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Everyone's talking about your small business brand

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Branding, what does that mean? In business terms, branding boils down to what you are trying to portray for yourself, your product, or your company. Think about some brands you recognize easily: Coca-Cola; McDonald's; Wal-Mart. What pops into your mind? Whether you're trying to portray tradition, family-friendliness, or value, the branding you choose will make a difference in how you are perceived. It also makes a difference in whether you are remembered!

Personal Brand

Your personal brand is the mental and emotional picture that comes to mind when a customer hears your company's name. If you are an artist, actor, model, or entrepreneur, your product and company is you. What the customer or client sees, is what they think of you. First impressions do matter! One thing you can do to ensure your first impression is strong, is to have professional head shots or entrepreneur portraits completed. Having a professional head shot can mean the difference between getting noticed positively by clients, or having them click past your website to another.

Think about current performers...when you hear the name, "Miley", what do you think of? A few years ago, you might have thought of sweet Hannah Montana from the Disney Channel. What do you think of today? A half-naked girl swinging from a wrecking ball? Yep, her image has changed because she essentially "re-branded". If you were looking for a sweet, innocent performer, the old Miley would have been ideal. But, would you consider the new Miley for a Disney Channel show? Probably not. While her talents haven't changed, her image and the emotions she brings are 100% different. That makes a huge difference to whom she may appeal.

How to Develop Your Small Business' Brand Image

New companies and entrepreneurs need to come up with a plan for branding as one of the first steps in a business plan. Your brand is that first impression. It makes you or your product desirable, or just "ho-hum". You want to stand out! Owners of existing businesses may choose to re-brand, to change an image that is no longer appropriate or applicable. One way or the other, branding is critical to defining who you are to your customer.

In order to come up with a brand image, you need to think like your target client or costumer, and portray yourself accordingly.

Some questions to ask yourself are:
• What is the purpose of your company or product?
• How will a client or consumer benefit by hiring you or purchasing your product?
• Do your clients and customers already have an opinion of you? What emotion does your name stir within potential clients? Are you happy with that image?
• How would you want to be described to others?
Resources for Creating a Small Business Brand

Developing a small business brand sounds simple, but there is actually a lot of consideration to put into the effort. Preparing a headshot and logo, templates, tagline, and graphics are all important considerations. You want to have a professional image that the clients can trust. And, it's critical that you use the branding that has been created consistently.

There are resources available to help you in developing your brand:

* Websites and magazines for small businesses, such as Entrepreneur

* Networking with others in your field that may have the expertise you need. Help each other to become successful.

* Utilize small business assistance through the local, state, or federal government.

Whether you're looking to get your company off the ground, or looking to change your company's image, it's time to consider what your branding is saying about you. Are your customers getting the right message?

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