We love talking to sales people – the good ones and the terrible ones.
You can find out a lot of things about a business when you speak to their sales people or employees.
Some weeks ago, I was at a salon. I was chatting with the facial therapist just before my session started. She was telling me how their team would be getting new uniforms soon.
I was not surprised. After all, salons have to keep up and nowadays, uniforms in beauty salons are looking more and more clinical! They’re moving towards the professional side – or so this girl tells me – where they start resembling nurses in their all-white uniforms or even light pink or light green ones.
What did surprise me was a revelation by the said therapist.
I asked casually, “So this brand on your uniform will be replaced by your company name?”
Her company name is not even on her current uniform.
What’s on her uniform now is a skincare brand that they retail!
I probed further (oh I love probing! I am such a curious cat!).
“Why did your boss put this skincare brand on your uniform years ago and now only decided to revert to using your company name?”
Too Small To Make A Splash
She smiled sheepishly and said that in the early years, her boss felt that they were too small to stand out. They needed a strong brand so they piggybacked on the skincare brand that they retailed.
Years later, they realized they no longer wanted to carry this skincare brand. Now they wanted to promote their own brand and company name. Hence, the uniform change.
This really got me thinking.
Many small businesses often piggyback on a bigger, more visible brand especially if they feel they’re too insignificant to attract the attention of their customers.
But that is precisely the reason why when you’re small, you should start using your own brand or company name. It is easier to gradually build your own brand and establish a position in the customers’ minds – heck it takes years to get people to recognize a brand or a company.
The Pain of Re-Telling Your Story
In this case, the re-branding exercise is going to be costly and I am not just talking about getting new uniforms for the team. It’s that you have to go out and re-tell your story to your customers again. It is going to be confusing because people thought they were buying into Brand A only to realize Brand A isn’t really the company name!
Even if you just started your business today, use your own brand or company name. If you don’t start promoting yourself now, when will you ever promote it?
Since 1998, we have always been promoting and using our company name. When people do not know you, they search for “web designers”. When people know you, they will search for “Redbox Studio”. Don’t believe us? Would you search for “sports shoes” or would you search for “Nike” or “Adidas” when you’re ready to buy a pair? It’s a no-brainer.
Just like the best time to plant a tree is yesterday, the best time to promote a brand is when you’re small and insignificant because it takes time to build a brand.
What’s A Brand, Really?
Essentially it is the positive emotions and feelings associated with your company.
A brand is like you and me. It has personality. It has character.
It triggers people to feel good or recall positive experiences when they think of a brand.
Or a brand makes it more likely for you to buy a product because you know the brand will live up to its reputation versus a no-brand product (like some of the low quality made in China products).
If you had the money, you’d buy Australian broccoli instead of China brocolli.
You know why? Because you associate Australia with the freshest produce money can buy.
China? Eerrgh. Let’s just hope the broccoli from China is real broccoli, not something made from fake green goo in a lab!
That’s why I hate it when people keep harping about branding as if branding was just about slapping your logo (the bigger the better) everywhere from letterheads to emails, from signages to banners and more.
Branding is NOT about exposing your logo everywhere especially when people out there don’t even know what you stand for. Speaking of which, I can’t stand it that the Mercedes logo is now bigger than ever on the front of their cars. The same goes for Polo. Their embroidered logo on their collared shirts are ugly and huge.
If you don’t grow your brand when you are small, when will you ever grow your brand?