How Gardening is a lot like Branding
Tending my garden is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. I could spend an entire day weeding, watering, dead-heading flowers, pruning, harvesting, etc. It is so exciting to see the vegetables and flowers that I’ve been tending to since April are thriving. It’s also highly irritating when I see that some nervy bunnies are munching on my carrots, peppers, and spinach. It was while I was erecting a fence to protect my garden that I realized how much a garden is like a brand. Like a garden, you build a base for your brand. This base includes sound strategy for identity development, who your brand is, its audience, what it stands for, and what it does. Just like when you take the extra time to get the soil (base) prepped and ready for planting, you need to do the same with your brand. Take your time and get it right because this is the structure that everything else grows from. After you have your base ready, it’s time to plant those seeds. But what are seeds for a brand? They are the people you talk to and network with, your printed materials (ads, posters, direct mail pieces, billboards, etc), your website and social media platforms, radio spots, and television commercials. Brand seeds are the many different ways that people and the world learn about your brand. Now, not every garden can have every type of seed and not every gardener can handle all of the seeds planted. That’s when you pick and choose which seeds to plant and when to ask for help with all of the plants. Once the seeds are planted it’s time to water, weed, prune, and wait. The hardest part for me is the waiting; I always want to see results right away. Watering, weeding, and pruning your brand includes going over the things that you’re doing and seeing what’s working and what isn’t. If there is something that isn’t working, it’s time to weed, or in other words, get rid of it. For the pieces that are working, but could use some help, it’s time to inspect, water, and fertilize. Maybe the creative needs to change a bit (wording, colors, imagery, etc.), maybe try a slightly different direct mail list, or any other small changes, like ad placement or time of day for social media posts, could make a big difference. The pieces that took off right away and grew like crazy might need some pruning. Pruning is when you take and trim back plants that have either gotten unruly or have already bloomed (like a rose) and need to be cut back for the new growth to start. Keeping your brand in tiptop shape can be hard work. There will be things you try that don’t turn out like you wanted or expected. That’s the nature of it. Every brand is different and how will you know if it won’t work if you don’t try. But if you work hard at tending your brand, it will grow, word will spread, customer numbers will increase, and so will your profits. Just like gardening, in the end you will reap a bountiful harvest.