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July 30, 2010 / Tony Arena

A Guide To Establishing A Brand For Your Small Business

Brand is an important thing. In business, if you don’t have a solid brand reputation, you’re always standing at a disadvantage against branded products and services, the heavyweights. Brand sells, simple as that.

If you invent the world’s best mobile phone today, you’d have trouble getting someone to believe it is indeed “the best” out there and buy it. But if Apple creates an average phone and calls it the iPhone 8, millions of people around the world would go crazy this minute and… what was that analogy about pancakes?

You’re thinking, “You make it sound so easy. Big corporations can afford to build their brands by marketing on billboards, TV commercials, etc. Small business owners like me don’t have that kind of money.

Sure, you don’t have that kind of money. But thing is you don’t need that kind of money, either. There are cost-effective, more efficient ways to build your brand—that is, by word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth marketing is particularly effective for small business owners and service professionals, who rely on local business to survive. Most importantly word-of-mouth marketing is free.

Here are a few things you must remember when building your brand.

1. Your brand is a promise
Most service professionals and small business owners tend to make two crucial mistakes—first is they don’t care about creating a brand at all, and second is they do establish a brand but soon neglect it afterward.

You must remember that the reason you’re establishing a brand is because you’re hoping to make a deal with the customer: that they’ll continue to receive the same kind of quality service every day, week after week, year in and year out. Anything you’ll do in the future will add value to that brand, not deduct from it. And as an entrepreneur you’ll find it easier to market yourself under a brand. So take good care of it.

2. Your brand must represent something the customer needs

It’s common knowledge that soft drinks don’t do our health any favors. Yet you don’t hear someone tell you that when you pop open a Coke or Pepsi, and that’s because their marketing campaigns have us believing that when it’s blistering hot outside, an ice cold cola is the way to go.

Your brand must represent something meaningful for your customers. It should always address a need.

3. Think quality in the long-term
You should always strive for quality service and customer service, even during hard financial times. Many entrepreneurs are diligent the first couple months and then their services slowly degrade afterward. If you want to keep customers in the long-term, you must think quality in the long-term.

4. Relationships make biased opinions
The saying goes, “Blood is thicker than water.” The stronger the relationship you have with your customers, the stronger your business and the more they form a biased opinion of your brand against other similar brands.

In the end, when everything is said and done, relationship is key. Make good use of it.

A brand is more than a name and a colorful image. It is more than an expensive price tag. A brand is the opinion people have about your company and, believe it or not, people always have an opinion even if you haven’t done business with them yet. People are swayed by their opinion, which makes brand a powerful thing.

Be the first person to believe your brand, and others will surely follow suit.

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