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I keep reading about brand in marketing. I'm just starting out – is this really something I need to worry about?
Oh, brand. It seems like one of those big mysteries of the universe (much like baking a great cream pie or ever being able to do full Camel pose in yoga is for me).
The truth is, brand is important, even from the beginning.
Brand goes beyond the name of your product (like Crest toothpaste) to also silently communicate the intangible perceptions of the product or service.
Confusing enough for you?
I like to think of brand as the promise that comes with your product or service. For example, when you buy Crest toothpaste, you expect – of course – cleaner teeth. But when you choose Crest over Colgate or Tom's or any of the other myriad of toothpaste choices available, you're also buying into the perception of “the best solution to protect and whiten my teeth and give me fresher breath.”
Of course, Crest is a huge name with a multi-million dollar marketing budget every year to position and establish the brand. Why does it matter when you're just starting out?
First Impressions Matter
Whether you're working on your first sale, your 10,000th sale, or your millionth, the first impression with each customer matters. In fact, the way that you manage your brand may be even more important when you're just starting out or have a small marketing budget.
Let's go back to the concept of brand as a promise for a minute. Isn't your promise important starting on day 1?
With that, branding is really how you convey that promise – through your brand image (which I'll cover a bit more in a different post), the words you choose in your marketing, where you market, and how you interact with your customers throughout your relationship with them.
What would your customers say about your business?
One way to help you understand your current brand is to find out what your customers would say about your business now. Would they describe it as friendly? Approachable? Corporate? Trustworthy? Efficient? (You see where I'm going… I don't need to be a dictionary!)
So… in answer to your question… yes, brand is important. Even when you're just getting started – especially then. That doesn't mean you have to hire a big branding firm to help you define your brand. It can be as easy as picking a few words you want people to associate with your brand, and then being sure that all of your activities align with them.