I have met a number of people and agencies over the years who have positioned themselves as branding experts or people who can help build your brand. And while some of them have been professional at what they do, some are just a bit confused; these are the ones that believe that they can help you design a logo or a website and call it branding.
I’m sorry to say that branding is more than this. In my definition your brand is who your customers think you are. You can try to manage your brand imaginary, you can try to manage what people think about you, but essentially it’s up to them.
How can small businesses and start-ups can position themselves to have audience perceive them as a great brand? Social media has made it much easier for small businesses to compete with big companies to help position their brands in the mind of clients. These tools can be used to help construct a brand identity that you want them to develop.
With all these resources out there, there is no reason a small business with limited resources should not be able to effectively manage its brand in the mind of clients. But it’s not enough!
While branding is a subject however that many people have been talking about for a while, I want to highlight some popular misunderstanding about branding.
A brand is not a logo. A brand is not a product. A brand is not a promise. A brand is not the sum of all the impressions it makes on an audience. A brand is a result–it's a person's gut feeling about a product, service or company. It's in their heads and in their hearts. A brand is reputation.
Instead of creating the brand first, the company creates customers (through products and social media), the customers build the brand (through purchases and advocacy), and the customer-built brand sustains the company. This model takes into account a profound truth: a brand is not owned by the company, but by the people who draw meaning from it.
I believe once we understand that brands are not controlled by companies but by individuals, this will be the stepping stone to fully develop a proper strategy to develop the brand we want in the mind of the consumers and have them saying and thinking what we want them to say and think.
Every company and every person have a brand, simply because once people see you they will form an impression of you, ensure that you are communicating the right message so they will form the correct impression.