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Let go of assumptions and reset your branding mindset

Many small businesses make the mistake of keeping everyone happy. You can't so stop trying.

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13, 2021

4 min read

The opinions of entrepreneurs' contributors are their own.

The following is an excerpt from Sean and Thora Dowdell's brand renegages: Our Fearless Path from Startup to Global Brand, published May 25th on Entrepreneur Press. Order it now on Amazon | before Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookstore. Learn more about Sean and Thora at

Small business owners make some common misconceptions about branding, including:

Small businesses have no brand awareness. My business is too small to be a brand. There are so many competitors in our industry that striving for individuality is pointless. Having the lowest price is the only thing that matters to my customers.

Do you recognize any of these assumptions in your own mindset? If so, your thought process may be a little misguided. It took us several years to realize these limiting ways of thinking. We didn't realize that as a national brand we could really stand out from other tattoo companies.

Related: To build a strong brand, start from the inside and move outward

We started small but eventually realized that we could become a recognizable brand that people looked for based on their relationship with us, not just because we were the closest or cheapest. We knew we had created something different in our industry when we realized that most of our customers were women.

When we opened Club Tattoo, we made a conscious decision to distance ourselves from the stereotypical image of tattoo and piercing salons as dark, grubby and dirty. We didn't hang old, dingy and outdated art on the walls like most of our competitors at the time. We created a brightly lit interior with a spacious lobby and wrote the art designs in neat books that were nicely laid out on our lobby tables.

We were more of an upscale “studio” than a “salon” and our clients could see that we were different from the moment they walked in the door. Do you think your company could benefit from branding itself differently? Before you figure out what your brand is, ask yourself what do you want from your brand. You should know the answers to the following questions so that you can create a solid strategy that will help you get the result you want.

What is your goal? Ideally, you want all of these things, but what's your priority? Pick one, start with a goal, and develop a strategy to achieve it. Do you want to:

Earn more money, stand out from your competitors, be more consistent, be more effective, be better appreciated by your customers, make a difference in the world?

Related: Treat Your Brand Like A Relationship: 8 Ways To Revive The Romance

Many small businesses make the mistake of keeping everyone happy. You can't so stop trying. We had to come to this realization pretty early on when some customers came in expecting us to compare the price with our competitors on the street. When we refused, we had angry customers on our hands. Nobody wants that, but we had to choose who our customers would be.

We went for an upscale experience and made it clear to our customers that we won't be the cheapest choice on the market. But we knew who our target audience was, and we had a pretty good idea of ​​how we should stand in front of them. In the end, we helped our entire industry change the way they do business.

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