Monday, October 15, 2012

What Is Branding?

I’m writing an article for small and medium-size business owners on what branding is and how to make it work for their company.

Whether you know or not, your businesses has a brand. It’s not only how your website looks or where your office is located, but also the search results that appear when your company name is Googled and the dress code in the office. In other words: with every action you take or don’t take, there’s an opportunity to communicate your identity, to distinguish yourself from your competitors, to brand yourself.

For example, consider one of the most overlooked yet most common opportunities for businesses to brand themselves: email. Consider just the syntax of your address. Does the first half (the part before the “@”) employ the first letter of your first name, followed by your full last name, thus indicating that you’re part of corporate America? Is it just your first name—or even a nickname—thus indicating playfulness? Are there letters, thus indicating that you’re part of a giant corporation? Is the domain your company name, or are you relying on a personal address, thus weakening your credibility?

What about your signature block? Is the format consistent with that of your colleagues, thus indicating professionalism? Do you reference your social media channels, thus indicating your digital savvy? Do you include your title?

And what about your salutation? Do you even use one, or do jump right in? Ditto for a sign-off—do you bother to say “Thanks” or “Best”?

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