Branding — a hot business buzzword in the '90s — has come front and center again. As the economy emerges from the ...
Branding — a hot business buzzword in the '90s — has come front and center again. As the economy emerges from the recession, now is the time to look at your branding and to try to get noticed and gain market share. Every business can benefit from branding, right down to the independent contractor working alone. Buyers — either business or consumer — have shorter and shorter attention spans. To stay relevant, entrepreneurs must constantly recharge existing brands and devise new ones. Remember, branding and marketing go together.
To create a solid brand, you will need to:
A brand represents your company’s “personality,” and as such you should have a general idea of what its attributes will be even before you start up. This is the foundation of any brand strategy. The goal is to make your brand relevant and generate awareness. Review your business plan and extract the elements of your product or service that distinguish you from your competition. Check out Interbrand’s Brandchannel.com, an online exchange that offers free tools and information on a wide variety of branding issues, including how to create a brand and develop brand awareness.
Create your image.
Your logo and color palette are the visual components of your branding and will appear on all your promotional material. A logo should quickly and efficiently communicate what your business is about. Keep it simple and align it with your brand’s attributes. LogoWorks specializes in creating custom logos for small businesses at an affordable price. Base your brand on your customers' needs. Don't know what those are? Ask your customers.
Get the word out.
Use online and offline channels to get the word out about your brand. Tried and tested methods include the use of promotional items. Branders.com has an extensive catalog of promotional items to help brand your business. Pass along items to customers or hand them out at community events or seminars. Online, you should consider using Twitter, Facebook and blogs to reinforce your brand’s values and attributes. Take a look at Zappos.com, which has earned a lot of praise for its use of the Internet to develop and publicize its brand.
As you can probably tell, building a brand means managing multiple endeavors simultaneously. That underscores the importance of staying consistent. Whether you’re dealing with the use of your logo on brochures or how your sales staff pitches your product or service, make sure your brand’s message stays in synch. Create a summary statement or “elevator pitch” of your brand: a 30-second synopsis of what it stands for. Make sure your entire staff is aware of it.
Tips and Warnings
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. Don’t just stress quality and service. Everybody does that. Really figure out what is unique about your product and what sets you apart. Avoid trying to be overly "cool" or in-the-moment. That’s too hard to sustain. The brand must be relevant, but long term. The secret to successful brands is not only creating them, but also managing them well.