No, this 'toon has nothing to do with branding. It's just there to entertain you.

We tend to think of ‘brand’ as a big businesses activity. They’re the only ones with a valuable brand to promote, right? Wrong. SME branding can be more effective than enterprise branding.

SME branding has focus

SME branding works well when we build our brand stories around a specific arena. If we tried to build an SME brand around being the best cake bakers in the UK we might face rather stiff competition from Mr Kipling. We would be more successful building our brand around the best business event cake makers in Shropshire.

In a parallel with the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), choosing a limited and specific target yields better results. Start small, then build.

SME activities help SME branding

The nature of our businesses simplifies branding. Small firms are focused around fewer activities or products. It’s harder to build a brand identity if you sell everything from air flights to soft drinks than it is if you only sell metal flanges. The more limited our products and services, the more specific we can be about our brand stories; we can make them easier to understand, more powerful and more commercial.

We SMEs can create a brand that is, in many ways, stronger than an enterprise brand. Think of an organisation like Virgin. It is an enormously powerful brand – but for what? The company’s own web site says it stands for “money, quality, innovation, fun and a sense of competitive challenge”.

Yes, but what would I buy from you?

To a pure brand marketer, that’s missing the point. Brand is about provoking a positive emotional response from buyers. It’s about setting an expectation.

SME branding and the bottom line

The SME world has to be a bit more direct. Everything we do needs to lead to revenue. Put it another way. You want to send some wine to a business contact. Do you think of Majestic Wines? A supermarket? Would you think of Virgin Wines? Probably not; the Virgin brand is so powerful there’s a disconnect between it and any Virgin service that lacks big advertising.

SMEs can capitalise on that disconnect. We may not have stronger brands in a pure sense but we can create brands that are more useful and, dare we say it, valuable.

We just have to make avoid the trap of making our brand story a product story. But that’s a subject for another week.