By Diana Clement
MSN NZ Money writer
First impressions count and image is everything for small businesses. That's why branding is critically important.
Doesn't, for example, 100% Pure New Zealand sound an awful lot better as something to market than Tourism New Zealand, or Zespri versus the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board.
What is small business branding?
Branding is a combination of attributes that influence the minds of customers to differentiate one business from its competitors. These days everything from the big companies to small businesses and even individuals are looking to build their brands.
A hip and trendy name can be helpful. There's no doubt that Hell is an awful lot more distinctive as a pizza brand than Domino's. And Hell has a better brand image.
But branding is about the whole package, not just the name. If Hell Pizza made awful pizza, or the service was consistently bad or slow, its brand would soon lose its cache.
Conversely, Tui the brewery doesn't have an especially catchy name. But boy have its billboards raised its profile as a brand.
Small businesses can do this too because clever ideas can cost nothing. But first you need to understand what your business is offering, how it differentiates itself in the marketplace, and the problem you're solving for your customers.
If you can afford it you might want to employ a branding expert to give your brand the once over before launching it.
Chosen your business brand?
Once you have your brand you need to safeguard it. Make sure you:
You might also want to:
Finally, one of my favourite brands is Zappos.com. It started as a small business and has grown rapidly. The Zappos brand is clever because it's playing on the Spanish word zapatos (shoes), but sounds a whole lot more memorable than Shoes.com. What's more, the exclamation mark in Zappos' logo is in the shape of a shoe. That's simple, but clever.
Zappos backs up its great brand name by stocking virtually every major shoe brand known to mankind. It's just a shame the company has suspended delivery to New Zealand.