The absolute foundation of your small business is your image. The way potential clients and/or customers perceive your business sets the stage for the way your product or service is recognized and ultimately judged. Image is everything and it will affect your business either positively or negatively.

What do you want people to think about when they see your image? When they see your logo, business card, brochure or website, what will they think? Cheap? Expensive? Professional? Successful? Expert? Amateur? Failure?

It doesn't matter if you have been in business six years or six days, the failure to recognize just how important your image is and just how much people will judge you based on that image, is a huge mistake. It is a mistake that will have a lasting impact on the long-term success of your small business.

People's perception tends to become their reality. How much do you charge? Is your product or service the best? Would people be crazy not to do business with you? Are you the most experienced and most qualified professional in your industry?

Does your image convey this? Does it say, "we are the best and we pay attention to detail..." or does it say "we are the cheapest in town and just throw things together at the last minute"? Does your image convey your professionalism and expertise? Or, does it say, "we don't stand out, we are like everyone else, we are a commodity to be passed over"?

I run across small businesses on a daily basis, that give absolutely no regard or consideration to what their image is saying. You've seen them too...they threw together a font with some clip art ripped from the Internet and call it a logo. Their brochure is printed with an ink jet printer on cheap paper templates bought at Office Depot®. Their website has been thrown together in a night and has six different fonts and twelve different colors.

Essentially, what these businesses are saying with their image is, "We don't care, we are cheap, we are amateurs, we are not as professional as we claim." Is this truly what they want to convey? Probably not, but disregarding the importance of image is a recipe for misinterpretation of your small business.

Image can make you look like the best.

Think for a moment about Starbucks®. Its image is one of excellence and top quality in the world of coffee. Because of the image it has, we willingly pay $2, $3 and even $4 dollars for coffee when we could go down the street, somewhere else and pay much less for the same thing. But, Starbucks® image says, "we are worth the price, we are the best". Starbucks® has added to the success of its business by developing a professional, successful and quality image.

Image can make you look cheap, even if you don't want to look that way.

I recently spoke to an owner of a small venture capitalist firm. His business is small, but he works with very large companies to get them millions of dollars in financing. Yet when I reviewed his logo, I found it to be absolutely atrocious. He did it himself by throwing together a font and some clip art that came with Microsoft® Word. A three-year-old may as well have designed it, because it looked that elementary.

Why in the world would potential clients trust his firm to handle millions of dollars in venture funding for them when his image screamed, "we are cheap"?

Successful businesses know and understand the importance of image. If you spend the time, effort and money to develop a professional and successful image, your business will be seen as a professional and successful business. If you don't take the time and just throw together your image, your business will be seen as thrown together and cheap.

A successful image will help you attract the types of clients you want to work with. You will convey that you are worth your price. You will convey you are the best in your industry. Additionally, you will give your prospects a sense that they would be crazy not to do business with you.

Your image is what everyone sees. It is what people think of your small business and is one of the most essential elements in a successful business.

Recognize its vital impact on your bottom line.

Jeanna Pool is President of CATALYST creative, inc., an award-winning graphic design, web design and marketing firm located in Denver, Colorado. She helps small business owners who are really good at what they do, but struggle to market their services effectively to attract more clients on a consistent basis. She can be contacted at or call 303.380.9100.

More Resources

Business:Branding Articles from
03/22/2018 08:08 AM
Want a Larger Piece of the Pie?
At a recent family gathering, my cousin Ann, known among those seated at the table as "dessert-maker extraordinaire," cut her delicious-looking (and tasting) apple pie into equal-sized pieces and served it. Everyone smiled as wedges of the fragrant, just-warmed delicacy were passed out, but I think each of us around the table, we were hoping for a little larger piece of pie. Same thing in business. Everyone wants a larger slice of the pie!
03/21/2018 02:29 PM
Solutions to Private Label Your Products
Private label rights products (PLR products) are popularly known as the products that are owned by you though not created by you. Purchasing PL rights from real owner means that at an agreed price you buy products from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and are then free to sell/ promote/ modify/ edit/ or resell those products as they were your own. After selling PLR to someone, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can no longer claim any differences in opinion that may arise due to product being modified/ sold by a PLR buyer. Intellectual property can also be a part of private labels.
03/11/2018 05:52 PM
Don't Make Dumb Promotional Mistakes
One's perception of a business is only as good as the image presented by the business itself, the promotional material their customers and prospects see on websites, print advertising, signs, vehicles, brochures, even business cards. Yet, all too often, what they show the public are dumb mistakes.
03/11/2018 11:14 AM
Oh My Gosh - That Gorilla Weighs 800 Pounds!
If it hasn't happened to your industry yet, be assured that it will. The 800-pound gorilla will come after you. It will sit anywhere it wants, maybe right next to your business, and try to push you off the bench.
03/09/2018 03:43 PM
Sharing Your Concepts for a Booth Design
You don't have to be an artist to share your concepts with exhibition booth designers. The more you can share with them, the easier it is for them to create something you fall in love with and you are proud to stand behind.
03/09/2018 11:22 AM
How To Create A Brand - Build Your Brand Development Strategy
How to create a brand is no way a simple question to be answered in a single sentence. You have to prepare a brand development strategy to augment your brand value.
03/05/2018 03:40 PM
Brand Launch Services Play A Key Role In Successful Launching Of Brands
Despite the marketing strategies designed by experts and all the efforts that are made for successful launching of products companies meet failure with growing number of products and services that are brought out for the customers every year. However, the question is how long the products remain in the mind of the customers and how often they are keen to become experimental. Given the fact that customer behavior changes rapidly hiring the services of professional brand launching services is essential. How to extract the best from these experts and determine that the company you have chosen is the best? After all, you cannot let go off the innovations and the opportunities and not to get the cost of capital back. There are different facets of brand launching about which you must try to find out in detail. While starting from the scratch during product launch you need to experience freedom when it comes to positioning the brand firmly instead of following the set strategies blindly.
02/24/2018 07:37 PM
Of Carrots and Added Value
Consider the products and services you sell. What can you do to make your customers rely on your products and services?
02/24/2018 07:30 PM
Avoid Creating Promotional Products That Are Not Appreciated, Create Customized Lanyards
We have all been there, you attend a big event and leave with a bag full of promotional products you simply do not care about. When you are a business owner, you know how much time and money can go into these types of items.
02/24/2018 07:29 PM
Impress Your Potential Customers With Promotional Clothing Items
One of the biggest parts of any business is your customers. To bring in new customers and bring back existing customers, you need excellent marketing tactics. Unfortunately, many companies tend to overthink marketing and make things more challenging than necessary.
02/23/2018 09:37 AM
Benefits Of Branding Your Personal Umbrella
When it comes to umbrellas, there are a lot of things that we should put into consideration when it comes to branding. The large space on an umbrella is one of the reasons why it is possible to create anything you desire on it. For people with small businesses, one of the easiest means of advertising their products is through the use of umbrellas.
02/23/2018 09:37 AM
Advantages Of Customizing Your Umbrellas With Designs
These days, companies and individuals look out for promotional materials that are affordable and easy to impress. One of the gift items that come to mind is umbrella. With the number of designer umbrellas on the market, choosing the right one can take time if it is your first time.
02/21/2018 09:46 PM
Types of Visual Content That Really Work
Visual marketing is gaining popularity because the human brain can consume and retain visual content easily. Technology is really helping us out in exploring how visuals can be used as an effective marketing tool. Ten years ago, it was not easy for a small business to launch a video marketing campaign. Now, even a small company can run a video marketing campaign on a tight budget. Here are some types of visual content that really works, if used properly
02/19/2018 09:44 AM
What Is a Hashtag? Why Do We Use It?
A hashtag is a label, used in context to information on social media sites, which makes it easier to find information when it comes to a specific topic or theme. It narrows down the search and saves the user from excessive information download.
02/16/2018 08:05 AM
Don't Flash a Light On Your Brand Problems
In November of 2013, JP Morgan Bank was in a mess and all over the news as it was criminally investigated for manipulating global financial markets. Someone in its marketing team decided to open up JP Morgan for some intended good press--and it went wrong. The tweet read, "What career advice would you ask a leading exec at a global firm?
02/15/2018 07:54 AM
How To Turn Your New Business Into A Successful Brand
A brand is actually the image a company or business firm holds on its products, services, staff, their uniforms, their styles of service and even their advertisement techniques. All these sum up to be the experiences your clients might have with your business firm or your company. A well-known and good brand takes care of this experience that its customers might have with it and also struggles to develop trust and integrity between the two. The importance of this point must be realized that the life, as well as the prosperity of your brand, depends on what your company does and the way it does so. This includes every kind of interaction that you have with your clients involving the content you put on your website and on all the social media forums like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
02/14/2018 10:58 AM
Growing Fashion Brands in India and What Makes the Apparel Industry So Lucrative
The fashion industry is among the fastest growing industries in the world today. Since time immemorial, change has been the sole factor that has remained constant. Currently, the fashion industry of India is considered to be of a dynamic nature. Due to the increase in fashion conciousness among Indians over the last few decades, the fashion industry has experienced a boom. Starting from the middle aged home maker to the funky college youth to the top notch posh populace, everyone has developed a definite fashion sense which is not only distinct but classy.
02/13/2018 02:58 PM
Importance of Custom Branding Packages for Overall Business
Another indispensable feature of brand identity lies in the flexibility and adaptability to roll out advancements and progressions. Custom Branding allows brands to stay current and prominent, with options for acclimation to keep the shopper lured. Branding is a significant advertising guideline and should make a company more identifiable, and in turn, allows the brand to perform remarkably well in the competitive market.
02/08/2018 08:43 AM
The Importance of a Brand Audit to Keep Your Business
Brands just like any other things in the world come and go. Brands like humans have their own lifespan. Some may last for months and some fade away. This is a sad reality that businesses and organizations should take into account.
02/06/2018 11:10 AM
How to Dominate China As a Marketer - An Advice From an Insider
How to find a career in China, get featured on Forbes and use LinkedIn to its full potential. The story of Olivia Plotnick.
02/05/2018 04:35 PM
Making Your Brand Stand Out in a Tough Market
There are many different ways that you can make sure that your brand stands out among your competitors. You may be doing well in that particular area but there are always other ways that you can differentiate your brand even more for greater and greater success.
02/01/2018 03:34 PM
How to Create a Business in a Brand
These days many businesses are thriving and striving hard in order to create their presence and enjoy higher sales. The business branding overall has become an eternal need of every business and without which it would be more difficult for any business to survive.
01/28/2018 01:15 PM
How Killing Your Business Can Make You Successful
When your old blog crashes and burns, don't rebuild it... Build it better. Rebuilding focuses on what was, and you don't want what you had. You want something better. So much better.
01/24/2018 08:38 PM
Social Media-Not?
It is now standard operating procedure for business owners and other self-employed professionals to have a visible presence on one or more social media platforms, in addition to a website. We've internalized the assumption that there is no way to launch and sustain a viable business without an active online presence spread over an array of channels. But what is the demonstrable ROI of this activity? Do these tactics build and enhance your brand, generate leads, or result in sales? Beyond a certain point, I respectfully submit, social media as it is typically used produces very little beyond siphoning off a chunk of scarce time and money.
01/23/2018 02:24 PM
5 Tips to Establishing Your Digital Identity
Learn how to establish your digital identity and presence on social media platforms. Following five easy steps will help you identify which social media platforms are the right fit for your business.
01/19/2018 02:49 PM
Preventing Your Brand From Getting Hijacked
Brand names are known as 'Trade Marks' and the names of enterprises are known as 'Trade Names'. Awareness In order to prevent one's logo, brand name/mark etc. from being misused by another, it is essential to be aware of the existence of such misuse in different areas and jurisdictions.
01/18/2018 09:58 AM
Future Trends to Watch With an ORM Company
In today's time, a bad image of a business in the eyes of its audiences can ruin their presence forever. Online reputation means how an individual sees any business over search engines. If an online business is not authentic in the eyes of users, then the users will not avail their service.
01/17/2018 08:37 AM
Think About on the Go With Various Business Promo Items
Consumers love to receive travel promotional items, they give them a convenience they can count on when they go out of town for work or for business. However, this is also an amazing marketing opportunity for you.
01/02/2018 08:01 AM
Partners In Crime or Brothers In Arms?
"... and though they hurt me so bad, in the fear and alarm... you did not desert me, my brothers in arms" Dire Straits - As one year ends and another begins, I listen and read the predictions of the direct response marketing industry leading professionals (the kind of marketers that have been around for more than a decade, not the flaky "gurus" on Facebook) for the new year.
12/29/2017 11:50 AM
Ways to Choose a New Brand Name for Your Company
What do you think is the key difference between SMEs (small and medium scale enterprises) and large scale enterprises? Why a SME fails to sustain through risks and challenges unlike a large enterprise? Well, the work culture matters.
12/20/2017 08:16 AM
How Can CRM Solutions Help to Build Your Brand?
This article is going to guide you on how dynamic CRM solutions can benefit your business and can help you to build a strong brand value. This is an undeniable fact that in today's technologically progressive era, the business market is extremely competing.
12/19/2017 09:42 AM
Create A Successful Inhouse Marketing Series For A Global Audience On A Shoe-String
This article will help you launch a new online marketing strategy. It is a strategy on a shoe-string. A successful talent search can also be evolved.
12/19/2017 08:11 AM
Trends That Will Reshape Content Marketing
Experts are of the opinion that within the next five years, almost half of the content will be generated by machines. By observing these trends and accepting them as new opportunities, content marketers and companies will be able to develop truly innovative web experiences which ultimately improve ROI.
12/19/2017 08:00 AM
Why Copycatting Should Be Legal
The dating scene was always a hot market, but there used to be a time where copycat pickup artists roamed the land - One specific story of a pickup artist codenamed "Styles" comes to mind - he was very popular on the scene and taught some of his tricks to the wannabe crowd in seminars. So one day the original Styles was walking down the LA strip when he sees a whole bunch of copycat Styles walking around, dressed like him, with shaved heads like him, talking like him, using his opening lines...
12/14/2017 03:45 PM
What Love, Culture, Brands and Energy Have in Common
Love belongs in the business world, and without it, we're empty of passion, drive and personal responsibility. Love breed a great culture, and culture breeds a great brand.The connection between love, company culture, brands and energy is that business leaders care deeply about these things and much more in their very human drive to build the best company they possibly can.
12/14/2017 03:43 PM
How Sales, Marketeing, Branding & Digital Dysfunction Are Dragging You Down
Getting sales and marketing to talk to each other may feel like torture, but it has never been more critical - especially for the more than 5 million mid-market industrial and B2B companies in the U.S.
12/12/2017 08:09 AM
Reaching a Wider Base With Promotional Aids and Inflatables
Advertising offers business to reach a large regional or local customer base, there are advertisements like TV ads that can bridge geographical gaps and have a wider audience reach. With advertising, you give more meaning to your brand, especially when you handle it in the correct manner. When creative branding is involved, you end up with unique propositions, and this makes you stand out from the competitors even though you are offering similar products.
12/06/2017 07:57 AM
How To Profit From A 5,000 Year Old Persuasion Mechanism
My wife's sister got married yesterday. It wasn't your ordinary wedding. See, she's orthodox Jewish, kind of like the crowd you see in Brooklyn.
12/03/2017 10:44 AM
Why This Nazi Hunter Makes The Skeleton Dance
Martin Scorsese is a freakin' genius. He's also a total nutjob, which makes him that more interesting. Why?
11/27/2017 08:23 AM
How Can You Use a Mobile Application to Market Your Brand?
This article is going to guide you on using an effective mobile application as a potential tool to promote your brand in the competing business market. Traditional marketing is pretty much expensive and promoting the brand through normal advertising is what everyone else does!
11/26/2017 07:55 PM
8 Personal Branding Mistakes That Are Hurting Your Business
Consumers now more than ever feel they need a stronger connection with the companies they engage in business. Interestingly, I have noticed more and more corporate surveys are heavily modified with questions about "how do you feel this company represents itself?" Branding and business representation are imperative in today's market. How you come across and are perceived are more important than just a logo and a tag line.
11/26/2017 10:10 AM
The Los Angeles City Logo Needs An Upgrade And Rebranding
The absurdity of political correctness has surely reached its pinnacle in California or so you'd think. In discussing this with a few college students at Starbucks who were studying for their gender studies class we noted that California's image has changed and so to should its tourism advertising and logo. Some cities out here in California have changed their logos over the years, given them some serious rebranding and upgraded graphics. For Los Angeles, it's time, time to get real and have a logo that really reflects what's going on here today. No sense in leading anyone astray, especially when they come on vacation or decide to illegally move here and stay.
11/20/2017 11:53 AM
10 Tips to Deciding Your New Business Name
Naming your business really is the first brick you lay in building your business. It's the foundation on which your entire business will rest. Here are 10 tips remember while deciding on a new business name.
11/19/2017 10:21 PM
5 Steps to a Strong Personal Brand on Social Media
Personal branding in social media is not as simple as most people think. You really need to audit yourself apart from the branding of your business and the branding of your website. It is more personal, and directly interacting with people in a more enclosed and scrutinized medium so be sure you have all your bases covered, including up-to-date profiles and a overall well thought out strategy.
11/13/2017 04:28 PM
Secrets to Creating a Visual Brand Identity That Sets You Apart
Have you taken the time and effort to truly define your brand? A brand just is not about the greatest logo or most visually appealing pictures. Brands define you and your business, promotes professionalism and purpose and builds confidence and rapport with your target audience.
11/13/2017 09:39 AM
The Relationship Between Brands And Influencers
Influencer Marketing is very familiar to marketers, The concept is to build a reputation and visibility for your brand by using the popularity and power of those popular people we call "influencers." Influencer Marketing requires an overtone approach, packed with a lot more variables in order to be successful. Even before, it is hard to get attention, so in this article, we are going to discuss brand's relationship with an influencer. What do brands searching for in an influencer?
11/10/2017 10:17 AM
How to Build Your Professional Brand Using Digital Strategies In The Construction Industry
Are you looking for ways to advance your professional brand in the environmental, engineering or construction industry? In a technology age where employers and industry leaders are using digital platforms to connect, engage and collaborate, establishing a solid presence online is vital to staying current in today's strategies. Being active online will give you the slight edge, separating you from other colleagues in your niche.
11/07/2017 09:55 AM
What Is Viral Marketing And Why Is It Right For Your Brand?
Viral Marketing - what do you think it is? Well, if you have no idea, let us clear it to you. It is one of the common marketing strategies to drive a flood of customers that raise awareness of your brand among more and more people. In simple words, it is a type of marketing that spread like a virus and encourage word-of-mouth that has the power to increase conversion.
11/07/2017 08:34 AM
7 Crucial Elements to Building an Effective Personal Brand
Creating your personal brand is paramount to your entrepreneurial business success. In the old days, one just used a logo without going deeper in how the potential clients relates to you. You have to be more dynamic and strategic in your planning in creating familiarity and trust. Being consistent with high standards is so important. Please read the following article for insights in creating or augmenting your personal brand.
11/07/2017 08:34 AM
Watch the Film Again to Win
Your business, like the football team, competes against an opponent, and today, with the almost universal ability of your customers and prospects to search the internet, you are competing against businesses world-wide. To succeed, you must perform the same type of analysis; develop the same type of plan.

More Branding Information:

Related Articles

How To Create A Brand That Sticks
Most people, when they hear the word branding, think logos - but in fact, branding is really much more than that. A brand involves blending the image, purpose, and focus of your business, with your core marketing message, and coming up with something which will stick in the minds of people who encounter it.
Brand Building 201: Finding The Ideal Way
The strongest and longest lasting brands branch off of anexisting category. Branching takes patience and time.
Are You Brand Worthy? Are You Brand Worthy? 
Branding is a one hot topic, although it is wildly misunderstood. To make things even more confusing, branding is often tossed in the same basket as marketing which makes its application to an entrepreneur or sole-practioner even more unclear.
Branding - Brand Identity Guru
Brands are important aspects of any business, but unlike money or bricks, mortar and paperclips, a brand is an intangible aspect of business. It lives in people's heads and is defined by all of that person's contacts with a company.
Wealthiest 10% of Americans Name Top Quality Brands for 8 Products in New Survey
The seventh in a continuing series of twice-yearly surveys by The American Affluence Research Center (AARC) reveals the brands considered to have the highest quality, regardless of price, by the wealthiest 10% of Americans, the 11 million households representing about half of all consumer income and spending, a third of the total US economy, and 70% of the personal wealth of Americans.Just released, the AARC report, The Luxury Market: Spring 2005 Survey of Affluent Americans, shows the affluent named Rolex, Cartier, and Tag Heuer as the top three brands for quality, regardless of price, for lady's fine watches.
Great Brands Depend On Attention To The Brand Architecture
Do you have the architecture in place to make sure each and every brand contact sends the right message?Thinking in terms of architecture, a building that looks great and catches your attention is probably designed so that each component looks perfect and enhances the overall effect of the building.In the audiobook, "Sound Advice on Brand Marketing," author Tom Miller says, "Great architecture works because of attention to detail, and great brands depend on the same level of attention.
Corporate Identity - A Rough Guide
A rough guide to corporate identityThe tabloids report the millions spent by large corporate companies on their logos as a scandal..
Naming Names... How to Name your Business
Sometimes the best inspiration comes from hearing about the deconstruction of other company's names. For you, I am happy to share how I came up with "Slice A Day :: your slice on marketing".
Logo Design Tips
Logos can be described as visual icons that provide a unique identification element to a business or product. Logos provide quick visual recognition of a Company which in-turn builds branding.
Logo Files: Versions Of Your Logo That You Should Own
Your logo is the most important graphic element in which you will invest for your business. You should own the logo in many file formats.
Personal Branding: Characteristics of a Strong Personal Brand
How many times have you been at a networking function and been lost for words when asked "what do you do"?We all have. But do you see this as a threat or an opportunity?Developing a Personal Branding Statement or PBS can be a powerful way to help market yourself to prospects, clients or potential employers.
Quick Tactics To Brand Your Business And Make More Sales
This may come as a surprise..
Branding Advertising Agency
Branding used to be a fancy business word, but it is becoming more and more used in everyday business meetings. Finally! For decades, big corporations have used in-house, very well paid brand managers - someone in charge of managing everything that relates to the brand, including design, package and partnerships.
Do What Works
"Can you hear me now?"You'd be hard pressed to find someone in the US who doesn't know the company behind that question.So why do big companies, like Verizon, hammer us with the same message over and over? Because it works.
Hiring the Right Graphic Designer for Your Small Business
Every small business needs it, but not many have it. I am not talking about cash flow, clients or even your product or services to sell.
Branding Your Radio or TV Campaign With A Musical Identity (aka Audo Logo, aka Jingle)
You don't think twice about a business card and letterhead logo for the visual aspect of your campaign, why not an audio logo to brand your broadcast campaign?With the magic of music you can capture the personality of your business, create an emotional connection to your target audience and get recall & branding recognition (in some instances with people tapping their feet and singing your company name) even when you are not on the air.The majority of advertisers use the free production services that radio and TV stations offer to save money.
Brand Extension; Going from Consumer to Commercial
As more and more home pressure washers are sold at leading retailers such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Home Depot, Cosco, etc. We are seeing companies offer products in brand line extension to service this niche.
Build Customer Loyalty by Promoting Your Customers
Do you want to attract new customers while building greater loyalty among your current customers? Include your customers in your marketing and promotions. By creating greater awareness of your customers (and their businesses) you may help to build their businesses and increase their demand for your products and services.
Branding: Bring Back the Jingle!
Did you grow up in the '70s and '80s? If so, you probably have a slew of campy jingles from various TV commercials filed away in your brain. Today, advertisers still use jingles to help identify their brand, but not nearly as much as they did "back in the day.
The Very Basics of Design
Design is a very subjective thing, therefore, if you ask me how to come up with a first class design for your marketing collateral or publishing mediums, it would be very unfair for me or anyone else to tell you what is a good design and what is a bad design. But there are certain elements and principles that we should look for in a design to determine whether the design and layout of the material will be able to carry the message across effectively to the readers and your potential market.