Your first year in business will be both one of your most exciting and stressful times of your life. Fortunately, things can go much more smoothly if you know how to brand your company correctly.

Here are some general guidelines to follow (and some common mistakes to avoid).

Do – Outline Your Purpose

What is the end goal of your business? You need to be specific with your value proposition.

Let’s say that you are starting a new organic food store in your area. You don’t want to emphasize that you are operating a great place for people to buy food. There are probably already half a dozen grocery stores that offer food at a lower price. You won’t be able to complete unless you communicate your value proposition clearly

Do – Get Customers and Employees Behind it

You will have a much easier time building your brand if people that are passionate about it are behind you. Get your employees and most loyal customers to put the word out. Recruiter recently published an article praising Tasytt for their brilliant employee-centric branding strategy.

Don’t – Focus Solely on Social Media Branding

Social media is a powerful marketing medium, but it isn’t enough to carry your brand on its own. Word-of-mouth still is still responsible for three quarters of all new customers a brand earns. According to Marc Cohn of Hyperdrive, it is about 20% more effective offline than over the Internet.

You need a strong brick and mortar branding strategy to shine, especially as a small business.

Do – Come Up With Professional Business Cards

You can’t try to grow a business without business cards. They may seem like an antiquated way of doing business, but they’re still very relevant in 2017.

My first business cards were not anything to be proud of. I received three times as many replies after I paid someone to design them for me. The moral of story – don’t design your own business cards. Getting a professional is your best bet.

Don’t – Choose a Bad Business Name

You can’t choose a business name lightly. You need to choose a name that really resonates with your customers.

Inc. wrote an interesting article about some of the worst business names ever. One of the examples is a very sophisticated Asian jewelry line called Fxing Lovely, which obviously isn’t the best name for a jewelry line that intended to sell products in the United States.

Cadabra is another example. This is the name that Jeff Bezos originally wanted to use for Amazon, but realized it was a bad idea and changed it later.

Take some time to choose a business name. Choosing the wrong name can cost you a lot of business and changing it later can be very expensive.

Do – Focus on Quality

You need to differentiate yourself. Even if you think that you have a unique concept, there are always going to be a lot of other companies that offer similar solutions.

The bottom line: you can’t compete by offering subpar services. Don’t think you can offer lower quality services simply because you are offering products or services at a discount.

You need to offer the best product you possibly can. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to blow your competitors away on every metric, but your product needs to shine if you want to build a strong brand image during your first in business.

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