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Branding mistakes that can cost you

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You know who you are as a company, but are you able to express that to your customers? Branding your business is a multilateral effort working toward the same goal - putting a clear picture in the heads of your customers of what your company does and what it stands for.

Being able to articulate the message articulately is more difficult than it sounds - there are classes in business school dedicated solely to the subject of branding. And while there are plenty of ways to build your brand, there are also a few common mistakes you can make that can hamper your branding efforts. Here are a few examples of things you should avoid when branding your business:

* Not telling your customers what you do. If people passing by your business can't tell what you're selling, what's the likelihood of anyone stopping by? Same goes for your website's homepage. Good branding means giving your customers an idea of what they can expect from you in as few words as possible.

* Poor logo design. You might have thought it was a good idea to have your artistic friend design a logo for free, but often logos that are designed on the cheap fall short of communicating the message of your brand. Try browsing online for logo design packages that deliver quality, but won't break the bank. Good logo design companies will provide plenty of logo design samples so you can see if their portfolio contains logo designs that are original, unique and do a good job of communicating a businesses message properly.

* Poorly optimizing your website. With so many people using the Internet to find businesses these days, it's in your best interest to make it easy for your customers to find you on the Web. Your domain name should contain your company name. Describing your products and services in language that your customers are likely to use is also helpful in directing customers to your site.

* Describing yourself the way your customers understand you is not only important on your website. Ask your customers why they value your business and collect their thoughts on your marketing efforts. That will help you find your voice when branding your business.

* Get your employees on the same page. Happy and informed employees are some of the best tools in your branding playbook. If your employees are consistent with their treatment of customers and knowledge of your products, it promotes a positive image of your business.