The greatest brand of all (and why you should ignore it)

Apple is the most Badass Brand out there... right???

One of the biggest mistakes small business ownersand even brand strategistsmake is emulating the branding of companies like Apple, Ralph Lauren, Starbucks, Coke, and Nike. These household names appear over and over in articles about becoming a powerful brand, and yet... 

...here’s why they shouldn’t:

Your small service business is nothing like these behemoths. Your goals are different, your offering is different, your challenges are different. And you don’t sell products. Being the next Apple, even if you could, would be a mistake. 

Large Brands vs. Your Small Business

Companies like Coca-Cola and Nike are looking for market share. You? You should be looking for a sweet spot niche: a specific segment of well-paying clients that need what you offer, precisely the way you offer it.
 

Big-name brands also have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on their advertising campaign. Do you?

Consumers buy Starbucks lattes, Nike baseball hats, and Apple, well, everything largely because each paid for placement over and over again to build brand recognition and trust in your mind. (Not to mention millions in R&D to formulate and test the products to begin with.)

People pay for your services because of trust, too--but instead of traditional advertising, you establish consumer confidence in your brand through more focused channels. Maybe you steer your efforts toward owning social media or creating a killer website--and directing traffic there. Or perhaps you work on an integrated plan to make your brand undeniably badass. Great! In your corner of the world, you are Coke or Pepsi. 
 

The Opportunity to Stand Out

Household brands want to separate themselves from the competition, just like you. But these brands need to stay conservative for the most part, so as not to alienate their universal fans.

Your service brand is liberated from this problem. Since you’re targeting a select few, you can play an entirely different game. Think about it: Your business can thrive off of very few customers. So, if you can reach these people and hit them with a message that sticks, you’ll position your brand as a major player among your target. 

Research tells us the average person needs to see a brand seven times before recognizing it. Without a colossal marketing and branding budget, you’d better start by making a memorable first impression.
 

Narrow Your Focus & Sharpen Your Message

With the right message, you can distinguish your brand from the competition. Remember: your brand doesn’t need to appeal to everyone--it just needs to appeal to someone. So, don’t cast a wide net just to see what you can catch. Find people who love what you do and get their attention.

Branding that resonates with your target audience will drive consumers to notice you, remember who you are, and tell their friends all about it.

Want a brand like that?
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Remember, none of the biggest brands started out selling everything to everyone. They were all badass. Nike spoke to performance athletes. Apple was for nerds that wanted to be hip. Ralph Lauren Polo appealed only to equestrian types. Once they made a name for themselves and became known for something, they expanded their consumer base and appeal.