Small Business Branding: Is it Set In Stone, or is it Possible to Change Your Brand Mid-Stream?

If someone slapped the words “small business marketing”, “small business branding” and “small business advertising” on a chalkboard and told you to differentiate between them, would you be able to do it? Or would you sit there with a baffled look on your face, eyes slightly squinted, going “Aren’t they the same thing?”

Give yourself a huge pat on the back if you looked at that last sentence and thought, “Are they for real?” If you’re among the many who thought they were talking about the same thing, don’t plop that hat of shame on just yet. With the way people are teaching these concepts these days, it’s no wonder you’re a little confused. As long as you understand what a brand is-and that it isn’t nearly as flexible as the elements of your marketing and advertising campaigns-you’re going to be just fine.

What is Branding?

Your brand is the intrinsic personality of your business. It’s not what you are, it’s who you are-or rather, how your customers perceive you. Think of trying to change your brand like trying to give yourself a complete personality makeover. It can be done, but it’s a long, messy process, not everyone’s going to be convinced, and the end results aren’t always pretty.

What am I Talking About?

Where is all of this coming from? The idea of the small business makeover is being widely popularized throughout the business world. You’re being told that you have to make your business “hip” and trendy to mesh your small business branding practices in with the rest of the world. When I was combing the news the other day looking for some fun stories and tips to share with our Twitter fans…

Don't be too chicken to break out of your shell...but don't be too chicken to be yourself either.

Wait. You are following us on Twitter, aren’t you? If not, take a second to swing by and do just that. Stop by and friend us there too. We post daily trivia challenges, fun facts for your business and links to great news and information every small business owner should know. Now back to our story.

Anyway, while I was flipping through the news I came across the woeful tale of a handful of KFC franchisees . They were suing the franchise for full control of their marketing campaigns. Why? Because KFC corporate was attempting to hop on the health food bandwagon and re-brand their company around their undoubtedly healthier but not nearly as well known grilled chicken sandwich.

Since they’re not going to be changing their name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to Kentucky Grilled Chicken, you can see the problem.

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It’s okay to move and groove with the times. You should constantly be developing new products and services to reach new product markets and the changing demands of your clientele. That doesn’t mean you need to give your entire company a virtual overhaul. You heard it in grade school. All you have to do is be yourself!

That’s how it works with your brand. You can pick up some new skills, expand your capabilities, just like you did when you joined the soccer team to keep your best friend happy even though you could have cared less about that little white and black ball (but you really, really didn’t), but you’re still the same at heart. Keep the heart of your business the same. Everything else will follow.