How a small business can begin to develop a brand for their marketing activity

The best place to begin is to consider what branding is all about and to clear up a few potential misunderstandings. First, is branding what’s required to begin advertising a new product? No, branding is completely independent from advertising. A quick way to remember this is to think about these statements: “Advertising makes brands.” Wrong. Advertising makes brands famous; the advertising itself has very little to do with the brand.

Second, is branding about the name and colour which you choose for your new product? No it’s much more than that.

Let’s talk about the sheep which are illustrating this topic. I deliberately selected the image of sheep because an understanding of sheep farming management helps to shed light on how I recommend my clients to think about branding. Why? Because the concept of branding stems from ancient methods used by farmers to identify their livestock by literally branding a mark onto their animals using hot metal. A particular beast is then carrying an indelible label which denotes the ownership of that animal. When all the sheep become mingled in the field, it remains possible for each farmer to know whose is whose, thanks to the branding. But it’s not as simple as placing a label, say, the farmer’s initials, on each animal. Imagine that you’re a farmer. I expect that you would like your sheep to be recognised as yours because they are healthy, well-fed, and sheared on time, so the brand is far deeper than the label which the sheep carries. It includes the characteristics of the animal, in this instance the brand values of the sheep might be described as healthy and well-cared for, so every sheep which has the same marque must also be kept to these standards. This is an example of what I describe as “living the brand”. In business, the brand values must permeate everything that you do in your company and every possible touchpoint which a customer or potential customer might have with your business. It is all a part of what identifies you and distinguishes you from others in the field.

So when you’re considering branding for your own business, don’t begin with thinking of a name or a label. This is an error which I’ve often observed on shows like The Apprentice, where enthusiastic contestants will dive into a “branding” task by suggesting clever names instead of pausing to consider the brand values of the product. Remember, the farmer, from the moment that a new lamb is born, will be monitoring its health and wellbeing so that it will grow to become a sheep which he’s happy to carry his label. The label is a useful, quick identifier, and for potential customers, will make the process of finding your product far quicker and easier, hence satisfying their needs.

If you would like to discuss the development of your brand, please book a branding consultation with me once you have completed the brand development checklist on my site: or drop me an email with any questions to: [email protected]