hall of fame
Dan Antonelli

Typical entrepreneurs are constantly in motion. They hustle swiftly, deliver quickly and fail fast—all necessary components of earning the winning ticket. However, it’s in their best interest to know a little more, deliver a little better and cushion their failures so they’re only minor setbacks instead of faceplants.

One of the biggest tripping points small business owners face is the outward perception of their businesses—the brand.

One of the biggest tripping points small business owners face is the outward perception of their businesses—the brand. The way you present yourself to the world can set you up for success or shoot you in the foot. You know some of the bare-bones basics—create a website, order business cards, offer a firm handshake. But what you might not understand is the tremendous importance of creating an authentic image, an outlier among bland brands.

It’s been our agency’s experience that more than 90% of small business brands are poorly executed. If you see a cookie-cutter brand image using clipart or poorly executed elements, you aren’t going to be very enthusiastic about doing business with that company. You will begin to compare it to the competition, to what you’ve seen online and on television, and you will immediately start doubting this business’ integrity. It’s obvious we judge books by their covers; it’s a part of being human.

If you want to avoid those same reactions to your brand, you need something to say, and moreover, to provide something worth seeing. We’re humans selling to humans. Our brands need to reflect that.

Use this knowledge to your advantage. If something seems subpar to you, recognize that your customers will probably reach the same conclusion. If an outside opinion informs you that you suffer from poor branding, ask why. Get specifics.

The last decade has seen new platforms emerge for engaging customers, but a cardinal rule of marketing remains: powerful brands need to convey their novelty and strength across every single medium.

From billboards to brochures to blogs and back, your branding needs to sing your praises. It is not in a company’s best interest to use photos, endless iterations and inappropriate imagery in its branding if the company hopes to come across as trustworthy. All of the world’s greatest companies in the world pay close attention to their public image because they know it’s what drives business.

Some businesses with the potential for greatness die off before ever getting the chance to be seen because they don’t look worthy of your attention.

Entrepreneurs caught up in the daily shuffle can quickly lose sight of that fact. And it’s a shame, since the exceptional efforts and sweat equity put into their life’s work becomes perceived as being less than what it truly is. Some businesses with the potential for greatness die off before ever getting the chance to be seen because they don’t look worthy of your attention.

Truly masterful entrepreneurs see what amazing assets their brand images really are, so they invest in them. Expert design, strategy and development may seem like a waste of money, but it could end up being the best use of your funds to increase your value. People bent on success quickly realize there are only so many hours in the day and only so much wind in their sails. It’s in their best interest to seek out the experts, learn from them and take the usually uncomfortable step toward a brand that stands out.

There comes a point in time when entrepreneurs need to step back from the work they have done to fully evaluate it. They will need to get into the heads of their customers and see like their customers do. And when that time comes, they will either smile at what they see or it will be too late.

The contents in this article originally appeared on MedCity News, a leading online news source for the business of innovation in healthcare. They offer insight into what’s next in the medical field, what matters, and analysis of startup businesses and established industry leaders.

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