In this BusinessWeek Online article, Gerry Khermouch makes some good points concerning small business branding. I enjoyed the article quite a bit, but felt it was too myopic. The focus was consistently placed on logos and graphic design. I don’t mind that since I began my career in design. The problem is the implication that your brand is encapsulated in your logo, stationery, literature, and packaging. Most of the article followed the message of the paragraph below.
All of these businesses used clever thinking — and not too much cash — to develop a stand-out look designed to appeal to their would-be customers. Then they made sure that image was deployed consistently on everything from press kits to business cards to Web sites, hammering home the image they’d chosen to project.
Either Khermouch miscommunicated his intended message, or he overlooks elements of branding that he mentions as merely sidenotes. This paragraph is one of the only areas that something other than design is mentioned:
Sharps reinforces its image with targeted promotions. Sweatman spends two or three days a month pitching about 30 editors at men’s and style magazines. Sharps also holds “shave parties,” where barber-school trained employees give haircuts in old-fashioned barber chairs. They’re held in buzz-inducing venues such as the window of Barneys New York and at a New Line Cinema premiere party in Los Angeles. Sharps even inked an agreement with MTV (VIA ) to get its products included in the gift bags given to celebrities at parties. All the effort is paying off: Sharps is found in hipster hangouts such as Fred Segal as well as more mainstream outlets such as Sephora.
Still, it is a good reminder to small businesses that a cohesive and unique effort toward branding pays dividends.