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One of the most daunting tasks of any business owner can be telling people what you quickly while still setting yourself apart. Unless you’re a huge company with people to do this kind of stuff for you, or you’ve been doing it for years, or maybe you’re a company of poets, the task of talking about what you do is never easy. Yet, it is necessary to get it right in places like on your website, or on marketing materials, or even in conversation. The description of your business could be the make or break of whether a person decides to check you out.

First thing you should do is write down everything you want to say on a piece of paper. I mean everything. Go ahead, now’s your chance, write a whole page if you want to. Make sure you get everything in there. Doesn’t it feel great to unload all that? Now comes the hard part.

We’ve all heard of the elevator pitch concept in which you should be able to pitch your company’s concept and qualifications in the time it takes to ride in an elevator? Let’s try for 4 sentences. Yes, four sentences. Just try it and you can always go over by a sentence or two if you HAVE to. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be Honest- if you are small, say that you are small, if you are deliberately slow, say that. Whatever it is, you obviously chose to do business a certain way for a reason and by putting it out there, you will find the right customers for you. Someone is looking for that quality which you have so tell them about it.
  • What do you do for whom and how? This is the real definition of your business. You can play it up with descriptive words in the other sentences, but one of these sentences needs to say just what it is you do. Your company does A for B by doing C.
  • Differentiate yourself. What makes you different from your competitors?  Use keywords to make yourself stand apart. There is something you do differently and you should play to that point.
  • Use a personal tone of voice and speak directly to your customers. It’s important to sound professional but it’s more important to relate to the every day client. Using a bit of humor or speaking in first person can go a long way to draw customers to your company’s personality.
  • Use keywords and be descriptive. Always use words you think people might use in search engines to find your business but you can also be descriptive. Words like distinguished, substantial, and flourishing can sound a lot better than new, small, and great. So get out the old thesaurus and be creative!

The reason I say to stick with 4 sentences is because usually people stop reading after 4 sentences, or keep reading but stop retaining information because they are still processing what they just read. You also don’t want to be too brief as you want to make sure you get the point across that you really care about what you do. So take your original description and just start cutting back using the guidelines above. Be patient and take your time…go ahead…I can wait…

So how did you do? If you really get stuck my last piece of advice is to take a step back from it, ask someone who is familiar with the business and see what they have to say about it maybe even your best customer. After all, it’s their opinion that makes the difference.

Every business needs a definition. When you created your company, you didn’t set out to do the same thing everyone else does in the exact same way and with the same prices. No, there was a mission at hand, a goal, an identity to your idea that made you want to start your story as a business owner. But you already knew that, you don’t need me to tell you, or else you wouldn’t have started the business in the first place! Now what I am here to tell you is that branding that company is one, if not the single most important things you can do for your company. I mean it, you need an image, a look, to help you show your customers in one glimpse what the important message, idea, feel of your business is, and more importantly, to help them remember it.

Let’s face it, the information world these days is a lot more like a picture story than a novel. Everywhere you look are logos, icons, and color schemes that you know better than the company that they represent. Don’t believe me? See if you can name any of the companies here:

First thing is to get an idea for what you want. Even if you have decided you want to hire a designer for your logo, you will save yourself a lot of money by doing a little brainstorming before hand. Who knows? You might surprise yourself and decide you don’t need anyone after all.  Basically there are three types of logos:

The first would be a logo that describes what the product or service is. So for a pizza company that would be a pizza or a book for a bookstore etc.

The second is a text based logo that uses a special font on the name of the company to make it more attractive.

The third is an abstract image that has nothing to do with the company name or product. An example of this is the Starbucks logo you see above. The image itself is not something one would normally associate with the name Starbucks or coffee but years of great marketing placement and repetitive branding have created the association we all have with the image.

As a small company or start-up the best thing to start with is one of the first two types of logos. As years go on and your business grows there are ways to add small changes to your logo and get it to something trendy and abstract but for now maybe it’s best to stick with something that tells the customers exactly who you are and what you do.

So now let’s start by defining what exactly you want to say about your business. The best thing to do is to sit down with a blank page and write your company name at the top. Write 8 words you can associate with your company and what you do. These can be anything from adjectives like “quick” or “vintage” to nouns you associate with your companies job such as “books” or “contracts”. This will help you to create simple word image associations in your head. If you think of an actual image for a word make sure you write that down too.

Now it’s time to narrow down your choices.

  • Decide what it is you really want to focus on, what sets you apart, and what sends a good message to the customers. If you know a certain quality that people look for in your business try to stick with imagery that will capture that idea.
  • Check out the competition’s logos. What works for other businesses in your industry and what doesn’t? How do you want to set yourself apart?
  • Remember the mediums you have. If your logo is mostly going to be on your business cards make sure it looks best at that scale. If you are planning to buy a big neon sign of your logo, make sure whatever you pick will look good in lights.
  • Don’t do what’s been done. Avoid using clip art images as they are easy to copy and unoriginal. Remember to stick with what you know and what says something about your business but get creative with it!
  • Watch the amount of detail. Too many lines or pieces and parts might not look good on any size logo. Remember your customers want to know what they are looking at. Also too many colors can be expensive when you go to print flyers or business cards. Try to keep it to a maximum of 3 colors to start.

Come up with a few sketches, or if I just scared you with the thought of drawing something even a few very key ideas with notes will do. Be specific and think about all the things we just discussed.

Then, if you don’t want to take the risk, hire a designer. By narrowing down your ideas you’ve already eliminated the back and forth in the concept stages and probably saved yourself a ton of money. Yes, design firms can be expensive but there’s probably a lot of freelance graphic artists in your area who will work for anywhere from $15 to $100 an hour depending on their experience level. Ask around and get the recommendations from other business owners you know. It’s always best to find someone who is more familiar with your field. Even if you are happy with what you designed, my recommendation is always to get a graphic designers final say on it, even if just to put it in the correct file format for printing or for a second opinion. They are the professional after all!

Once you have a logo, make sure you take steps to protect it and use it. You can trademark it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Then use it on all mediums you have. You’ll want your customers to learn it and associate it with your business at first glance. Use it on shopping bags, business cards, menus, brochures/flyers, bills, your sign, and most importantly, your Save Local Now business profile! That is why you created it right? Good luck!!