How PayPal's Brand Affects the Brand of Your E-Commerce Site

PayPal is an extremely popular tool that allows small business owners to be able to accept credit card payments on their web site. Their payment processing service has a much smaller entry price point than setting up a full-fledged shopping cart and establishing a merchant account with your bank. If you’re only selling occasionally, or selling only low cost items it is often one of the most cost effective ways to set up an e-commerce web site and allow your customers to pay online using a credit card. How it works & some history Just to explain… Originally, PayPal was a way to send and receive payments by linking one’s bank account to one’s PayPal account and paying using PayPal itself. This would be an alternative to using a credit card. This service is still offered and is touted by PayPal as a way to “Pay without revealing your credit card or bank information.” However, what I described above, is… Continue Reading »

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Business Cards Dos & Don'ts for Start-ups and Veterans

If you’re in business, you need a business card. When you launch your business there are a lot of details to juggle, and a budget that can only stretch so far. But when you neglect your calling card you are showing to others that you don’t take yourself seriously. Here are few tips to keep in mind. Business cards for a start-up: Do: Get cards printed. There are many low-cost options from online sources, to paper you can run through your own printer. You need a physical card to start networking. This seems so basic, but some people think they can skip cards altogether. If you aren’t bothering with cards, you probably aren’t really bothering to set up a sustainable business. Don’t: Print too many or spend too much on the printing. It’s likely many details are still in flux—such as your address changing as you move from home office to rented space. Do: Spend your money on branding. While… Continue Reading »

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Write a Business Plan; Build your Brand

As I’ve started writing more and more about branding, and helping to explain the idea to others I keep coming back to the fact that building your brand is as critical to the planning of a new business as writing a business plan. Your business plan could be very thorough and formal, or something more simple, but nearly every business coach or expert will tell you how critical it is. The same goes with building your brand. A recent article in the New York Times has this quote: For startups and small businesses, branding can often take a backseat to other considerations, such as funding and product development. This is a mistake, as a company’s brand can be key to its success. Dollar for dollar, it is as important and vital as any other early steps. Dollar for dollar. That doesn’t mean you need to spend an arm and a leg, but it does mean that time & money used… Continue Reading »

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10 Questions to Help You Position Your Brand

Identifying a strong and usable brand involves both looking at yourself and looking outward to find a niche. In my first 10 questions, I focused on the introspective part of branding—helping to define yourself. These next 10 questions are aimed at discovering where there is an opportunity in the marketplace. Questions to help you position your brand Who are your direct and closest competitors? By category, specialty, location, etc. How are you different? In some industries there are a lot of very close competitors: for example if you run a dry cleaner in a big city there are probably many, and you could differentiate yourself on location, price, service, etc. Who are you indirect competitors? For example, restaurants are also competing with grocery stores and magazines are competing with web sites. What would be involved to define and defend your unique brand, based on your answers to 1, 2 and 3? Are you able to articulate how you are different… Continue Reading »

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10 Questions to Help you Identify Your Brand

Branding can be a complex subject. As a designer, I tend to focus on the look & feel of a brand, but there is much more to it than that. Creating a unique and memorable brand will make you (your company or product) stand out. However figuring who you are, can be a difficult job. And it’s essential to do this work before developing any graphic systems. The process involves both introspection as well as a keen view of the competition. This list of questions focuses on you and your company’s identity. Check back shortly for additional questions to help you identify your position within the marketplace. Introspective questions: If you were a celebrity who would you be? Oprah, Will Ferrell, Tiger Woods, George Clooney, etc. Each of these names brings to mind a certain set of characteristics. If you were an article of clothing, what would it be? Sweat pants, faded blue jeans, stiletto heels, perfectly tailored black suit…. Continue Reading »

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