When trying to grow a new business, entrepreneurs often overlook the importance of company branding. They jump to outbound marketing and sales efforts without fully understanding their core identity. If this has happened to you, chances are your audience has sensed that something is missing. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and develop a brand for your market.

The most basic tools to establish brand identity are a logo, business cards, and a website. These tools are essential for networking. When they are done well and portray a consistent message to your audience, they can be an effective marketing tool to achieve brand loyalty in your industry.

Networking Your Brand

Networking is essential if you want to grow your industry presence. Exchanging business cards is a natural step in this process. Business cards are often the “face” of your company. They should communicate what your company does, as well as reflect the company’s image and personality. That is why a business owner needs to consider the target audience before designing their business cards. The card should appeal to the type of customer that the business is trying to attract. Don’t forget to design and produce your business cards in a clean and concise fashion. It is extremely important to find a reliable printing service in order to present the most professional business card for your company.

Logos and websites are also essential tools for creating brand recognition. These should also be a reflection of your overall message and portray your company’s unique perspective among competitors. To learn more about how to design an effective logo, check out these 5 Branding Basics. When having someone create your logo, website and business cards, there is one essential element to remember: consistency. You don’t want your audience confused about your brand.

General networking within your industry can also increase your brand’s presence, especially in your company’s early days. However, many people fumble in the networking process. It seems simple, but people often lose sight of making connections and instead strive to make sales. At its core, networking is about building relationships. Every savvy entrepreneur knows that this requires skill and finesse and most importantly, work. Here are some tips to get you started in the networking game.

Give before you Receive

It is important to build some social capital with your connections before you start asking for favors.  Remember, this is a relationship, not a business transaction. Ask them questions about what they do and offer advice where you see fit. This can be an effective networking tactic if it is done naturally. If you come off too salesy, connections will get offended by your unwillingness to have a personal conversation.

Ask for Expert Advice

Don’t put your connection on the spot with questions they can’t answer. Using big words and industry jargon may make you seem like an expert, but it makes outsiders feel uncomfortable. Therefore, consult a member of your network when you want to discuss an area in which they have expertise.

Always Follow up

Exchanging business cards after a conversation is just a small part of networking. The initial interaction is a way to get your foot in the door for further discussions and a possible business relationship. Follow up with the person via email or phone within 24 hours of meeting. Check out this article on networking faux pas if you think you may be playing the game all wrong.

The most important thing to remember when establishing a strong company brand is that you need to be consistent with your message. Whether you’re networking, developing a website, or giving out a business card, your audience should have no confusion as to who you are and why you are different from the rest.