Branding Your Hot Dog Stand
Your hot dog stand... is it... shabby? Is it parked next to a Stewart's? (MmMmM... Stewart's
) Is your logo screaming at your passerby's... calling them, "You need this hot dog in your belly...now
". Are you hooking your regulars up with a free dog or a bag of chips now and again? If you're taking this hot dog stand thing literally, consult your doctor. I'm actually talking about your brand image. People take the value of marketing for granted, especially during tight-belted economic strife. What these short-sighted crews are missing is the fact that these are the most important times to be plastering your brand all over the Earth.
Think about your brand (that is, if you even have one or know what that is). Do you have a logo? A signifying image that encompasses what you do or what you stand for? Does your tag line ooze cleverness and memorability? Or... are you "Joe's Hot Dogs" on the corner of Indifference and FAIL. A super-important thing to realize about your company is that you're just a piece of celery swimming with the rest of the chicken soup. Don't freak out though... there's still hope for even the tiniest, most simple of hot dog stands. First, let's talk about your logo (since I'm a design freak). A good logo captures its viewer for at least 15 seconds. "WHOA! Check out the negative space on that hot dog bun! It's in the shape of a 'J' ". Give a little time and consideration about what that image is and what it's saying. Besides your mission statement and a program/service that people want, a really good logo is the basis for any serious branding effort.
Next, your visibility. I could preach about this until I pass out, but really... the best advice... pay attention to where you're at; your geographic location, the functionality of your website, how your employees & co-workers portray your brand-message, local and national trends. All of these things should be top of mind when building your true brand image. Read some magazine articles, subscribe to RSS feeds, get on social networking sites and talk to people who share the same interests. A little bit of effort on a consistent basis can go a long way when portraying the usefulness of your company.
Finally... and probably most important... customer service. If you've got a good base of clients, make sure they don't even CONSIDER using any other product or service. They should be so happy and pleased with your work that not only do they perpetuate your existing business, they preach your name to even strip club bathroom attendants. Keeping your customers happy with that free hot dog or that can of Mr. Pibb is going to separate you from the heartless conglomerates that send the membership to "Jelly of the Month Club" as an appreciation of your patronage. We're all in the struggle together... but everyone likes to get presents.
Oh crap... the boss is coming... gotta get back to work.