Branding Your Business

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ding Your Business

By: Elena Fawkner

If you think only big corporate names need to think about things like brand names, think again. Your brand says a lot about you and your business, and that's as true for a one person home-based operation as it is for a multinational conglomerate. In this article we look at how creating a strong brand for your business can help you set yourself apart from the pack and lay the right foundation for the future growth of your business.

WHAT IS A BRAND?

Your brand is more than just the logo on your letterhead and business cards or your business name. It is your corporate identity. An effective brand tells the world who you are, what you do and how you do it, while at the same time establishing your relevance to and credibility with your prospective customers.

Your brand is also something more ethereal. It is how your business is perceived by its customers. If your brand has a high perceived value, you enjoy many advantages over your competition, especially when it comes to pricing. Why do you think people are prepared to pay stupid money for items of clothing with the initials "CK" on them? Perceived value. Perceived value as a result of very effective brand promotion resulting in very high brand awareness.

Now, I'm not saying we all need to rush out and start creating brands that are going to be recognized the world over. Most of us simply don't have the time or other resources necessary. What I am suggesting, however, is that it is possible for your brand to dominate your niche.

WHY DO I NEED TO CREATE MY OWN BRAND?

= Differentiation

We touched on this in the previous section when we looked at what a brand is and how it can be used to increase the perceived value of your products and services. The main reason for creating your own brand is to differentiate yourself from your competition. New websites are a dime a dozen. So are home-based businesses. You need to constantly be looking for ways to set yourself apart from your competition. Your brand can do that for you.

= More Effective, Efficient Marketing

Another good reason for creating your own brand is to make your sales force (even if that's a sales force of one - you) more effective and efficient.

Imagine if you didn't have to spend the first 50% of your time with a new prospect explaining who you are, what you do and how you do it. What if your brand had already communicated that for you? You can spend 100% of your time focusing on sales rather than educating your prospects about your business

Another benefit of branding is that the efforts you expend increasing your brand awareness through promoting and marketing your brand to your target market automatically transfers to your products and services. So, even when you're advertising your brand, you're indirectly also marketing your products and services.

HOW DO I CREATE MY OWN BRAND?

OK, so you're convinced you need to create your own brand. Where on earth do you start?

We saw earlier that your brand needs to say who you are, what you do and how you do it. It needs to do all these things at the same time as establishing your relevance to and building credibilty with your prospective customers. Needless to say, it is absolutely essential, if you are to build your own brand, that *you yourself* have a firm grasp of who you are, what you do and how you do it. If not, you're going to have the devil's own time getting that message across to anyone else, let alone establishing your relevance and credibility.

= Write A Mission Statement

So, let's start by creating a mission statement. What is the mission of your business? Obviously you're in business to make a profit. But making a profit is a byproduct of a successful business. Focus instead on how you choose to achieve that profit. What are your core values?

A good place to begin thinking about your mission is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Put yourself in their target market. Let's say your business is web hosting. If you're in the market for a web host, what things are important to you? Different people will be looking for different benefits but you can bet that they want their website to be accessible to site visitors so reliability will be high on their list. Price is also likely to be high on the list as is 24/7 technical support. What about add-on features such as unlimited email aliases, cgi support and what-not? These things will be highly important to some and less important to others. So focus on the benefits that are likely to be highly relevant to the majority of your target market. Let's settle for our purposes on reliability, price and technical support.

Your mission statement might read something like this: "I strive to earn a fair return on my investment of time and money by providing affordable webhosting with guaranteed 99% uptime and 24/7 telephone technical support". That's a pretty general statement and if you decide to focus on a particular niche of the webhosting market, such as small business, you may want to more narrowly focus on that group in your mission statement.Now that you've written your mission statement, you can begin thinking about creating a brand that reinforces and supports your mission. So, getting back to the fundamental questions of who you are, what you do and how you do it, you can now begin to think of your business in these terms. You're a webhosting provider, you host websites of small businesses and you do that by offering cost-effective webhosting solutions, guaranteed 99% uptime and 24/7 telephone technical support.

When you create your brand, you need to keep the who, what and how firmly in mind but also use the brand to establish your relevance to your target market and build credibility with that market.

Let's turn now to the nuts and bolts of creating your brand.

= Describe What You Are Branding

List out your business's key features and characteristics, your competitive advantages and anything else that sets you apart from your competition.

Using our webhosting example, you'll focus primarily on the objectives from your mission statement namely, reliable, cost-effective webhosting solutions supported by 24/7 technical support.

= Identify and Describe Your Target Market

Decide whether you want to target lthe entire webhosting community or only a segment of it such as small business websites. Describe your market.

= List Names that Suggest the Key Elements from Your Mission Statement

The key elements from your mission statement were reliability, cost-effectiveness and customer service. List names that are suggestive of these elements. Let's use Reliable Webhosting for our example. (I don't claim to be a creative genius.)

Don't limit yourself to real words, though. A coined name with no obvious meaning is a perfectly legitimate name provided it conveys something about your business. You will find coined names easier to trademark and secure domain names for too - a definite plus!

= List Tag Lines that Reinforce Your Mission Statement

We'll use: "Outstanding reliability and technical support at a price your small business can afford". I know, I know. You can do much better, I'm sure.

HOW SHOULD I USE MY BRAND?

= Create a Logo for Your Brand

Your logo is NOT your brand but your logo should allow your brand to be instantly recognized by those familiar with it. To this extent, your logo helps create and reinforce brand awareness.

The logo you create should be able to be used consistently in a variety of different media. It should be suitable for corporate letterhead and business cards, as well as for your website and corporate signage (if any). You do NOT want a confusing mishmash of logos and banners and heaven knows what else. Everything you produce needs to use the same, consistent style of logo so that, over time, your logo becomes synonymous with your brand. Instant recognition is what you're going for here, so don't dilute it by using several different logos for different purposes.

= Consistent Usage of Company Name, Logo and Tag Line

Going back to our webhosting example, putting the brand name and tagline together, the physical manifestation of your brand will be:

RELIABLE WEBHOSTING

Outstanding reliability and technical support at a price

your small business can afford.

To establish brand awareness, this branding needs to be used consistently and frequently in everything your produce, whether that be letters to clients, business cards, brochures, quotations, invoices, advertising, promotion, on your website, on the front door of your principal place of business and on your products. And don't forget to be consistent in your use of color schemes. These can be powerful brand reinforcers.

= Marketing and Promotion of Your Brand

Once you've created your brand, you need to market and promote it, in addition to your products and services. This is how you establish your credibility and relevance to your target market. You can hopefully see why your brand needs to be suggestive of your mission statement. If, at the same time as you're selling your products and services you also push your brand, your brand becomes synonymous with your products and services. And vice versa.

A properly descriptive brand and high brand awareness amongst your target market will allow you to more easily introduce a wider range of products and services when they're developed without having to start by again selling who you are, what you do and how you do it first. Your brand has already presold YOU. Your job then is to sell your products and services.

About The Author

Elena Fawkner is editor of the award-winning A Home-Based Business Online ... practical home business ideas, resources and strategies for the work-from-home entrepreneur. http://www.ahbbo.com

Comments

r-win 10.09.2008. 04:26

Looking for a qualified business certification online that could improve chance to find a job? Hi,

Is there any online service which offer certification for business subjects like business analyst, consulting, strategy, branding, business development, six sigma, etc that is acceptable by multinational company.

Example, in IT area, there are CompTIA, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, etc, certifications.

Regards,
Erwin.

r-win

Admin 10.09.2008. 04:26

try http://www.greenbelt6sigma.com
I have used them and it was an affordable and good experience, I would recommend them.

Admin

enigmatic1.rm 13.10.2008. 18:55

How much profit is expected from small retailer business? As a generic average what level of profit would a trader earn in a year in Hazratganj? I have 1000sq.ft of retail space in Lucknow and would like to maximize its yield. Please suggest brands/businesses that could be taken up from this prime space in Lucknow.

enigmatic1.rm

Admin 13.10.2008. 18:55

If u wan2 buy Designer candles,corporate gifts,chocolates & aroma Oils & Diffusers..cont---PAL

Admin

JL 30.11.2008. 19:01

When evaulating customer service of a store, what types of things should I take into account? Examples are Price, Appeal, Brand, Business of store, friendliness, etc. Please list as many as possible, the most detailed and thought out answer will win!

JL

Admin 30.11.2008. 19:01

If you are solely rating customer service of a store, then you are rating how well the store caters to you. For example:

1. Did the cashier or clerk greet you?
2. Were they helpful? Did they help you find an item, or check a price?
3. Were they friendly? Did they thank you for coming in, tell you to "have a great day" or other similar greeting on your way out of the store or after the transaction was complete?
4. Were they knowledgeable about their products?

Admin

trickynicky79 17.06.2013. 14:59

What options do I have for financing a start-up business that was previously in business for over 16 years? Here is the scoop... I have been working for an auto repair shop for roughly 10 years and for the last five or so I have been the Assistant Manager as well as a Technician. My position consisted of selling of jobs, assisting in repairs and maintenance, and all the daily management procedures. I have been in the industry for over 16 years. The company I was working closed the door due to the owner wanting to retire, so I am very interested in reopening the doors and continuing to provide quality service to our existing as well as new potential customers. However, due to new ownership the bank I spoke to is treating it like a brand new business and therefore telling me they can't help me due to the lack of collateral. Originally they told me the new equipment I would install would be used as collateral. I don't understand why they didn't tell me this from the beginning before I spent all my free time putting together a business plan.

Basically my question is, what are my options to get my business up and running? As for what I can bring to the table, my love and passion for cars along with my extreme care for my customers and my combined years of knowledge between myself and my team. So if there is anybody who can give me some ideas, they would be greatly appreciated. One thing I was debating was trying to work out a deal with the landlord of the property. Any thoughts? If you need details on anything just ask.

Thanks a million to everybody in advance!!

p.s. I do already have my LLC set up with my name if that makes any difference.

trickynicky79

Admin 17.06.2013. 14:59

Go to http://www.score.org/mentors and enter your zip code. On the next screen, you will get information on the nearest SCORE chapter. Call them and arrange for a free meeting with a volunteer SCORE mentor. They will guide you through the process and you can meet with them as many times as you need to.

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide and is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

SCORE has 364 chapters in locations throughout the United States and its territories, with 13,000 volunteers nationwide. Both working and retired executives and business owners donate time and expertise as business mentors.

Admin

silver surfer 02.11.2009. 21:27

Where can I find out about business branding? I am looking for any useful information on branding a business.

silver surfer

Admin 02.11.2009. 21:27

Here is an article on the theories behind banner advertising. It includes information on branding, ad campaigns, online banners and focusing on a targeted audience vs. wide reach: http://www.banner-advertising.info/banner_advertising_theory/


Here's an article I just stumbled upon. Talks about how brands use live content to appear as 'friends' by having flaws just like real human beings.
http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/agency/e3i26911e62ce1ee0f7e1a76831de7c8fbf

Admin

Kevin 05.11.2012. 16:30

What should i major in if I'm interested in starting a business or opening an existing franchise? My plans for the future are most likely going to involve buy an existing franchise like subway for example, what would be a good idea to major in when i go to school? would it be different if i started a brand new business?

Kevin

Admin 05.11.2012. 16:30

I would defiantly major as entrepreneur. That major is exactly for people like you wanting to own / start your own business.

Admin

Kevin 05.11.2012. 16:35

What should i major in if I'm interested in starting a business or opening an existing franchise? What should i major in if I'm interested in starting a business or opening an existing franchise?
My plans for the future are most likely going to involve buy an existing franchise like subway for example, what would be a good idea to major in when i go to school? would it be different if i started a brand new business?

Kevin

Admin 05.11.2012. 16:35

Major in the area that your most passionate about. There are opportunities in every business sector and you shouldn't limit yourself to business studies, law etc. Best way would be for you to start up a small part time business, maybe writing about what you love, publishing guides and ebooks and selling them on. You can then build up a nice email list of clients to market to over time. building relationships and trust is the most important thing to do. Money comes from those. Squidoo is a nice place to start.

Admin

Lia F 03.06.2008. 10:51

Can anyone recommend a very good web design service for a small business? I bought a 'Mr Site' package but I've ultimately found that it doesn't suit my needs, doesn't display properly in Internet Explorer, and is difficult to use. I would rather pay someone to do it for me - but as a brand new business I can't afford to pay much.
Does anyone out there have any ideas or suggestions?
Thank you very much.
Lia
Thank you everyone for your excellent suggestions- all appreciated very much and all very helpful indeed.

Lia F

Admin 03.06.2008. 10:51

There is a new site called Student Gems where students can post their skills on line and then business like yourselves post their needs and you are matched.

These are students so they are still training but quite often they are innovative and more up to date with technology and more importantly they are by far a cheaper option

The important thing is to give clear detailed instructions and what your expectations are..

my company has used a couple of students for both computer and business related activities.
www.studentgems.com(?)

Admin

nec 01.04.2011. 06:49

How do I start a new healthy beverage brand/business? I have a great idea/brand for a new healthy beverage/drink...how do I go about starting it? I really think that it can materialize, considering that there isn't anything similar to it in the market here in the US. How do I find an investor? I would appreciate some helpful and useful advise/tips please...thanks!

nec

Admin 01.04.2011. 06:49

Use this basic checklist to make sure all the important steps are taken before you launch your new venture. This business checklist will make sure that you cross all your t's and dot all your i's before your business launch.

Steps to Starting a Business -
http://www.developer-resource.com/starting-a-business.htm

Other sites you might find helpful are:
SBA - http://www.sba.gov/
SCORE - http://www.score.org
Small Business Resource - http://www.small-business-software.net
Business Link - http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/home

Goodluck!

Admin

Jenny 20.09.2007. 04:00

How to reset the lock combination on a suit case? I recently bought a used suitcase that seems to be branded "Business Mates" and the owner, and I have no idea what the combination is. Is there a way to reset it?

Jenny

Admin 20.09.2007. 04:00

well there is a button inside, if u pull it down & then set any combination & then pull it up again, the new combination will take place

Admin

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