In my experience of working with hundreds of brands over the last 15+ years, there are three things businesses get wrong when it comes to brand building. And these are businesses of all sizes, not simply small businesses.

The No. 1 thing businesses get wrong is in not clearly understanding the value of having a brand. They think having a strong, resonant brand is important only for the Apples or the Teslas or the Nikes of the world. Wrong. First, you must understand that a brand is simply a set of associations or beliefs consumers have about your products or services. It serves as a sort of shorthand or rubric to help them identify and select offerings based on their needs. 

Weathered, cracked stop sign

Most importantly, you need a strong, resonant brand because consumers—before, during, and after the sale—are attracted to what are called aspirational brands—that is, brands that make them feel or look better by association. For example, people buy Nikes not because they are the best shoe; they buy them in large part because of the signal—athleticism, quality, style—they send to others when they are wearing them. That’s why it’s important for businesses to think of the positive associations they want to create for customers when building a brand.  

No. 2 – The second issue I see is businesses thinking of branding as something they do—like sharing images or videos on social media—as opposed to being about who they are in the mind’s of customers. Sure, sharing information on the web, especially via social media, is important but that’s not branding. Branding, as NYU professor Scott Galloway says, refers to the perception of value. It’s the feeling people have when they see, interact with, or own your products or services. 

For example, a local designer who creates and sells a unique line of products that are beloved by her audience can use an online platform such as Facebook or Twitter to market her products. But branding is the story or vision created in the audience’s mind in advance. 

You can read the full article here: Why downplaying branded keywords is costing you big.