"I want my small business's brand to be as prominent, recognizable, and simple as Nike's logo."

Creating a brand with the appeal and instant familiarity of a major brand like Nike is often at the top of the list for every small business I work with. But it's more of a challenge than many entrepreneurs anticipate when starting their branding project.

Large companies like Nike have a major advantage over small businesses when it comes to getting the word out about their brands. That advantage is Brand Education, and it makes how small businesses create and extend their brands a completely different ball game from the way larger businesses typically approach brand growth.

What is Brand Education?

Imagine, for a moment, that you've never heard of Nike (I know—it's difficult, but just pretend). You don't know anything about the company or its products. You've never heard "Just do it". Next, pretend that you've run across the "swoosh" logo in an ad or on a website. Would you have any idea that it's affiliated with Nike or that the company makes shoes and sporting goods? Or what it's supposed to mean?

The fact that you know the swoosh logo on sight, that it's affiliated with Nike, and that the company is involved with sports are all factors influenced by Nike's giant brand education initiatives. Nike spends millions each year on advertising, which is a route that small businesses can't afford to take—at least not on a monumental scale.

Nike also launches many different advertising and brand campaigns, so that it can cast a wide net, attracting as many people who may be interested in its vast array of products as possible. But a small business may only have the resources and energy to create a single marketing campaign. Many small businesses make the mistake of trying to cast a wide net, when it would be much more effective to create a specific campaign message and to focus on one target audience.