Don't think branding. Think brand power.
As a small business entrepreneur, you are savvy enough to know that branding isn't just for large multinational corporations. However, when it comes to branding there is still too much attention given to colors and designs and not enough given to achieving brand power. Visibility and repetition are the keys to success and can even overcome average designs.
When you are imagining what your logo should look like, don't stop there--imagine where it will go. Imagine the knowledgeable and helpful staff behind it. Now you are thinking brand power.
Ideally you want your logo to represent the reason why you are in business in the first place. Read your mission statement and how you intend to win in business, then look at your logo. Ask yourself, "does this design represent our company's beliefs and the services we will provide?"
Invest, but don't over spend on the logo. One could argue that visibility is more important than looks if you had to choose. Let's examine Google's logo. It has a simple, almost amateurish look. This is probably planned, but it's not going to find its way into too many coffee table design books. And it does not matter, not one little bit. The success of Google's logo is visibility. The logo is everywhere. It's achieved global familiarity and with it trust, if not awe.
This is why you should include your logo on every piece of communication. Put it on every web page of your site, business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, yellow page ads, building signage, newsletters, web buttons, promotional collateral, even small ads. If you've got a solid business and you give that logo visibility, you'll find yourself with some brand power. Then perhaps if your logo is next to a competitor's, they'll click your hyperlink. Familiarity will lead to increased sales.
Since you haven't overspent on your logo, you can put a little extra into your web presence. It's not good enough to have just any website, it must have a clean design, easy navigation, and quality content. All these things are ingredients of Internet brand power.
One of the most common misconceptions is that you are "done" once the site is uploaded to the web. Nothing could be further from reality. It is only the beginning. Now you must achieve high search engine rankings. And this takes time and sustained effort. This is the web visibility game and if you don't know how to play it, you would be well advised to get quality help. Your website is your store no matter what you are selling and you need to get visitors in the door and convert them into customers.
Tip: Launches are newsworthy. Once your website is live and you've had a chance to polish it just a little bit, you should issue online press releases about your new company. It's an affordable and effective way to get instant interest.
Depending on your business, you may need a marketing folder with sales sheets inside or perhaps a tri-fold brochure. You can also prepare a one-page corporate overview and have an online printer turn it into a marketing slick for a few cents per print. A one-pager can be a vital catalyst for conversation or a leave behind when you meet a prospect.
Make sure you write short sentences in short paragraphs and bold your headings - prospects will skim first and then read deeper if you have them hooked. Your one-page overview should begin with your USP (unique selling proposition) and then lead into the target audience benefits. List a comprehensive set of services. Don't forget your physical address, phone number and web address.
There are two trains of thought when it comes to the call to action on a marketing piece. Since you have a great new website, you certainly want to encourage people to visit. However, some companies are now moving back to emphasizing the phone number over the web address. Phone interaction gives you an immediate "live" opportunity to convert the visitor into a consumer and also get some feedback.
The Modern Marketing Mix
You've got your logo, letterhead, all your print collateral, and website. You are now ready to present your business to your audience through marketing. It's best to have a multi-faceted approach to your marketing plan. You can launch a direct mail campaign or sponsor an event. The traditional methods of print, television, and radio advertising as well as trade shows are also effective if they well executed and in your budget. A quick tip: running a promotion or offering a free service are both good launch practices.
If you can write in an engaging manner, then you have tremendous affordable marketing power at your fingertips. Blogs bring web traffic. Submitting articles to trade magazines or Ezines create interest and also bring traffic. RSS feeds may very well become such an integral part of business success that they'll make the meta tag craze look silly.
Choose a few options you can afford and then go for it. As time goes on make a wish list for marketing options down the road.
The Brand New You
You are set now with an intelligent launch. You haven't overspent on your logo, you've got a professional website, you are achieving great web visibility and you have a sustained marketing campaign to get yourself in front of your target audience. Just don't forget that some of the best brand power will come from you and your employees. Passion and knowledge go a long way to building your brand and launch success.