Branding — a hot business buzzword in the '90s — has come front and center again. Small businesses are rediscovering that branding is a surefire way to make or break a product or service, and the company that produces it. Every business can benefit from branding, right down to the independent contractor working alone. It's becoming increasingly vital to keep up. Buyers — either business or consumer — have shorter and shorter attention spans. Entrepreneurs must constantly recharge existing brands and devise new ones. Branding and marketing go together. Says branding guru Laura Ries, of the marketing firm Ries & Ries, "If you can build a powerful brand you will have a powerful marketing program. If you can't, then all the advertising, fancy packaging, sales promotions and PR in the world won't help you succeed." Three keys to power-branding:
- Effective branding combines Web and off-line elements. It is much more than a customer's reaction to your name or logo. It's the customer's total experience with you, your product or service.
- Think what you sell can't be branded? Think again. Almost anything can be branded, including you, personally.
- The Web is the only interactive mass medium, so take advantage of it. Use interactive features whenever possible. The future belongs to the up-and-coming businesses that do the best job of building their brands on the Internet.
Discover your own brandDive into a world of branding advice and information on the Web.
Brands and Branding. Brandchannel.com from Interbrand, calls itself the world's only online exchange about branding. It has grown to become a valuable resource to a growing base of subscribers and other readers.
Sign on with a brand development companyIf you have the budget for it, brand consultants can help establish your brand and make it stand out above the crowd.
Gain insight into the world of brandsThe Brand Show, on radio and the Web, offers insight into the world of brands. Through bits and pieces of branding wisdom and a complete lack of preparation, the show dives head first into exploring the brands people love, hate and love to hate.
Check out the future of business branding - and the pastThe "rules" on branding are always changing.
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Get a business logo you can brandOne of the key pieces of your brand might be your business, product or service logo.
- The best brands tend to tap emotions and appeal to a person's natural need for involvement.
- Strive for simplicity. Too much information confuses your brand message.
- Be original in identifying your brand identity - the thing that sets you apart. Hint: Not quality or service. Everybody does that!
- Be consistent with your brand's look, feel and message whenever and wherever they appear.
- Avoid trying to be overly "cool" or in-the-moment. Too hard to sustain. The brand must be relevant, but long term.
- Base your brand on your customers' needs. Don't know them? Ask your customers.