Throughout the business planning process you will be put in the position to make many creative decisions. If you are serious about starting a business that creates value, then you should be ready to attack them head on.
Branding your business is just one of these challenges, however when your branding strategy is well thought out and intensely focused, the sky is the limit. The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers. In this process, you will gather all of the identifying characteristics of your company so far, such as your Mission Statement, Target Market, and Competitive Advantages, using them as a basis to build your brand.
Many business owners spend very little time to focus on their branding strategy. This may be due to the fact that there are many components that may seem more important to the plan, or simply that they are overwhelmed by the amount of decisions there are to be made, and feel like they do not have enough time to really zero in on this element. Do not make this mistake! Branding is actually an extremely powerful method of communication. If the design of the brand is right, it can deliver your message to your customers even without the aid of expensive advertising. A good brand should make you look credible, professional, and knowledgeable.
Several examples of strong branding that have left their footprints on our society are: When you think Volvo, you might think safety. When you think Nike, you might think of Tiger Woods or “Just Do It.” When you think IBM, you might think “Big Blue.” These are all brands that have been well established and are practically ingrained into our brains.
This part of the business planning process really gives you a chance to be creative. Embrace your creative side and conduct one or several brainstorming sessions in order to come up with names that reflect your business, your customers, and your mission statement/core values. After some consultation with friends, family, and other stakeholders in your business, choose the names and taglines that you feel most strongly represent your company and the image you want to portray. Your branding strategy starts when you are writing your business plan so it is a good idea to set up a nice foundation for the future to build upon.
After your business is up and running and the credibility of your company grows, your customers will easily associate your brand with your company. This can go a long way to solidifying your stance in your particular industry. Surely, there are many ways to become successful in any business endeavor, but there are few elements more powerful than having a recognizable, appealing and unique brand that your customers can easily associate themselves with, so do not sell yourself short on your branding!