Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Branding: Identify and Differentiate Your Small Business

Brands aren't just for large companies—they can make small businesses stand out from the crowd. Understand the components of your brand and how to use them effectively in your marketing and communications.

According to marketing guru Seth Godin, “A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one service over another.“

Effective branding will clearly deliver your message, confirm your credibility, connect to your target market and motivate your buyer.
What makes up a brand?

A brand is made up of a logo, name, message and positioning.  A brand is often called a business’ “identity”, but branding is really the personification of the core business  and its values, not only what it looks like. When customers connect with you it’s because they share the same values and beliefs that your brand projects.
Successful brands and businesses must be relevant to consumers, unique in relation to the competition and credible. Effective branding leads to higher sales and better differentiation from your competition.    
Tips for Building Your Brand

1.    Define Your Brand
Think about the products or services your business offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and the emotional and rational needs of your potential customers. Your brand character should connect with your target market and differentiate your business. 
2.    Professionally Designed Logo
A robust, professionally designed logo can be the foundation of your brand and the lasting visual depiction of your firm. A good graphic designer can interpret your brand's strategy and create a unique, professional look for your business.  Your brand should emphasize your key differentiators and help you communicate, in a visual image, what sets you apart.
3.    Be Unique
Your brand should be distinct from your competitors, with its own personality and unique characteristics. Consider hiring an experienced graphic designer who can help you create a distinctive, professional look for your business.  
4.    Positioning
Positioning is the conceptual place you want to own in the target customer’s mind. It is one of the most important elements of branding. Try to establish yourself in a specific place within the hearts and minds of your potential customers. Look carefully at the positioning of your competition.
5.    Strong Tag Line and Messaging
The corporate tag line is an often overlooked and under-appreciated part of a brand’s marketing message. A strong tag line should be around three to six words that really highlight the core product or service and benefit your business provides in some way that sticks in a customer's mind.

Common Branding Mistakes

1.     Not Identifying with Your Target Audience
Know your target well and be sure your brand can easily connect with and attract them.

2.     Inconsistency
Managing your brand is vital. Make sure everything is consistent, from the fonts and colors to your messaging. Don’t let your prospects become confused about who you are and what you offer.

Incorporate your brand into your marketing consistently. Make sure that no matter where your business is seen (web site, brochure, ads, emails, product packaging, social media, etc.) your customers and prospect experiences the same, high-quality branding. Establishing a constant, recognizable brand for your business is crucial to capturing and keeping clients. 

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