You’re never too small to start building your brand, defining for the public who your company is and what sets you apart. Here are 25 practical, economic ideas for strengthening your image and letting people know you’re out there!
1. Be Authentic. Rule #1,online or off, is to be genuine with business associates or potential clients.
2. Be Unique. Establishing a solid brand is about communicating what distinguishes you and sets you apart.
3. Be Consistent. Be faithful to promote the same message over and over again to help it stick.
4. Choose a Memorable Name. Look for a name that can grow with you as you change—interesting but simple.
5. Invest in a Quality Logo Design. Your logo will be used across all your communication efforts, from your letterhead to your website to your advertisements to your swag—invest in a good one.
6. Attend Community Events. Small community events are happening all the time and give you a chance to make personal, local, face-to-face connections. Follow up on introductions to continue building relationships even after events are over.
7. Know How to Introduce Yourself. Prepare a short elevator pitch so you’re ready to share your brand message with all potential clients as you meet them.
8. Comment on Other Blogs. Whether on the blogs of potential customers or fellow businesses, comments can help get you noticed. The key is to leave thoughtful responses more than just “great post!” but that ask questions or invite further conversation.
9. Promote Others. Practicing the Golden Rule is more than a way to make business connections; it also establishes your brand as one that’s generous and helpful.
10. Guest Post. Put a little time and research into creating content appropriate for sites your target audience reads. When your piece publishes, you gain immediate exposure to those you’re trying to target.
11. Create a Strong Website. Potential clients rely on the Internet to find information, and if you’re not there, you lose the chance to influence them.
12. Use SEO. Whether through your own research or the help of an established Internet marketing firm, figure out how to get your site ranking high in search results for greater exposure.
13. Create a Branded Facebook Page. Make it easy for people to connect with you on Facebook with a branded page featuring your logo and key messaging.
14. Create a Branded Twitter Page. Build a branded Twitter profile to represent your business.
15. Work Social Networks. Stay active, providing quality content, linking to relevant materials, connecting with potential clients and people in your community.
16. Create Unified Marketing Materials. All your marketing, from your website to your brochures to your business cards, should deliver the same message.
17. Use Key Colors Consistently. Choose two or three colors and use them consistently in your logo, your marketing materials, your website, your business cards.
18. Use Key Fonts Consistently. Likewise, choose a couple key fonts to represent your image and use them across your materials.
19. Avoid Hard Selling. Resist the urge to over-promote. Better to be a helpful voice that encourages sales to happen more organically.
20. Send out Press Releases. Press releases aren’t just for major news announcements; they can be used to feature and draw attention to employee awards, new products or anything else worthy of note.
21. Get Interviewed. Take advantage of invitations to be interviewed or consulted—and use them to reinforce your messaging.
22. Showcase Your Work. Create a portfolio of projects or a public record of testimonials to show off the good work you’ve done.
23. Answer Questions. Contribute to Q & A sections online, whether on LinkedIn or another site, to share your expertise.
24. Be a Speaker. Offer to speak publicly about your industry or your firm in order to demonstrate your knowledge to new audiences.
25. Track Your Online Presence. Set up Google Alerts and do regular searches to track your brand’s reputation online.
Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a company specializing in Chicago search engine optimization for B2B clients. She writes for various industries, from the makers of men's knit gloves to the provider of a fast online payment gateway.