December 09, 2002

Should Small Businesses Brand?

Being that much of what I do for a living is online strategies for small/local business, this article really piqued my interest. Not many small businesses think branding is worthwhile. They don't have big budgets. Their owners work day and night to operate their business. They're advertising budgets are focused on things that drive business directly to their bottom line, not things like "branding."

But Branding is much more expansive than most people realize. I'd venture to guess that most small businesses brand without even knowing it. Brand Channel's latest issue takes up the issue:

So, the good news for small businesses is that the brand is already there. It lies in the staff, their expertise and conduct; in the product and its qualities; in the name, the logo, the marketing. It is just a question of finding its essence and letting that guide future decisions.

The even better news is that this doesn't have to cost the earth. "I'd be lying if I said we never thought about branding," said innocent drinks’ Dan Germain -- who admits his brand manager job title is as much tongue in cheek as a description of his work -- "but our major focus, at the beginning and always, is on getting the product right. If you get the product right it makes branding easier. We never sat down, had a meeting and said, 'So, what about branding?' "

Yet innocent drinks certainly has a strong brand. The UK company, founded in 1998, makes pure, fresh fruit juices and smoothies. "Being innocent informs everything we are trying to do," said Germain. "We wanted everything to be innocent -- paper from sustainable resources, a fresh tone on our labels, vans painted like cows, staff games in the park, going into the country to help pick elderflowers for our juice."

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