Step one: People need to know about your company. The next step is why and how. The first mistake executives make is thinking that someone should offer you their business simply because you exist, or simply because you’ve taken the time to network at some local shindig. I guarantee you that if you’ve reached out to a potential client, then so have at least 3-7 of your competitors in the same industry, in the same year. So what makes you stand out?

This is where branding comes in. You should be branding your company so that target clients you reach out to can distinguish you from your competitors. When done with superb excellence, your branding strategy alone will make someone call you first to offer you their business.

So what’s involved in a brand? You need a design theme that incorporates consistent style elements across text/fonts/colors/graphics to be woven into your digital and print marketing material – starting with your logo and extending to your website and print material. There should be consistency across all levels, and styles should always fit the industry.

These key elements should make up your branding strategy:

  1. Delivery – Make sure clients get what they’ve been promised…and more. Patrons will always come back for great service or fantastic products.
  2. Relevance – No matter what your industry, you need to stay relevant to industry trends and digital media marketing trends. There’s no better way to look outdated than to not be on board with what your competition is showcasing and with what your customers are accessing digitally.
  3. Value – Prices should never be set higher or lower than the actual value. If a price is too low, you devalue you brand; too high, and most people will pass up what you have to offer based on the price point alone.
  4. Style – Just like your brand design, your product should reflect the taste of your target audience. On this note, products (while different) should still be sewn together with consistency on some level.
  5. Audience – Understand what your brand means to your target audience, or what value it has for them. If you’re just starting out, then your brand manager needs to understand the value of the industry for your core clientele and work off of that.
  6. Development – No brand stays the same; all brands evolve over time. Make sure your brand gets a needed facelift from time to time.

Once you have your brand down, you can next move on to “branding awareness.” This is the part where you work not to remind people you exist but to have people remember you exist. Sounds the same, right? Yet there’s a considerable difference. Reminding people you exist involves hustling and hard work for little return – you’re almost begging people to look at you.

Brand awareness should be part of your marketing strategy, namely through digital media marketing. The problem here is that most business owners get frustrated by the limited trackable return on investment (ROI). This doesn’t have to be the case, since free online tools like SEOMoz, Facebook Insights, Twitter Counts, Topsy and Klout let you track your progress to see how recognizable your brand really is.