Branding is Fun and (Not) Easy

word cloud - branding
© z_amir – Fotolia.com

It's not that I want to rant – I don't. I don't want to be one of those lone voices that hollers about the old-fashioned way because she's trying to keep her business kicking in spite of new streamlined offerings that are threatening to overtake her niche. I'm not too worried about what I do being automated. But there is a little rant in here.

I came across a branding enterprise that comprises a group of great folks who know & are passionate about supporting start-up businesses. They sincerely want to help them get a leg up on getting their brand discovered & out of the way so they (the business) can start. . . doing business. They realize this is one of the things that stalls getting a business started.

BUT

The package they've designed to (mostly) get people enthused about getting a brand done-&-out-of-the-way is a 12-step ‘genie' process that pops  your identity out at the other end of the survey. Kind of a cool concept:

    • First you choose an Adjective from a list of 12 that would describe your new company's personality.
    • Then you pick from a list of Known Brands (Levis, Tiffany, Abercrombie (kidding)) to decide what brand you aspire to (kind of useful).
    • Water: stream, falls, lake, ocean.
    • Then a Texture: Sweater, pearls, wood, legos (you can see the parallels here: cuddly, elegant, earthy, painful when you step on them in the middle of the night, etc).
    • And a Chair:  modern, functional, goofy, classic.
    • Later, an Animal – chimp, zebra, ladybug, among others.  I chose ladybug. But I couldn't figure out the connection. Does zebra choice mean I change my stripes a lot? Or kick?  What about the chimpanzee with the bad dental hygiene? What does that mean? Maybe ladybug means diligent and charming. I can do that.
    • Celebrity – Two women, five men.
    • Shoes – Really.

Anyway, you pick these things – some of them have a real pull and some are kind of a mystery – and *poof!* out pop a couple concepts for you to try on. I got Earthy and Creative.  As a small business, I could have gotten a bit jazzed about thinking I am like a stream, Robert Redford, a ladybug and a pair of flip flops. I've already started to see myself as kind of pure, iconic, devoted and casual. So this part gets me going on identifying myself (er, business) with a certain personality.

Actually, this is a lead-in to sell a follow-up brand guide and some templated business cards (a *poof!* logo included, maybe) and website layout. Perhaps the founders (all great, entrepreneurial women)  know this is what keeps businesses from getting started –  they lack definition. An endorsement on the site says, “Any business that has gone through the branding process knows how painful and expensive it can be. Now it's amazingly simple, and fun.”

I agree. The branding process is somewhat painful because it can be somewhat personal. It's expensive because it takes some time you could be spending on sales processes or making your art. And the branding agent {me} doesn't work for free. I think it can be fun, and I try to make the process fun for my clients, but “amazingly simple”? Not so much.

I think getting a brand for branding's sake takes some shortcuts across things that are essential in learning about, well, why you want to start this businesswho is a right fit for what you offer, your philosophy, what offerings or qualities make your company different from the one next door.

Colour & typeface should be decided. By you. Not just the blue-means-trust thing, but something you can identify with, from your personality. If someone handed me a pastel palette for a branding scheme,  I might walk the other way. I am creative and earthy (to a degree), but peach or light green I couldn't stand behind. It would always feel a little ‘wrong' to me. There can't be a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g you're unconvinced about when it comes to your branding. Makes for an insincere itch you can't quite scratch.

 

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I work with people who are invested in their ventures because they are the face and voice of their company. Or they might BE the company, and their personality is inherent in their brand, their recognition. Maybe if you are selling pet insurance or cartoon coffee mugs you don't need to do a lot of psych-work to have a brand. Getting that out of the way would indeed help you get on your way to calling on pet stores and tsotchky places.

What I'm trying to encourage in this post is to shoulder the work & make a strong brand. There aren't many shortcuts, but there aren't many in building your biz, either. Businesses fail every day, and one of the reasons for failure is the tendency to jump into ‘doing business' without the solid platform of why you do what you do and for whom. Branding goes through the whole organization: from your staff & the way they approach service or handling problems, to your audience, who wants to relate to your brand by knowing your story, your philosophy.

If you don't want to afford the time or the money for a one or two-day branding session, I've made a series of branding podcasts with worksheets that you can purchase & download to complete on your own time. You will still need to invest your thoughts & puzzle over your right customers & what makes your business tick, but you'll be able to slice it up into smaller chunks.

Or you can hire me to meet with you and your staff and we'll have a good, fruitful, crazy, exhausting day of brand exploration. Either way, a solid platform to build your business.

Now, What do you want to say today?

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great post, Tari – and I know the idea you mention early on.
    You are spot on with “shoulder the work” and the resources on your website look very helpful.

    At http://www.opento.com, we agree with you and we’ve taken a slightly different approach: we’ve made our brand-building expertise very acccessble and cost-effective by building a suite of products that allows us to guide small businesses, entrepreneurs and even under-resourced brand managers in large businesses through that work step-by-step.

    We work interactively online with them, giving them expert feedback and ideas as they go.
    We use the same approach as we have used formany years with our big brand clients – just with a bit more diy.
    We’re delivering high quality brand consulting at an unbelievable price.
    Most importantly, when someone has been through the journey with us, and we’ve shouldered the work with them, they arrive at their chosen destination with a brand that they’ve created and a full understanding of why that brand is the right choice for their business.

  2. A great post and I thank you. We have created an online space that allows people to easily input their information and create for themselves a standalone Premium word press site complete with owned domain and email, this acts as a beginning to their Personal Branding journey. We are hoping along the way to partner with others who provide education and coaching for Personal Branding and employee Branding.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts, for now have a wonderful day
    Diana Swan
    http://www.yourpersonalbrandname.com