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Author Biography:

Stephanie Taylor Christensen  is a freelance writer who covers personal finance, career, health,and small business news. She is the founder of Indebtedless and Om for Mom prenatal yoga in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with her on Twitter.@STCWriting or www.stephanietaylorchristensen.com



First Impressions Matter: Get Your Brand in Order Before the Holiday Rush
By Stephanie Taylor Christensen Tuesday, September 13, 2016
The pre-holiday season is your chance to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, so you can make a positive and lasting first impression that will wow holiday customers. Here are three critical questions to evaluate your brand before the holiday rush begins. 

Is my business name memorable? Customers can easily forget your business name if they’re not reminded of it often, just as you may forget a person’s name that you’ve just met. Make your business name memorable among the prospects and customers who encounter across your brand with these techniques:
  • Repetition: Repeating the name of a person you meet throughout the conversation helps you commit it to memory; the same logic applies to your business name. If you have a brick and mortar store, greet every customer with “Welcome to X [your business name],” and use a similar thank you when they leave the store, or make a purchase. Choose a website domain name that’s close (if not identical) to your business name. Print your business name on bags, in store and point of sale signage, on the shirts your employees wear, on product packaging, and on receipts. Choose social media handles that correspond closely (if not exactly) to your business name. Don’t assume the customer knows your business name or will remember it after the fact; tell them again and again.
  • Name association: Alliteration—using the same letter or sound as another one in a sentence—can improve name recognition. (For example, Jane from Jersey).  The same technique can work for your business. If your brand name is “Bubbles,” for example, the alliterative “Bubbles Bath and Body Bar” can make it easier for consumers to recall. Be sure to use the full alliterative description consistently on all your marketing materials, customer greetings, ads and taglines.
 
Are my brand elements aligned? You may have a small marketing budget—but the quality of your marketing collateral, online and social media presence shouldn’t make that obvious to the customer. Your brand is the sum total of the colors, fonts, typeface, images, voice and tone you put into the market. Those elements need to be consistent, and presented in a format that’s visually and aesthetically appropriate for each unique tactic you use to market. 
 
Make a list of all the marketing outreach you plan to do this holiday season. Then, detail the brand elements you’ll need to create a professional presence in each, including logos and brand-appropriate images that are hi-resolution for print, low resolution for web., and fonts and typefaces that are consistent and appropriate across channels. The holiday season is fast-paced, and may require that you make swift decisions about offers, promotions and messaging based on your inventory, demand and sales. Arm yourself with all the brand elements you need to execute promotions effectively, and consistently now so you aren’t forced to scramble in the holiday rush, or put messages into the market that don’t reflect your brand. 

Does my brand have a distinct point of view? Every person has a unique personality, and so does every business. But few business owners hone in on exactly what their brand stands for, what that means to the entire customer experience—and why customers should care. Yet, a distinct brand point of view is one of the most powerful weapons you have in your marketing arsenal. With it, you’re empowered to chart your own course, regardless of what the competition does.  
 
Write a paragraph about your business, and what your brand stands for, from your perspective as its owner. Then, ask a few friends, your employees, and loyal customers to do the same, from their point of view. Compare notes. If their perception doesn’t reflect what you wrote, and each account doesn’t present some recurring themes, you have an opportunity to strengthen your brand’s story, and your positioning in the market, and a stronger impression in your holiday marketing efforts. You may not be for everyone when your carve out a firm brand identity, but you’ll forge a deeper connection with the audience that truly wants what you sell, and will more likely support your business for the long haul. 


 
 
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