Branding is for Big Companies… Right?

Branding is a topic we associate with organizations often referred to as an enterprise.  It’s one of those sophisticated marketing strategies used only by big companies.  Right?  Wrong.  Branding is equally important for small organizations.  It’s my belief that branding is even more important for small businesses than for the large enterprise.

Branding is all about increasing a product or service’s perceived value to the customer and thereby increase brand equity.  For a large business, the brand becomes a complex issue with brand valuation tracked as a critical business asset.  For a small organization the perception of a business can be more important – determining whether one stays in business or goes out of business.

Large companies occasionally suffer enormous blows to their brand image.  A case in point is Union Carbide.  The Bhopal India chemical disaster in 1984 was a tremendous blow to the company’s reputation as well as to their bottom line.  However, the company retained enough value to be acquired by Dow Chemical Company in 2001.  Compare that with the fact the only one third of small business ever turn a profit.  Statistics show that half of all newly started small businesses fail within the first four years.

For a small business to succeed, it must offer something that truly differentiates the business from its competitors.  Barry’s Café in Raleigh, North Carolina is such a business.  The business had operated in the red for two years when a community emergency redefined the business in the minds of local people.  This short video tells the story of a truly remarkable business.

Barry Doyle’s nonprofit Feed the Firefighters Foundation, has served some 35,000 meals.  The efforts have earned Barry’s Café the 2008 Best of Raleigh Award in the Restaurant Category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).  The owner set out to do something good for his community.  In the process he established his business as a local landmark; clearly differentiated from the competition.  Barry may not think of his efforts as brand building, but the success of his business, and the foundation, make a strong case for the critical importance of brand recognition for small business.

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4 comments so far

  1. Debra Stamp on

    A great example of “the harder you work, the more luck you’ll have” and a powerful reminder of the need to always do what you know in your heart to be the right thing to do, because you just never know….


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