To brand or not to brand, that is the question

I recently had a conversation with the CEO of a company I was consulting with and he asked me my opinion of branding and how his company should go about branding itself.

I told him that I was skeptical about the number of people and companies who are enamored with the need for “branding” or to “build their brand” in order to market their business.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I know that brands such as Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Kraft and most of the large companies have power and influence with Americans, but I’m not so sure that branding has much of a place with most small to medium-sized businesses.

Branding makes sense for these large companies and they spend huge amounts of money on building their image.  Brand name products almost always outsell generic products. 

Branding for a small to medium-sized business doesn’t create the profit necessary to survive the first few years of being in business.  You want to create sales immediately.   As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, there are many ways to create profitable sales. 

In my opinion, direct-response marketing of a product is probably the most effective way to create profitable sales.   Branding is the selling of the name of a company or product through general advertising, so that in the future, when the customer is faced with buying your product versus another one, they will choose the brand they are familiar with. 

I’ve written past articles about USPs…Unique Selling Propositions.   It’s not like branding at all. Most products and product lines will benefit from marketing that stresses the USP.  To find out more about what a USP is, please refer to the other articles I’ve written. 

Creating a USP and having it be a major component in the design of ,and sales copy in, your advertisements will have the effect of creating an idea in a potential customer’s mind that will have the same effect that branding has for large businesses. 

Therefore, branding to promote your USP can also work great in conjunction with whatever back-end mechanism you have created to sell more products to people who have already bought from you.  This is how most individuals with small and medium sized businesses should think of it. 

Once you have created your USP, which is defined as something that is unique, different, one of a kind, extraordinary, or rare, and you have implemented it into all of your ads, mission statement, and anything else that has your name in it, you will be branding your company without the high cost the larger companies have when they brand themselves. 

Remember, a USP is that unique advantage that distinguishes your business apart from your competition.   It really is the important characteristic of your business. 

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

 


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18 Responses to “To brand or not to brand, that is the question”

  1. Sher Graham says:

    Branding is important in any business and should be one of the first components considered when creating the business plan. Who do I want to become? is a vital question to ask. It gives the business of any size an opportunity to be proud and confident of who they are, what their products or services are, and gives them an upper edge in the world of branding and identification. It is important to know who you are when giving any presentation, even the 15 second elevator pitch at an event or in an elevator. It is important and that is why my company is going through a branding shift, as we are focusing on what we want to now do. Thanks for the article.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Sher Graham,
    Sher, thanks for the comment. I know it will be helpful for the other subscribers

    [Reply]

  2. Munther Kalai says:

    I agree. Small to mid size companies don’t have the budget to brand their products even though branding is important to build your brand in the future. There are so many ways to brand your product without spending a lot of money. Having a USP is very important otherwise why should I choose your product over others.. it could be the price but it won’t be enough. Direct marketing and special offers could be a start. VERY TOUGH MARKET.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Munther Kalai,
    Munther, thanks for your feedback.

    [Reply]

  3. Andrew Sze says:

    Branding, simply through the usuage of a name and or logo would do, it is a means in which an individual, product or organization seperate it self from the crowd. Everything start somewhere, large or small. Without an anchor through branding, recognition would be hard to achieve. If a wonderful product or sevice is provided, people would like to know the Brand Name. With a Brand Name, association with individual experiences would then be possible. Crystal is crystal, water is water until someone respects it enough to brand it for all to recognize and want.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Andrew Sze,
    Andrew, thanks for sharing your view on this. These different point of views should be very helpful in looking at branding and seeing where it fits for individual businesses.

    [Reply]

  4. Hi,
    I like your article about branding. I have often wondered if that is something that I should worry about. I own a family daycare home. There isn’t much info out there about how to stand out against the many other daycares and how to aggressively go out and gain new clients.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Michelle DeJohnette,
    Michelle, here is an earlier blog I did on creating a USP: http://www.kenvarga.com/news/how-to-create-an-usp-and-brand-yourself/ It will help you formulate yours. After reading that, if you need more detailed information you can find it in my book “How To Get Customers To Call, Buy & Beg For More” at my website.

    [Reply]

  5. Article published and the comments therein are very informative. In my opinion before you brand your product you need to create an environment of trust, approach towards selling (not marketing), USP so that when you create your brand people will know that these are the same people who are working on this product. This shall help you to create your first impresssion as you dont get a second chance to create your first impression.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Sushant Mysorekar,
    Sushant, thanks for sharing your perspective on this.

    [Reply]

  6. I’m delighted to hear that the ‘branding craze’ hasn’t corrupted your thinking, Ken. I am weary of hearing about the necessity of ‘branding’; it’s even promoted by those who don’t run businesses! Thank you for your wise critique.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Martha Trowbridge,
    Martha,
    You are welcome!

    [Reply]

  7. It is important to remember that marketing activities usually produce a short term spike in attention for a company or product whereas branding is a long term strategy. To produce branding without marketing you are going to struggle to get your message out and gain recognition. To implement marketing without branding you are not going to gain the long term benefits branding creates which means you get less from your marketing investment.

    [Reply]

    Ken Varga Reply:

    @Chris Wadsworth,
    Chris, small businesses can build their brand by “default” by focusing on their USP and generating sales. Small businesses need those sales to happen so they last long enough to build a long-term brand. For them to focus on long-term branding up front instead of focusing on sales, could put them out of business. By using a USP that helps them stand out from their competitors, they can generate sales and in the process build their brand by default.

    [Reply]

  8. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was curious what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% certain. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Appreciate it

    [Reply]

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    [Reply]

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    [Reply]

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    [Reply]

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