Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Small-Business Owners Must Know Branding

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Small-Business Owners Must Know Branding

Article excerpt

BRAND AND BRANDING strategy are complicated topics. Here are some tips you should know as a small business.

The American Marketing Association defines a brand as "a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers." Simple enough, right?

Your brand resides within the minds of consumers, customers and prospects in a hierarchy (you are positioned first, second, etc., when your company/product is thought of). Your brand is composed of exposure to, perceptions of and personal experiences with your company, product or service. You can influence the public's attitude and behavior toward your brand through advertising, word of mouth and other means.

Having a strong, recognizable brand is invaluable and should be the cornerstone of your marketing communications. Brand messages should be clear, credible, confirming, and connecting, while motivating buyer loyalty.

Your branding strategy is present at every point of public contact. Some of your considerations and components should be:

Name development -- It should be memorable, evocative and differentiating. Beware of cultural differences if exporting.

Logo development -- Logos should be used consistently. Develop a style guide to help define how to use, where to use, colors to use, size, proportion and placement.

Trademark(TM) or Register(R) your mark (please refer to my Herald- Tribune column on intellectual property and the small business, dated June 16, 2014).

Taglines -- "Please don't squeeze the Charmin," "Just do it," "The quicker picker upper," "Google it," "It Works!" Use memorable product attributes and benefits.

Corporate identity -- Everything you do helps build or detract from your identity. Use social channels to help in brand building.

Packaging -- Your packaging says a lot about your company. Think of Amazon and its smiling logo on its boxes, or how Apple products are packaged. Everything matters with your branding strategy.

Website design -- Do the most you can with the budget you have. Look at websites you like and copy their use of design elements with your message. You can use free templates offered by WordPress.

Your branding strategy should seek to increase awareness, build trust, position your product first in the mind of the consumer, continually build your brand and drive conversions (sales).

In a well-defined approach, market research (budget allowing) should focus on perceived value of your brand, surveys of customer awareness, attitudes, intentions to purchase and actual buying behavior.

Keep in mind what the competition is doing, as you will be measured against other similar choices. Your goal is to carve out a messaging niche that resonates with your target audience. …

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