Do Small Businesses Need an “Image”?

12/5/2005

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It is common wisdom that large corporations benefit from a strong “brand.” They spend enormous resources developing just the right image. Their goal is to stand out from the clutter of advertisements that besiege consumers on the Internet, television, radio and in publications.

Is this a challenge that should also concern medium and small-sized businesses? Yes! A strong image will help any size business distinguish itself from competitors. A well-known identity will help a business to reach target customers, while remaining relevant to current customers.

Now may be the time for business owners to plan how they can best build and leverage a strong image. Consider how you intend to deliver your service or product. What will be the style, service philosophy and level of quality that you want to project?

The Better Business Bureau offers these steps to assist in using your business "image" to gain attention in a crowded marketplace:

  • Decide what sets you apart from your competition. Is it location, a particular product, a specialized service, low prices or other strengths?

  • What does your company signify? How do your customers currently perceive you? Is that an image you want to build on or do you want to project a different identity?

  • Determine what style fits the image you want to project. Would you like your message to emphasize the “warm, personal touch”? Or, do you prefer fast-paced and high-tech? Your personal style, as well as the attributes of your staff and the product or service you provide, will be important factors in your decision. Your identity should fit the vision of your business.

  • Communicate that image through everything you say and do. Use your logo or branding statement on stationery, envelopes, invoices, signage, Web site, advertising, uniforms, etc. This will keep your identity uppermost in the minds of consumers.

  • Remember that every experience a customer or potential customer has with your business - including phone interaction, service calls and product performance - must reinforce and support your image.

  • Be consistent. Use the same artwork each time your logo is reproduced and always use the exact same colors and branding statement.

  • Deliver on your promise! It is up to you and your employees to deliver results that fulfill the image your business projects to customers. This may require employee training sessions to improve customer service and product/service performance.
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