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Jan 19, 201708:00 AMOpen Mic

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How to find your business brand

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The granny brand

I hope that you are as lucky as I was to have had two awesome grandmas. Growing up with Grandma Evie I felt safe and loved. At her home, everyone was welcome and there would always be home-cooked meals and plenty to go around. Grandma Evie was hardworking, steadfast, reliable, and easy to talk to.

About the Author:
Brand strategist, storyteller, creative. Amber Swenor is the founder of Strategic Partners Marketing, a growing marketing firm serving businesses in the Madison market. She created Amberdella Consulting to provide entrepreneurs and small businesses access to knowledge, resources, and tools to help them market more effectively to grow their business. She’s an active MESBA member and supporter. When she’s not strategizing with clients, you’ll find her rockin’ the stage with her band.

With my Grandma Shelby I felt wild, alive, and encouraged to be exactly who I was! We danced, laughed, and together we were the life of the party. Her nickname for me was Animal, and I was encouraged to let it all go and act like one; being with my Grandma Shelby was always footloose and free.

Each of my grannies had a distinct brand. You knew what they stood for and how they’d make you feel, and in the simplest description this is what it means to have a brand.

Having a brand is like forming that formidable bond between granny and granddaughter. That unbreakable safety, adoration, and love. If you can win your customers over like a grandma wins her grandkids, you are in serious business.

Building granny’s good reputation

Someone recently posed this question — are all businesses brandable?

My answer? Yes, all businesses have the potential to build a brand. To have a brand is to have a reputation and to make an impression on your customers, so if you have customers, you have the potential of building a brand. Not only are all businesses brand-able, all businesses should be thinking about brand development from early in the game.

A brand is essentially a business’ reputation, and every business has a reputation with their target customer audience, good, bad, or indifferent. You get to influence how that reputation unfolds.

Too often businesses make the mistake of assuming that a brand is a logo, a tagline, or a one-liner in an advertisement. Those are pieces of their marketing; however, none of them are the brand. A brand is how your customers think and feel about you. It’s your job as a business owner to ensure that the way you want to be perceived is aligned with how you are actually perceived. All the things you do to bring those things into alignment are essentially the process of brand development.

If you had a bad granny and the point hasn’t hit home already, try this: When you think of these people, places, or products, what do you feel?

  • McDonalds
  • Red Bull
  • Apple
  • Nancy Grace
  • Google
  • Lexus
  • Wal-Mart
  • Starbucks

You may feel indifferent. You may feel disdain or dislike for some, while others provide feelings of hope, stability, or prosperity. How you feel about that business is essentially the brand that they are crafting for the given audience type that you fall within. If you have love for that brand, you may fall within their core audience that they exist for. Businesses don’t need to appeal to all people, they only need to align with their core audience — essentially, who they are in business for.

For example, one could derive that Starbucks’ primary audience are high-earning, professional adults, 25–40 years of age, living in urban areas, and who typically care about social welfare. They appeal to this audience through contemporary design that’s consistent throughout the brand, including advertising, décor, and packaging. By staying current in product and décor, Starbucks has become a status symbol for what it means to be affluent, urban, and hip. They appeal to those who care about social welfare through both internal standards and public policy.

This isn’t a case study on Starbucks, rather it’s to demonstrate that every business has a target audience, and it’s imperative for that business to build a good reputation with their core audience, like granny building her good reputation with her granddaughter.


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