If you look successful, the public will assume you will be successful and often support you. If you look amateurish, the public will assume you will fail and HELP you.

There is great power and truth in this quote. Have you ever walked into a new business and immediately concluded that they were destined for premature failure? I certainly have and I have always been right! The interesting thing is that this conclusion may have nothing to do with the quality of the product or service that they offer. But rather it is the IMAGE…or lack thereof…that they portray!

Recently, in the town in which I live, popped up a restaurant that we decided to try. They bought an old and deserted fast-food restaurant building and simply painted it a basic color scheme…brown. Their outdoor signage was hand painted on bed sheets and stretched between two stakes (this was put up after our visit). Upon walking into the building, they utilized the former restaurant’s old furniture. Furthermore, they simply stripped off the former branding from the walls and left it plain. They had no branding of their own and it felt like I was in a glorified garage. That was not their theme, but rather their lack thereof! The food was dipped out of crock-pots that they apparently brought from home. Their menu was really rough and was hand written. The whole operation screamed AMATEUR! Needless to say, the business lasted about 6 months.

On the other hand, in the other hand, in the same town, there was a new coffee shop. Everything about this place screamed National Franchise. The coffee cups had his Trademark on it. The high-end Latte’s had the expected designs crafted into the foam. He had ordered custom wallpaper that skillfully and artfully portrayed his Trademark. The equipment that he used was brand new and was top-of -the-line. This guy intended on lasting a LONG time

After ordering and trying out the best coffee I ever tasted, I created an opportunity to meet the owner. He was a retired GE former VP that understood branding. I asked if this was a franchise. He told me it was the only one of its kind, but it could be some day.

What a difference!

I have discussed the behavior of the first restaurant with similar other small business owners and their reasoning is very consistent. They do not want to invest too much money into branding in case they don’t make it. The problem is that this way of thinking is a self fulfilling prophecy. Because they fail to create a brand that makes them look successful, patrons perceive that they will fail, and they, along with others, WILL refuse to do business with them. And the prophecy is fulfilled.

However, if that business owner invested a small amount of time, effort and money into looking like they are already successful, those same patrons would be much more inclined to continue using their products or services. By refusing to implement some basic branding techniques, you might as well take out an ad and ask the public to stay away!

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