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If you answer yes to most of the following questions, you have good reason to kick your branding effort into high gear.

* Are you launching a company or product that will benefit from a clear identity and high awareness?
* Have you been in business for a while but feel you lack consumer awareness?
* Do you sell your offerings online or over distances but feel that prospects don’t know your name or the distinct benefits you offer?
* Do you feel that people in your organization are unclear about how to explain your offerings, distinctions, target market, and how you excel over competitors?
* Do you see inconsistencies in the look, message, and company personality your organization presents?
* Is the leader of your organization prepared to devote time, staff, energy, and dollars to develop, launch, and grow a brand?
* Can you think of even one reason why people should choose your offering over competing solutions?


Before you settle on a name, put it to the test by answering these questions:

* Does it accurately represent or support your desired brand image?
* Does it reflect your brand position? For instance, if your position is that you're the most professional, creative, or prestigious, does the name sound adequately professional, creative, or prestigious?
* Is it a credible reflection of your business?
* Can it grow with your business?
* Is it easy to say and spell?
* Is it unique?
* Does it translate well into languages your customers are likely to use?
* Do you like the name?
* Is the name available as a domain name or a trademark?

The right name establishes your brand from the day you announce it and grows with your business and your vision as you evolve into a large, more established organization that possibly reaches into new market areas, new geographic regions, and even new product areas.

Most of all, the right name appreciates as an asset that is harvested through premium pricing, licensing, or even through the sale of shares in or the outright sale of your business and its brand name.

When people hear your organization’s name, memories pop up that influence what they think and how they buy. Those memories are the basis of your brand. The process of branding is all about making sure that the brand you have is the brand you want.

The best starting point is to get clear about what people currently think when they come into contact with your brand logo or name. To get started, click on the book excerpt link on this page to read "Assessing Your Brand Image" from Branding for Dummies.

Your logo is the face of your brand in the marketplace. When designing your logo, follow this advice:

* Keep your logo simple.
* Design a logo that can be presented consistently across all communication channels.
* Don't do it yourself unless you're a design professional or you want your logo to look like it represents a hands-on business that, in fact, created its own logo.

Before approving a logo design, be sure that it:
1) Is consistent with the nature of your product or service
2) Is consistent with your brand promise
3) Is consistent with the mood and tone you're committed to deliver through all your brand expressions

For detailed advice on choosing a name and designing a logo, turn to Chapters 7 and 8 in Branding For Dummies.

Use testimonials to let customers speak on your behalf about your reputation, reliability, and the fact that you deliver on your promises.

To obtain testimonials wait until a purchase is complete and then ask a satisfied customer to provide feedback. Ask for specific information, like what the person liked about your service and what aspects they'd like to share with others. Then ask "May we use your comments with others?" If the answer is "yes," get permission in writing.

* The only ethical testimonial is from an actual customer who hasn't been compensated for his or her good words.
* Let customers put compliments in their own words; don't ask them to read or sign statements prepared by your company.
* Aim to have each testimonial focus on one aspect of your product or service rather than on general praise.
* Get details. Rather than "You're amazing," ask the customer to say what about your company was amazing.
* Put testimonials to work. Showcase them in sales letters, sales materials, and throughout your website so that prospective clients are continuously encouraged by the words of actual clients.

For more advice, go to pages 234-237 in Branding for Dummies.