First of all, a quick answer to "what the heck is a Brand Definition"?

A Brand Definition is made up of four elements. These four elements map directly to the needs and concerns in your client's mind:

Who You Are: Is your company a good fit for their style and personality?
What You Do: Do they want and need what you do?
What Makes You Different: Should they work with you instead of someone else? Are you really good enough for them to give you their big pile of hard-earned money?
Who You Can Best Help: Does what you say make them feel comfortable to actually hand over a pile of money? Does what you're selling actually work for their specific business and situation?

Why should a small business go through the preliminary branding work of creating a brand definition?

Isn't all that branding and positioning stuff for big companies like Coke and Nike?

This is a big question. And one that would take a while to write up in one shot, so I'll answer it over several posts. I'll number the thoughts/ answers to try to help keep track of them.

1. Creating a Brand Definition up front in your business creates a solid foundation for not only your brand designs, but all of your business, marketing and client communication efforts.

In other words, once you know who you are in your business, then you can stick to it – and be consistent with one message, voice, look and communication style throughout all of your materials. And, you can create all of your materials from this single perspective – which leads to a stronger brand, less client confusion, and usually, more trust overall from your clients.

A lot of small business owners present an inconsistent brand/ message/ persona to their prospects and clients either because they're still trying to figure out who they are in their businesses, or because they think that they're tailoring their business description to the person who they've just met.

So they morph from persona to persona, depending on who they think the prospective client is, or what networking event they're at. Instead of appealing to more clients, this can confuse them – imagine that you're talking to a business owner at a Chamber event, and they describe their business one way, and then the next week you see them at another mixer and they say something different – wouldn't that be disarming?

I know when I see this in action, I wonder if I'm losing it a bit. Next, I wonder if the person I'm talking to really knows what they're talking about.

Instead, define your business clearly, at the beginning of your business, and stick to the definition as closely as possible. You'll create a better overall impression with the people you meet.