In the last few decades, branding has become one of the top priorities for businesses small and large. With the advent of social media, smartphones (LTE!), and online video platforms, the channel of branding is now more accessible to the general public than ever before. While the high costs of traditional advertising (billboards, TV commercials, radios, etc.) were difficult to justify, small business owners now have many more efficient options to build their brand identity. I remember just ten years ago when a local marketing agency charged a small restaurant thousands of dollars for creating a very simple website. Now, web-building platforms offer free templates and allow users to easily build and manage a professional website at minimal fees. Moreover, companies can create brand pages for free on Social Network Services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Companies such as Fiverr, also provide easy access to freelance talent for graphics, logos, content, and even direct advertising. Although all of these new avenues of marketing are blessings to the small business owner (SBO), unfortunately, a majority of SBOs do not take full advantage of these tools, even if they are using them. Why? Because their brands are not purposefully directed.
In a seminal paper by Jennifer Aaker in 1997, professor of marketing at Stanford University, a five factor brand personality model was proposed. Just as people can be classified into different personalities, Aaker showed that people also consider brands with distinct personality traits. Originally, these were considered to be Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness. Let’s return to our Barefoot Wines example. When Michael and Bonnie stepped into the wine industry, the existing wine brands were all about sincerity and sophistication, delivering formal and often luxurious messages. In a market environment filled with similar brand personalities, Barefoot Wines made its strong debut as a “fun, exciting” wine brand that was easily approachable. Scoring high on excitement while maintaining competence (with acceptable quality, winning awards), Barefoot Wines created an unprecedented brand persona that helped them achieve great success.
I’m not suggesting that you should look out for a niche brand position in your market. Though that would be optimal, it is important to plan ahead and purposefully guide your logo, design, message, service, and products to a coherent and clear brand personality. First ask yourself, your customers, and your friends how they feel about your brand? What kind of personality does your brand currently have? More importantly, do people all seem to have a somewhat similar image, or is it all over the place? Once you have a feel for your current brand personality, you should contemplate on what the ideal brand personality would look like for your business. We will discuss later down the road what kind of criteria needs to be considered, and how to effectively achieve your goals in building your brand. For now, make sure to be cognizant of how your brand personality is represented in the numerous channels that exist in today’s marketplace. Keeping a vigilant eye on how people see your brand is the first stride to success.
By: Charles Barr
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