Brand is now so much a part of public and business language and thinking that it has gained a life of its own and is used and interpreted in an infinite number of ways. It is wrongly synonymous with big business, big spend, high street retail, fashion, design - things that most small business leaders do not consider relevant.
Perhaps a better way of thinking about brand is to consider it as the way that people, all people, think about your business, its products, services and offers, the way your people behave, the way that you convey the difference between you and your competitors in order to gain advantage over them and the way that you can use these to grow now and, more importantly, in the future. In other words how you grow your businesses REPUTATION in order to grow its sales, productivity, profitability and most importantly, its future financial value.
When SME reputation/brand development is considered in these ways and is carefully (but not expensively) defined and implemented, small businesses begin to benefit in many ways from the effort. Workforce belief, thought, action and team working improves. Customers, suppliers, partners and shareholders gain better understanding and loyalty and limited sales and marketing budgets work harder because communication is routed in something substantial – pre determined recognition.
Most importantly the SME is able to genuinely and believably create a point of difference and advantage over its competitors. Properly constructed brands are also sustainable for a long time regardless of offer and market changes. In other words, and this is the shocker, work in this area is an investment not a cost. Finally, when brand development is measured, it has a financial value. It directly adds to the worth of the business.
So, is brand important and valuable to small businesses? YES, if embarked on carefully, realistically and responsibly.