Keys to Successful Business Branding

Creating your company's brand is one of the most important things that you'll do as a small business owner. Most people understand the importance of clearly representing their products or services in order to build a relationship with potential customers.

However, having a strong brand is also crucial in raising capital. Banks and investors are looking to fund companies that are professional and are therefore more likely to generate revenue and prove stable and secure over time.

In addition, a strong brand can help you to attract good employees and to negotiate better terms with vendors. People want to work for and do business with a company that appears professional and established.

"PartnerUp" (www.partnerup.com) offers the following nine tips for creating a successful brand.

1. Find the right name for your company. A short one which accurately conveys what you do is best. Try to find a name that allows you to obtain its .com domain name. Also, make sure that the name you want to use isn't already trademarked or in use by another person or company.

2. Have an expert design your logo. As the centerpiece of your brand, this will be a key recognition factor for your company. It will appear on everything from business cards and stationery to your building and signage. In the past it might cost thousands of dollars to have an ad agency design a logo for you. Today, through the internet, you can find firms who offer excellent services at a reasonable price. Before choosing a logo design company, look through their portfolio and make sure that you like their work, and check with a few of their customers to make sure that they were satisfied with the results.

3. Create brand guidelines. While most people have never heard of brand guidelines, they are important to a strong brand. For a small business, this can be as simple as writing a 2-3 page document that details such items as what color your logo appears in, what fonts you use, and what your tagline is. The goal is to assure consistency in all of the different types of media presentations of your brand.

4. Have stationery and brochures designed by a specialist. While it can be tempting to try to save a few dollars by creating these documents yourself, it is worth the investment to have the work done by someone proficient in this area. These items are vital in conveying a professional and consistent image for your firm. Companies that do logo design often offer this service also. If you have created your brand guidelines first, the designer can make sure that the stationery and brochures conform to your brand standards.

5. Get everything professionally printed. On a per-page basis, the cost is comparable to printing things yourself. More importantly, the results are significantly better. This is important in creating a strong brand.

6. Get a web site and domain name. Again, the investment in skilled design and hosting on your own domain name will pay off. Because business has shifted from being done using phone books to being done online, this will often be your initial contact with potential customers.

7. Buy a phone system, and get a phone line for your business. It used to be expensive to buy a phone system, often costing tens of thousands of dollars. Now, you can buy simple pre-configured phone systems with an auto-attendant for less than $1,000. This is another way that you maintain the image of a highly professional company.

8. Invest in public relations. One of the most important things that you can do is to gain third-party validation of your business. Once you get your company featured in a few articles, you can show these to potential clients, investors and vendors, helping to further solidify your company's brand and position in the marketplace.

9. Remember, it's never too late. If your existing small business doesn't have a stellar brand, remember that it is never too late for you to rebrand your business using the above advice. If you decide to rebrand, make sure that you roll out your new brand all at the same time, instead of piece by piece. This will help to generate excitement as well as a consistent presentation of your company image.

Remember too –You can give the impression of a larger company, while you work at home on your business, by having a virtual assistant handle your customer support and contacts.


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