Small Business by C. Norman Beckert: Check these steps when establishing your brand

C. NORMAN BECKERT, Idaho district director for SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired ExecutivesAugust 27, 2013 

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C. Norman Beckert

Recently, the Deluxe Corp., a national sponsor of SCORE, distributed to SCORE chapters across the U.S. a feature called The Essential Branding Checklist. With permission from Deluxe, I’ve summarized the key elements.

1. A great brand is the foundation of a great business.

Your brand includes all of the elements that make up your business. It starts with your product or service and includes your logo, your storefront, your vehicles, your staff and your advertising. Branding done right will make your business more memorable and credible. It will allow you to stand out from your competition.

The branding process starts with defining and capturing the character of your business. Once you know that, you can create your brand and promote it.

2. Define your brand.

• What is your focus? What products or services do you offer?

Dell’s focus is computers, but it sells many computer accessories as well.

• What is your company’s personality? Create a list of words that describe your company, such as reliable, inexpensive, fun.

Maytag chose reliability, and works it through the entire brand.

• Who are your ideal customers? How old are they? Male or female? What are their interests? Where do they live?

Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic are three brands owned by the same company to reach different target markets.

• What makes you different? How are you better than your competitors? Better quality, more choices?

Quiznos took on Subway with this simple position: “Toasted tastes better.”

3. Create your brand.

• Choose your company name. Make sure it is unique and reflects your business, has an available internet domain name, is meaningful for your target market and is easy to remember.

• Develop a great tagline. A tagline tells your customers who you are and what you stand for in a few short words. Two examples are: “You’re in Good Hands with Allstate” and “We Try Harder” by Avis.

• Choose your company colors. Color affects your image and your customers’ motivation to buy. Dark blue is a color of business and strength. Red is passionate. Yellow is happy.

• Hire a professional to design your logo. It should be simple, unique and memorable. It should work well in all sizes and applications as well as in black and white.

Good examples are Nike’s swoosh and Apple’s apple.

4. Live your brand.

• Adopt your brand internally. Make sure your entire team understands and exemplifies your brand while interacting with customers and with each other. That includes employee apparel, staff policies and procedures, how and where meetings are conducted, customer service and care.

• Promote your brand consistently. Use it in every aspect of your communications with customers and prospects. That includes advertising, signage, vehicles, stores and offices, websites, social media, promotional items and phone messages.

5. Position your brand.

Now that you have defined your brand and determined what makes you different from competitors. Take a moment to look carefully at how your competitors presents their products and services to your market. Examine their logos and taglines and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Determine how the details of your brand name, logo and tagline can claim a position of strength in the minds of your target market. The result: You can now see how to position your brand’s messaging and logo to break through the noise of your competition.

Deluxe Corp. offers printing, financial services, small business services, online marketing, search engine optimization, website hosting, email marketing, banking services, social media and interactive marketing. Additional information is available on their website:


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