I’ve been wanting to write this branding article for quite some time, simply because it’s so important
First, because I get this question a lot: what’s the difference between marketing, branding, and advertising? Your brand is the why, the who, and of the look…the foundation of your business, so branding is strategically building that foundation. Marketing is figuring out the best ways to get that foundation in front of your target market. And advertising is actually getting that foundation in front of your target market. So obviously, it makes about as much sense to advertise without a brand as it does to have a house party without a house. Sure, some of your buddies will pull up some lawn chairs, but most of your friends are going to a real shindig.
Now, I’m gonna type about three of the most important things when it comes to your brand: your “why,” your focus, and your differences.
Let’s start with the “why.”
There are two reasons for a solid “why”:
1. It creates the emotional connection your clients and potential clients have with your business.
2. If your “why” is strong enough, you’ll know you have the passion and drive to power through the ups and downs of early entrepreneurship.
My “why” is the reason Mayniax Branding exists. We’re in it, truly, to give gutsy business owners and entrepreneurs a shot at better lives. And, of course, we brand the hell out of their businesses to make that happen. People who’ve been keeping up with my blog know our “why,” so here’s a recap for the newbies:
For years, my parents ran a cleaning business in Jackson, MI. Most of their business was through word-of-mouth, and it was feast or famine. My sister and I were enrolled in private schools, however, and never knew just how bad it could be. They always made sure we were taken care of, many times at their own expense. It was my great dream to retire them, myself. When dad died, so did that dream. As silly as it sounds, I regret not having the knowledge then that we have, now. I know branding would have gone a long way toward making their business successful. In the years since, we’ve seen the same thing happen to those we’ve come to know as friends. Now, I’m over it. Now, helping business owners is personal.
A word of caution: if your “why” is because you like money or simply because you know how to do something, you’d better look for another line of work. While nothing’s absolute, those whys rarely lead to massive success. And, if you’re reading this, I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’re into that whole “massive success” thing.
Now, let’s talk focus.
Focus is huge, and there are three areas we talk about when it comes to it:
1. Your product or service – singular for a reason.
2. Your target market – also singular.
3. Your internal processes. We don’t do a lot with those, but we can’t overstate their importance.
I’ve already typed about the importance of focus in a few blogs – Why Diluting Your Brand is Bad, LEGO: The Rise and Fall. And Rise, and The Dangers of Bad Brand Strategy. and The reason for it is simple: you want to be number one in the minds of your clients and potential clients. If you have too many products, that won’t happen. As an example, Mayniax Branding is a branding company. If we decided to offer advertising, marketing, S.E.O., and P.R., as well, what would you think of us as? The answer is, you wouldn’t. We’d be offering too much for any of it to stick in your head. And at that point, we’re not an option, because you wouldn’t even think of us. The right way to go about that scenario, would be to start a new brand for each individual service.
Your target market should be just as focused, because if you’re targeting everybody, then you’re targeting nobody. This is another reason why we suggest one brand per product or service: if you have one product, it’s much easier to go after one target market. As an entrepreneur / business owner, when you go after one target market, things become so much simpler for you, as well. How many meetings have you been in where you have to pick who to target with the current ad? How many where someone’s said, “Yeah, but do we want to leave out this other demographic?” Keep it simple on your target market, and keep it simple on yourself! That way, you can free your brain space up for far more important things. Like brand strategy.
Time for a little differentiation.
I shouldn’t have to point out the importance of differentiation, but while everyone says they understand how huge it is, few people really market it. Researching your competition will tell you everything you need to now about how your company is, or can be, different. But that’s not where that ends. Differentiation needs to be communicated through marketing materials! If you and another company sell the same shoes online, but they ship from one facility and you ship from six – let your target market know. “On average, we’re three days faster on shipping, which gives your little athlete more time to break in their shoes for the big race!”
To summarize: tell people about your “why,” go for one target market, and make sure your differences show up in your marketing materials.
And make sure you have a house before your invite people to your house party.