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What Branding Really Is For Local Business

When I was in college, I took ONE, count it ONE, philosophy class at the University of San Francisco because it was a graduation requirement.  Catholic Jesuit education prides itself on producing well-rounded students.  I certainly enjoyed the breadth of my education… just not philosophy.

It’s really, really hard to grasp something I found so nebulous and confounding.  Go look up metaphysical, ontological, epistemology and coherentism. You’ll be ready to pull your hair out like I was.  Somehow religious faith is easier for me to grasp than philosophy though I admire its philosophy hitmakers like Aristotle, Plato, Hobbes, and Aquinas.

Which brings me to branding.  I find it in the same category.  I often get asked by local Bay Area business owners if I do branding.  My pat answer is no.  I can help you create a logo, a website, find the right thing to say and help capture and promote the uniqueness of your business.  But, I don’t do branding.

Why?  Because branding isn’t a formula or a puzzle. Branding isn’t a THING, it’s a way of being.  Basically, it’s your business’ personality and essence.  It often results in feelings from your customers, the best one being loyalty.  See! I’m starting to wander off into philosophy.

One key element of branding is customer service.  That’s out of my hands.  That’s up to  you, Mr. and Miss Business Owner.  Then, there’s your values, your philosophy, your mission, your approach.  So, the relationship of local business owner and marketer is to get your brand identity created and then, promoted to get you customers. Marketers can only help your local small business marketing so much.  The rest is up to you.

Staeven Frey of QCMG Agency in Nashville, TN does such a good job describing Branding 101, I’m sharing it here and bowing down to his great description.

The entire article, Brand Messaging 101: How Do I Do That? is available at this link.  From Staeven Frey:

First, before I can share with you what brand messaging, I want to share what its not.

Brand Messaging is not a formula. Ever.Brand Messaging is not a formula

Brand messaging is not some formula you can put together to execute seamless communication tactics…blah blah blah…those fancy words don’t mean anything. And while this is a “1-2-3″ kind of post, we’re talking about principles and big ideas–what I would call variables, but not prescription items that go into a formula. A better term altogether is “equation,” since everyone’s equation is different–and one size does not fit all.

Brand messaging is the voice you use

Its the combination of tone, message, verbals, non-verbals. Its the complete verbal + visual equation of how you express yourself. Most people use their voice in person, but when you’re an organization, you use other things too. Brand messaging is the full range of “stuff” that you use. Its business cards to print to your building–everything that shares yourself with the world.

I write this to dissuade you from believing that if you just get the right logo or the perfect business card, your branding woes will be over.  Do do those things and, then, just be really great at your job.  Help get the word around and create the brand that you are proud to own.


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