A guest post by Dylan Mazeika of FreeLogoServices.

In this digital age, a successful business needs to provide outstanding service, offer intrinsic value to its clients, build customer relationships---and stand out from the crowd on myriad online platforms.

To set one's company apart from the herd, a business needs a brand. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."

To understand the elements of small-business branding, you first need to know why it's essential to a company's success.

1. Branding is your business identity. Branding goes beyond your name, tagline, and logo. Your brand is who your business is to the world. What is your story? What makes you special? Differentiation is key for a dynamic brand. Your brand is your mission, vision, and story wrapped up in one unique package.

2. Branding is your business ambassador. It helps customers familiarize themselves with your business and builds trust with colleagues, customers, and prospects.

3. A great brand is memorable. If people can’t remember your brand, they will not be inspired to do business with you. People buy from businesses they know, trust, and like.

4. Social media demands a visible, attractive brand. It’s not a question of “should” you engage in social media anymore, it’s “how.” A brand helps folks identify your business in your marketing sphere.

5. Branding helps your business get recognized on multiple platforms. Getting your message out and keeping it consistent is only achievable when your brand is searchable, recognizable, and accountable.  You need to manage your brand on different platforms (your blog, social media sites, etc.)

6. People connect with your brand through its story. Every company has a “how we came to be” story. Let your story be part of the brand that resonates with your customers.

7. Branding levels the playing field for small businesses. Entrepreneurs do not have an unlimited marketing budget. However, by honing your brand’s message, visuals, and style, you can go toe to toe with your larger competitors---and look good doing it.

8. Today’s connected, social savvy consumers demand it. People need to see you’re on top of your game with a compelling brand. A solid brand equals trust.

9. Small businesses are doomed to fail without effective branding. Sad, but true. Your ideas and outstanding service aren’t enough to cut it in today’s brutal business climate. Your brand is your story, and stories are essential to attracting and keeping customers.

10. Smart branding will bring your “red carpet moment.” Whether through social media, traditional advertising, or good old-fashioned networking, influencers and decision-makers are on the lookout for trend-setting businesses. Make the biggest impact possible by having a memorable brand.

When it comes to designing your brand, you need to plan well and find a great logo maker or designer that understands your company's needs. Contrary to popular belief, a fresh, professionally designed logo doesn't have to cost a fortune. Websites like FreeLogoServices, are cool resources to design your logo for your website, blog, Facebook business page, Twitter page, and other social media platforms.

When done well, a brand can help businesses gain new customers, expand their circle of influence, and stand out.

Dylan Mazeika is an online writer with a background in marketing and small business. He enjoys helping business owners with branding efforts through the use of a logo maker.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Standing Out)

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