saying they all have a unique brand. It is no accident that you associate low prices with Walmart or high prices and quality with Mercedes and Starbucks. These companies put a lot of time, money, effort and thought into creating their brand identities and getting us to remember them.
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, once said this regarding brands (and I think we can agree he knows a thing or two about branding): “Customers must recognize that you stand for something.”
For the small business owner, it can be argued that having a unique, identifiable brand is even more important than it is for a big business. Why? Because 99 percent of all businesses are small businesses and without a distinctive brand, it will be impossible to stand out from your competitors. It will be very hard to be heard above the din.
Moreover, you will increase your profits if you have a memorable brand. People like brands. They trust brands. They are willing to pay more for a brand. If you are in the market and you see a no-name brand of cereal next to Cheerios, which would you be more inclined to buy?
Exactly. That’s the point.
Your brand is what people think of when they think of your business. A brand is that thing that makes your business unique. Are you the affordable lawyer? The gentle dentist? Whatever it is that makes your business different has to become the thing people remember about you.
Here are some ways to make sure you have an exceptional small business brand:
Consider the name of your business: The true advantage big businesses have over us is their budgets. They can spend millions getting you to remember that you deserve a break today. As a small business, it is harder to do that.
That is why it is so important to consider the name of your business. It is the first thing people hear about you and is a way to make an instant, positive, and memorable connection. By incorporating your brand into your business name, you immediately jump to the front of the line. For instance:
- Baja Fresh
- Jiffy Lube
- Or what about my new website, TheSelfEmployed?
There is no mistaking what these businesses are all about. Am I telling you to rename your existing business? No, but …
Have a great tagline, and use it over and over again: Your tagline is another way to tell people what goods or services your business offers. Consider the following taglines. Without even thinking, you can recognize which company they belong to:
- “15 minutes will save you 15 percent, or more, on your car insurance.”
- “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
- “Just do it.”
Repetition and clarity are the keys.
Be cohesive and consistent: Everything you do must reflect your desired brand identity to help make your company more memorable. The name of your business, its location, your pricing, your logo and tagline, your website, your social media accounts, even the colors you choose must be consistent across the board to reinforce one another.
For instance, a fish taco place might use the color aqua throughout, have a beach-themed website, a beach-vibe shop, catchy beachy names for menu items, and so on. People will understand and remember it.
Conversely, if you fail to create a unique brand, you can KISS your profits goodbye.
What are some ways you have successfully branded your business? Share your story below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. ©Steven D. Strauss