Small Business. Super-sized Brand (Part 1)


So what is vision?

It’s the thing that initially filled you with inspiration to start your business.

It’s the big goal. It is how you can do what you’re good at, do what you love, and do it for the betterment of other people. It is unique and altruistic.

It’s also mental picture of how, IDEALLY, you want your business to look and feel like at some point in the future.

Why have one?

Because, strong vision makes a strong business.

That doesn’t mean that it’s all about size – it can be any size.

Having said that global corporations often begin with one person with a strong vision.

And as an example: in the 1950s there was a high school mathematics teacher called Kumon Toru who had a son who was failing maths. So he made some special worksheets for him and broke down all the math concepts into very simple and gradual components. Within about two years his son Takeshi had gone from being hopeless to this phenomenal mathematician, studying years above his school year curriculum. And so did his daughter.

And Toru thought, hang on, I could unlock this vast potential in literally millions of struggling kids. And he did. And today all over the world there’ll be 3 million students using the Kumon Method.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are another example. “Big Blue” (IBM) controlled the computer world. They built a company that was to become its antithesis. The famous Super-Bowl ad that played on George Orwell’s ‘1984’ worked a trick. They tapped into a  collective unconscious and built a brand on rebellion, counter-culture. And instead of a name like ‘American National Software Corporation Technology Systems’, they called it Apple.

So, my question to you is,

In three years how will your business look and feel?
Write some notes. Really think about it.

And my instruction is: be idealistic.

Target Market 

That brings us to our Target Market. These are the people who will make it happen. This is the engine of our car that is going to drive us to our Vision.

And it’s interesting because 9 times out of 10 when I ask someone who their target market is, the answer I invariably receive is:

Everyone. Anyone can benefit from seeing a psychologist, anyone can benefit from having a massage, anyone can enjoy my photography.

And of course they are right. Anyone probably can benefit.

Ideally, what we want to do is be really specific.

And that raises the question: “Why would I narrow it down and potentially cut off some clients?”

So who is your target?

Who uses our product or service now?

Who are the most profitable? What do they have in common?
If my business solves some kind of problem, who does it solve the problem for?

Last but not least,

Who do I want? Who are the most satisfying clients?

Jot down, who your target market is.

If your target market were one person, who are they?

You are writing them as a character in a short story.

As a character-building exercise, tell me all about them.

  • Male / female
  • How old
  • Life frustrations?
  • Hopes and dreams?
  • Their significant challenge?
  • Their beliefs?
  • Values?
  • What causes their insomnia?
  • How do they feed their bodies and minds?
  • What media do they consumer?
  • What is their average day?
  • Where do they find spirit (church, art, music, family, gardening?)


As human beings in life, at a sub-conscious level, we teach people how to treat us.

Positioning is similar.

It’s like NLP – neuro-linguistic programming- but instead of creating neural pathways in our own minds, our business creates pathways in the minds of our target market.

So positioning is “What we decide that people should think about us.”

We don’t need a place on TV or in newspaper, we just need a place in the mind of our target market.

For example, take cars:

If you are buying a car, what’s more important to you:


What other people think of me?

Convenient for the city, but has to be ‘edgy’?

I am successful and discerning, but the kid inside me wants attention as well.

Each of these companies, through repeating their message over and over again, have created a position in the mind of the consumer.

How can you do it?

In the mind of your customer, when they think of your business what word do you want them to think?

Let’s jot that down.

Logo Design

Designing your logo is your opportunity to use the power of symbols to communicate your vision and your positioning.

The designer’s job, or your job if you do it yourself, is to take the essence of your Vision and what is unique about you, and distil it into it’s purest and simplest form.

People absorb a logo in these steps:

First the SHAPE. The shape should be simple. If you’ve ever taken a yellow pages ad, or put an ad in a school newsletter or in the paper, you often get smearing, so it should reproduce well the size of a 5 cent piece.

Then the COLOUR – colour is very important. 60% of people’s decision to use a new product or service is based on its colour. If you use a multicoloured logo – keep in mind that a offset printer needs to make a separate plate for each colour so it’ll cost more than a one or two colour logo.

Then any positioning word or text.

Read Part 2