Most of us know that Coca Cola is one of the biggest brands in the world, but what exactly is a brand? According to the American Marketing Association a brand is:

…a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller and to differentiate them from those of competitors.

Put simply, a brand is a sign telling people who you are and what makes you different.

Although we usually associate brands with consumer products such as cold drinks, the name and image of a business is itself also a brand. It represents who the business is and what makes it unique. In fact, some of the biggest brands in the world are company brands such as Samsung, Caterpillar and Boeing.

Even small companies are brands

Today all companies, no matter their size, operate in an increasingly globalized and information rich environment driven by the customer. This customer can either be an individual person (business-to-consumer) or another business (business-to-business) and no matter who they are, the customer will use the information at their fingertips to make more informed purchase decisions. The question then: Are you actively managing the information that your customers access?

This is where the brand comes in. A business with a strong brand is a business that takes care in how it appears both internally to its staff and to the outside world. Although the brand is a visual sign, a strong brand relies on more than just a nice logo but includes company culture and values as well as information flow to and from the market to differentiate itself. A strong brand connects strong internal company values with deep external customer insight.

In the past brand management was only for big companies, but in today’s internet society even the smallest entrepreneur needs it. Whether you like it or not, the days of quietly plying your trade and minding your own business is over.