BrandMe Lab

The Complete Branding Guide

This Lab explores how to elevate your business presence and status within your industry niche. You will learn how to turn yourself into an influencer and thought leader in your industry, and how to leverage your status to propel your business forward. Becoming an industry influncers will open an incredible number of doors for you and your business.

What will be covered?

Each session has been designed to address the specific needs of diverse households, at various socioeconomic levels regardless of educational attainment and career focus.

Step 1 – Persona Development
  1. Evaluate your options and opportunities. Survey your interests. ISEEK Career Cluster Interest Survey will provide some insight on which career clusters to pursue. (Print and keep your results)
  2. Use this Brainstorm form to outline everything you would like to do. Evaluate the Pro’s and Con’s of pursuing these opportunities then rank them in order of importance. Additional Tool(s): Idea Planner
  3. Compile the following information to develop your online profiles  (LinkedIn, Gavartar, Facebook Business, Twitter, etc.)
  • PHOTO: Take a nice photo of yourself – just use your cellphone camera in front of a plain
    background. Wear a nice shirt and don’t forget to smile!
  • HEADLINE: Tell people what you’re excited about now and the things you want to do in the future.
  • SUMMARY: Describe what motivates you, what your skills are, and what’s next.
  • EXPERIENCE: List the jobs you held along with what you accomplished at each. Even include photos and videos from your work.
  • HONORS & AWARDS:  List any recognitions you have recieved.
  • PROJECTS: Whether you led a team assignment or built an app on your own, talk about what you did and how you did it.
  • COURSES: List the classes that show off the skills and interests you’re most excited about.
  • SKILLS & EXPERTISE: Add at least 5 key skills – and then your connections can endorse you for the things you’re best at.
  • ORGANIZATIONS: Be sure to describe what you did with each organization.
  • VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE & CAUSES: Even if you weren’t paid for a job, be sure to list it. Admissions officers and employers often see volunteer experience as just as valuable as paid work.
  • EDUCATION: List all the educational experiences you’ve had.
  • RECOMMENDATIONS: Ask managers, professionals, or clients who’ve worked with you closely to write a recommendation.

See Examples:

Professional LinkedIn Profile Tips: A Checklist of 17 Must-Have Items | LinkedInProfile Premium 

How to Craft the Perfect LinkedIn Profile: A Comprehensive Guide [Infographic]

New LinkedIn Redesign

How to create a gravatar image for your business

Step 2 – Determine your BRAND's Vision (What’s your Focus?)

Who do you appeal to?
Who will use this product or service?
Why would they use your product or service?
By using this product or service, how will it solve their problem or improve their life?
Why should they choose you over someone else?

How do you plan to interact with your customers?
How does your products and services align with their value?
What’s the best way to communicate to your targeted demographic?
How will you listen to ensure you are meeting their needs?

What is your brand persona?
What do you reflect and what would you like to project?
Which personality trait fits your brain? (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness)
Who fits best with your brand persona?

Where do you currently stand in the marketplace?
How does your process and/or technology measure up to others of similar size within the marketplace?
What opportunities exist within your ecosystem that you may not have considered?

What brands appeal to your target market and why?
Where can you lead in the marketplace?
How does your value proposition make you unique over others?


Step 3 – Choose and secure your business name

Choosing and securing your business name is one of the first steps in the business startup process. Select a name which best reflex your brand’s identity. Your business name needs to be unique and available. Begin here to ensure no else has the business name: Google | GA Corp Search | USPTO’s Trademark Database |

Secure your Company’s Domain Name

Purchase your domain name(s). Take into consideration how people will find you when they search for you on the internet. Evaluate and select a Web Hosting Service
Domain-Cost $9.99+
Web Hosting-Cost $8.99+ monthly
Step 4 – Organize all brand identity items

The items below are needed to create a Visual Style Guide for your organization. The guide provide examples of proper and improper use of your brand.

  • Logo specifications and examples of usage
  • Tag line
  • Typography palette
  • Color palette
  • Company Profile (history, vision, mission and team bio’s)
  • Headshot(s)
  • Letterhead
  • Business Card
  • Overview Brochure
  • Envelope and Mailing Label
  • Writing style and voice
  • Social media links (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Email Signature(s)
  • Images
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Specifications for exhibits, signage, merchandise and various forms of advertising
  • Design layouts and grids for print and web-based projects

Example: NC State brand

Step 5- How to Budget and Scale Your Expenses

This section is designed to help you get a “Bang for Your Bucks”.

How to Calculate your Marketing Budget

According to the SBA, many businesses allocate a percentage of actual or projected gross revenues – usually between 2-3 percent for run-rate marketing and up to 3-5 percent for start-up marketing. But the allocation actually depends on several factors: the industry you’re in, the size of your business, and its growth stage. For example, during the early brand building years retail businesses spend much more than other businesses on marketing – up to 20 percent of sales.

As a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing. This budget should be split between

1) brand development costs (which includes all the channels you use to promote your brand such as your website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.), and

2) the costs of promoting your business (campaigns, advertising, events, etc.).

This percentage also assumes you have margins in the range of 10-12 percent (after you’ve covered your other expenses, including marketing).

If your margins are lower than this, then you might consider eating more of the costs of doing business by lowering your overall margins and allocating additional spending to marketing. It’s a tough call, but your marketing budget should never be based on just what’s left over once all your other business expenses are covered.

Spending Your Budget Wisely

Knowing how much you have to spend on marketing is critical; even more critical is how you spend it.
This means having a plan.  Your small business marketing budget should be a component of your marketing plan, outlining the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe.

Use the 8 MARKETING BUDGET TEMPLATES created by Hubspot to help manage your marketing spend.

You’ll be able to track expenses for:

  • Product Marketing
  • Content
  • Paid Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Branding and Creative
  • Website Redesign and Events

DOWNLOAD: 8 Marketing Budget Templates (Excel Files Zip)

Step 6 – Begin the “Website Planning Process”

What type of site do you need?

  • Personal Site (3+ pages)
  • Business/Organizations Profile Site (5+ pages)
  • E-Commerce Site (10+pages)
  • E-Learning Site (20+ pages)
  • Sales Landing Plan ( 1 page)

The number of features required will determine your cost. (This will be discussed during your needs assement webinar) Examples:

Personal Site (3+ pages) Starting at $350+

  • Home/Profile page
  • Blog/News page
  • Contact page

Business/Organizations Profile Site (5+ pages) Starting at $650+

  • Home page
  • About page
  • Events/Calendar page
  • Newsroom page
  • Contact page

(Additional features: LogIn | Directory |Member Only Access- $350+)

E-Commerce Site (15+pages) Starting at $1750+

  • Home page
  • Category Overview page
  • Category Page
  • Product Page
  • Search and Search Results Element
  • Add to Cart Confirmation Element
  • Cart page
  • Log In/Guest Checkout page
  • Shipping page
  • Payment page
  • Review page
  • Confirmation page
  • My Orders / Order History page
  • Individual Order View page
  • My Profile / Account Settings
  • Payment Settings
  • Addresses page
  • Email Sign up Element
  • Returns page
  • Help / Contact Us page
  • Store Locator / Where to Buy page
  • Store Details page
  • Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy page

E-Learning Site (20+ pages) Starting at $3000+E-Learning Site (20+ pages)

E-learning approaches can combine different types of e-learning components, including:
(a) e-learning content;
(b) e-tutoring, e-coaching, e-mentoring;
(c) collaborative learning; and
(d) virtual classroom.

Sales Landing Plan (1 page) Starting at $299+

  • Header Slider | Product Presentation | Portfolio | Testimonials |Call to Action |Contact info

Additional features and addons:

  • Contact forms with database (CV export)
  • Image gallery
  • Video embeds
  • Audio/Pod embeds
  • Staff directory
  • Discussion forum
  • Documents Upload
  • E-commerce plugin
  • Event registration
  • Resource Link management (dozens or hundreds of links, ordered by category)
  • Email newsletter
  • SEO
  • Banner advertising
  • Social media sharing links (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Outgoing RSS feeds (your content syndicated to other websites)
  • Incoming RSS feeds (pulled from other websites)
  • Drip Content Features

Example: SITE MAP

Step 7- Build Your Social Media Profile

Around 40% of the world population has an internet connection today (view all online today. ) In the online environment, there is an extraordinary opportunity to reach out to the largest audience possible and influence what they buy whether it is a product or service. However, there are thousands of brands out there doing the exact same thing, so the challenge is to become more influential than them. See: 10 Ways to Bolster Your Brand’s Online Influence.

Make sure you are setup on the following sites.

Facebook for Business
This is the biggest social media network on the Internet, both in terms of total number of users and name recognition. Founded on February 4, 2004, Facebook has within 12 years managed to accumulate more than 1.59 billion monthly active users and this automatically makes it one of the best mediums for connecting people from all over the world with your business. It is estimated that more than 1 million small and medium-sized businesses use the platform to advertise their business. (Video |Article |SignUp)

You might be thinking that limiting your posts to 140 characters is no way to advertise your business, but you will be shocked to know that this social media platform has more than 320 million active monthly users who make use of the 140 character limit to pass on information. Businesses can use Twitter to interact with prospective clients, answer questions, release latest news and at the same time use the targeted ads with specific audiences. Twitter was founded on March 21, 2006, and has its headquarters in San Francisco, California. (Video|Article|SignUp)

Founded on December 14, 2002, and launched 0n May 5, 2003, LinkedIn is hands-down the most popular social media site for professional networking. The website is available in 24 languages and has over 400 million registered users. LinkedIn is great for people looking to connect with people in similar industries, networking with local professionals and displaying business related information and statistics. (1.Video| 2.Video |3. Video|1. Article 2. |Article|SignUp)

While it’s no Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, Google+ has its place among the popular social media sites. Its SEO value alone makes it a must-use tool for any small business. Launched on December 15, 2011, Google+ has joined the big leagues registering 418 active million users as of December 2015. (Video|Article|SignUp)

YouTube — the largest and most popular video-based social media website — was founded on February 14, 2005, by three former PayPal employees. It was later bought by Google in November 2006 for $1.65 billion. YouTube has over 1 billion website visitors per month and is the second most popular search engine behind Google. (Video|Article|SignUp)

Launched in March 2010, Pinterest is a relatively newcomer in the social media arena. This platform consists of digital bulletin boards where businesses can pin their content. Pinterest announced September 2015 that it had acquired 100 million users. Small businesses whose target audience is mostly made up of women should definitely invest in Pinterest as more than half of its visitors are women. (Video|Article|SignUp)

Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual social media platform. The site, launched on October 6, 2010, has more than 400 million active users and is owned by Facebook. Many of its users use it to post information about travel, fashion, food, art and similar subjects. The platform is also distinguished by its unique filters together with video and photo editing features. Almost 95 percent of Instagram users also use Facebook. (1.Video |2.Video|Article|SignUp)

Snapchat is an image messaging application software product that was created by Reggie Brown, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy when they were students at Stanford University. The app was officially released in September 2011, and within a short span of time they have grown immensely registering an average of 100 million daily active users as of May 2015. More than 18 percent of all social media users use Snapchat. (Video|Article|SignUp)

See other popular social media site ( 20 Most Popular Social Media Sites)

Global usage

According to the article “The Emerging Role of Social Media in Political and Regime Change” by Rita Safranek, the Middle East and North Africa region has one of the most youthful populations in the world, with people under 25 making up between 35–45% of the population in each country. They make up the majority of social media users, including about 17 million Facebook users, 25,000 Twitter accounts and 40,000 active blogs, according to the Arab Advisors Group.

This is a list of the leading social networks based on number of active user accounts as of September 2016.[40]

  1. Facebook: 1,712,000,000 users
  2. WhatsApp 1,000,000,000 users
  3. Facebook Messenger: 1,000,000,000 users
  4. QQ: 899,000,000 users
  5. WeChat: 806,000,000 users
  6. QZone: 652,000,000 users
  7. Tumblr: 555,000,000 users
  8. Instagram: 500,000,000 users
  9. Twitter: 313,000,000 users
  10. Baidu Tieba: 300,000,000 users
  11. Skype: 300,000,000 users
  12. Sina Weibo: 282,000,000 users
  13. Viber: 249,000,000 users
  14. Line: 218,000,000 users
  15. Snapchat: 200,000,000 users
Step 8– Productivity Resources

Despite the popularity of instant messaging, texting and social media, a poll by Adobe Systems Inc. showed that email is the top communications tool at work and will grow in importance over the next five years. The workers questioned in the poll estimated they spend 6.3 hours a day checking emails, with 3.2 hours devoted to work emails and 3.1 hours to personal messages. (See Article)

As a small business person, you don’t have a lot of extra time to spend handling your emails. You have other things to do. Combining your email accounts using Gmail and some of the productivity tool below can save you some time. (See Article)
The new, powered by Office 365, provides a business-class email experience to help you collaborate effortlessly, focus on what matters and get more done using some of your favorite apps and services. See more about the new Cost$ 0.00 (1.Video |2. Video |Article|SignUp)

OneNote is your digital notebook for capturing and organizing everything across your devices. Jot down your ideas, keep track of classroom and meeting notes, clip from the web, or make a to-do list, as well as draw and sketch your ideas. Cost $0.00 (1.Video 2.Video|Article|SignUp)

Evernote is a cross-platform, freemium app designed for note taking, organizing, and archiving. It is developed by the Evernote Corporation, a private company headquartered in Redwood City, California. The app allows users to create a “note” which can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notebooks can be added to a stack while notes can be sorted into a notebook, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched, and exported as part of a notebook. Cost $0.00 |$34.99.00|$69.00 (Video |Article | SignUp)

Gravatar (a portmanteau of globally recognized avatar) is a service for providing globally unique avatars which was created by Tom Preston-Werner. Since 2007, it has been owned by Automattic, who have integrated it into their blogging platform. On Gravatar, users can register an account based on their email address, and upload a digital avatar to be associated with the account. Gravatar plugins are available for popular blogging software; when the user posts a comment on such a blog that requires an email address, the blogging software checks whether that email address has an associated avatar at Gravatar. If so, the Gravatar is shown along with the comment.   Cost $0.00-$0.00 (Video |Article | SignUp)

Google Messenger App
Stay in touch with friends and family. Messenger from Google is a communications app that helps you send and receive SMS and MMS messages to any phone. You can also send group texts as well as your favorite pictures, videos and even audio messages to your contacts. See Google Allo for iPhone users.
(Video |Article| SignUp)

With just a few taps, you can manage your lists, add new subscribers, send campaign drafts, and view your reports. Create an email marketing campaign on your desktop and send it from your mobile device when your team signs off. MailChimp’s mobile app makes it easy to stay on top of your email marketing no matter where you are.  Cost $0.00-$0.00 (Video |Article | SignUp)

Constant Contact
Constant was founded as Roving Software in 1995, before taking its present name in 2004. It is a FREE tool for 60 days which allows its users to monitor their social media accounts from their email. Constant Contact recently released other social media features, such as Social Stats, which lets users see how often their emails or events have been shared on social media platforms. In April 2014, Constant Contact announced the launch of Toolkit, an all-in-one online marketing platform that integrates multi-channel marketing options – including email, social, mobile, and Web – to drive customer campaigns of all types. Toolkit offers 15 different campaign types along with real-time reporting metrics.[10] 2014 also saw the launch of Constant Contact’s Small Business Innovation Program, an accelerator designed to help entrepreneurs and startups creating products and services for small businesses.  Cost $0.00-$45.00 (Video |Article | SignUp)

Step 9- Project Timelines and Milestones

The following timeline is a general estimate of the design and development process for corporate identity projects. The timeline may vary according to:

  1. how quickly you make decisions,
  2. how rapidly you provide feedback, and
  3. our current workload.

Example: Demo Project Page

Step 10 – Customer Relationship Management Strategy

Creating a CRM strategy

You should select an appropriate platform on which to build a CRM strategy. First determined your CRM needs, how much work and the types of work that needs to be completed to achieve an effective CRM strategy. Furthermore, you need to be clear about whether or not external experts are required to assist in the creation of the strategy.

Before crafting your CRM be sure to address the following topics:
• The cultural readiness of the organization to adopt a customer-centric approach to business.
• A clear vision of what good CRM looks like across the organization.
• Clearly documented customer journeys across the organization.
• A communication plan for sharing the actionable items within the strategy, progress charts that show what has been implemented and where.
• An education program for the entire staff, including third-parties who may have involvement in the interactions with the organization’s customers.
An implementation plan, including a feedback loop that allows everyone to highlight implementation or execution problems.
• Clear leadership – ideally including the responsibilities of the most senior managers in terms of managing the operationalisation of the strategy.
• Clear measures that show everyone the value of adopting and applying the strategic initiatives.
• The selection of appropriate software to support the unique CRM strategy of the organization.
• Understand your measurement of excellence when it is achieved – know when you are at a point of excellence?

Generally, a comprehensive CRM strategy should have multiple levels, including business objectives, data strategy and analytics, experience/communications planning, channel strategy, content strategy, technology, continuous improvement and metrics/measurements.

Recommended StartUp Resources:


Resources and Maintenance Schedules

Review these important links

  1. Domain Search and Purchase
  2. Purchase Website Hosting Plan
  3. Consolidate Emails (Outlook, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp)
  4. Social Media Strategic Plan (Google+, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
  5.  Website Maintenance
  6. Company Press Kit (Case studies, white papers, customer testimonials, etc.)
  7. Corporate Identity Kit
  8. Videos and product demos 

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