Copyright © 2009 LogoNerds.com, Net Biz Ventures Inc.
Published by LogoNerds.com, Net Biz Ventures Inc.
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All content contained within "Brand Your Way To Success" & "Effective Logo Design" is copyright © 2009 LogoNerds.com, Net Biz Ventures Inc.
No matter how long you !ve been in business, chances are good that you are engaged in developing and promoting your brand positioning strategy. You!ll invest plenty of time in the process of evaluating your products or services in terms of market share, sales and customer base and comparing this information to that of your competitors. You!ll work to determine how your customers perceive your business and its major offerings and use the detailed findings to establish your business at the proper place within that all important target market.
Your business position within the target market will determine your business !s degree of success. If you think you can maneuver into a more profitable place, do so by adjusting your products or services to more closely match the desired position (known as re-positioning), or pursue strategies that change customer perception of the products and services offered by your competitors (de-positioning).Here are some strategic tips that can help you to be as effective as possible during your brand positioning process:
1. " Understand brand positioning as fully as you can, especially in the way that it directly affects your business. Businesses, especially smaller ones, are very diverse in their needs and offerings, and it might take quite a bit of effort to even be sure that you are positioning yourself within the correct market. Look closely at the businesses sharing your pool of regular customers, their purchasing patterns and the roles that your business plays in their everyday lives.
2. " Develop the most efficient method possible for gathering customer information. Remember that you!re trying to get inside their heads and back out again with an unvarnished look at how they see your business in terms of the benefit that it provides for them. You might consider questionnaires, phone surveys or online surveys and offer a small bonus to compensate customers for their valuable time.3." Determine which of your products and/or services are the most popular or powerful, so that you can use them to build on or adjust your overall positioning strategy.
5. " List the most popular group of attributes that describe your business and products from the viewpoints of your customers and combine them to reach your ideal vector…the position in your target market from where your business can operate at the highest possible level of strength.
6. " Product-based businesses can complete the positioning process more easily than service based businesses. After all, your customers can see, touch and watch demonstrations of your products to see how they work and visualize their benefits. Here are some hints for exploring how customers perceive your business and its services:7." Create simulations, descriptions or case studies showing proven results.
9. " Regardless of your business type, take the information about customer perception that you!ve gathered, determine your top benefits and attributes and use them to determine your current positioning and how far that point is from your ideal vector in the marketplace.
10. " Decide whether you are satisfied with the current positioning of your business, or whether you need to change your strategy. Consider your target market and decide if your business is positioned in such a manner that it maximizes every opportunity for visibility in that market.
Finally, keep in mind that positioning can be either an active or passive process. If you choose not to fully engage in it – it will still take place. Don!t give up the valuable opportunity to monitor and influence the process and increase profitability.
Brand building is a fundamental part of building a successful business – on or offline. An effective brand building strategy creates a memorable impression that serves to establish your business as a field or industry leader. These days, even brick and mortar businesses are compelled to have an online presence, so whether you are selling handmade jewelry exclusively online or seeking to expand your professional practice with a new website, it makes sense to use these online tools to build your brand and expand your reach.
Your Domain Name
Even before you create a company website, you!ll choose a domain name, also known as a URL. When you purchase it, choose carefully – it will be the Internet address for your business. Choosing your domain name wisely can give your website a leg up in the SEO process – and can mean the difference between getting noticed by potential customers and coming in on page ten of the search engine results. Use your business name to increase brand power, and consider additional names to increase web traffic using keywords related to your business.
Create a signature file that includes your business name, tagline, and if possible, logo and use it in all of your emails, when posting on blogs and in online forums. A well developed signature file establishes your brand around the Internet and builds it by attracting visitors to your website.
Some business advisers frown upon spending a lot of time and money on logo design, but a quality logo builds online branding instantly and powerfully. Here are some guidelines for using your logo to make the right impression with your online audience:
Keep in mind that whatever images and thoughts are evoked in the minds of your viewers when they see your logo will be associated with your business automatically, so use this very powerful online brand building tool with care.
Web Site Design
Your web site is your most important online branding tool. It represents the place where all of the elements of a highly recognizable brand come together. If your business is already running successfully in an offline capacity, you!ll need to extend the elements of your offline strategy to your website, because uniformity is key to avoiding confusion in the minds of your target customers.
Pay special attention to the appearance and readability of the font size and type that you choose for your text, to the colors used in your graphics and page backgrounds, and to any photos and images that you decide to post. Not only do these elements attract or repel visitors in terms of aesthetics, they are a vital part of an effective online branding process. For example, you might favor orange, a color that conveys happiness, but if your website offers professional services, you are better off with a shade of blue that conveys trustworthiness and loyalty.
You may like the look of an ornate font, but if readers have a hard time scanning your pages, the brand building power is lost.
Bringing it all together
Building a powerful online brand for your business is a truly comprehensive effort that requires careful planning and execution. Be sure that the visual elements of your brand are consistent wherever they appear. As you expand your online presence to such areas of the Internet as blogs, social networking sites, article directories and forums, be sure that your logo, colors, contact information and quality of content remain consistent in their representation of your business as a trusted industry leader.
Promotional products provide a valuable and inexpensive way to enhance your brand and expand your customer base. A useful, quality gift leaves a positive impression on current and future customers contributes to your company!s image. It also works as an enduring testimonial/ advertisement that remains in the home or office, ready to generate new or repeat business or valuable word of mouth recommendation.
There are literally thousands of promotional products that you can use to build your brand recognition. Here are some points to consider when you are leafing through the catalogs or scrolling through the websites in search of the most effective value for your promotional dollar:
! •! Choose a product that relates strongly to your type of business. Your logo and contact information might look good on a super sponge, but if you!re a professional, an attractive ball point pen in your company!s colors will convey your image more effectively. For a business that sells specialty coffee, a sturdy and ample mug is a natural choice. The point to remember here is that brand power is achieved more readily when your new customer recognizes who and what your business provides immediately, whenever they look at or use your promotional gift.
! •! Don"t skimp on quality. If your budget is small, distribute a small token such as a pad of printed posted notes rather than an umbrella that turns inside out when the user gets caught by a wind gust. Rational, fair or not, people will judge the quality of your goods or service by the quality of your promotional gifts. If you!re going to use this method to instill trust in your corporate image and inspire people to buy from you, give them the same quality that you would provide if they were paying for the product.
! •! Choose a useful product. Potential customers tend to be very pleased when they receive a promotional gift that they can actually use. They feel as though it was chosen especially for them, and this appreciative sense of intimacy creates a closer business relationship and generates trust in your brand –building it while attracting new revenue. Most people have more fridge magnets than they will ever actually use. A magnetic note pad with attached pen or pencil is more likely to be used, and your brand is more likely to grow in recognition.
Once you !ve selected and purchased your promotional gifts, distribute them at every possible opportunity. Give them away at trade shows, conferences, in your office or shop. Offer them on your website in exchange for contact information or to attract sign- ups for your email newsletter. Package them with merchandise shipments and give them to clients, customers and business colleagues.
Before long, you !ll see the results in the form of more new and returning customers, and a broader recognition of your business as a trusted leader in your corner of the consumer marketplace. Carefully choosing and distribution promotional products is just one way to build your brand – but as you can see it is a powerful as well as an investment that reaps rewards far into the future.
Are you looking for an affordable way to reach out to your target marketplace, expand your brand and increase sales? Consider these promotional products – especially if you are a small business with a limited budget. They are surprisingly affordable and have shown great results in terms of brand building and creating customer goodwill. They also give you the advantage of a constant presence in the home or office of your customer, ready to recommend your products or services whenever the need arises.
Magnets remind people that your business is out there, ready to serve them at a moment!s notice. They are so popular that many people keep collections on their fridge, filing cabinet, or desk – wherever they can find a metal surface to adhere them. They are often used to keep photos or papers attached to the surface, but more often become a sales or service directory for quick reference – a great value for minimal cost.
Key chains are always useful for car, home, office and garage keys. Every time your customer uses keys, he or she is reminded of your business. New customers develop an awareness of your brand and returning customers are reminded of their past experiences or perhaps that they need to do business with you again soon.
Pens , ball point or felt tip are favorites, especially for businesses where they are a staple tool. Banks, professional offices, educational institutions, booksellers, arts and craft stores and websites find that their customers appreciate writing tools as a promotional gift. Make sure it is a high quality pen that will last as long as you want your business to remain on the radar of its user. Mouse pads are wonderful, especially for businesses related to computer sales, repair, or IT services, or that cater to business or professional offices such as supply stores. They serve as a desktop billboard that advertises your business 24/7.Stickers are versatile and can be collected or placed in strategic places as a reminder of your products or services as well as to develop brand recognition over an extended period of time.
Calendars are very useful – everyone needs them, refers to them regularly and dislikes the chore of going out and buying them. Customers appreciate your business providing them and gain a positive image of your brand.
Mugs are the promo product with nine lives. They are always useful to someone. When people accumulate too many in their home or office, they give them away, and those bearing your logo start a whole new promotional life. Nobody throws a good mug into the trash.
Hats are especially popular among collectors and children of all ages. You can tailor the design to a specific event – such as a visor for a sporting event – or choose an all purpose favorite that can be worn for years, building brand recognition in your community.
T-Shirts are much appreciated for a variety of reasons, and if the color, style and logo are impressive enough – they!ll advertise your business everywhere the wearer goes. People will notice – and your brand will grow stronger.
Post it Pads printed with your company logo are low cost and valuable because people use them. They also get passed along with the note – so each sheet in the pad can potentially count as a contact with a new client.
These promotional devices can turn pennies into profit. They build lasting brand recognition and advertise on a continuous basis. Purchase quality items that present your company logo, taglines and contact information in an attractive and eye catching manner you!ll realize maximum return and sent into motion maximum brand and profit building power.
All too often, the difference between sluggish sales and rousing success for small business can be found in the advertising and branding programs. One small adjustment in the strategy can make a major difference in terms of getting noticed over and above the competition.
Small business owners are finding that a cartoon character logo and/or mascot often makes the difference, especially in industries and markets where the competition is already tight, with economic conditions making it even tighter. Cartoon character logos are often more costly, especially for a quality product, but companies that are willing to pay a little extra are often surprised and pleased when the extra attention and business more than make up for the initial outlay.
Take for example the Canadian dentist who made the news recently after winning a Marketer of the Year Award. After assessing his completion, he realized that most dental advertisements were nearly identical. He set out to differentiate himself by creating an animated character of a man with an obvious toothache. He wrote cartoons and translated his character to a mascot that appears at local events and marches in parades, breaking out of the #Happy tooth & toothbrush! mold used by most other dentists who chose to build their brand using a character. His branding effort paid off in terms of attracting plenty of attention and new patients as well.
Consider also the iconic logos that have been around for decades, such as Mr. Clean and the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Major companies have long accepted the effectiveness of choosing the right animated character mascot for their logos. They knew that:
" •" Cartoon character mascots and logos achieve instant recognition for your brand and
" •" Character images enhance product images – for example, the Mr. Clean character is strong and shiny, suggesting product power and an appealing result that will not disappoint.
" •" Competitive advantage is key. Once the markets began filling up and the competitive field grew larger, the importance of getting enough brand attention to differentiate determined the companies that would grow to multinational giant or stay regional. Character logos and mascots generate more conversation and attention than their unanimated counterparts." •" Character logos and mascots exert greater memory power. And getting customers to remember that you exist and what you provide is a good part of the battle.
It is important to select the right mascot for your business. With a little creativity, most small businesses can find a character that brings their product or service to life in the minds of their potential customers. A pet food company can use a dog or cat, craft supplies sellers can animate a pair of scissors, anything that connects and solidifies the brand. Try it – your small business might just end up with a big reputation.
A review of the top ten Internet brands brings to light a group of successful branding strategies. These are companies that researched their markets extensively, developed their products and services to meet consumer need and preference, and then planned and executed the brand building strategies that propelled them to the top of the industry – the most recognizable and popular businesses on the Internet.
Here are the top ten companies in terms of brand recognition, strength and profit potential. They all operate globally, taking full advantage of available web media to promote themselves and sell their products. They all provide products and services targeted toward business and consumer use, and aim to improve the fortunes and the lives of the consumers they attract. Consider their beginnings, strategies and current industry standings and see what you can learn about brand building from their stories.
" •" Google – not a surprise, really. The company began as a user-friendly search engine and branched out by offering other services- all geared toward the user. It continued to grow by partnering with other entities and acquiring smaller companies to increase offerings. Google marketed itself as a user dedicated, non –greed oriented company that was considerate of the environment and has benefited from positive, wide spread word of mouth publicity. Its logo is widely recognized and is customized for special occasions and holidays. As with most of the Internet services based companies, it offers free products that can eventually lead into paid services that users #graduate! to purchasing. Much of the company!s revenue comes from innovative advertising sales programs.
" •" Yahoo – This older Internet access portal survived the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s by partnering with other companies and making wise acquisitions and additions to its range of services. The brand remains vital, some say, because it recognizes that brand building on the Internet largely depends on offering logically simple products that work well for the all important user. Advertising services account for about 88% of Yahoo!s revenue.
" •! MSN/Windows Live - The current brand, Windows Live, was formed by Microsoft when the company rebranded MSN and many of its services, adding new ones that dovetail with its VISTA operating system. It covers information, personal connections and special interest software. There was some initial confusion in the rebranding, but as VISTA use spreads, it appears to be diminishing. As with other Microsoft software, brand dissemination is enhanced by programs preinstalled on new computers.
" •" Microsoft – This software giant began operation in 1975 and became widely known as the market for home computers accelerated. Today, it operated three divisions – Business, Entertainment and Devices. A long history of acquisitions, legal disputes and innovative product offerings have resulted in both positive and negative publicity, and some say that the company!s strategy of emulating and then eliminating the competition has gained it almost singular status in its field, but at the cost of much customer goodwill.
" •" AOL Media Network – AOL began as one of the first paid internet portals. The company found its niche market by catering to the non-computer literate customers at the advent of personal computing. Over the years, reports of dubious practices involving issues like customer service, billing, etc cost the company subscribers, but brand loyalty has carried the company through troubled times and it remains one of the largest service providers in the industry.
" •" YouTube – The appealing concept of video sharing for everyone brought YouTube to the forefront of Internet companies. Some services rank only Google and Yahoo ahead of YouTube in terms of online traffic. In fact, it is now a subsidiary of Google, and is banned in some countries due to its unregulated content. This brand has succeeded by making the user its complete focus.
" •" Fox Interactive Media – a conglomerate brand created by its parent company, Newscorp, this brand is basically an umbrella set up to organize the media arms of Fox TV, Fox Sports and Fox News, and offer advanced interactive media services online to support those media outlets.
" •" Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia is the only top media brand that is a non-profit enterprise. Worldwide reach and language translation has built the brand, along with Interactive principles similar to that of YouTube. Despite criticism of it reliability, Wikipedia remains popular as a quick and straightforward information source. Its unique logo pictures a puzzle piece globe, partially assembled with contributions from around the globe.
" •" eBay – this popular brand has become the gold standard for online auctions and shopping. The company also owns Paypal, the online money transfer system that has greatly assisted its own operation. Charity auctions and auctions of famous objects have created publicity for the business, which operates around the globe, offering buyers and sellers the advantage of a worldwide audience.
" •" Apple – The computer hardware and software company that began with a niche as an educational leader, the company established its brand with hardware innovations such as the laptop, ipod, iphone and other products. Apple built its brand with innovation and created a reputation as a maverick company. The Apple logo, a silhouette of the fruit with a bite missing has evolved from multi color to monochromatic over the years and is one of the most easily recognized in the world.What do most of these companies have in common in terms of branding that can be used to step up your company!s brand building efforts? Here!s a short list, see if you can add to it:
One vital component of building a highly recognizable brand for your business is to find its unique attributes, and then build upon them. Take a look at the highly successful companies in the business world and you!ll see that they have something in common – they!ve discovered how they can provide their customers with products and service that they can!t get anywhere else. They provide quality and a customer relationship that keeps customers returning and purchasing.
The first step in the differentiation process is competition research. List your major competitors and gather all of the business intelligence available about their products, services, corporate structure and size, corporate culture, mission and vision statements, pricing structures and customer service policies. Don!t forget copies of their ads, brochures, business cards and any other collateral materials that you can access. Evaluate all of this and ask yourself the following:" •" Which competitors represent the closest match to your business?