It has happened to me more than once: someone hands me their plain white business card, with blocks of text confusingly jammed in all four corners. Perhaps, because they know what I do, they feel the need to add this disclaimer, “It’s just a plain business card. I haven’t branded it yet.”
But they have. They just don’t realize it.
Branding is not your business, yet it is part of all your business. It is like an ever-present adjective: always describing your business without actually being it. Every type of interaction with your customer is branding. Every graphic, every piece of printed material, the sign, the landscaping, the interior decor, even phone conversations (and god forbid automated directories) reflect the company’s brand.
These don’t sometimes make an impression on your customer; they always make an impression on your customer. It may be mild or unmotivated, but it is still defining of you.
That plain white business card is branding. The blandness, the lack of effort, that is the brand. That is what it communicates to people. No disclaimers can change that. And the more you invest in those business cards, the more you print, the more you put in people’s hands, that is brand equity. Don’t invest equity in bad branding.
The good news is, a lot of competitors do it badly also. If you take the time to ensure you have a strong and consistent brand (in addition to great products and service) you will put yourself in a smaller, more elite league of competitors.