by garyasanchez

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Most small business owners think branding is the process of picking a company name, logo, colors and font.  It’s all the stuff a graphic designer usually deals with.  If that’s what you consider to be branding, this message is exactly for you.  Rather than try to create some amorphous “brand” for your business, you should spend that time creating differentiation.  Your logo will have ZERO effect on your sales.  Same with your company name.  Your color scheme matters not one bit.  Your default font and business cards ain’t gonna convince a fence sitter to give you her money.  I know, I know.  I can hear you now.  But what if I am able to create differentiation WITH MY LOGO AND COLORS? 

The most important lesson you need to learn about marketing is that NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS. (except for perhaps your mother – and even that is iffy).  If you cannot effectively answer the question every single one of your prospects and customers ask “What’s In It For Me?” then you are doomed to irrelevance.  Somebody shopping the pain relief aisle doesn’t give a damn whether your package is blue or red.  He wants to know:

  1. Will your medicine stop his pain?
  2. Will your medicine keep him up at night and make him cranky the next day for lack of sleep like that other medicine did?


Stop worrying what your prospects and customers will think about your logo.  Few of them spend any time at all thinking about your "brand." 

I was once scolded by the owner of a small chocolate company I worked for after I had arranged to create a pop-up store for Valentine’s Day on a cart at a shopping mall.    After a week at the mall he said to me, “You’re going to mess up our brand equity.” I guess he feared that selling a premium priced brand of chocolate off of a cheesy cart in a shopping mall would somehow make his brand less “special.”   I suspect he was merely reacting to the comments of a well-intentioned neighbor who would never have had the guts to offer her customers more convenience by adding a shopping location closer to home (e.g., the “What’s In It For Me” part) and instead worried about a conceptual "brand equity."   The things is, if the brand had strong equity, it would have been able to compete with the huge See's Candy displays and the super busy Godiva Chocolate store across the mall, but it couldn't.   While he may have had fans of the company and even a few yelpers who rated it 5 stars, if consumers don't know why your brand is different or better or makes them feel different or better on some meaningful attribute(s) than other brands (e.g., alternatives), they your brand ain't diddly squat.  Not even your Tiffany blue colored box is going to convince consumers to give you their money instead of to Sees or Godiva.

And so you say, "yeah, but you’re dscribing a small business Cheese, don't you need to have your brand figured out before you make it big?  Don't even waste a single minute worrying about it until you are actually big enough to have customers who will die for your brand or you have publically sold stock, or a single large investor who makes you think about it.  Don't believe me?  Hey, not even Apple, which some could argue is obsessed with image, can affect sales with its logo or brand colors.  Here's a study that shows not even the most loyal of Apple fans can recall what the Apple logo looks like.  

I can hear you now.  But, but but … every company has a logo.  That may be true but it does't mean the logo has any effect on whether you decide to buy from that company or not.  Creating a logo is part of the "trivial many." (in Pareto Principle terms).  Your logo has ZERO effect on your sales.  Let me try to convince you with 2 or 3 more examples.  Suppose one day your washing machine explodes and floods your basement floor.  Who do you call to come fix the problem?  Is it the company that has the blue logo (because blue imbues confidence) or do you call the plumber who can get there in 15 minutes and who has a money back guarantee?

If branding and logos were so important to a company's success, how did some famous (and successful) brands survive logo changes over the years?

Branding changes

Famous brand logo changes


Or what about the world's largest company, WalMart?  WalMart is a $482 BILLION a year company that has a stupid name for a company.  Just think about it.  Founder Sam Walton merely smooshed half of his surname with the word "mart." It's logo has changed colors at least four times, and changed its font at least five times.  And yet it has overcome all of those branding obstacles to dominate the retail industry.  It as achieved success not because it developed a strong brand name, logo, font or colors, but because it has differentiated its business on an extremely meaningful attribute called THE LOWEST PRICES on a large assortment of merchandise.  It's differentiation is its brand.  Not its name, logo, colors or font.  So stop wasting your time working on your company name and logo and spend it on the marketing activity that really matters – how to create a brand with a meaningful point of difference that gets people to notice and want what you sell.

WalMart logo evolution

WalMart logo evolution

If you are to get the full benefit of applying the Pareto Principle to your marketing efforts, let me recommend this.  Go to fiverr and hire somebody overseas to create a logo for your brand.  But YOU shouldn't spend hardly any time giving input or worrying about your choice, or polling friends on their opinions.  Hey, if twitter can build a brand with a $20 logo, so can you.


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