Are You Brand Worthy?

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Branding is one hot topic, although it is wildly misunderstood. To make things even more confusing, branding is often tossed in the same basket as marketing which makes its application to an entrepreneur or sole-practioner even more unclear.

While out speaking on branding, the question that I hear most is "How do I know if my business or service is brand material?" With businesses opening left and right, and more and more closing each year, I'm glad there are smart business owners open to understanding the issue.

If you've found yourself asking the same thing, don't worry you're not alone. Perhaps, this can shed some light.

At a recent luncheon, the same question came up again in a different way. I was seated next to an attorney whose sole practice focuses on elder abuse cases, he asked me in rapid succession (a manner that showed me he'd be great in court):

"Isn't branding for businesses that make a lot of stuff?"

"Doesn't branding apply only if you want to sell a lot of stuff?"

"Isn't branding pointless for my kind of business?"

Smiling, I fired back, "yes, yes, and... no".

Yes, branding is most often associated with businesses that make a lot of stuff. Yes, branding is advantageous if you want to sell a lot of stuff. No, branding is not pointless because every business makes something (or offers a service) and wants to sell it. Branding is about making your product or service known to as many potential customers as possible, consistently, with the most effective use of your time and money. Branding is about repeat business. Branding is about effortless referrals. Wouldn't that be a benefit to ANY business, especially yours?

To help you gain more brand-worthy clarity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I really passionate about what I am doing with my business, service or product? And I mean REALLY! If not, is there something more you can be doing in it to turn your passion switch on? It takes an amazing amount of energy and persistence to make a business take hold in the customer's mind. With more and more businesses competing for headspace, it's imperative that you set yourself apart. If you are not cooking with the fuel that passion gives you, you're missing out on a very crucial element that could mean the difference between thriving and closing.
  • Do I have a big vision of my business, service or product? Do you dream of reaching lots of customers in different ways with your product or service? Do you see a way to deliver your product or service to an increasing amount of people with less and less effort? Did you create a mindset or special approach in your field that can be delivered in a variety of mediums, i.e.- speaking, books, audio CDs, consulting, etc. Do you envision moving beyond an hour-for-hour way of providing your service? All of these support a big vision. , Not only do we begin from the inside out, when approaching your brand, we create from where you will be in five years as if it is now. Small vision does just that, keeps you small. The choice is always yours.
  • Is my product or service a real benefit to lots of customers? It's important that you answer this one as honestly and openly as possible. I was very passionate and had a huge vision for a career as a mime! (Yes, you read that correctly... a mime.) However, no amount of passion and vision would make people buy it on a large scale. Thanks to Marceau Marceau, the mime card had been played out. You may find that by being truthful with your answers will lead to branding even better products and services.
  • Am I prepared to surround myself with a team or the knowledge to accomplish the business success that developing my business as a brand delivers? The plus side of being an entrepreneur is that you may wear many hats in your business. The negative side is that you feel like you have to! The truth is, you don't! You're an expert in your field and you need to honor that expertise by supporting it with a variety of other skill sets to make your indelible mark; logo design, copywriting, website design, your marketing plan creation and execution, and others. The important thing is that you're in command...because it's your ship! And being a commander takes knowing where you want to go, gathering the maps to make the journey, and the crew to make it happen.
  • If your answers to these questions are yes, then you have the makings to develop your business as a brand. You just need the knowledge and practice to do so. If you're shaky on some of the questions, find out why. Even if you never develop your business as a brand, solid yeses to these simple questions will only make your business more successful and more enjoyable. After all, isn't that we all want?

    Kim A. Castle, Co-founder BrandU?, Co-Author of Why Brand: Big Business Success No Matter Your Size, and BrandU? Bible, the only step-by-step workbook for developing your business as a brand.

    ? 2004 Castle Montone, Limited Reprinted with Permission.

    About The Author

    Kim A. Castle has worked at several top-advertising agencies in New York and Los Angeles; including Grey Advertising, DMB&B, DB Needham, Kovel Kresser & Partners and Omnicom's Direct Partners. Wanting more creative hands-on with her clients, she started her own design firm Castle Graphics in 1991, which merged with Eagle Communications in 1999 to form the Los Angeles-based marketing and multimedia company Why Communications where she currently serves as Vice President and Creative Director. She has worked for such clients as; Digital Domain, DirecTV, IBM, M&M Mars, Gramercy Pictures, Kwontify Films, O'Hara Klein Productions, Entertainment Business Group, ,General Motors, Screen Actors Guild, Chase Manhattan Bank, Dominos Pizza, Pedigree/Sheba, Higher Octave Music, Disney Interactive, Baskin Robins and Blue Cross to name a few. She created the redesign and retail launch packaging of the million dollar-selling Hollywood Celebrity Diet, was the creative voice behind the award-winning website Concept:Cure for General Motors, created the marketing and packaging campaign for the Emmy winning short film The Question, Her exceptional feel for layout and concept, her outstanding ability to tell a story with words and visuals, and her innate ability to communicate the heart & soul of a project allows her to excel in brand identity, packaging, direct mail and marketing communications.

    Kim A. Castle, Co-founder BrandU?, Co-Author of Why Brand: Big Business Success No Matter Your Size, and BrandU? Bible, the only step-by-step workbook for developing your business as a brand.

    ? 2004 Castle Montone, Limited Reprinted with Permission.

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