I’m not sure when it happened.
Somewhere along the line, someone told aspiring entrepreneurs that ‘professional’ and ‘corporate’ looked the same. I’m not sure who this person is, but his legacy is sabotaging new entrepreneurs’ branding everywhere I look.
I’d love to have a coffee with this person, and invite them to try something new on. By blowing this misguided perception out of the water, I know I could save entrepreneurs years of struggle, and stop them from sacrificing authenticity for expectation.
In small business branding, unlike the corporate world, you will be more memorable and more successful when you go against the grain and throw the standards of “how you need to look in business” out the window.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to have a fluorescent pink & yellow business card and that you should show up to meetings in Hawaiian shirts.
Hmmm. But, even now, as I re-read that last paragraph, I realize that there are really no rules for branding ‘professionalism’. None at all.
That offbeat Hawaiian shirt look? Completely appropriate for some brands.
(If you are selling sight-seeing vacation packages, for example, that geeky-tourist look just might work for you. Throw in a pair of binoculars and brand yourself as the local pre-vacation guide, and you’ve got yourself a quirky, memorable image that people will not soon forget.)
The point is, there are no rules except this: it needs to communicate what you do, and how you do it, authentically.