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Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Branding for Small Businesses

Paying attention to the tone and appearance of the ways you reach out to prospects and customers can provide valuable benefits to your small business.

While the definition of “branding” varies considerably by company size, industry and other factors, any company can invest some time and effort to position itself more effectively in its target markets.

In broad terms, the purpose of a strong brand is to help distinguish your company from its competitors. The brand helps signify what your business means to the people you interact with, and the term “branding” refers to the steps you take to promote a favorable perception of your small business.

Many people assume branding involves picking a trendy logo, font or color for your business. Although those can play a role in your branding, your messaging and tone — what you say and how you say it — are both far more important in establishing an effective small business brand.

A good starting point in defining a company brand is asking yourself a series of questions:

  • Who do you serve?
  • What problems or challenges do they face?
  • What do your customers care about?
  • How do you serve them?

Considering these issues will provide a strong foundation that helps you determine the most effective messaging to promote your small business.

Tone and Personality

You want the tone of the voice you use to communicate with your target market to reflect your company’s personality as well as its products and services. Companies in different industries, or that target different age groups, are likely to use different words to describe what they do.

A wedding planner, for instance, will probably promote fun, reliability and organization, while a law firm will use more measured language to reflect its experience and offer reassurance to people with legal questions or problems.

You also want to look for ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you’re a second-generation plumbing firm, for example, you can stress the fact that family members answer the phone or do most of the work, that someone is available around the clock, your commitment to the community, or whatever key attributes you want to highlight.

Your company’s values can also provide the basis for a strong tagline that summarizes your company’s services. That plumbing firm, for instance, might use a tagline that reads “quality service since____,” while its “about” page describes that commitment to service and provides examples of the company going above and beyond.

You’ll want to use a similar tone for your company’s website, blog posts, social media content, advertising and other messages. Repeating similar messages, using the same tone, helps reinforce your positioning while improving its effectiveness.

A Powerful Logo

Your company logo is part of your branding mix, but too many people assume it’s the central element and spend too much time obsessing over it. In general terms, choosing a clean, simple design is usually the best approach. Even something as basic as your company name or initials can provide the basis for a good logo.

There are a variety of low-cost logo services that can provide options based on your company size and industry. You’ll probably see some poor ideas before making your final choice, but the lower cost makes experimentation affordable.

With some thought and attention, you can develop a consistent branding message that positions your company for further growth and success.

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