(ARA) - Branding isn't just for the big guys. Small businesses can launch, grow and expand through clear and consistent messaging and marketing, just like larger companies do.

If you're a small-business owner, creating a distinct brand image for your product or service is essential - and can be accomplished through some very simple methods. Karen Post, the branding diva and author of "Brand Turnaround," offers tips for small businesses looking to create a memorable, impactful brand or image:

Start with a game plan - Ask yourself, how do you want people or customers to think about you or your business? Consider what your story is and what makes your product, service and company unique. Is your persona sophisticated and established, trendy and progressive, or creative and fun?

Make your marketing consistent - Keeping a consistent message across all your marketing materials and efforts can help customers remember your brand. Cross media consistency is key - from printed materials to website and online image -- to reinforce the personality of your company.

Make it yours - Distinction cuts through clutter. Consistently communicate what's unique about your brand and company. Whether you are at a networking event with business cards, using brochures and flyers to advertise or targeting prospects through postcards, Staples makes it easy to get a similar look and feel with professional design capabilities and print experts.

Audit your brand "touch points" - How does your marketing message come in contact with - or touch - your customers? Many small businesses reach customers through postcards, flyers, letterhead, banners, brochures and other marketing materials. Staples Copy & Print, for example, offers a full range of products and services that help businesses get their printing done quickly and easily, whenever and wherever it's convenient for them.

While online marketing efforts like social media and search engine optimization can be effective tools for reaching customers, don't overlook the continued importance of traditional branding tools. Printed materials such as postcards, letterhead and business cards continue to be a prime way for small businesses to communicate with current, new and potential customers and offer that lasting brand impression.

Digital printing technology has made it easier than ever to customize this type of material and get what you need quickly. Gone are the days when a small business would have to wait weeks for new business cards. Now, thanks to services like Staples Copy & Print, you can get customized marketing materials - including flyers, brochures and more - in less than a week. Simple items such as business cards can even be done in a matter of hours and picked up in store the same day.

Online services offer customization; however the professionals at Staples can provide guidance and expertise in customizing your marketing materials. Professional design capabilities mean you can leave all the technical work of creating print products to the experts. Or, if it's more convenient, you can order products online and pick them up in your local store.

Creating and conveying a unique brand message is an important aspect of a small business' overall marketing efforts. Fortunately, a combination of modern technology and traditional tools can make it easy for small businesses to communicate their branding message to current and potential customers. Visit Staples.com/copyandprint.Branding pointers for small businesses

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