Professional Branding 101
A brand is the foundation of your business. It encompasses who you are, how you differ from competitors, what you offer, how you are perceived in the marketplace and what you promise to deliver to clients and customers.
A professional brand is essential for positioning your business. It drives your marketing and sales efforts and symbolizes to prospects and clients what they can expect when they do business with you.
Use the two-part plan below to create a professional, standout brand that reflects your company’s mission.
Step One: Define Your Brand
Creating your brand is an important process. Answer the following questions to help you define your brand:
- What is your company’s mission?
- Who are your ideal clients and customers?
- What do your ideal clients and customer’s value?
- How do your products and services fulfill the needs of your ideal clients and customers?
- How are you different from your competitors?
- How do you want to be perceived in the marketplace?
Part Two: Communicating Your Brand
Once you’ve defined your brand, the next step is to get the word out. This includes everything from your logo, website and promotional materials, to how you speak about your company and engage with customers, to where and how you advertise.
1. Get a great logo. A professional logo is the cornerstone of your brand. I see many business owners using sites like Vistaprint to create their logo and marketing materials. The downside to sites like these is the “cookie-cutter approach” — you choose a pre-created logo and template (one that is likely being used by thousands of other businesses across the country, who also use Vistaprint) and run the risk of having the same look and feel (and even business card) as your competitors. Your logo is an opportunity to stand out, communicate your true brand and differentiate your company. Invest in a professional graphic designer who can help you create a high quality, unique logo that represents your business well.
2. Get clear on your messaging. Who are your ideal clients and what do they value? What features and benefits do you provide? How is your business different? Develop concise talking points that should be emphasized in all of your marketing and sales activities. This is key for effectively communicating your brand.
3. Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. It’s important to use the same color scheme, fonts, and logo in all of your materials. This includes your website, social media, business cards, advertisements and printed collateral. It’s crucial that everything you put out has the same “look and feel” to avoid confusing your market. If you need help designing professional materials, hire an experienced graphic designer.
4. Be consistent! With all of your branding, the number one key is to be consistent. You want to be easily identified by prospects and clients as well as accurately convey what your business stands for at each touch point.
Your Monthly Marketing Action Step:
Answer the questions in Part One for Defining Your Brand. Next, take inventory of your current logo and marketing materials. Do they accurately reflect your brand? Review the four points in Part Two for Communicating Your Brand and write down what needs to be improved. Schedule time on your calendar to work on these areas and/or to hire a professional who can help.
About Amy Spainhower & Wedgewood Graphic Design:
Amy Spainhower, Principal and Creative Director of Wedgewood Graphic Design, is an award-winning, nationally recognized graphic design and website professional. Prior to starting Wedgwood Graphic Design in 2007, Amy was Creative & Marketing Director for Coed Sportswear’s apparel line for women. Previously to that, Amy had a 16 year career at Bottomline Technologies, an international financial software company. While there, she held a variety of positions, including Creative Services Manager for North America with international creative support for 8 years. Her work in that role received awards for Creative Advertising from Graphic Design USA and an Honorable Mention from the prestigious MarCom Awards.
While at Bottomline, Amy also served as Corporate Services Manager in the Support Division, as well as, Implementation Manager for customers such as Osh Kosh B’Gosh, Harvard University, Bank of America, Penzoil Corporation and Gillette/Oral-B.
Wedgewood Graphic Design helps service professionals attract more clients and grow their businesses by offering creative graphic design, website design and marketing strategy services.
For more information, visit www.wedgewooddesign.com.
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