What is the most glaring difference between a large business and a small business to a consumer? It’s the appearance of having their act together (even if they really don’t). That, in a nut shell, is the power of branding. Branding conveys confidence that your prospective customer can buy into.

The argument most small business owners give against investing on branding is that they either cannot afford it or will not waste the money on it. Most often this is the result of not knowing the costs and benefits associated with branding. Take, for instance, clothing. Many smaller business owners wear a polo shirt every day to work. One of those typically goes for $20-$25 on the low end and $50+ on the high end. Why not spend a couple bucks a shirt more and embroider your logo on there? Why not promote your business and have it pay for your clothes and get a tax deduction for it? (see your accountant for further details!)

Now, where do we start? We’ve developed a handy checklist to give you guidance. Most businesses have at least some of these in place!

Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This is your “Marketing Mission Statement”. It should be the litmus test to whether or not you should do something in branding, promotion, and/or marketing.

Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.

Get a great logo. Put it on everything you can.

Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand. Keep your audience in mind when creating this!

Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.

Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.

Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.

Be consistent. This is the most important tip of all. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.

These are the best practices that large companies follow to communicate confidence to their customer. It’s not expensive but it does take time and discipline. You get the opportunity to play bigger without having to pay bigger!