If my four year old was a brand, this is how he’d be described: wild, energetic, fun and smart. These are a few of the traits that make him special and unique — and warm my heart. I could go a step further and give you specifics about him –  his love of playing dress up, his non-stop pace, his witty comebacks  – as a few examples.  To be clear, my four year old is not a brand, but ask anyone else who knows him and they’d probably respond with the same or similar adjectives to the ones that I used to describe him because these are the things that make him uniquely different from his peers. To me, stated simply, your brand is what makes you/your business unique and memorable.

Branding can be applied to an individuals or businesses, big or small.

I have my favorite brands, as we all do. Although I shop mostly for value – when I find a brand I love – I’m completely loyal to it. For example, I love The Body Shop. Why? First, they make great health and beauty products that smell awesome. Second, they use ingredients that are minimally processed. But perhaps most importantly, they have values that resonate with me – their products are not tested on animals, they support social programs I care about and they promote environmental responsibility. I could summarize my favorable relationship with the Body Shop brand like this:

*Quality products
*Positive Sensory relationship (visuals, packaging, store and website merchandising, smell)
*Shared Social Values

When I need soap or shampoo, I immediately think of The Body Shop and often bypass similar businesses that may be less expensive or more convenient. As a business or organization, branding is a critical component to your success because it differentiates you from your competition. But understanding your brand takes some thought and consideration. Some of the key elements to understanding and creating your business are:

*A clear understanding of your products or services.
*A visual look that is appealing to your target market.
*A narrative that is relatable, sincere and compelling (your story).
*A clear message as to what your values are (Are you a neighborhood or community based business? Do you give or donate time to a specific organizations?).
*Value to your customers (this could be anything from free content on your website to a loyalty program for regular customers).

As you understand and refine who you are as a business, it becomes easier to define and market your brand.