What’s Your Brand?
In ranching country, branding has a slightly different meaning than in the advertising world, yet it’s still pretty much the same. You burn an image into the LOOKer’s mind to differentiate yours from theirs. Works for cows, a bit of a pain for those who have done it, but essentially if you want to keep ’em tight after they wander, you’d better spend some time branding. Small operators don’t fool with it – they can count the cows and see when they are all there. If they do get out, in theory they’ll get ’em right back, after all they are lean and mean you know. But maybe they don’t and a sneaky neighbor slaps his brand on them… oh the stories the west has earned over the years!
We all think we can name at least a few brands, but go ahead and try to define it and you’ll see that it’s really a fuzzy area indeed. Click here to see what Wikipedia says Brand Name Definition (click). The ‘personality that identifies a product, service or company’, is what we think most people believe. It goes on and on with other aspects, but the ‘perceptions, feelings and images’ that customers and community have of the brand is important.
Ask yourself if you can quickly identify your brand. Is it simply your name, like John Johnson, Attorney at Law? Is it a picture like Dr. Dave of Montgomery Mattress in Ardmore? Or is it a graphic or abbreviation used on your business letterhead, cards, invoices, etc, like UPS, IBM? I hope you can hone in on it and if not, you need to develop one that is essentially what you want the community to remember when they see it. Golly, there are lots of variations. A good part of your marketing plan should include a well defined and thought through brand.
What if you have several products, services or companies under one operating budget or place of business? How do you decide to market them all, without blowing your budget? Do what you can to decide ‘what is the biggest seller, most valuable, most desirable, etc’. and then drill in on a common brand. Put your money where you can get the biggest bang for the buck. A very good example of this is illustrated in a feature done for The Cellar, Main Street Wine Depot. This was a fine restaurant in the historic District of Ardmore, make their own wines, and sell gifts and related items. They had several logos and as a small business, it’s very hard to cover all the aspects that they offered. They honed in on the most popular and busy item, the restaurant, then groomed the “brand” which was their logo. See also the feature Logos and Fine Detail (click) to see how that process evolved.
Whatever your brand is determined to be, you should use it in all your advertising and marketing efforts. The colors, fonts, pictures, slogans, etc. should all be consistent – the items that we want the LOOKers to remember. Once you focus in on that, you can easily add depth to your marketing plan, like handing out cards that are magnets that give discounts on return visits that look like the billboards, that show up in the yellow pages, and pop on to the TV or appear in the newspaper. Only your budget will determine where and how you execute your marketing plan, but a well thought out brand is an essential first step.
Now that you have identified your brand, fine tuned your marketing plan, it’s time to get to work. Make like a Nike shoe and “Just Do It!”