Whether you know it or not, you have a brand.
And it’s more than just a logo.
The word ‘brand’ comes from the Norwegian word ‘brandr’ – to burn. It was used for the practice of branding livestock, literally burning them to identify who owned what. Then it became used to signify identity in the world of marketing – from a potter’s mark on a pot, the uniform used in the military, the format and design of a newspaper, even the kind of hat you wore.
It’s more than just the physical appearance of something though, it’s also about how you interact with a person or organisation. It’s taking ownership of everything that could communicate something, and it applies to both your business and to you as a person.
More than just a logo
A business’s logo is one of the least important parts of their brand. Yes, it allows fast identification, but that’s just a visual reminder, a tag. What does your brand really mean?
Like him or loathe him, the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is credited with saying, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Think about that for a while. What would your customers say about you when you’re not on their property? What would they recommend about how you do business, and how skilful and conscientious you are as a decorator? And what might they say about you that isn’t so complimentary?
And what does everything else about your business say about you? Your website, your van, your clothing. Tidy? Clear? Quality? Or not…?
It’s not easy, sometimes, to face up to stuff in our businesses that we ‘could do better’, but unless we’re moving forwards and improving, we’re going backwards, because the world is always moving forwards.
What can you do about your brand?
Firstly, you need to decide what you want people to think and say about you, the image you want to project, and then ask yourself whether you currently project that image at every potential customer touchpoint, including when you work for them, and the aftercare you may provide, as well as your marketing.
It can seem daunting, given that everything you do in your business projects your brand, from your vehicle, your phone manner, your social media presence, your choice of radio station, whether you offer a greener decorating service…
Big changes or little tweaks?
You have a lot of choices on how to proceed, but they boil down to major shifts or incremental improvements.
If you want to get a more discerning type of customer who will pay top dollar for a premium service, then you have to imagine what that looks like. Be objective about every part of what you do. Does it mean new whites? A spruce up of your van and your equipment? Some better photos of projects on your social media and website? Smarter and more efficient quoting and invoicing systems?
Perhaps you want a complete rebrand – logo, tagline, website, business direction. It can take time, but sometimes you need to think long term, and what needs to be done to reach your goals.
Who does branding well?
Nike’s brand is not just the swish, it’s about identifying with the brand ethos of ‘Just Do It’, being proactive and ‘go getting’, not just sporty.
Amazon’s brand is all about putting the customer first… World-beating convenience and some of the cheapest prices.
David Attenborough’s brand is classic, passionate, truthful, warm, caring and nature-loving.
Tesla’s brand is innovative, challenging, futuristic.
Betty’s Tearooms in Harrogate is nostalgic, quality, delightful, and reassuringly expensive.
Why does all this matter?
You may not personally care about what people think about you. That’s fair enough, but if you’re in business your success will depend on what people think about you – both potential clients just looking at your website or asking for recommendations and existing (hopefully repeat) clients.
Everything you do
Here’s an example of brand in action from when I was a decorator…
I was doing exterior decorating of an old cottage, spraying pebble dash, doing a really crisp job on the windows and doors. I was careful, meticulous.
A week into the job, a very blunt German woman came over to me and said, “I’ve been watching you, I like how you do things, and you’re going to be my new decorator.” And so I was, for years, and she’s still a friend.
Everything you do is your brand –
so what’s it saying about you and your business?