Does Your Small Business Ask Why?

July 05, 2012

Having a distinctive brand will also help create a sense of mission for your small business.

As an entrepreneur you’ll be used to talking about your start-up. You’ll probably have a well-rehearsed pitch that you’ve given countless times to potential investors, suppliers and clients explaining what it is you do. But why do you do it? If you haven’t given it much thought then you should, because that’s the foundation for your company’s brand. Why is it so important to have a small business brand? Well, because customers buy brands, not products – that’s the marketing man’s old maxim, at least. But think for a moment about your favorite brands. You’ll probably be able to come up with at least three unique characteristics that sum up each of them, and which also distinguish them from their rivals.

Take Ben & Jerry’s. Its brand reflects a business style that’s homespun, slightly hippy-ish but humorous and has a strong social conscience. A successful brand is one that customers identify with. They know what it stands for and they know what to expect from it. In Ben & Jerry’s case you know you’ll get great ice cream made from natural, wholesome ingredients. A strong brand helps enormously when you roll out new products, because your existing clients will be interested in them. They like what you’re doing already so will want to know about what new product or service you’re offering. Having a distinctive brand will also help create a sense of mission. Knowing why you do what you do will give your firm a strong corporate culture that helps to bind your team together. If you have a strong brand it’s better than an HR handbook because your staff will understand almost instinctively what to do in any situation, because they know “that is (or isn’t) how we do things here”. The flip side of that is when many companies lose their way it’s often because they’ve lost their “why”. Something they’ve done has broken the brand, rather than built it. It’s not simply their brand they've lost it’s their identity too, their collective sense of what sets them apart from the pack. Here at Hiscox Business Insurance we have several core values that guide the way our business is run. These are: to have the courage to challenge convention, to act with integrity at all times, to do everything to the highest quality, to excel in the service we provide and to have respect for all our business partners. We've earned a reputation for integrity and decent behavior, of which we’re proud and fiercely protective, because we believe it sets us apart from our rivals. Our brand, our reputation, our corporate DNA – they all have their source in our core values. They’re our “why” and we truly believe these values create a strong sense of identity among our people as well as being good for our bottom line.