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Monday, November 19, 2007

Customize Your Small Business with Branding

What is branding? It is how your customers recognize your small business. McDonald’s brand includes it golden arches and Ronald McDonald. Apple’s brand is ingrained in our minds by a simple partially bitten apple.It is so important to the company that it inverted the apple logo on the top of laptops and the back of monitors so that it can be viewed properly when people are using them - on the street and on the big screen.

So what is your brand? I find that most small businesses don’t have a defined brand. Entrepreneurs are busy trying to run a successful business and often neglect developing an actual brand. Well, it not hard to come up with branding elements. In fact, you can work on developing a brand inexpensively online.

Start with a logo. You don't have to spend a lot of money. There are companies online that provide ways for small businesses to create their own custom logos for a minimal amount of cash Create your LOGO in just minutes
with I have personally taken advantage of the free trial they provide to create a logo to use online. But you have to purchase the file in order to get a high-resolution logo to use in print. Try them out.

If you have an artistic side, you can use open source design software such as GIMP. I recently used GIMP to design a header for my retail blog. I admit it is nothing fancy, but I was able to do it on my own with GIMP. GIMP is a cross between Adobe Photoshop Elementsand Adobe Illustrator - except it is free. Download GIMP and play around with the functions available.

How do you come up with a logo? You can start off with something that represents you or your business. Maybe it could be a play on words or something from your childhood. Shawn Fanning, founder of NAPSTER and the genius behind music file sharing, named his "company" after the nasty nickname kids called him when they made fun of his hair texture. Sure he got into some trouble with his company initially, but now it seems Fanning had the last laugh on that one.

Try to be creative and not cliche. If you own a plumbing business just don't throw a wrench and sink together and call it a logo. Try to stand out from your competitors. Tap into your customers, maybe have a contest for suggestions and giveaway a prize like an iPhone 8GB. Maybe ask some design students at a local college to assist you. They need the exposure and they will be cheap (if not free.)If you decide to do either of the two, just make sure the person who designs the logo you wish to use signs a release to give you full-rights to their art for all uses.

Happy Branding!

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Branding for Profit: Build Your Brand to Increase Sales and Customer Loyalty (Unabridged)Power Up Brand You: : How to unlock your talents, make an impact and stand out from the crowdThe 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

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