Friday, January 27, 2012

Five Branding Tips for Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups

A strong brand is important in this day and age of constant advertising everywhere we turn. Having a strong brand would ensure that your ideal customers think of you as the best provider before anyone else in your industry or niche.

If you're a solopreneur, start-up or entrepreneur and you are the biggest element of your brand, think about how you will stand out and get noticed. What is the one thing that will make your ideal prospects sit up and take notice? In what way can you make yourself or your business memorable? Don't worry - you can have a "rockin" brand just like the big boys!

Here's a quick list of branding tips:

1. Picture it and make it visual. Branding is best when it is simple. I think the best brands create theater of the mind in the consumer's mental eye. If you can make an association in people's minds that will help them to remember you. Can you picture the original soft drink bottle shaped like an hour glass or the famous fast food chain with yellow arches? Yes, I thought so. You get the picture...

2. Get Creative and make it fun. Some of my favorite entrepreneurs have quirky, humorous or amusing elements incorporated in their brand. If you come up with an idea that's a little off kilter, don't discount it. It just might work. Ask a group of colleagues for their honest opinion. If you're a part of a professional networking group, do your own focus group survey. Send an email asking for input on your brand and ask how it strikes the reader. You'll get tons of varied responses but it'll be great feedback.

3. Rock The Tweet. There's no denying that Twitter is an entrepreneur's best friend. You can quickly gain a following of several hundred to several thousands of potential customers and brand ambassadors. Social media is crucial in coming up with your brand concept. Make sure you check to see if the brand name you want is "tweetable." Simply put, when choosing a brand name, make sure it works well with social media outlets.

4. Credibility. It's great to have fun with your brand. However, make sure that it is authentic, believable and something you can stick with. Make sure that you are comfortable with the brand position and identity you have chosen. If you don't believe in your own brand, no one else will. The worst thing would be to choose a brand and then change it repeatedly because you just aren't sure what message you want to convey.

5. Consistency is key. Once you have created your brand, make sure you market it and use it everywhere. Many entrepreneurs have one brand image on their business cards and another on brochures or stationary. Think of how major corporations use their brand, you see it on their website, stationary, logo, mailing labels, specialty items, and more. It's important to establish your brand in all elements of your marketing and public relations efforts. Make sure that you get rid of any old branding that you are no longer using. The last thing you want is to confuse your target audience about who are and what your brand is about.

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