What Is Branding and What Does It Mean for Your Small Business

What is branding? When some people think of product branding, they think of, say, the name of a cereal and the character associated with the product, or they think of a company's name and its associated logo. These are, in fact, both characteristics of branding. However, there is much more to branding. Understanding what corporate branding is can help you refine how you present your business to the public.

How do you stand out?
In a broad sense, branding is the image, perhaps visual or verbal, that you want the public to remember about your business over time. In a narrower sense, branding is the message that you want to communicate about the uniqueness of your product or service that sets you apart from your competition.

Who wants your product?
In order to develop a successful brand, you have to know the demographics of your target market. This means doing some marketing research so that you can understand who your buyers are. This type of research will help you develop a logo, your product or service's name and, if you choose, a slogan. All of these may be different, if, for example, a primary part of your target market is single men between twenty-one and twenty-five years old versus a target market with primaries of married women between thirty and forty.

How does your behavior affect your brand?
Understanding branding can also affect how you conduct your business on a daily basis. For example, part of your brand involves how you communicate with the public. Every time that you speak or see someone, you leave an impression. Obviously, you would like that impression to be as positive as possible. Part of your image, and part of your brand, is how the public perceives you and your employees as "personas" representing your business.

What actions can boost your brand?
As a small business, you have many tools available to you to help you develop your brand. For example, you can send out a newsletter or e-mail newsletter containing interesting and informative information regarding developments in your industry or "how to" tips. You can write a blog on your Web site or participate in a business-related social network. You might want to work with nearby charities or schools if your business is locally based.

Branding is important to any business, large or small. With all of the competition that exists today, branding can help your business bring in new customers and remind repeat customers that you have always taken care of them in the past.

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