cereal 300x300 Small Businesses: Your Brand is More than Just Your BusinessI’m not much of a breakfast eater these days, but when I do grab myself a bowl of cereal, I think back to my childhood and one of the constants that connects me to a much younger version of myself: the cereal box.

Plain and simple, the cereal box has one main function: to hold the cereal.

It’s only real job is to act as a vehicle for delivering the cereal from the factory to the store to my table. As long as it does that, I’m happy. Whether I’m eating the most sugar-filled kids’ cereal known to the universe, or the driest, most tasteless, “healthy” concoction of something or other, the box holds the cereal, and hopefully keeps it from going stale.

That’s it.

If it does nothing else, the box needs to serve as a strong and useful container for my cereal.

But it does much more than that. We’ve all had that experience of eating our bowl of cereal while burying our nose in the cereal box. Well, not “in” the box, per se, but whatever happens to be on the outside of the box. Depending on the target market, the outside of the box might be filled with everything from games, contests, and other forms of entertainment, as well as something educational and informational. The box I’m looking at now has a few interesting recipes on how I can use the cereal to make some great snack foods.

Then there’s the all-important nutritional information, if you dare to read it. It’s the disclosure; the transparency.

And if you’re lucky, you might even get a prize or toy inside. My adult children have been fighting over the Star Wars pens we’ve been getting in some of the boxes. They have nothing to do with the cereal or the box, but the toys are like an added bonus; an incentive to purchase, for some.

We get so caught up in the core function of our business, that we often forget the other stuff. And yes, we do need to be good…no, great…at what we do. If we sell a product, we need to be good at that.

But that’s not all there is. Like a cereal box, we need to be so much more. Our business needs to take care of its “outward appearance” so as to attract customers and draw them in. Though if the outside is great, and the contents are horrible, no one will come back.

And then there are the jobs of entertaining and informing, and providing useful information. You’ve got a front, back, sides, and top & bottom of your box. They can’t just be empty space. Use your business to build your brand by providing more than what people expect. Be useful.

Oh, and don’t forget the prize. These might be the discounts or promotions that give people an incentive to visit and give you a test drive. It has to be good enough to draw people in to sample the rest of what you have to offer.

pens 300x300 Small Businesses: Your Brand is More than Just Your Business

It’s the entire package that makes your brand what it is; what you offer, what you deliver, and how others perceive it.

Next time you grab a box of cereal, pay attention to the box. Look at every side, and even inside and out. Then think about your business, and what it is that you are really offering.

How are you moving beyond your products and thinking more in terms of your brand?