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Ugly Dog Media can help with every aspect of the branding process – from beginning to end. We will help you to identify and articulate your corporate ‘culture,’ then translate that into simple, high-impact, design elements.

Just how important is local business branding?

Branding is all the rage these days. Marketing firms increasingly tout their branding capacities and marketing initiatives are often spear-headed by a ‘rebranding’ initiative. There is a reason for this. With the mass amount of information available on the web, strategies centered on helping businesses to establish and promote their distinct identity are growing in importance.

That is what branding is all about: How to simply and readily get your business recognized by customers. In the clutter/flood of online info – this is clearly important. Whether on a website or a storefront, simple elements such as color and design should evoke the character of your company/product/service and help you get noticed and remembered.

But does this really apply to local businesses which may not rely as much on their online presence to be known? Local businesses in St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Berrien Counties – and other organizations with regional markets – may rely more on word-of-mouth and ground-level identity collateral such as signage, local advertisements etc. So is the emphasis on branding as relevant for them?

The simple answer is an emphatic “Yes.”

In fact, branding may be even more important in the local marketplace as a way to protect against the growing threat of businesses from outside the region. One definite consequence of the internet and e-commerce is that small businesses are no longer insulated from competition coming from outside their region. Creating a strong identity that your local customers can recognize and relate to is a great way to strengthen loyalty and attract new customers for your local business.

People yearn for the tangible connection they once experienced in locally oriented commerce. Establishing a sense of place and creating a distinct identity in your place of business is a great way for local businesses to compete against the threat online businesses and the many conveniences of e-commerce. The ease with which consumers can conduct business online is a real threat. However, the attraction to a physical space and pleasure of interacting with real people will not go away. So local businesses, to stay strong and competitive, need to understand the essential components of their brand/identify and what qualities will keep their customers coming back.

A brand is composed of two basic elements.

One element is visual, or auditory, triggers that evoke a brand. A strong logo can be used to create a visual identity for a business. Utilizing this element consistently and continuously helps people to create a shorthand visual cue. Next time they get a flyer in the mail for your business, they immediately know the association. Simplicity and consistency are the prime elements here.

The second element is, quite simply, practice. A logo doesn’t create a businesses’ identity. You do that with your day-to-day behaviors. In other words: how you treat your customers, what kind of products and services you provide.

The advantage here for local businesses is the ability to interact directly with customers. This is how you create your ‘real’ brand – the ethic underlying your enterprise. Treat them well, and they will remember that. A consistent corporate identity simply makes it easier for them to create associations with their positive experience of your company. The best logo in the world will not create a ‘brand’ that is contrary to your real corporate culture.

So branding starts with intent: What kind of culture do you want to define your enterprise? Once that is determined, figure out how to put it into practice – every day and in every way. The design elements that people associate with branding come next – and you may need to enlist people with a specific set of skills to help implement this all-important part of the branding process.

In addition to creating a website, your brand identity can be manifested in the physical “look” of your workplace. A brand identity for a local business can be established with onsite elements such as signage and other recognizable features at your business’s location. Once you put your brand identity in place, stick with it. Are you creating a new brochure or advertisement? Stick with your brand’s design elements. Over time, people will get to know you and associate your ‘look’ with your ‘culture’ – and this is the most important way for a local business to achieve long term success.

Ugly Dog Media brings its global marketing experience to the local community, helping Michiana businesses market to the local community and beyond. 

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