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Branding, in a small business context.
What is branding? I have a somewhat different perspective.
I have a confession. After 20 years in the branding business, I still tense up when anyone asks for a “branding” estimate. Because, in all truth, I have no idea what to tell them.
“Branding” can mean a lot of things. It’s often defined first by what it’s not: it’s not your company name. A brand is not a visual brand identity, your visual vocabulary elements, or your stylesheet. It’s definitely not a logo.
Those things may be part of your brand. They may not be.
I like Marty Neumeier’s definition of a brand. He says that “a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.”
Well, that does it. It takes all the power over branding out of your hands. If your brand is really about this gut feeling, this perception, this sense that other people have about you – then how can you strategically build your brand as a small business?
The answer is simple: think about your brand differently.
Branding is an action.
Just like any other “-ing” word, branding is a thing you do. It’s not specifically a thing you make, design, write, or buy.
Branding is how you live the promise that you are making to your clients. Your brand is created in every interaction you have with anyone on behalf of your business. So you are building your brand in dozens of tiny ways, every day:
Answering the phone = building your brand
Sending that email = building your brand
Designing a brochure = building your brand
Posting on social media = building your brand
Getting a logo = building your brand
Adding to your website = building your brand
Delivering a project = building your brand
So if everything you do is branding, how can you think about building your brand? It makes it seem so big and impossible to wrap your arms around. I suggest asking a different question:
So what is the purpose of branding?
To make your people feel gooooood. To make them feel understood and like you can help them. You want the gut feeling you’re generating to most closely match the way your clients feel when working with you. To capture all the goodness of you at your best.
So, I suggest this reframe:
Branding is made up of acts of caretaking.
Really! Think about it… you can grow your brand in so many ways, including:
Getting clear and get to know your brand. Getting to know your business better is crucial to building a strong brand.
Writing to your audience. Anytime, on any platform. Your words and tone shape your brand and your client’s experience in obvious ways.
Hiring a designer to design a logo and other brand design assets. You are caretaking your brand by collaborating with a designer and investing in your brand.
Answering clients’ questions. You are taking care of their needs and building your brand at the same time. How do you want them to feel when you are answering their questions?
Offering your expertise. Write a book, share a video, conduct a course, go live on Facebook, etc. - every tip you give builds your brand.
And, really, any time you’re interacting with, well, anyone - that’s building your brand.
That’s why I advise becoming an excellent Brand-Tender - because taking care of your brand and taking care of your customers go hand-in-hand. If you’re thinking about your brand’s vision, values, and vibe and working with your clients from that place, you can serve both them and your brand really, really well.
What do you think? How does this make you feel about your brand?
Want to learn more about Brand-Tending? I’d love to hear, just hit 'reply'!
What do you think? How does this make you feel about your brand? I’d love to hear.
Want to work with me? If you’re looking for brand identity design, website design, workbook design, or really, any kind of design – please do reach out.
Exploratory calls are always complimentary, too.