Small-Business Summit: Evolving Your Brand

Entrepreneurs talked successful branding at the Small Business Summit.
June 26, 2012

Few things are more important to many businesses than branding. Labeling, message, logo and other considerations are often crucial to a company’s success. At the New York Times Small Business Summit yesterday entrepreneurs and branding experts talked about how to build a successful brand in the “Evolve Your Brand” panel led by Nina Kaufman, president of Ask the Business Lawyer. The panelists included Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Water; Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat; Adam Rich, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Thrillist (also an OPEN Forum contributor); and Maria Ross, founder of brand-consulting company Red Slice.

Data and Branding Disasters

For Adam Rich, building and evolving a good brand means getting intimate with data.

“We’re always looking to see that people are getting what they want from us—how engaged people are,” Rich said. “We look at a lot of different data points, but we also realize that no single point is important by itself. Anything in branding or business in general is about making mistakes. But if you don’t have the data, you won’t know what the mistakes are.”

Speaking of mistakes, each panelist was asked to recall a significant branding mistake and what he or she learned from it. Katrina Markoff said that she was overly aggressive in branching off into the ice cream business, which flopped. She said her decision was based on emotion and not information.

I didn’t research thoroughly, and it was a hard lesson,” Markoff said.

Kara Goldin said Hint Water was wedded to a clear label for its flavored water until New York State changed its labeling laws, forcing the company to use white. Hint saw a big jump in sales, and after doing customer surveys, found that customers liked the white labels and could find the product more easily on store shelves.

How to Rebrand

Finally, the panelists gave advice on either re-branding, spin-offs or extending your brand. Maria Ross stressed the importance of diversifying your message for different audiences. And when she is asked about how to do B2B messaging, she said she replies by saying,

“You are still marketing to people. You just need to ask yourself ‘What is the ideal company?’ and ‘Who is doing the buying?’”

Visit OPEN Forum’s New York Times Small Business Summit page for additional coverage from this and previous events, as well as highlights on Twitter via the hashtag #OPENNYT.

Photo credit: OPEN Forum