Branding Your Home Business Online

Branding likewise regulates longevity. A visitor to your web site may buy a single product, only to never come back, but if you’ve formulated a strong brand based around originality, trust and caliber, that buyer is likely to remember you and come back to your site time and time again. In a lot of ways, constructing a net brand is the most control you’ll ever have in respect to your customer base. With a strong brand, you may cover more ground in less time than even the most far-flung marketing campaign. Individuals have to trust you, and in order to set the wheels in motion; you have to develop an unparalleled brand on a firm platform. It’s probable that you already have a product or service in mind, and without doubt, you’re excited about introducing it to the globe.

By producing a brand of your own, you’ll be able to get a greater level of exposure for your line of products, by becoming memorable in the brain of your target buyer base. But it has to go deeper than simply a net personality. You have to combine your net brand with a cohesive business plan that includes prompt buyer support, quality products, a strong sales system and a clear-cut message. You need individuals to associate your brand with favorable influences, and if you do that, your brand will become among your most useful assets. There are a number of ways to begin building your net brand, including:

Your domain name will become your key point headquarters, and you need to pick one that really reflects your overall business focus. By integrating keywords that describe your brand or company, you’ll be able to establish a net presence fast, while protecting your brand in the process. When registering your DNS that will directly tie into your net brand, consider the extended possibilities of other domains that may be perceived as associated to your own, and register those too. If you take a good approach to building your internet brand, you’ll wish to do all that you may to protect it, like registering similar domain names and those with alternate extensions (.org, .net, etc)

A lot of marketers who begin to develop their net brand neglect this believing that as long as they’ve the top-level domain that centers on their brand, they’re protected. This is anything but real. Consider companies like Apple or Amazon. They both began centering on branding as a way of entry to the market. They both had existing rivals and had to wedge themselves into the market by taking another approach. Branding was in all sense, the major focus of their campaigns and the one thing that basically helped them get their foot into the door. You’re aware of cyber squatters, individuals who purposely register domain names that may potentially infringe on somebody’s brand. A lot of times, these cyber squatters are really able to win their day in court, and go on to retain the domain names in spite of that somebody produced a brand around it. You need to do your part to protect a brand that you intend to spend the time and sweat building. It doesn’t cost a lot of cash to register multiple domain names that bear your brand’s keywords and it will provide you far more control over your brand in the time to come.

Naturally, it’s impossible to register all variances of your brand’s association (keywords, etc) but you ought to at the very least consider registering all popular extensions that individuals might assume you control. Depending upon your overall focus, you ought to consider hiring out the production of a unique logo to represent your brand and company. You need to choose one that’s original and includes elements that will be both memorable and professional. Outsource the design to a knowledgeable graphic artist, and be a big part of the development process. Send over your own concepts and thoughts, and work with them to produce an original design that will symbolize your company and brand.

This is far and away, one of the simplest ways to produce an ever-lasting impression on your target audience. Consider all the company logos that resonate with you personally. You directly identify a company by its logo and if they’ve done their job at integrating quality within their brand, you’ll likewise associate each future product or service they release as being even as good as their flagship product. Colors may likewise become a part of a brand awareness campaign. From Cokes red to Pepsi’s blue, colors are frequently an easy way of tying an extremely memorable element to your brand.

You wish people to consciously associate high quality, exceptional value and fantastic client service to your brand and therefore, each product or service you release in the time to come will be included under your brand’s umbrella. Promos
Your sales copy will directly exemplify your brand, and the tone, voice and total direction you take ought to work toward further building brand recognition and awareness as well as brand recall. With brand awareness, your target audience will merely recognize the brand as yours. It doesn’t imply that your market will prefer your brand, see your brand as favorable or associate value to your brand, merely that they’ll know it. With brand recall, your target audience will be able to tie in your brand immediately, to particular components (industry, keywords, product or service type, and so forth). You have to build both brand awareness and brand recall into each campaign you produce, and your sales page copy and promotions will play a big part in formulating this recognition.

This implies that you need to be careful to introduce your brand in a favorable way. You lack to avoid hype filled sales pages, or not being able to accomplish your promises or offers to your buyer base. This ought to go without saying, but it’s among the leading causes of a brand becoming associated with either favorable or damaging associations, and it’s frequently among the most overlooked factors to brand building. Consider how you wish your message to be carried and how you wish your total brand to be perceived, and then produce your promo campaigns so that they represent your brand in the finest way possible. Avoid competing with absurd offers, or feeling as if the only way to earn attention is by going over the top with your campaign contents and ads.

Rather, use story telling, construct favorable brand awareness, and back your product’s offer on a strong foundation so that your brand is consistently working to benefit you in the long haul. Remember, constructing a brand is all about longevity, and being able to tap into your target market so that you’re able to systematically build your net empire simply with favorable reinforcement and a reputation for caliber and value.

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Price Premium Profitability Through Ingredient Branding

What are Ingredient Brands?This is the first of a series of articles on ingredient branding. In this first article we introduce the concept of ingredient branding and a model for the understanding the utility of their brand equities for building businesses. In subsequent articles we will discuss how to manage – and avoid pitfalls – in guiding ingredient brands profitably from their early life cycles all the way to their mature stage.

Ingredient Brands are those product components that not only add functional value, their logo on a main branded product or service adds to its own brand power to retain customer loyalty, evoke customer preference, and support premium price points. An ingredient brand not only adds value to a host brand’s equity, in mature markets it can also create or enhance differentiation.

Intel® is arguably the most famous of all ingredient brands that has enjoyed a long and continuing life. Others include Microban®, Kevlar® and Goretex®.

How Ingredient Brands Are BornWhen an upstream manufacturer develops a new breakthrough product, they diligently commercialize and promote the brand identity in order to obtain increasing market acceptance of the product. Since it is a breakthrough, the branded product becomes accepted by direct customers and often famous for the benefits it brings to the downstream market. When promoted properly it also becomes desirable to consumers because of the publicity it generates as a source of “new” perceptions for older brand names that incorporate it into their product lines.

The name the manufacturer gave the product is generally intended to both simplify the conversations with specifiers, production managers, and others whose beliefs about its value prompt them to include it in production processes and to assist purchasing agents in requesting the right product. Most often this value is discussed in terms of how it is functionally advantageous. This is a common practice in industry. However, its value as a public indicator of host brand commitment to quality innovation should not be overlooked.

As a new ingredient brand becomes familiar among downstream specifiers the name not only becomes more recognizable, it also develops its own meaning. The ultimate constituency that fosters an iconic meaning for any brand is consumers who assign daily-life significance to it. At that point – when a labeled component of an end product like a computer or a fashionable garment becomes a familiar name that influences consumers’ choices – an ingredient brand is born.

Strong brands often hesitate to publicly identify an ingredient brand because of concern about compromising their own strong host brand’s perceptions. History has shown however that a powerful ingredient brand, whose provider is committed to maintaining its perceptual equity long term, continue to be enhanced by identifying their investment in publicly recognized quality components. The smart branders take full advantage of the popularity of a famous ingredient brand, further enhancing the equity of their original brand.

The 10 Challenges of Managing an Ingredient Brand

Many ingredient brands have successfully passed the value-adding test of time including Intel®; Kevlar®; Micro-Ban® and Stainmaster®. The key to achieving this marketplace status is managing the brand well beyond its functional value. Accomplishing this is much more complex than managing a consumer brand. Ingredient branders have challenges which must be met in order to fully capitalize on ingredient brand potential for value. They must:

1. Develop organizational understanding of the difference between the product and the brand to multiple constituencies, each with their own mind-set and calculation of interest.

2. Effectively communicate the brand downstream from the direct customer without creating unmanageable friction with that customer, who may perceive the ingredient brand building effort as inevitably reducing their profit margins.

3. Educate their own leadership to the value of creating and maintaining brand equity and the need to market the brand benefits that exist beyond its functional contribution to product features.

4. Educate the main brand’s leadership on value of brand equity and the need to market the brand on benefits beyond the product features.

5. Articulate an integrated marketing strategy with a balanced emphasis beyond product performance value to include benefits and emotional brand image that drive differentiation and preference. And implement it consistently over time.

6. Coordinate all management functions to contribute to consistent brand message – to “walk the brand talk” in all decisions.

7. Assure that the internal organization, channel organizations, and customers always use the brand icon and extensions correctly. They must police misuse of the brand by others or risk commoditizing the brand and diminishing its financial value to that of a generic.

8. Capture and retain price premium, avoiding the temptation to trade off long-term premium for short term share.

9. Gain and maintain organizational commitment to improving product performance that is consistent with what the brand means to members of its value chain and end-users.

10. Brands have life cycles that operate somewhat differently than product life cycles. Both product and brand lives have youth, maturity, and “old age.” Unlike humans, both can be rejuvenated and returned to their youth – usually by renewed relevance accomplished by capitalizing on new end-user trends. The classic example is Maytag whose “dependability” positioning in the 1930′s reassured homemakers that the new-fangled electric motor eliminating women’s hours at a washboard was going to last. By the 1970′s this was irrelevant; Maytag lost consumer attention.

The arrival of the “lonely repairman” renewed the relevance of Maytag’s dependability to homemakers who now worked at jobs out of their homes full time and whose faulty washer might cost them a day of work. Maytag shows the opportunity careful management of a branded product’s life cycle offers.

Brand Management Life CyclesThe “The Marketing Triangle” implies managing the three critical dimensions of marketing a brand today: product, brand, and price. In the typical marketing triangle, the marketer develops and commercializes the breakthrough product, and after the product begins to achieve a high level of recognition, begins the process of branding the product. Alternatively, the marketer should recognize the brand potential of the breakthrough product and initiate brand management process immediately upon commercialization. An operating comparison of these two approaches are described below

The Typical Ingredient Brand Management Life CycleIn the typical approach, the supplier develops and commercializes the breakthrough product and after the product becomes famous, begins to transform the product into a brand.

Typical Model Step 1 – Supplier develops breakthrough ingredient product and initiates commercialization process.

a. Demonstrates value added potential of the new ingredient, and sets price based on benefits offered – including potential for furthering host brand differentiation in its own market.

b. Expands acceptance from early adopters among host brand producers to early majority of host brands in a given product category

c. Ingredient brand management team makes public commitment to investing in promotion of their own brand – offering promotional value to host brands that feature the ingredient

d. Effectively positions the ingredient brand with communications that converge on its central benefit – articulated to each member of the main product’s value chain

e. Ingredient brand name becomes well known and universally used across industry applications

f. Ingredient brand acquires meaning from positioning communications combined with satisfactory or superior experience among value chain members and end-users of the main product brand

g. Ingredient Brand is perceived as critical to fulfilling expectations generated by marketing efforts of the host product brand

Typical Model Step 2 – Ingredient product brand name succeeds by becoming famous downstream all the way from direct customers to end-users.

h. Multiple members of the value chain specify the product by name

i. Increasing consumer awareness and evidence that the ingredient brand encourages host brand preference and loyalty

j. Supplier makes the shift from generic ingredient product to named ingredient brand

k. Price premium is maintained even though competitors enter with similar product performance

l. Perceptions of ingredient brand promise and meaning add value to functional advantages – signifying such benefits as quality assurance and functional performance advantage in production processes as well as end-user experiences

Typical Model Step 3 – In typical scenarios after initial success, Supplier mismanages the brand, competitive ingredient product market entries proliferate resulting in

m. Internal stress on the ingredient brand’s product renewal activity and on pricing results in temptation to rest on early success

n. Direct customers exert downward pressure on brand price based on competitive product alternatives

o. Ingredient brand fails to counter the logic with continued efforts to build perceptions of the brand’s superiority beyond functional features in the minds of value chain members and end-users

p. Accepting market definitions of function-only brand meaning fosters downstream indifference over time

q. Ingredient brand decay in product quality in order to keep plants operating at capacity (planned or unplanned) at diminished market price ensues

r. Management declares ingredient branding a failed marketing strategy

The Successful Ingredient Brand Management Life CycleSuccess Model Step 1 – Supplier develops a breakthrough ingredient product and initiates the commercialization process as in the previous case – but includes brand planning from the start.

a. Value is demonstrated in terms of how the direct and downstream customers are benefited – FROM THE START OF BRAND NAMING THE PRODUCT. Thus the ingredient product is translated into a brand at the time of commercialization.

b. The new ingredient brand is effectively positioned relative to the value it brings to each member of its value chain. It will establish a core value on how it will do business but will emphasize the most relevant benefits it promises for each member of its value chain and each end use application it can serve.

c. Value chain and end-user constituencies needs are inventoried via customer research during the marketing strategy development process.

d. Brand support is provided to both the direct and downstream customers.

Success Model Step 2 – Product branding strategy is initiated simultaneous with the commercialization.

e. The brand becomes the primary communication tag rather than the product. All interactions associate the brand’s name and relevant value to the specific situation and audience.

f. An icon is developed and displayed profusely in every communication vehicle. Emphasis is on brand benefits based on what the brand does not what it is. The use of the icon by host brands is mandated and parameters described in legal agreements with host brands.

g. The brand essence is defined and communicated along with the brand name and icon – either explicitly in promotions efforts or implicitly by choice of associations where the ingredient brand appears. Brand meaning is a factor in choosing host brand partners.

h. Orders are for the ingredient brand and invoices reflect the brand as an integral aspect of purchase.

i. Direct and downstream customers refer to the brand, utilize the brand icon, and charge a premium for their branded products that incorporate the ingredient brand.

Success Model Step 3 – Brand is priced to value and never price-point compared to competitive products.

j. Brand is specified by downstream customers

k. Early adopter direct customers are given preference and provided with unique brand and product support.

l. Cooperative marketing campaigns are designed uniquely to each direct customer.

m. Cooperative marketing campaigns are designed with downstream customers who see value in the brand.

n. Ingredient brand value increases with the number of valued host brand relationships, satisfaction of value chain members and host brand partners in how the ingredient brand aids their business development – either directly or via ingredient brand support programs. (e.g. co-op promotions, design resources made available only to host brand partners etc.)

The Key to Converting the Typical Model to the Success ModelBegin with brand management in mind. Apply a branding mindset at the onset of product commercialization including naming, icon development, brand positioning, and communications. When doing the market validation concept research early in the product concept phase design it to learn not just what end-user respondents like or dislike about the concept, but also to capture how the respondents talk about the concept. This aspect of the data will inform your marketing team about how best to position it and help your brand communications team develop its most compelling messages.

In future articles we will explore ingredient brand management in more detail. Let us know what you think about our discussion, pose any questions you have, and tell us what future aspects of ingredient branding you would like to see covered. We welcome any insight you wish to offer regarding the issues, benefits and processes of capturing value from effective ingredient brand management.

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Brand Creation and Criteria for Development

1.0 What is a brand?

Brands can be defined in two ways. Firstly, a brand can be an identification or a mark that differentiates one business from another (through a name or a logo, for example). Secondly, a brand symbolises how people think about your business.Building a brand helps customers in their decision-making, creating a perceived knowledge of what they are going to buy – before they buy it. Brands are based on three related criteria.

Confidence in a business, product or service doing exactly what the customer already believes it will do. For example, a 24-hour convenience store brand can be based on customers’ confidence that it will be open, whatever the time of day or night.The emotional response of the customer to purchasing a product or service. For example, a clothing retailer can create a brand based around making its customers feel good about what they wear, how they look, how good they feel about buying clothes from that shop and what it says about them to their peers.( Josephine Collins,(March 2008)

A brand builds a unique personality for a business, and therefore attracts a defined type of customer.Most importantly, branding is based on consistently rewarding the confidence and delivering the expected emotional response. For example, a domestic cleaning company can build its brand successfully if customers’ homes are always thoroughly cleaned, the owners believe that they are using the best cleaning company and feel good about returning to their newly cleaned homes. Your brand can cover your business as a whole or separate products and services. (Josephine Collins,(March 2008)

When starting your own business, one of your most important concerns is to develop your company’s face to the world. This is your brand. It is the company’s name, how that name is visually expressed through a logo, and how that name and logo extend throughout an organization’s communications. A brand is also how the company is perceived by its customers – the associations and inherent value they place on your business.

A brand is also a kind of promise. It is a set of fundamental principles as understood by anyone who comes into contact with a company. A brand is an organization’s “reason for being”; it is how that reason.( Josephine Collins (March 2008)

is expressed through the various communications to its key audiences, including customers, shareholders, employees, and analysts. A brand should also represent the desired attributes of a company’s products, services, and initiatives.

Apple’s brand is a great example. The Apple logo is clean, elegant, and easily implemented. Notice that the company has altered the use of the apple logo from rainbow-striped to monochromatic. In this way they keep their brand and signal in a new era for their expansive enterprise. Think about how you’ve seen the brand in advertising, trade shows, packaging, product design, and so on. It’s distinctive and it all adds up to a particular promise. The Apple brand stands for quality of design and ease of use.

Brand is a big buzzword in today’s market, but what exactly does it mean? Simply defined, is the brand essence and purpose of what your business stands in the minds of your customers, that they thought what they purchase, both tangible (physical) and intangible (subtleties and feelings ).For example, Nike products provides sports physical. Nike also “selling” speed, fitness, strength, and style.

The brand is not accident, you should deliberately Show&Tell the public what you want them to know and remember about your business unique.

Branding is the action of transferring the brand to target market and create emotional tie to your unique product or service. Branding attract, satisfy and retains customers. Nike work through their consistent visual, logos and slogans determined using well-known athletes as spokespeople for the transfer of non-tangible of their brand.

The brand is important because it solves a problem for consumers. The brand helps them to choose that product or service quality, safety, or function cannot be complete until after the purchase is made is identified. Branding builds trust although cannot remove some risk, especially when doing business with big corporations located outside a local geographic area (credit card companies, broker, online shopping).

Without brand name, products and services easily be compared with each other, any financial institution, insurance representative mix, chocolate bar, coffee, beans, and athletic shoes will be indistinguishable from another, even if in reality a big difference in quality, price, taste, and service can exist.

The Logic behind branding is very simple: If your target market is familiar with your brand and good imagination, they more likely to purchase products and services. But consumers do not know what your business is all about unless you tell them!

Is your company branded? If a distinct graphic, slogan, or feeling doesn’t emerge when buyers hear or see your company name, the brand of your business has yet to be defined and developed. Customers must clearly understand and agree with the nature, character and purpose of your product or service before they’ll buy it. And how they know if you don’t inform them? Hire a professional graphic designer, copywriter, advertising agency to help create and promote your brand of.

It’s never too late to embark on your own branding campaign, regardless of size and age of your business. Creating a successful brand takes deliberate thought and execution, but the sooner you start, the faster the results you see on your bottom line. Here’s how to start:

* Who you are defines what you offer, your method of business, their audiences, and why customers should believe in your products and services is placed.

* The transfer decision and its recognition of all other companies with strong reference image, logo, typeface, colors, slogan, jingle, theme, or tagline. For best results, work with professional skill in graphic design and copywriting.

* Commit to consistently carry your brand through every aspect of your business- stationery, marketing materials, advertising, signage, product packaging, customer service, etc.

Invest in your brand is investing in the success of your company. Clearly know that you are and what you offer, then loudly and consistently portray the image with your target market. Brand of your business is a powerful asset, and therefore maximize its value!

In fact, a brand is mental real estate’. It’s a set of expectations a company instills in its customers and prospects, as well as its employees, suppliers and competition. Further, it’s a service/product or concept that’s easily distinguishable from others. Most important, a brand should enhance how you communicate with customers. I believe that successful branding begins with the recognition that everything a company does/says must drive profits and increase value for the customer. Sounds easy. But what is the true value of branding initiatives (i.e., your ROI), and why invest time and money this seemingly non-revenue-generating activity? In truth, there are many rational reasons, including:

Market Differentiation (competitive advantage)

Customer buying preference (retain a positive impression)

Supports the highest possible tolerance to price (perceived value)

Increased cross-sales opportunities (better profit margins)

Better awareness and recognition (leadership in the market)

Investor confidence (plus employees and external alliances), etc.

Without question, successful branding initiatives can have immense payback and add genuine value to your company, whether new or well-established. However, your brand’s success depends on an implementation strategy comprising four essential must’ principals. It must be a genuine reflection on your core strengths-values-management commitments and align with your customers’ values.

Your brand must also identify a unique position that clearly differentiates you from competitors. It must carry through every aspect of an organization, meaning you must articulate your brand identity into a series of actions, beliefs and tools. Finally, and perhaps most important, it must be consistent over time.

In every brand development process, we employ four distinct elements, each weighted equally. First, the Value Proposition; it defines the uniqueness you provide to customers. Brand Character Definition and Expression follows; the character of your brand must make sense to your most important customers (While your logo is part of your branding, other important elements include corporate identity, company boilerplate, and collateral materials such as brochures, ad templates, website identity, etc.) Next, Positioning Statements must express your place in the market to help suppliers, investors, customers and competitors understand your intent; these concepts often form a mission statement or a byline tagged to your company logo. And lastly, Key Messages must consistently communicate your chosen information; these must promote the brand intent and be consistently employed by the entire team.

Looking further, brand launch must comprise a continuous monitoring process to measure value over time to ensure maximum impact and benefit is being derived. This stage may also include press releases, promotional programs, presentation and memorable methods of reaching the marketplace.

It’s accurate to conclude that your brand gives your company identity, character, presence in the market and, yes, even respect. There is substantial evidence that this structured process works, in both the short and long view. A brand grows successfully by leaving a lasting mental picture a positive mark upon everyone inside and outside your company. A true value picture like none other. As Rodney blurted out on stage at Dangerfields’ that night years ago,” Why am I sweating, I’ve got the job it’s my Club”.

Look after your club’; the benefits of a professionally developed and well managed brand could astound you.

1.1 Do I need a brand?

Every business has already got a brand, even if it doesn’t treat it as one. Your customers (and potential customers) already have a perception of what your business means to them. Building a brand just means communicating your message to them more effectively so they immediately associate your business with their requirements. Brands can help increase turnover by encouraging customer loyalty and are particularly useful if you are in a fast-moving sector. If your business’s environment changes rapidly, a brand provides reassurance to customers and encourages their loyalty.

If you operate in a crowded marketplace a brand can help you stand out. For example,

there are many kinds of adhesive tape, but there is only one Sellotape. If you have no other points of difference and when customers are confronted with a wide choice of comparable suppliers, they will always choose the brand they feel will suit them best. Your suitability for a customer is portrayed through your brand.

Moreover, if you want to add value to your business a successful brand can make businesses more attractive to potential buyers or franchisees.

1.2 Branding a Start up

For start-up and small businesses, branding often takes a backseat to all of the other considerations – such as funding and product development. This is unfortunate, for a company’s brand can be vital to its success. Dollar for dollar, it is as important and needed as any other start-up activity.

Recently, a software management company, temporarily named TallyUp, invested in a branding assignment. Its flagship product, a software suite that tracks and runs bonus incentive plans, needed a clear identity and platform to appeal to its target audience – primarily financial executives. The name TallyUp, while somewhat descriptive, didn’t capture the appropriate and required level of sophistication to attract the desired clientele. TallyUp retained a branding consulting company; they recommended the name Callidus, which is Latin for expert and skillful to effectively and in an instant communicate their position. While both names communicate a similar concept, the new one works on a completely different level. Callidus better suits the ideal position of the company.

Serial entrepreneurs have a great deal of wisdom to share about branding and positioning. You can gather additional useful advice on the challenge of brand development from someone like Thomas Burns, whose story is covered in our article, Building a Credible Brand for Your Small Business.

If you’re concerned about the cost of brand development, take heart. While it’s easy to spend a lot to create a brand, you don’t have to. Read our article, How Much Does a Brand Cost? to understand the price range of brand development.

1.3 Creating a Brand

Once you have worked out your core competencies, brand values, perceived quality and brand stretch, you can communicate them to your customers. Build the message into everything your customer or potential customer sees and hears before they have any direct contact with your business. Make sure your company literature reflects your brand values. If necessary, redesign your logo and company stationery so it provides an immediate visual link to your brand values. (Kenneth A. Fox,Nov-Dec 2002)

For example, if speed is a brand value, add an indication of movement into your company’s designs.Reconsider any advertising you may do. Is it in places that reflect your brand values?

Does the copy reflect your brand values?

Make sure your staff understand the brand values and believe in them. Your staff’s attitude and behaviour will influence the success of your brand more than any promotional activity. Remember that if you make strong customer service a brand value, the brand is damaged if one customer feels that whoever they are talking to doesn’t care about service. Review your systems and make sure every point of contact that a customer or potential customer has reflects your brand values. For example, if being friendly is one of your brand values, make sure anyone who answers the telephone or has direct contact with customers is friendly. (Kenneth A. Fox,Nov-Dec 2002)

1.4 How Much Does a Brand Cost?

How much you can expect to pay for the creation of your brand is the $64,000 question. The answer is that the fee doesn’t have to be astronomical, but it can be depending on who you decide to do business with.

Creating a brand is often a classic case of getting what you pay for. Your cousin may create a name and commensurate logo (without applications like letterhead, signage and packaging) for $500, or you can pay an international identity and branding company $100,000. In theory, that $100,000 should by you higher quality images and plenty of targeted branding theory, but that isn’t always the case. (Kenneth A. Fox,Nov-Dec 2002)

Our recommendation is that emerging companies look for an in-between solution. Look for a company that is experienced in branding small or start-up businesses, and that understands your timing and budget constraints. Reputable firms charge anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 for a name and logo. You should be thrilled with the product and get terrific results from a firm in this range. (Michael Long et al,June 2007)

Before choosing a branding, naming or identity company, scrutinize its portfolio to make sure their style matches your tastes. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for references-they should be proud to provide them. Call a couple of the references and find out whether they liked working with the firm.

Finally, remember that branding is a serious, long-term investment. If you’re going after or have received outside financing, it should be a line item in your budget. Building a brand is a core business activity, as important as leasing office space, recruiting the right people and developing your product or service. (Michael Long et al,June 2007)

1.5 Finding the Right Branding Company

Companies that create branding and identity are often difficult to distinguish from graphic design firms, but how they go about creating your brand may be much different. There are several important steps to select the right company to help you to brand your new business.

First, ask your contacts which companies they know that specialize in branding. Conduct Internet searches for “naming” and “corporate identity” and “branding.” Think extensively about what types of names and logos appeal to you. Research the firms that created the brands that you most admire. Be aware of the firms’ creative styles. Choose a company with

a track record for unique and original names, not one that has a history of creating coined names. However, don’t go with a highly creative firm if your constituency is very conservative and traditional. (Michael Long et al,June 2007)

Contact a handful of companies and take note of how quickly they get back to you. Do they seem motivated or preoccupied? Is the person who returns your call a partner or a sales representative? Meet with a few different companies and trust the chemistry. If it’s there you will know it; if it’s not, keep looking. Make sure that the person with whom you initially meet? usually a partner or owner – will do, or at least direct, the work. That way they will be personally motivated to produce results for you. (Michael Long et al,June 2007)

Ask each company about its process. How forthcoming are they? Are the representatives willing to talk about their procedures and the steps that they’ll take to create your brand? Make sure you talk about money; they may ask you if you have a projected budget for this project. It’s acceptable for them to ask, but it’s also okay for you to hear first how much it will cost, without disclosing your budget. How quickly do they get back to you with a written proposal? If you agree on Tuesday to work with them and you haven’t heard from them by the end of the week, this might not be a good sign. Again, be smart and go with your instincts.

2.0 Top Branding Mistakes

Branding, a commonly used term throughout the business world, essentially means to create an identifiable entity that makes a promise of value. It means that you have created a consciousness, an image, an awareness of your business. It is your company’s personality. Numerous businesses try, but many fail at creating a successful brand. For more on the definition of a brand, read What Is a Brand?

Here are 10 of the most common mistakes:

1. Not thinking analytically. Too many companies think of branding as marketing or as having a catch phrase or a logo. It is more than simply vying for attention. A brand warrants attention on a consistent basis, represents something that your audience wants but does not get from your competitors. For example, it could be providing the best customer service in your industry – not just through your tagline or logo – by actually providing the best customer service in your industry.

2. Not maintaining your brand. Too often, in a shaky economy, businesses are quick to change or alter their identity. Too much of this confuses your steady customers. For guidance, think of big brands – Nike, for instance, has used “Just Do It” as a logo for years. One rule of thumb is that when you have become tired of your logo, tagline, and branding efforts, that’s when they begin to sink in with customers.

3. Trying to appease everyone. You will never be able to brand yourself in such a way that everyone will like you. Typically the best you can do is to focus on the niche market for your product.

4. Not knowing who you really are. If you are not the fastest overnight delivery service in the world, do not profess to be. Too many business owners think that they are providing something that they don’t. Know your strengths and weaknesses through honest analyses of what you do best.

5. Not fully committing to branding. Often business owners let the marketing and advertising department handle such things as “branding,” while they work on sales and other important parts of the business. But sales and branding are tied together as integral aspects of your business. Many Fortune 500 companies are where they are today because smart branding made them household names.

6. Not sharing the joke. If only the people in your office get a joke, it is not going to play to a large audience. The same holds true for branding. If your campaign is created for you and not “them,” your brand will not succeed.

7. Not having a dedicated marketing plan. Many companies come up with ideas to market themselves and establish a brand identity but have neither the resources nor a plan as to how they will reach their audience. You must have a well-thought out marketing plan in place before your branding strategy will work. For help putting together a marketing plan, see How to Build a Sound Marketing Plan for Your Business.

8. Using too much jargon. Business-to-business-based companies are most guilty of piling on the jargon. From benchmark to strategic partnering to value added, jargon does not benefit branding. If anything, it muddles your message.

9. Trying too hard to be different. Being different for the sake of being different is not branding. Yes, you will be noticed, but not necessarily in a way that increases sales.

10. Not knowing when you have got them. Companies that have succeeded in branding need to know when to stop establishing their brand and when to maintain that which they have established. Monitor the results of your branding campaign. If your small business is a local household word, you can spend more time maintaining your professional image.

2.1 First Steps for developing a brand

Before you develop your brand identity, you have to assess your business, how it operates and the messages that you want to – and are able to – deliver consistently to your customers. You must be realistic right from the start. There are five key areas to consider.

1. Work out your business, product or service’s core competencies. These are what you achieve for your customer, not necessarily what you do. For example, a good wine shop’s core competence is selling wine that its customers enjoy – not just selling wine.

2. Assess who your existing and potential customers are and find out what they like and what they don’t. For example, if they are driven by competitive pricing, there is little point in you presenting yourself as a premium-price supplier of the same products offered by your competitors.

3. Find out how your customers and your employees feel about your business. Reliable? Caring? Cheap? Expensive? Luxurious? No-frills? Later in the process, these emotional responses (brand values) will form the basis of your brand message.

4. Define how favourably your business is viewed by customers and potential customers – this is your perceived quality. Do they trust your business, product or service? Do they know exactly what it does for them? What do they think of when your brand is mentioned to them? Low perceived quality will restrict or damage your business. High perceived quality gives you a platform to grow. (Stephen M. Wigley, et al,July 2005)

5. Consider how far you can develop your business with its current customer perception without moving away from your core competencies. The amount you can change your offer is your brand stretch. For example, a shop known for selling fresh sandwiches could also consider selling homemade cakes and biscuits without going outside its core competencies. But selling frozen ready meals too may stretch its brand too far. (Stephen M. Wigley, et al,July 2005)

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