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Business Branding Basics

If you are looking to differentiate your company from that of others, one sure way to start is with branding. What is branding? The American Marketing Association (AMA) 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. A good branding campaign not only differentiates you from your competitors, it also delivers a clear message, confirms your credibility, connects your target prospects emotionally, motivates the buyer and concretes user loyalty. If your business has not focused on branding – there are some fundamental aspects to consider in building that brand. Start by asking yourself these questions and answering them as honestly and as accurately as possible: 1. What products and/or services do you offer? Define the qualities of these services and/or products. 2. What are the core values of your products and services? What are the core values of your company? 3. What is the mission of your company? 4. What does your company specializes in? 5. Who is your target market? Who do your products and services attract? 6. What is the tagline of your company? What message does your tagline send to your prospects? Once you have answered these questions, try creating a personality for your company – something that presents your products or services. Maybe it is a character, as in a book. Who is this character, what is it like? What qualities stand out? Is the personality of your company innovative, creative, energetic, or sophisticated? Next, use the personality that you created and build a relationship with your target market that you defined in Step 5. How does that personality react to target audience? What characteristics stand out? Which characteristics and qualities get the attention of your prospects? Now, let’s look at creating objectives for branding. Again, answer the following questions the best you can. 1. What is it that you want your brand to do for your company? 2. What do you want others to know and say about your products or services? Objectives can include your position as a company in your industry – will you be one of the leaders? It can be a solid number of new clients you would like to gain or it can be as simple as being known for a particular quality. * Being recognized by receiving a specific award * Picking up a certain number of choice projects * Gaining a specific number of new clients in the next year * Positioning your company as an industry leader in the next five months Add to your objectives time lines. This is also what one would do when creating their business’ strategic plan. Objectives and timelines allow you to step back from your business and evaluate your successes and goals. What about your market, do you understand your market, have you performed a market analysis. There is a lot of information on the Internet and out there for one to use in analyzing their target market. Questions to ask yourself include: 1. Who is your target audience? 2. Where is your target audience located? 3. What do they think about your current brand? 4. What would you like them to think about your brand? 5. How will you attract them to your products or services? 6. Who else is competing for their loyalty and devotion? 7. Are you targeting business or consumer sectors? The process alone of asking yourself these questions will help you clarify your business and what it is you want to achieve. If you have never answered these types of questions, it is difficult to create a brand. Think of popular brands and their taglines: Coke – It’s the Real Thing, Timex – Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Sometimes one can just hear the brand’s tagline and automatically associate it with the brand – such as “Just Do It”. Once your brand is created, use it as much as possible to convey your objective and meaning and the next thing you know, your business too could become an every household name and tagline.

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