Web Toolbar by Wibiya Awaken Dreams Success Coaching: Are You Ready to Brand Your Business?

Are You Ready to Brand Your Business?

by Debi Auger

First, let's clear up a misconception. Your brand is not a logo. It's MUCH more than that. Your brand is the sum total of every last detail about your business. Whoa... right? Don't worry. Don't be intimidated about the concept of branding your business. You don't need to start from scratch here. You just need to look at what you're already doing because THAT is where branding begins. It begins with some soul searching and an evaluation of your business... whether it's a business you've already started, a hobby you want to turn into one, or that business dream inside you that's dying to be let loose on the world.

Ask yourself some questions. And really take some quality time to formulate your answers.

WHAT do you do?
WHY do you do it?
For WHOM do you do it?
HOW do you do it?
How are you different from the millions of other people who do it? What's unique about you... about YOUR way of doing what you do?

Ah see, your brand is indeed much more than a logo. It's a personality, a vision, an M.O. so to speak. It encompasses everything you do and how you do it. It's your business's image. Sure your logo is a representation of your brand, but it's only the very beginning, the tip of the iceberg. And, you don't even need a logo per se; certainly not a fancy, high-priced one.

One thing you DO need... consistency. That is how you begin. Constantly changing the designs, avatars, graphics, colors and other things you use in your business... whether it's your website, blog, Facebook page, packaging or whatnot ... hinders recognition by your audience. It can also present the appearance of being unorganized and not serious about your business because you haven't taken the time to put together a cohesive brand. So let's do that.

There are tangible and intangible aspects to your brand and there should be consistency with both.

The first tangible part of your brand, obviously, is your products and there should be a consistent quality your customers can come to expect from you.

The other tangible or visible elements of your brand include your logo, color schemes, designs, fonts, words and phrases you use to convey your business's mission and vision. This is usually referred to as your corporate identity or style guide and it's important that it's consistent, especially if you want to establish brand recognition.

You need a name for your business. It can be your name or something else. You can even make up a word or phrase to name your business. You also need to make sure that the name you want isn't already being used. You can do that by checking business registrations with the Secretary of State in your home state (if you're in the USA). You can find information relevant to your state at http://business.usa.gov/stateandlocal. And you can check the United States Patent and Trademark Office website (http://www.uspto.gov/) where you can conduct nationwide searches and get even more information.

You can have a logo to represent your brand. Or you can opt to just utilize a selection of colors and fonts along with maybe images of your product instead. Either way, you should choose a color scheme, fonts and maybe even a theme, if appropriate, to represent your business. There may even be certain textures you want to use. These elements make up the style guide for your business and they should be used in everything you do... business cards, packaging, your website, blog, etc. That's what ties everything together into a cohesive brand from a visual standpoint and you really shouldn't stray from these elements once you decide on them, unless you're making a permanent change.

A great deal of your brand, however, is made up of intangible elements. And these intangible elements may in fact be the things that make the biggest impact because these are the things that really allow you to make a connection with your target audience and inspire customer loyalty.

These have to do with how you do business. They include things like the customer's experience dealing with and buying from you; how you treat people; your brand's "voice" (the tone of how you say things); and the perceptions and opinions people form about you, your products and your business.

If you're an artisan you are most likely creating a brand of one... a personal brand. Your personal brand is a reflection of you... your personality, beliefs, attitudes, opinions and values. And one of the benefits of a personal brand is the uniqueness of having your personality coming through every aspect of your business. There is only one you.

You communicate your brand in everything you do... your website, blog, emails, newsletter, Facebook page, tweets, YouTube videos, product packaging, marketing materials, even your guarantee and other policies. Everything you do and how you do business is a part of your brand. And every single one of those things leaves an impression. So make sure it's the one you want.

Is your brand elegant or whimsical? serious or lighthearted? professional or casual? for children or for adults? for men or for women? You need to take all of those types of things into account when you're developing your brand so that it's appropriate to your target market.

What's your brand message? your values? Express those things. Write them out. Promote them. They're the core of your brand.

What's your USP... Unique Selling Proposition? What makes you unique from others who do what you do? Celebrate it. Flaunt it. Own it. And use it to your advantage.

I take ownership of my business and everything I do. You'll notice on my websites and in all correspondence I speak in singular first person using "I" and "Me." I don't use "We" unless there's actually an additional person(s) I'm referring to. I want my clients and customers to know they're being personally attended to by me. I want to get to know them and allow them to get to know me. I want them to know I care about them. I take great pride in the personalized service I provide.

So, sit down with yourself and give some thought to your brand, your products and how you want to present them to the world. Then carry that through everything you do.

You may be all set at this point to go off on your own and develop your brand. If you are, great! If you need more help, here are some options...

I'm finishing up an eWorkbook currently titled Guide to Creating Your Brand in which I'll walk you through how I created mine. They're very different so you'll see that there are many ways to brand a business and it doesn't need to be expensive. I'll show you 3 examples of branding that I've done for myself so you can see one for a logo branded business, one branded by color and font, and yet another that kind of falls midway between. I'll talk to you about the process I followed from brainstorming through final product and expand on the concepts mentioned in this article. Once you've gone through the workbook, if you have the tools you need, you'll probably be able to do everything on your own.

If not, I also offer design services and can do the work for you or find people who can. And you have the option of scheduling one-on-one coaching sessions with me as well.

See the two product pages here on the blog for detailed information about all the options available to you.

Much Success,

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