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Small Business Branding: 7 Inexpensive Tools to Use

by Marcia Yudkin, Head Stork, Named At Last

Many people think of branding as an all-encompassing phenomenon where every way in which a company interacts with customers is consistent with a certain image and message. That certainly is something we can all aspire to, especially if we wish to avoid getting lost amidst fierce competition.

However, you can also take baby steps in personal branding – thoughtfully cloaking just a couple of things you do with style and meaning – and still create an impact. Use this list of branding touch points to identify fun, significant, inexpensive ways to get started in coming across as someone special.

1. Phone message. Instead of boring old leave-me-a-message voice mail, imbue your messages with energy and some sort of memorable element. For instance, if you are a gardening consultant, you could greet phone callers who miss you with an upbeat “It’s a great day for cultivating a garden! Let me know how I can help you.”

2. Email signature. Unusually, an out-of-office message from one of my newsletter subscribers the other day caught my eye: “I’ll be back on Monday… unless I get enlightened and become one with the Seattle rain.” This prompted me to look more closely at who would have written this whimsical missive and to click to her web site. Many people include a motto or quote in their email signature – if you do this, make sure it’s something unexpected and yet somehow tied into your business.

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3. Product title. If you’re not ready to commit yourself to comprehensive branding, you can still jazz up the title of a report, white paper or teleseminar recording you are giving away. Instead of “Guide to Overcoming Procrastination,” for example, call it “The No-More-Mañana Handbook.”

4. Business card. Years ago, I did not have a logo or a company color, but when I went networking, I always had the coolest business card in the room. It had black type on a transparent card made of some type of high-tech material. Brainstorm ways to elevate your business card above the ordinary.

5. Tweets. I once performed a Twitter audit for a client, looking through his most recent 20 tweets and asking, “Do these communicate his strengths as a software consultant?” They did not. Consider what you want to be known for, such as irreverence, knowledge or compassion, and ensure that most of your tweets fit with and foster your desired image.

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6. Accessibility. Do you prefer to come off as the distant sage who can be reached only by slogging up a mountain or as someone who’s reachable by phone most hours of the day or night? Whichever you choose, make sure your “contact us” page conveys that message consistently, and your actual reachability conforms with the message.

7. Behavior. How you respond – as well as how quickly you respond – to email requests, questions, fan notes, blog critics and so on likewise contributes to how people in your target audience think of you. Imagine the difference, for example, between someone slugging back with everything he’s got at someone disagreeing with him on his blog and someone thanking the commentator graciously for taking the time to post her opinion.

Except for the business card suggestion, the baby-step branding moves outlined above cost nothing. Even so, implementing just a few of them can get you started building a strong, noteworthy, memorable personal brand.

Copyright 2011 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

Stuck on thinking up or choosing your new company or product name?  Get help generating a snappy brand name or catchy business name.

Other Articles on Branding

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Company Identity Goes Far Deeper Than a Logo

The Benefits of Branding

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