Whether you realize it or not, if you're in business, you already have a brand. The issue is how identifiable--and memorable--that brand is. To make your brand effective, you need to clearly identify the purpose of your business, and frequently and consistently communicate that purpose to customers and potential customers.
"Ask yourself, `What am I trying to communicate?' " Khera recommends. "What identity do you want to convey? This will be different for everybody. A plumbing company is going to be doing something very different than a computer company. You have to start figuring out who your audience is and what kinds of things you can do to stay in front of your audience and keep your brand name associated with your company."
Everything you do will reinforce--or detract from--the brand image you're trying to establish. A clear concept of what that image is, and consistency in conveying it, is critical.
"If you can develop a logo that translates into what you do, that's where you should start," Khera says. "Then everywhere you mention your company--business cards, letterhead, envelopes, stationery, a Web site--has your logo associated with it. That reinforces your brand identity." But, he warns, "It's very important not to scrimp on your stationery or letterhead. If you project the image that you had 1,000 business cards printed for $20, that's the brand identity you're going to be carrying with you. If you look small, you'll be perceived as being small. There's nothing wrong with that if that's what you want to project. But if you want to be taken more seriously and thought of as a stable company with top-notch professionals on your staff, then your whole image has to be behind that."
The dollars you invest in establishing your image will serve you well when you put your name before your customers. And those dollars can be maximized by careful communication planning.
"Develop a marketing plan that centers around the kinds of things that project your image over and over again," Khera says. "This includes press releases, advertising and your product name. It's very important to be consistent. To have a constant presence, you need to stay in front of your audience."
The two keys to establishing and building a strong brand are developing a unique and specific identity, and communicating that identity consistently and frequently.
Can small businesses brand? Yes they can--they're doing it every day. And when they're successful, they don't stay small for long!
Khera Communications/GovCon Inc., 2400 Research Blvd., #250, Rockville, MD 20850, www.govcon.com
Macro International Inc., 100 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10013, (212) 334-4300
Resort Sports Network, P.O. Box 7528, Portland, ME 04112, (207) 772-5000