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What is branding?

In the past week I have been asked by several clients what branding is.

Okay…so what IS branding?

Branding is a cornerstone of a successful marketing campaign. It may be built around a company’s logo design, involving the text and imagery used, prevalent colors and design elements. Branding is all about consistency.

Why does branding matter?

Branding, like logo design, is about creating a consistent, recognizable image that evokes a positive response in customers. Think about the most successful companies out there…McDonald’s, Nike, Starbucks, Coca Cola…you know their logos. You know that red and yellow means McDonald’s. You know the Nike swoosh even if it is the only thing visible. This is all part of branding – the art of creating a recognizable, reliable image for a business that customers know and trust.

My business is small…do I need branding?

Branding is a good idea for any business, regardless of size. That being said, a company must be aware of it’s resources. You may have a top level branding plan, but if you don’t have the time to implement it, you have not done yourself much good.

So how does branding help a small business, you may ask? Especially starting small, you want your business to be taken seriously. You need to do good work and look professional. A well assembled marketing kit and coherent online image is going to go a long way for making your company look professional. If you hand a potential client a business card and brochure, do they match? Do they look as though they belong to the same company? If not, your haphazard promotional materials may be costing you valuable opportunities. You may be just as good (if not better) than your larger competition, but if the competition looks professional and you look like a joke, odds are you lose.

Something to consider: you are at a networking event and three of your materials end up on a table with materials from other companies. At a glance, can an outsider tell which ones are yours?

Branding is important in all professions. Service providers, retail locations and even professionals like law offices and CPA’s can benefit from utilizing a branding plan to maximize exposure and impact.

The keys are repetition and recognition

Do you have a logo? Are the colors and fonts consistent between your letterhead, business cards and promotional materials? Are you making a memorable impression, or do you appear amateur? You are striving for a consistent, reliable image that your clients will remember and potential clients will recognize.

Experts say that consumers need to see a commercial a minimum of 3 times before they begin to remember the product. The same goes for your marketing – if a customer sees a newspaper advertisement, comes across your website, and picks up your business card at an event, if there is no consistency that link is not being established.

Ready to start?

Not every branding plan is a corporation-centered monster seeking to eliminate your creativity and freedom. The simplest plans may include a logo design with color and font recommendations. Guidelines may be provided, and other documents such as business cards, letterhead and marketing materials may follow.

You run your business, and you run it well. Don’t miss out on opportunities because you are not putting branding to work for you. Have questions on what’s next? Feel free to contact us at info@buildingyourimage.com.

Cross-posted from IlanaLeah.com. Ilana Leah is owner of Ilana Leah LLC Design Services and VP Design of Building Your Image LLC Publicity Consulting.

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