Branding micro-enterprises - high quality business activities

While brand building and brand maintenance inherently starts from within the micro-enterprise and its own corporate identity, brand management is often concretized through the entrepreneur's own personality and actions towards customers and other stakeholders.
Coca Cola -mainos katukuvassa

Brand and branding? We all probably have our own idea of what these are all about. Perhaps the first thing we most often associate with the concept of brand is big international companies like Coca-Cola, Google or McDonald's. On the other hand, the idea of a brand is also easily confused with the concepts of a company's reputation, image and logo.

A corporate brand is a positive image built around a business, the essence of a company, which distinguishes it from others. At the same time, it is all about what a company does and how it does it, a holistic approach. Wikipedia knows that the value of a brand is based on name and logo recognition, customer brand loyalty, a sense of quality provided by the brand and the images associated with the brand.

Public actors are also branding

A brand is also an image of the content and identity of a product or service that adds value to a company. In the strongest brands, customers perceive the use of the brand as reinforcing their own identity or status, and are particularly willing to pay for the added value it creates. Branding and brand management can be associated not only with a company but also with a public actor or an individual, for example. Seppo Raunisto, a "brand doctor" who has studied place brands, sees the municipality's brand as its most important resource and asset. There have also been attempts in this direction at state level, when the Finnish country brand working group, led by Jorma Ollila, repositioned the image of Finland.

The strength of a small business

However, branding is not the exclusive domain of the marketing department of large organizations, as in the same way a micro-enterprise benefits by creating a positive image of its activities. In particular, micro-enterprise branding is about building and maintaining relationships, decision-making and all the activities that micro-entrepreneurs carry out in their own networks on a daily basis. A micro-enterprise is agile in building a coherent image, targeting the desired message at a personal level to key audiences and responding quickly to feedback. It can respond creatively to customer needs, when needed, with a personalized and tailored service. A micro-enterprise can also use its strengths related to its small size for branding.

A genuine story drives the purchase decision

The story of the company should not be forgotten in branding, because it is always special, authentic and unique. While building and maintaining a brand starts naturally from within a micro-enterprise and from its own corporate identity, brand management is often concretized through the entrepreneur's own personality and actions towards customers and other stakeholders. A positive image, created through consistent and everyday actions, and a targeted brand-supporting message, based on limited resources, creates a story. This story positions the micro-enterprise in the desired positive light and fulfils one important function of the brand: to help the customer, when faced with a choice, to make a purchasing decision.

Martti Saarela, Ph.D., M.Sc., E.Sc., Development Manager; Programme Director, Microentrepreneurship Centre MicroEntre, University of Oulu Kerttu Saalasti Institute, Finland.

Sandbacka, J. 2010. Brändätään pikkaisen: pk-yrityksen brändikirja
Rainisto, S. 2013. Paikan brändäys ja markkinointi alueen menestystekijänä

This article was first published in the University of Oulu MicroENTRE® blog 12/2017.