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What’s your identity? 11 tips to brand your business

By Felicia Wright                

When you see the names Nike, Apple Computer, Publix, and Target, you get an instant image. But, that image didn’tbranding come about overnight. The name recognition of these companies is the result of a lengthy process of trial-and-error, as well as countless hours of strategic marketing efforts to develop them into a brand name.

Branding is not a process limited to only big companies. Small businesses can—and should—brand, also. As you consider developing a brand for your business, remember that a brand image is a created perception, consisting of all the information and expectations associated with a product or service. It is not just a company logo. It is the essence of your company’s image. A brand sets the tone for the type of clients your company wants to attract.

So, what perception or expectation do your clients have when they think of your company? Often, business owners think they are creating a great brand; but unfortunately, the way they see their company or product isn’t necessarily how others see it. It’s important, as a starting place, to focus on the value of what you offer—as appreciated by your customers. Know that value and nurture it. Over time, the brand you create will not only be recognized, but trusted.

Here are 11 tips to help you create a reputable and memorable brand:

1. Think ‘unique.’ Your company name should be unique—“the one and only.” Finding the right name is the first step in distinguishing your company from a competitor.

2. Keep it simple. Just because the name is unique, doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated. If it takes someone more than a few seconds to understand what you do, you may need to find a better way to communicate your message. Simple is always better.

3. Trademark. Now that you have a unique name, get it trademarked. Don’t let another company profit off of your hard work and creativity. Make sure your company’s brand is protected.

4. Choose colors carefully. Most companies don’t consider colors to be a big deal. However, colors project an image and are associated with various emotions. Be careful when selecting a color to represent your company. For example, a janitorial company wanted to use the color brown in its logo, because it was the owner’s favorite color. Do you think of “clean” when you see the color brown? When that was pointed out to the owner, he changed his mind.

The choice of color becomes even more important if you do business internationally or work with an international company, because colors take on different meanings in different cultures. Research the colors you use for marketing to make sure you will not offend clients because of a poor choice. 

5. Select an appropriate font. The fonts—a style of typeface—you choose for printed material and your logo also influence the image your company projects, so take care in selecting them. The first rule in choosing a font is legibility. Make sure the fonts are legible, whether they are used on your business cards or on a billboard. And choose a font that mirrors your company’s brand. For example, if you own a daycare center, you should choose a fun, playful font, and if you own a legal firm, you should choose one that is more formal.

6. Be consistent. Once you have selected your company’s name and logo, have a professional designer develop and create your marketing materials, including business stationery, cards, Web site, brochures, and any other medium. Consistently using the same image elements, fonts, and colors throughout your marketing executes repetition and promotes familiarity with your company’s brand.

(Note: Your printed marketing collateral should be complemented by quality printing. Choose a good printer.)

7. Communicate your message. Clear communication is essential to any business environment. Whether you are communicating with your employees, clients, or vendors, be open and honest. After all, these are strategic alliances and they will affect the way your company’s brand is perceived.

8. Provide good customer service. People buy brands they trust and rely on. Providing great customer service—especially if you have to correct a mistake— gives credibility to your company’s message and goals, while solidifying the value of your brand.

9. Think ‘investment.’ Think of creating your company’s brand as an investment and not an expense. If you are not investing in your company, why should your clients?

10. Consider quality. As you select a designer and printer for your branding materials, don’t choose on price alone. Consider the quality of work the individuals produce. You want your customers to choose you because of quality; likewise, make your selections on the same basis. 

11. Carry your brand with you. A small business’ brand is not confined to its marketing materials. You and your employees are walking brand images. Present yourself and your company in a professional manner. Always dress professionally when you attend meetings and networking events. You would be surprised at how many people underestimate the importance of this issue. Whether you are the CEO or a company representative, having a professional appearance always adds credibility to your company’s brand.

Felicia Wright is CEO and president of Mygani Design Studio, www.mygani.com, a certified minority, woman-owned brand consulting firm that provides creative marketing services to businesses. She can be reached at 904-860-8440 or fwright@mygani.com.


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