Branding Your Business: The Importance of Being a Purple Cow

This is a Guest blog article submission by Stacy Bergdahl, President, Berglon Marketing

Branding Your Business: The Importance of Being a Purple Cow

It’s not an accident that some brands catch on and some don’t.  In technical terms, the American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”  While this is true, there is more to branding if you want to stand out from your competition and increase your profitability.

There are three main elements of a successful brand:

  1. A clear and consistent look, feel and message across all marketing channels that accurately reflects your brand and is specifically designed to attract your target market.  This includes things like your products, services, logo, tagline and mission statement.
  2. Conveys your unique selling position (USP), the true essence of your business to your current and potential clients.
  3. Delivers a real life experience that accurately reflects your brand message.  It must be valuable and satisfying for your customer who now expects your brand.  Give it to them and then some.

You might be asking yourself, how can I do this? While there are many angles, here is a concept I find to be important when you are considering how to effectively brand your business.

Be Remarkable in Your Marketing Mix
In today’s saturated marketplace, unsuccessful entrepreneurs attempt to market to everyone and end up blending in. On the other hand, successful business owners realize it is not possible to be all things to all people.  Instead, they distinguish themselves by communicating a remarkable brand message to their target market.

In order to be remarkable, it is important to develop a strategic business plan that includes marketing efforts that support your company’s brand niche.  Traditionally, this marketing mix includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Promotion and Place.  But marketing guru Seth Godin adds a 5th factor to this set.  You might have heard of it.  It’s called the Purple Cow.

Every day, consumers are faced with a lot of boring stuff (otherwise known as brown cows) but you can bet they won’t forget one that’s purple.  This “Purple Cow” concept is inherent to a brand: it’s either there or it’s not.  You can be remarkable or be boring.  From a business branding perspective, this means you must be something fantastic, something exciting all the while fulfilling a need for your current and potential clients.  As a result, your brand will become worth talking about and increase the probability of your success.

Case Study: Starbucks
Take Starbucks for example.  They took the every day act of buying a cup of coffee and turned it into a five-sensory experience that is now a phenomenon. Starbucks management looked upon each store as a billboard for the company and as a contributor to building the company’s brand and image.  Each detail was scrutinized to enhance the mood and ambience of the store, to make sure everything was “best in class” and that it reflected the personality of the community and the neighborhood.  Starbucks went to great lengths to make sure the store fixtures, the merchandise displays, the colors, the artwork, the banners, the music, and the aromas all blended to create a consistent, inviting, stimulating environment that evoked the romance of coffee, that signaled the company’s passion for coffee, and that rewarded customers with ceremony, stories and surprise. Now, whenever we think coffee we think Starbucks.  And we happily pay five times as much to have this remarkable experience.

There is no denying that strategic branding takes a lot of work and effort.  Do you think companies like Apple, Nike, Volkswagen or Starbucks are enjoying great brand success because they took the quick and easy route?  No way.  But even if you are a small business, think about what your brand means to you and how you can be a Purple Cow in your marketplace.  There is more business out there for you.  Your target market just needs to hear your brand message exactly the way you intend convey it.

Action Exercise: Branding Consistency Checklist
Whether you have an existing brand or are looking to create a new one, use the checklist below to make sure you have consistency across applicable marketing channels.

About the author: Stacy Bergdahl, President of Berglon Marketing Agency, is passionate about all things mind, body and spirit.  After 7 years of sales and marketing experience in the corporate world, now she is focused on providing results-oriented marketing solutions that are on time, on target and on budget for small businesses around the globe.

Twitter: @TheZenGirl

Bio: Stacy has ten years of experience in sales, marketing, public relations and advertising across the hospitality and special event industries in California and around the world. She fulfilled a personal dream in 2008 and traveled the world for 18 months.  With a deep understanding and passion for marketing, she is now focusing her efforts on small business branding. For more information about Stacy, her resume, recommendations and interests, please visit her on LinkedIn.


President of i-FFICIENCY Director Business Development and New Media, Writer at Early Adopter, Remote Efficiency Jedi Twitter @ifficiency

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19 Responses to “Branding Your Business: The Importance of Being a Purple Cow”

  1. Alicia says:

    Stacy – this is great insight into branding consistency. The purple cow factor is something a lot of would-be great brands are missing today. Thanks for the checklist!

  2. Dear Alicia, I’m so glad you found the information useful. The potential is amazing if we take calculated risks in order to be remarkable. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Best, Stacy

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