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Top branding tips for small businesses

Think that brands are just for big businesses? Think again. Your brand is one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal. It can help you to communicate who you are and what your business does more clearly, help you to reach more customers and inspire confidence in your products. Read on for our top ten branding tips for small businesses.

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Think that brands are just for big businesses? Think again. Your brand is one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal. It can help you to communicate who you are and what your business does more clearly, help you to reach more customers and inspire confidence in your products. Read on for our top ten branding tips for small businesses. 1. Remember, branding is about more than just your logo. Your brand goes beyond your logo, slogan and design to encompass your customers' entire experience of your business, including your staff and services. It is all about how you represent yourself and how you are perceived by the outside world. 2. Why do I need a brand? Developing a brand can help you to focus your business's objectives, making it easier to communicate to your customers what it is you do and how. Essentially, your brand is what sets you apart from every other business offering the same products and services as you. 3. Don't go it alone. Unless you're a design or marketing company (in which case you probably know a bit about branding already) or are a very small company, it would be unwise to undergo a branding exercise by yourself. Choose a designer or company who can demonstrate experience in branding - even better if they specialise in working with small businesses or within your industry. 4. Brief your designer. The brief is the most important document in any branding exercise. It sets out what you expect from the designer and the brand, plus you can refer to it throughout the process to make sure you are sticking to your original objectives. It should include any relevant background to your company, information on your customers, competitors, and your company's objectives. 5. Choose your design carefully. The designer will then put together two or three design ideas for you to review and they should be able to explain the concept behind each one. When choosing the final design, remember to think about how and where your brand will be displayed. The logo or colour they have used may work well on your brochure, but what about your website? On the side of company vehicles? Most designers will usually provide mock-ups of your branded material if requested. 6. Think of your brand as an investment. The cost of involving an agency can seem like a large expense, but treat it as any other business investment. Costs can easily mount up, so set a budget and be sure to measure the return on your investment in sales, press coverage, referrals and website visits. 7. Plan your brand launch. A new brand is an excellent opportunity to get some publicity for your company, so plan how you're going to let the world know about it with a carefully planned PR and social media campaign, website launch and even direct marketing. Plus, don't forget to tell your existing customers and contacts. 8. Become recognisable. For full impact, make sure that your brand is used consistently across all products, websites, press releases, letters, business cards and presentations. If it is produced by your business, for your business, brand it. This helps to tie everything together, present your business professionally and encourage recognition amongst customers. If you allow third parties, such as partners or suppliers, to use your logo, you should always retain control over how it looks. 9. Make sure you live up to your brand. If your brand suggests that you are reliable, professional and good value for money, you must make sure that you do everything to fulfil these expectations. There is nothing worse for your brand than it being associated with bad service and disappointment. 10. Keep it fresh. Your brand is not a static entity; it needs to be flexible enough to develop and change as your business grows. If you already have a brand, assess its value by asking yourself: What message does it communicate? Does it reflect your company values (professional, approachable, luxury, etc.)? What do your customers think of it? If you don't know, don't be afraid to ask them!

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