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Wed, Jun 17th - 10:09PM

Branding your Small Business

Branding and Your Small Business

All businesses have a brand. A good brand can keep your small business from disappearing in the crowded Internet world and offline too. It can make your business distinctive. A good or bad branding will either elicit a positive image and response from potential customers or create a negative image and response.  

Branding is an emotional technique. Think slogans like: Jaguar: Don’t dream it. Drive it! or There’s a smile in every Hershey bar.  Many times people buy because of an emotional response and they make an excuse for themselves over their purchase. Motel 6 had a promotional strategy considered one of the best in the 20th century. That homey, friendly effect of leaving the light on for you was a real winner. It is emotional and reminds people of something a family member would do for you.  

Understanding the preferences and dislikes of your target audience is key to successful branding of your small business. Really, it is a mixture of science and art. A creative presentation of your product or service is good, but the customer has to identify with it and has to understand what the product being sold is.  

Your branding should focus on the customer’s experience, what he needs or wants. What feeling does the customer get about your product? What values are you associating with your product or service? Are you not just talking the talk, but walking the walk concerning the values you imply? Does everyone in your small business reflect the businesses values and philosophy correctly? Think of the extent to which Martha Stewart represents stylish living. She has used creativity and practical concepts and tips to build her brand and has made it an emotional experience for her audience.

Your small business needs a consistent strategy and clear guidelines. If you can find a common characteristic of different demographics, it is a good way to plan your branding strategy. This must be part of all of your promotion and contacts with other businesses and the public concerning your product. Think of the Hershey bar slogan. It said that a Hershey bar could make anyone that likes chocolate smile. Chocolate lovers covers a wide demographic. There are chocolate lovers from all walks of life.

Remember, your brand makes a promise. Are you making them smile, helping them drive their dream, putting stylish living within their grasp—what are you branding? But your customers have to believe your promise. Your promise has to have substance and you have to identify what they should expect.  

If you are selling handmade jewelry and you want them to believe it is made better than other handmade jewelry—identify why and think of how-to brand the reasons or the main reason. Think in terms of the emotional response to beautiful, hand crafted jewelry that appeals to middle class women or whatever fits your situation. What about your jewelry strikes a response across a broader demographic?

Keep working on your branding concept until you have it perfected and use it with all of you promotions and promotional materials.

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June 2009
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