Wouldn't it be nice if your ideal customers felt as strongly about you as you do for your favorite childhood cereal or the dream car you watched glide across the television screen during a commercial break?

That feeling you experienced is branding.

With the rise of social media and online marketing, the term branding has become a buzzword among the small business community. Yet, it is often confused as simply being a logo or website design and erroneously interchanged with the meaning of the words marketing and advertising.

What is a brand?

The American Marketing Associations technical definition of the term brand is a "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.

Simply put: your brand is the personality of your company and the perceived value that resides in the mind of your target market.

A strong brand directly impacts your business success because it is what differentiates you from your competitors; it is typically the deciding factor of whether or not your customer will purchase from you.

What makes up a brand?

Brands are composed of elements that play to the five senses and may include: names, logos, graphics, taglines/phrases, sounds, tastes, colors, and even movements.

For instance, when you think of Kellogg's Rice Krispies, you may think of:

  • The cereals shape and taste
  • Its blue box adorned with three cartoon characters
  • Snap, crackle, pop!-- Its tagline and the sound it makes when you pour milk over it.
  • The nostalgic memory of creating Rice Krispy treats with your mom

All of these components make up the personality of this brand.

Kellogg's didn't regard the branding of this product as an afterthought. They carefully determined what they wanted the brand to mean to their audience, conducted market research for what their audience wanted, and crafted a branding campaign to achieve these results.

How do you create a brand strategy?

Branding is not reserved solely for large companies with equally large marketing budgets. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can harness the same principles used by larger corporations to create their brands.

For starters, you will want to develop your brand around the following key areas:

  • Architecture: What are the foundational elements of your brand in terms of its vision, value, emotional benefits, and target audience?
  • Story: How is the brand positioned? What is the brands message?
  • Experience: What is the brands personality? What is its promise of value? How can you incorporate the brand into the five senses?

In upcoming posts we will dive into deeper discussions with practical, how-to branding advice for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

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