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    Small Business, Big Branding: 7 Things Basketball & Branding Have in Common

    By guestauthor2 | Yahoo Small Business

    March Madness

    By now you’ve probably heard that completing a perfect March Madness bracket this year could net you $1 billion, courtesy of Yahoo Sports, Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans. What small business owner couldn’t use that kind of cash? The odds of winning (1 in 9.2 quintillion, per USA Today) might be against you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t win big from studying the game. In fact, basketball and branding have more in common than you might think, and those commonalities can help your company look like a billion-dollar brand. Below are 7 profitable pointers on branding taken straight from basketball’s playbook:

    1. Master the fundamentals.
    Michael Jordan once said, “ You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way.” Similarly, if you don’t get the basics of branding right, your brand can’t win. It’s that simple. What are the fundamentals, you ask? Read on for the biggies.

    2. It’s all about teamwork.
    Everything you create to sell your brand should wear the same uniform, so to speak. Building your brand depends heavily on coordination. This means all your materials should work together to convey the same look and feel (image), and evoke a similar emotional response from your target audience. When viewed side by side, do your logo, website, stationery, brochures and other promotional materials create a brand “team”?

    3. Practice your “go-to” moves.

    It’s best to keep it simple when establishing your brand standards – especially when you’re just starting out. Not only will keeping it simple save you considerable time and money, it will more quickly build brand awareness in the minds of your customers. For example:

    a. Stamp your logo on everything. Think of your logo as your brand’s team captain – so choose wisely and use frequently.

    b. Make (just) one color “yours.” Choose a hue from your logo and use it as the predominant color in all your promotional pieces. Your goal is to get customers to remember you and associate your materials with your brand attributes. Color plays a huge role in this type of memory recall.

    c. Work with just a few fonts. Fonts, like color and graphics, project different images. Choose no more than a handful of complementary typefaces, then stick with them for all your marketing materials.

    4. Fans matter.
    Make your customers happy, so they’ll root for you online and off. There’s no better or cheaper advertising than word of mouth, whether that word be face-to-face or on Facebook. What’s more, customer success stories and testimonials are invaluable to selling your brand. This means customer service needs to be a top company priority if you want to score big.

    5. Underdogs win.
    Every year, there’s at least one Cinderella basketball team that offs a legacy. It happens in business just as often, if not more. Your brand may be up against big competitors, but your small-business size gives you distinct advantages like innovation and flexibility. Bring your brand A-game, and you can come out on top.

    6. Take advantage of each opportunity.
    In basketball, every possession is a chance to score, and games are often won or lost on just one possession. In branding, each promotional piece you create is an opportunity to make a great impression with a new customer. Whether it be with your business card, website or signage - don’t waste a chance to make that great impression.

    7. Perservere.
    Successful branding doesn’t happen overnight. Once you’ve got your branding game plan down, stick with it. Be prepared to be patient, and don’t give up!

    They may call it March “Madness,” but its lessons are anything but crazy. Keep your eyes on the branding prize and your business can look a billion bucks,
    perfect bracket or not.

    Amber Schmechel is the Public Relations Director at www.LogoGarden.com.

    Yahoo Small Business Services