Did anyone here watch the Superbowl this year? I watched the first quarter; I’m not much of a football fan, but if there’s a party, I want to go. I do enjoy watching the commercials, especially now that I have my own small business, and the Radio Shack one particularly caught my imagination. “The 80’s called,” a clerk says, “They want their store back.” A mob of ’80’s icons like Hulk Hogan, Alf, Chuckie, the California Raisins, etc., rush in and proceed to dismantle the store.
The ad implied that Radio Shack is making a new image for themselves. I walked by a Radio Shack yesterday that apparently has not had the makeover yet, and that started me thinking about what a massive task it would be to re-brand a company that big. I’m not sure just what their re-brand includes, but it could be new logo, store fixtures, products, packaging, policies, etc. The expense is staggering to me.
I have a teeny, tiny business. I do not feel I have a cohesive brand yet, although I’ve worked on it. The fact is, I could re-brand for next to nothing. I could change my packaging, and probably will, as I search for the perfect look. I could change my logo and name, but even with the small sphere I operate in, I have invested a lot of time and resources into getting my name out. I don’t expect to ever have any thing but a micro business, but I still keep thinking about how important it is to get it right at the beginning, a thing that beginners, unfortunately, are often little prepared to do.
Several years ago, my husband surprised me by taking me to a new tea house for my birthday. It was a special time, and we took home several pretty tins of tea for ourselves and for gifts. However, I was very sad when the company closed down a short time later. When I looked into what had happened, I discovered that, in addition to a faltering economy, the owner had created a perfectly lovely brand that was, unfortunately, financially unsustainable. I keep refilling those pretty tins and remembering that lesson.
Interestingly, the owner opened a new company with mostly identical products in a new brand, and appears to be thriving. It’s good tea. I miss the tins and fancy cafe–in fact, the new brand is quite plain–but I still buy the tea from time to time. However, I’m not sure I would have been drawn to it if I hadn’t been familiar with it in it’s swankier incarnation.
You should get your advice on branding from someone far more experienced and successful than I am, but it can’t hurt to ask yourself these questions:
1. Who is my brand trying to appeal to?
2. How much will it cost to sustain my brand?
3. What aspects of my brand are essential and which are just icing on the cake?
I’d love to hear some pithy advice from other business owners. What have you done to establish a great brand?