Make Your Brand a Way of Life

By Mash Bonigala

Are you still selling “products” in your small business? Perhaps it’s about time to take a new perspective. Why not push your brand as a way of life, an idea, or an attitude like one of our clients did with great success?

Basically, you should stop thinking of your brand as rubber shoes or jeans and visualize something bigger. Case in point: Nike. Instead of positioning itself as the most innovative manufacturer of athletic shoes, it took a bigger role – a sports company that aims to “enhance people’s lives through sports and fitness.

Here’s the upside. This mindset will allow you to expand your business in different categories. Imagine if Nike concentrated in running shoes. There will be no apparels, sunglasses, watches, bags, or even tie up with iPod.

Virgin Group owned by Sir Richard Branson is another classic example of this grand strategy. If you check their official website, it brands itself as a company that “stands for value for money, quality, innovation, fun and a sense of competitive challenge.” This mindset enables the company to compete in different markets from music (Virgin Records) to telecommunications (Virgin Mobile) without losing its identity.

Though we’re citing big corporations here, keep in mind that they started as small businesses like the one you have right now. The key is to think ahead and make your business flexible in the long run.

This is the opposite of the popular “niche” strategy wherein you will find a very specific segment and create a unique selling proposition (USP). Both business models have their own advantages and disadvantages. But if you’re an entrepreneur with diverse interests this brand-as-a-way-of-life strategy will be favorable to you.

What’s the first step? Pick a general attribute or set of values and build your reputation around it. You may want to be known for your innovativeness, high quality, or affordability. But don’t just pick any attribute randomly. See if it is fit with your resources and competencies. The final step is to commit to it and be consistent. You know that building reputation takes time, so don’t change from one attribute to another every year.