The One Decision That Could Make or Break Your Brand

Dave Thomas of Wendy's. Richard Branson of Virgin. Choosing the right face of your brand is the key to business growth.
Founder & CEO, Brian Moran & Associates
June 26, 2013

There’s a lot of talk in marketing today about building your brand. People want to know “What’s your brand’s position?” “Are you getting the best ROI for your brand?” “How’s your personal brand doing?” For most small-business owners, building their brands falls somewhere between “learning social media” and “going to the dentist.” If the topic doesn’t focus on sales, employees or expenses, many business owners don’t seem to have the time to listen. Well, it's time to listen.

Let’s discuss the “face” of your brand. When customers and potential customers think of your company, what’s the first image that comes to mind? Do they see you, your employee who has been calling on them for 10 years, your logo or maybe a character you created to sing your jingle in local TV and radio commercials?

Everywhere consumers turn, they're being told to “click this,” “like that” and “call now.” It seems almost impossible to have your message heard by the right people. But it's not, if you can create a consistent voice that resonates with your target audience. The best way to do that is to find the right face of your brand. Here are five options to get you started.

You

Is there anyone more qualified to be the face of your company? Dave Thomas was the face of Wendy’s for many years. When you think of Virgin Airlines, does Richard Branson immediately come to mind? If you are comfortable being the spokesperson for your brand, it can create a special bond between your company and your customers. The downside is if or when you want to sell your company, the brand equity is as much in you as it is in your company. Another risk is something happening to you. Your health equals the company’s health.

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Employees

In smaller companies, key employees can become the default face of your brand because they deal with your customers every single day. Think about local establishments and the employees who’ve been there for many years. Can you imagine them working anywhere else? If you run a small business and have longtime employees, do they adequately represent the principles of your company? This is a critical area of review when thinking about the growth of your business and obstacles to growth. If a key member of your team is viewed in a negative light by fellow employees and customers, it will reflect poorly on the overall health of your brand.

Celebrities

This is usually not an option for most small companies, as hiring someone famous to be the face of your brand can be cost-prohibitive. However, there are times when you can align your brand with a celebrity for an event or a cause where it can have a positive outcome for you. The most notable risk in this situation is when the celebrity’s reputation is tarnished and sponsors can’t get to the exits fast enough.

Cartoon Character/Other Figure

Think about Mr. Clean or the Lucky Charms elf. Does your company name or brand make people think of a super hero or cartoon figure? The upside potential and long-term benefits of having a character as the face of your brand are enormous. Imagine customers recognizing your company based solely on a picture—and the positive images that come to mind from that picture. The risk is having someone “spoof” your character and seeing their version become a bigger hit than your actual character. It’s possible to have someone hijack your brand.

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No One

In many cases, small-business owners don’t feel the need to have a face associated with their brand. It may seem like too much work or isn't the direction they want to take their company. I can’t disagree with this logic—if the company weighed the other four options first.

You may also come up with other options that haven’t been discussed here. The idea is to get you thinking about your company and the prospects for growing your business. Building your brand—and finding a face for that brand—should be a key component of any discussion on growth.

Read more articles on small-business marketing.

Photos: Getty Images

Founder & CEO, Brian Moran & Associates