A local tire store sells thousands of name-brand tires, only to have them recalled for faults in the manufacture. A restaurant on the shore of a beautiful lake watches as that lake slowly dries up in a prolonged drought. Bad things happen to good businesses. A brand isn’t an insurance policy, but it can make a difference when the winds of fate blow in your direction. A well-built brand can provide some protection from the effects of negative events.
An inspirational example is Dot’s Place, a small, locally-owned restaurant in Austin. For many years Dot served delicious comfort food to grateful local patrons in ramshackle digs on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately she had not kept up the premium payments on her fire insurance, and when the restaurant burned down in 2004 it looked like Dot was out of business. But, as reported at the time by the Austin Chronicle, “offers of money and other forms of assistance began pouring in even before the embers had cooled, as the hungry lunchtime crowd (usually 500 strong) drove up to find the charred remains.” Customers were devastated by the loss of the restaurant, and put on a benefit barbecue to raise funds and help Dot reopen.
How many business owners create this kind of impression on their customers? Can you think of a for-profit business in your area that you would raise money to support? It was not expensive advertising or a top-tier website that made this possible, it was a great offering that created a strong brand in the minds of her customers.
All of us suffer unexpected challenges. Entrepreneurs are certainly not exempt. But if you care deeply about your customers and express that through your offerings, customers will want to see you succeed, and that good will can help keep your business afloat in difficult times.