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Build Your Brand, Build Your Business: Use Your Company's Image To Increase Profits

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By Peter Koeppel

Entrepreneurs and business executives always strive to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. They want to outsell the competition, be known as a solutions-provider to customers, and have those in their field perceive them as the market leader. Those are certainly lofty and admirable goals, but are they achievable? Yes! The secret is to create a brand for your company that gives you "top of mind awareness" to all who think about your industry, product, or service.
The fact is that to be successful, you want to be the first name or brand people think of when they need the particular product or service you offer. The best way to ensure consumers think of your product or service for their needs first is through strategic and effective branding initiative.
What exactly is branding? Many definitions exist. In its simplest form, branding is a process you can use to differentiate your business from competitors. This is important, because unless customers view you or your company as somehow different than your competitors, you will become nothing more than a commodity. And we all know that commodities rarely stand out in people's minds.
Building a brand is not always easy, nor is it an exact science. In fact, what works for one company many not work for another. However, following are some strategies that will enable you to begin creating a brand that stands apart from the competition. That's when you'll experience the rewards of increased name recognition and higher profits.

1. Start Branding Your Company Today

Many people mistakenly think they can only brand their business after it reaches a certain dollar revenue or length of time in the marketplace. Nothing could be further from the truth. If your company is in the start-up phase, you may not have the funds to invest in branding, but you still must do it. Start the branding process from day one, even if you have to start small. The earlier you start, the better your results will be.

2. Be Different

Obviously, one of the best ways to create a brand for your business is to invent a new product or service that nobody else offers. However, this is not always an easy task. The fact is that many companies offer very similar products or services. To stand apart from the competition, you may need to create a new category for your product or service, or you may need to focus on what's unique about the way you do business. So think outside the box and get creative. What can you offer that no one else can? What makes your widget different from the other guy's? Is it your commitment to service? Your speed of delivery? Your product selection? Whatever it is, identify it and use it in your branding. Narrow the focus of what you do so people think of you first when looking for a particular product or service.

3. Keep Your Marketing Materials Focused

You want customers to quickly and easily recognize you, so you need to keep your marketing materials simple, focused, and consistent. If you don't have design talent, work with a graphic designer to help you create a recognizable identity that is a unique representation of your business. The logo you and your designer create must depict your company's image without the need for lengthy explanation. Also work with your marketing department or a professional writer to create a catchy tagline that encapsulates the brand you want your company to have. Use both the logo and tagline on all of your marketing materials, letterhead, business cards, and web site.

4. Develop an Ongoing Advertising Campaign with a Consistent Message

Don't run a TV ad one day where you call your company the "low price leader," and then do a radio ad where you call your company the "solution for the discerning customer." Those are two completely different brands and images, and you'll only end up confusing your prospects. Realize that no brand is born overnight. It takes lots of repeated messages to get the brand into people's minds. So be consistent with your advertising messages. Additionally, advertise on a continuous basis. That's the only way people will become familiar with you, thus increasing your name and brand recognition.

5. Use Public Relations to Get Your Name Out There

Along with advertising, you need to do some public relations to make your name known. One great way is to write and publish articles about your business and industry. You can also be a featured guest on radio and TV programs. A good PR firm can help get you in the media's limelight. Without a doubt, public relations is a great and easy way to increase your name recognition.

6. View Branding as an Ongoing Business Strategy

Branding is not something you do for a few days and then forget about it. Branding must be a constant in your company's business strategy. Brand loyalty and brand recognition can decline unless you revitalize your brand on an ongoing basis. Many businesses reinvent or rebrand themselves every few years to achieve a higher level of consumer recognition or because of problems or negative stigma associated with their current brand. Regardless of your product or brand, or how long you've successfully had it, to remain competitive, you must adapt your brand based on changing trends in the marketplace

Branding for Success

Remember that branding takes time. That's why you must integrate all these strategies over the long-term to build a brand. No matter when you start your branding efforts, branding your business is an important part of any successful marketing strategy. You want your customers to think of high value and quality when they think of your product or service. By branding your business, you make that happen. A strong brand also makes your company more valuable. When you successfully follow these strategies for branding your business, you can enjoy the name recognition and increased profits that come from having a great brand that everyone knows and loves.

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