Keys To Brand Building: Innovation, Integration & Identity In the process of SMEs' development, failure, and perseverance, it is an undeniable fact that branding has become a large component in their success.

By Tina Wells

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With the ever-growing popularity of entrepreneurship, it seems that more and more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are popping up around us. In the process of SMEs' development, failure, and perseverance, it is an undeniable fact that branding has become a large component in their success.

Of course, tangible and financial investments are crucial to the achievement of company goals but one must not disregard the power of reputation. As an entrepreneur and founder of Buzz Marketing Group, I'll be the first to admit that it can be easy to forget how important branding can be.

To establish the reputation that you want and need as a company, the following are a few steps that you can take as a business owner, an entrepreneur, or even as an aspiring leader whose sights are set on starting your own company one day.

1. Create a Real Mission Statement

Figure out what you stand for. It's not enough to mention that a shoe company makes shoes or that a cleaning company provides cleaning services. You need a one-sentence summary to guide how you do business instead of simply what you create or supply. Although it is good to be specific, don't afraid to get a little abstract in your mission!

For example, consider Google's mission, "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," or Amazon's statement, "to be the earth's most customer centric company." A good statement is one that encompasses the character and overarching goal of your business.

2. Develop Your Brand and Reputation Around That Mission

Once you have created a mission statement, use every possible tool to establish a brand through the lens of that mission. Make sure that the style of your product, the labels and packaging, and the consumer experience jive with the envisioned brand. This brand does not need to be complex, but it should be consistent.

If your mission is, for instance, to make consumers feel like celebrities, make sure that you follow through with that mission in the way you write emails, the way you talk to clients, the way that you design your product or service, and the content you post on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, etc. This brand should be more than just a superficial statement or a visual façade. Let the mission statement permeate all facets of your business, and it will truly nourish your brand to grow and expand.

3. Know What Others See

Once you start developing your brand, it is important to determine how others perceive it. When you're working on something that can be so intangible, it can be easy to start drinking your own Kool-Aid and never stop. Don't just keep pushing a concept based on your own ideas and assumptions (or the assumptions and ideas of your partners and employees).

You might think that the yellow and orange design on your logo is bright and beautiful, but others may just be reminded of Big Bird and associate your brand with childishness. That is why it's important to keep an eye out on what others are saying about your company and your brand. It can be as simple as doing a Google search of your business or as extensive as conducting surveys and collecting information from focus groups.

4. Maintain a Strong Relationship with Your Clients and Customers

Gathering information on your brand does not always require strangers' opinions. Sometimes the best feedback comes from those you work for the customers and the clients. Although this may seem a bit obvious, it bears restating: do everything in your power to maintain the loyalty of your current customers, and that will help you get the attention of prospective customers.

Create an environment in which there can be constructive discussions about your company with clients, and don't be afraid to receive criticism; from the bad will come good if you are open minded and if you use that feedback to better your image.

5. Embody Your Brand, But Don't Be Afraid to Adapt

Consistency is important in developing your brand and maintaining a reputation, but keep up with the trends! Add the appropriate brand extensions. Update and upgrade yourself and your image to maintain general interest in your company. There are ways to keep your company up to date while maintaining the essence of your mission and vision. The most powerful brands are those that are not afraid of makeovers but maintain staying power. You and your company should strive to achieve this approach.

Tina Wells, CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group, earned her B.A. in Communication Arts graduating with honors from Hood College in 2002. Currently a Wharton School of Business student for marketing management, Tina continues to create innovative marketing strategies for numerous clients within the beauty, entertainment, fashion, financial, and lifestyle sectors. Tina has worked with clients including: Dell, Girl Scouts of the USA, Maidenform, SonyBMG, PBS, P+G, Sesame Workshop, and American Eagle Outfitters. Tina’s long list of honors include Essence’s 40 Under 40, Billboard’s 30 Under 30, and Inc’s 30 Under 30, just to name a few. She is the author of the tween series Mackenzie Blue, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, and the youth marketing handbook Chasing Youth Culture And Getting It Right.

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