What is a Brand and Why Does It Matter?

While homeschooling provides numerous tangible benefits, the opportunity to build a family business together and to teach business, management, entrepreneurship, work ethic, and good stewardship to our children provides immediate and long-lasting benefits that are hard to beat. After teaching our kids how to live in light of eternity and in relation to the God of creation, teaching them how to thrive (not just survive) in this world may be our most important job. Every subject should be taught in light of God’s word, with an eternal and a temporal perspective, and applied to real life. For example, when math is taught as a nebulous theory of numbers working together to make bigger or smaller numbers it is worthless. When math is taught as giving insight into an ordered universe, created by a God of order it becomes divine. When it is taught as the key to managing a household (basic math, algebra), to building and creating (geometry), to engineering (geometry, trigonometry, calculous), to managing a business (accounting), to teaching your own children, it becomes practical. Business, by it’s very nature is practical and divine. God has given a wealth of instruction on the subject in the Bible, and our failure to understand these principals directly affects our daily standard of living.

As we teach our children business and as we build our own businesses, one of our first considerations should be branding. Branding is integral to marketing and advertising (separate, but related fields), and even the most sound businesses are guaranteed failure if they do not master marketing and advertising. A business that fails to establish a brand fails! A quick side note: anyone who thinks that the unnamed fruit stand at farmer’s market, which has a hand-painted sign that says “fruit”, or the lemonade stand on the corner doesn’t have a brand doesn’t understand branding.

What do you think of when you hear the word brand or branding?  A company logo or a tagline of sorts?  How about this… what do you think of when you hear the word “apple?” Chances are good your first thought is not a piece of fruit but instead, you think of the tech company and maker of the iPhone.  Why is that? Truth be told, they have spent millions of dollars so that you would not think of the fruit.  What other worlds come to mind when you think of the company Apple? Maybe lattes, expensive, virus-free, cutting edge?

A brand is an expression of your company’s beliefs.  It is not a logo, tagline or slogan.  A brand captures the heart of what your company is about, what you represent.  Everything you do that’s connected to your company should run through your “brand filter.”  Everything from where and how you advertise, how you market the products or services within the brand and even what it is the brand offers.  Everything circles back to how it reflects on the brand.

For instance, if you pull up to a restaurant and see “reservations suggested” you automatically generate an expectation about that establishment and assume that the meal will cost more than $10.  At the same time, your expectations for the quality of food and service rise as well. It’s all a reflection of the brand for that restaurant.

Proper branding tends to be one of the most expensive elements of business and the importance of it is often overlooked by business owners and entrepreneurs.  When a company is sold, the contract will include a paragraph or two about the product or service.  However, when it comes to the brand, there may be two or three pages on how to protect the brand.

When done well, a brand can take on a life of its own.  For instance, if you have a cold and stuffy nose, you may ask for a “Kleenex.”  Everyone knows what you really need is a tissue, but the brand is so powerful, you call the item by a brand name.

If you cut your finger, you usually ask for a “Band-Aid.”  Technically, you need an adhesive bandage, but who says that?

In some regions of the country, usually the South, when you ask for a Coke the waiter/waitress will ask what kind since all soda is considered a Coke.  That’s a brand.

Another way to know when a company has done a good job on branding is when the public will spend their own money or make an effort to promote the brand for free.  How often to you see people wearing a hat with “YETI” or “Ford” or “Costa?”  How about decals on the back of their vehicle – “NASCAR,” “Glock,” or a favorite sports team?

A brand is what your business is, the product or service just happens to be what you do today to build that brand.  If you keep it that way, you can be fluid.  For instance, do not put what you do in the name of the company.  For example, if “Bob’s Plumbing” ever wanted to add roofing or pressure washing to his services as a result of a chance in the economy or personal desire, it will take more time, money and effort for him to adjust the brand image that has already been established.  It’s more challenging for Bob to pivot with “plumbing” in the name.  A better name to use would be “Bob’s Home Solutions.”  He would then have the flexibility to add additional services without completely changing the brand.

Think about Google.  That wasn’t even a word 20 years ago.  Now it’s used a verb.  Google is not only a search engine but they are now providing smart phones and other products with no pivoting issues.  If Apple wanted to start making smart cars next week, it would fit their brand since they did not go the route of Apple Computer Systems.

So, keep these concepts in mind when you are branding your business and when you are teaching branding to your kids, and remember, whether it be the name you choose for your homeschool, a co-op, a blog or even your personal brand, a brand is an expression of core beliefs.

Written by John B. Robinson with Purple Monkey Garage… Fixing Businesses and Repairing Lives.

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