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Creating a Business Identity

© 1999, by Lisa M. Roberts

For the first time in over five years, I am immersed in one of my all-time favorite home business projects: designing a business identity. I used to offer this service to others on a regular basis, back when my home business involved direct client contact. Typically, a prospective or regular client would meet with me to describe their entrepreneurial ideas and goals. Often all they brought with them was a business name. Turning that name into an "identity" was my job.

A good number of you who are members of EP have "pending" listed as your business name. To me this implies that you're still exploring your home business options and have not settled on a type of business, no less a name, no less a "business identity." Yet focusing on the end result -- the "face" of your home career -- may help jog some ideas in place for you. While I no longer offer this service directly to clients, I would be happy to share some tips that can help you along your work-at-home career path on your own.

  • START FROM SCRATCH
Just like individuals, businesses have "identities" -- a name, a look, a direction, a history and a future. In business terms, they're called a company name, logo, mission statement, bio and vision statement. When developing a business identity, take five sheets of blank paper and lay them out on a table, labeling each with the above five components. If you are design-oriented, pick up the "logo" sheet first and use it to start sketching out your business idea. Or, if "I want to..." pops into your mind, then first work on your mission statement -- what your business can offer unlike any other -- until you have two to three sentences that are sharp and clear. This entire process can take a work session of a few hours, or it can go on for days. If possible, leave the work station out until each sheet is complete.
  • STAY CONSISTENT
Together, the five sheets you worked on in the above exercise will become the "face" of your business. While each can be used separately for certain marketing projects, the key to developing a recognizable company image is to use them together as a unit. Also, stay uniform and consistent when choosing your colors as well as your words and graphics. Your company should be identifiable at a glance to your prospects, your clients, and the business community at large.
  • CONSIDER THE MEDIUM
Consider how your "business identity" will be used to spread the word about your business to the public. For example, when deB and I moved The Entrepreneurial Parent to its own domain name and turned it into an interactive online community this past fall, our "business identity" was entirely Web-based. There was little need for print material like brochures, rate sheets, etc. Even our letterhead and business cards were of little import, since most of our interactions with others were online. However, presently deB and I are working on developing the "business identity" for the "National Association of Entrepreneurial Parents" (NAEP). Since NAEP will extend beyond the Internet community, we need to develop print communications that are standard in the "real-time" business arena.
  • TEST MARKET YOUR IDENTITY
Once you have a "look" that you're excited about, find ways to test the whole concept. First share it with family, friends and relatives to solicit feedback. Then introduce it to colleagues and other business contacts. Finally, bring it straight to the market itself and see how it flies...

Lisa Roberts is the mother of four, owner of The Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business (Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for purchase at EP and through Amazon.

 
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