The branding success of companies like Mozilla, Pom Wonderful, Craigslist, and others show that you don't have to be big for your brand to be big. By building a dedicated group of users or customers, small companies can create formidable brand power.

How do they do it? When it comes to brand building, many of the same rules apply across industries. Chief among them is a continual dialogue with customers. "We're an online bulletin board or classifieds site, but largely speaking, what you see is a summation of what users have asked for over the years," says Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, which boasts about 5 billion page views per month.

The other key to building a popular brand is having a product or service that defines its category. McIlhenny's Tabasco Sauce is a prime example. In 1868, when it launched the product, hot sauce wasn't a brand category - Tabasco created it. Now it's a booming business with more than 300 manufacturers. "What makes these companies great is that there's a business there first, before there's a brand," says Martyn Tipping, president of brand consultancy Tipping Sprung, based in New York.

History shows that a great idea never made it without good management and skilled handling. "There are lots of good ideas that are poorly executed. It's more than a good idea; it's the execution of the brand you represent," says Scott Griffith, president and CEO of car-sharing service Zipcar.

Get the full story at BusinessWeek