Dave Murray

Should Small Businesses Brand?

Full disclosure: I’m a brander. I brand. I’m a practitioner of the branding arts.

With that obvious fact out of the way, let’s get to it!

First, because it’s annoying to me, stop thinking of your business as a “small business.” It puts a limit on your vision, and makes your endeavor sound like big business’ sad little brother – the sad little brother that big business gives atomic wedgies to. Think HUGE!!! Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX), Howard Schultz (Starbucks), and Bill Gates (Microsoft) probably didn’t think to themselves, “I’m gonna start a small business, and keep it that way, so I can try to move up to the ranks of middle-class! And maybe I’ll even get to retire on a modest income! YEAH!!!”

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In our last blog, – Branding vs. Marketing – I typed about how Peter Drucker, the grandfather of business consulting said that marketing and innovation are the only things that bring money to the table, and are thus the most important things you can do for your business. The assumption there, of course, is that your business is already branded. You’ve already developed your identity, your brand strategies are set in stone, and now you’ve just gotta let people know how to find you – which is where marketing comes in. Without a solid brand, though, you have nothing to market to or about. You haven’t figured out who your target market is. You haven’t figured out what your main product or service is. You haven’t figured out a consistent look. And, most importantly, you haven’t figured out how to articulate why you do what you do.

And that’s just a small part of branding and brand strategy. Again, without knowing that stuff, you have nothing to market to. Because marketing is so important, do you think that’ll hurt your business? If you answered “yes,” here’s your e-cookie!

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The killer is, a lot of small business owners do “okay” doing what they’re doing, now. They go to networking events, referral groups, and join their local Chambers. They may even learn all about targeted flyers and social media. Well, those things are great to do, and they will generate some income, even if they don’t brand. Without the brand strategy to go with all that, however, they’re leaving money on the table, and making their lives worse in the process. You simply can not market to something that doesn’t have a real identity.

On the plus side, for the rest of you business owners, those people leave the door wide open for you! A lot of branding and brand strategy has to do with competitive analysis – with the goal of being first in your clients’ or prospective clients’ minds – and if your competition hasn’t branded themselves, the world – or market – is yours for the taking. With a fully realized brand, and proper marketing, you’ll not only be first in the minds of prospective clients, you’ll be the only one in the minds of prospective clients!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know our why: I grew up with entrepreneurial parents who didn’t know how to brand their business – who made sure my sister and I went to great schools – and as a result had far more tumultuous lives, financially, than they should have. I don’t want that happening to other business owners. But it will if you don’t brand.

The goal of Mayniax Branding is to give entrepreneurs and business owners the opportunity to live better lives, and we brand the hell out of their businesses to make that happen. Right now, we offer branding services in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and most of Southeast Michigan – but our goal is to spread Mayniax far and wide so we can help as many of you as possible. Until we get there, however, please hire someone who only handles branding, brand strategy, rebranding, and / or brand consultation. If they offer more, they don’t actually understand branding at all. I promise you’ll be glad you listened.

And now, it’s tip time!

Today’s tip topic: your business name! The ideal name is a single, made-up word. Here are the reasons:

1. The hope is that your name will one day become synonymous with your service, ie: Coca-Cola = Pop, Google = Search, Kleenex = Tissue
2. For Trademark and website purposes, a short, made-up name is easy to acquire.
3. When people search for your business online, by name, yours are the only sites that will show up.

Here are some extra tips:

1. Keep words like business, advisor, consultant, association, company, group – any word that’s generic enough to have multiple meanings in the mind – out of your business’ name. Be honest with yourself: when someone says their business’ name is “Blah Blah Consulting Firm,” what does that really mean? If you thought it could mean more than one thing, it’s a bad name.

2. Keep it as short as possible, and definitely no more than 15 characters. The reasons? Simplicity and – Twitter. You don’t want to have to shorten your business name on social media – you want it the same across the board.

3. Take your current business name and type it into Google. If more than your business comes up after the first word, and especially if more than one business comes up with the entire name, it’s a bad name.

Some of you will be annoyed and not change the name because of whatever excuse you have. For the rest of you, however, it’s going to be a great first step toward a very successful brand. And, even more importantly, a better life!

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Thanks for reading, and if you found my zany ramblings helpful, please feel free to help your fellow business owners and entrepreneurs by sharing this on the social media accounts of your choosing.

Have fun, and stay gutsy!