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It’s something that few small businesses think about until they start to see some stability, but that they should probably be thinking about from day one. It’s a fundamental question which sets the tone for the entire business going forward: “What’s our brand?”

Branding is more than just paying somebody for a logo; it’s more than just having custom letterhead, though both are essential to branding. Knowing your brand is about knowing where you stand as a company, and knowing how to most effectively portray that stance to the general public. As such, it is my opinion that the question of brand is one of the most important questions that entrepreneurs must ask. Really, though, it all starts with a simple question.

What’s Your Mission?

Mission is important, as it puts your brand into words. Most people I know describe in words first what it is that they are trying to accomplish. Whatever your mission is, though, you have to be honest about it. Just because you have a mission statement, after all, doesn’t mean that you have to show it to any of your customers. Maybe, if your mission is something socially important, it will help you connect with clients better, but ultimately, the mission statement comes down to nothing more than the answer to this question: Why are you in business? If you’re in business to make money, that’s fine, but then you need to find a way to build a brand around that. With as many faceless corporations out there as there are, you might have a little trouble competing here, and might have to spend quite a bit of money in order to win customers.

If there is some higher purpose to your company, though, be sure to write it down. Make sure that what you write down is motivating to you. Essentially, your mission statement should be what makes you want to provide your services to people. If you know that, then you have a place to start building your brand.

The truth is that all a brand can do is tell the story of the company it is attached to. Some brands do this effectively and others do not. However, if the company doesn’t know what its story is, then the brand is always doomed to failure.

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