The following is another excerpt from our newest eBook,“How To Start A Lucrative Virtual Bookkeeping Business,” which will be officially launched tomorrow – June 30th, 2010. I realized that although the book is largely about starting a bookkeeping business, I’ve actually put some of my best business advice in the book as well. Today is the last day to get it for 50% off, and be entered to win the 8GB iPod Touch, because once it’s launched the price will be $29.90.
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In business, branding is putting your mark on everything you own. Some brands are logos or pictures that are easily recognizable – like the Nike’s checkmark logo. You see that logo and you immediately think, “running shoes.” McDonald’s Golden Arches is another recognizable brand. When you see that logo anywhere in the world, you immediately begin salivating for French fries and a Big Mac. Some other obvious brands are the AT&T bars, the Wendy’s Fast Food red-haired girl, and the castle in the Disneyland logo. People just have to see these logos and they know what they are, even if there are no words with that logo. On the flip side, if you even say the words Disney, AT&T, Nike or McDonalds, those logos immediately pop into your head – largely because the name and logo are branded together.
So in case I’m not being clear enough, branding can be described as a logo, a catch phrase, a song, an environment, a reputation, or even a style, all melded into one solid, memorable element intended to “brand” a company into a customer’s mind. Its purpose is to generate a feeling or a belief within a customer simply when they come into contact with the business or business product. When used correctly, it catapults a company into the top echelons of their market. And when you use it correctly, it can make you the Go-To Business in your area, your industry, and possibly even on the Internet.
Having done my spiel (i.e. monologue) about what branding is, let’s look at what you can do to brand your business, and therefore your product, so that you and your company will become memorable. You want your brand to cross all channels of branding so that your business really sinks in with your clients.
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Now, if you already have a business name, some of the following information can still be of help to you. However, if you don’t have a business name yet, consider ALL of the following things as a package before you choose a name. If you think of the following items as interlinked elements, you will be much more successful at creating a brand then if you “winged it” right from the beginning (i.e. just dove into the deep end while holding your breath). Here are the things you need to consider as a whole when creating your brand:
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- Naming Your Business: What name have you chosen for your business? Does it relate to your name, your location, or your industry? Is it an easy name to remember or a difficult one? Is it easy to spell? Where will it be located in a phone book or directory?
- Choosing a Logo: What image can you select that would represent your chosen business name, your industry, your office location, etc? What pictures relate to the business name you have chosen? Is it an attractive logo? Is it easily recognizable, or does it look like another companies logo? Is it a standard logo or a custom logo?
- Creating a Catch Phrase: Have you ever heard of an Elevator Pitch? It’s a common phrase in the Mary Kay world, as well as the publishing world, because it’s based on the premise that you have to make an impression on your customer in less than 30 seconds. You have to spout off something witty, funny, or philosophical in the time it takes to ride an elevator. Therefore, thing about what phrase, expression, song or rhyme you can come up with and deliver in one sentence (for your business cards and website), or in one elevator ride.
- Selecting a Website or Blog Domain: Is the business name you want available as a website domain name? Is the domain name easy to spell? Can you get the “.com” version of the title, or do you have to go with some less popular domain like “.org” or “.net?” Is there any related names you can choose instead?
- Your Email Address and Signature: Once you choose your website, you want your email address to reference that website so that people can easily remember your address if they need to contact you. For example, ETBarton@OneHourBookkeeper.com is easier for people to remember when finding me then email@example.com, which is my personal email. I usually answer people from the etnsuz address because it is my main address, but it is very difficult for people to remember that address, while the first one is much easier. I’ll admit, it is a difficult name to remember, but when I created etnsuz, I was traveling with my friend Suzanne. We created ETnSuz together so that anyone we met would remember us as a unit and write to us at one site – a yahoo site. However, Suzanne never checked the email, and when our travels were over, it became my personal email. I use etnsuz as my brand across all sorts of social networking sites, even though ETBarton is easier for people to remember.
- Your Name or Pen Name: For anyone who’s ever read the “About” section on our website, they know that I like to keep my thumb on the pulse of the publishing industry. In fact, I am an active member of a national romance writers group (RWA), as well as a board member of my local chapter. One of the funniest things about being in a romance writer’s group – besides getting to read a lot of kinky love scenes – is the names. Everyone in the group has a pen name, including me, and some even have multiple pen names. Obviously for me, my mother did not name me E.T., but Erica. Yet, in my romance writer’s group, people know me as Talia Clare. Both E.T. Barton and Talia Clare are brands I am creating for my ideal customers – which are my readers. I write business articles, credit articles, and bookkeeping articles as E.T. Barton and I publish them in various places on the internet. I write Historical Romance, Mainstream Romance, and Writing Advice articles as Talia Clare. I also write my father’s memoirs under Erica Hamilton, my maiden name and his last name. Therefore, when someone sees how I published any blog I write, they will know exactly what type of article that article is going to be. In this way, you too can brand your personal name into a pen name or catch phrase of sorts that is easy for your customers to remember. In the same way, you can use your name or nickname as a marketable brand.
- Your Mission Statement: You may think you don’t need a mission statement – and maybe you don’t – but you should at least have a goal in mind for your business. What exactly is it that you are hoping to do? Are you simply hoping to make money and be independent? Or do you have a particular client-type in mind? Are you looking to make yourself a niche-bookkeeper, someone who works in one particular industry…like construction, retail, restaurants, or maybe for used car lots. If you can come up with at least one solid sentence that states what you hope to do with your company, you can use that as a part of your brand.
There are many other elements you can use to brand your company, but these 7 are the main ones that are easiest to manipulate. By combining them together, you can create something memorable that will promote your business to even further success.
Once you do come up with a brand strategy, tell us what your brand is in the comments. That way, you can inspire other people as well to create a brand that works for them.