Your business brand is responsible for cultivating first impressions, building recognition, growing your reputation and authority, and securing the trust and loyalty of your clients.
Without a strong brand foundation, it can become difficult for your business to stand out from the competition and lead to rough travels on the road to entrepreneurship.
When starting out, your resources may be limited and unfortunately, most small businesses end up missing some of the most important steps or altogether skipping the brand process, which is, in my book, a mistake.
Let’s talk about some of the hazards of not having a brand…
Having a shaky or non-existent brand
Most entrepreneurs think they can either skip branding all together or go somewhere cheap online and get a logo and set up a quick website and they are ready to roll.
What do you think when you are handed a self-printed or templated business card? What happens when you visit a website that looks outdated or DIY?
You risk your potential customers judging your ability to provide a solution to their problem and others defining your brand for you. So, you can either let your brand be developed through online customer reviews or you can take the wheel and drive your business brand yourself.
When you don’t start off with a brand, it makes it hard to be consistent with your business and online marketing. You won’t have a foundation to refer to and therefore you’ll appear haphazard or even unprofessional.
One of the most important factors for business success is consistency across every marketing channel: your print materials, your website, your email and social media marketing, your social media image and posts, and your blog articles.
By being consistent, your customers can become more familiar with your brand and therefore you can slowly establish recognition and trust.
Having a copycat brand
When developing a new business, it might be tempting to look at other companies for inspiration, including competitors and entrepreneurs you admire. But in doing so, you take a chance of looking and sounding just like them.
Differentiation is the key to a profitability and sustainability. When potential customers see brands as interchangeable, they make purchase decisions based primarily on price. That means lower profit margins for you and a more difficult time charging what your services are actually worth.
By determining what makes you different, you are able to stand out from your competition and charge premium prices.
Forgetting the message
It’s easy to think branding is all about the visual elements such as the business name, logo, tagline, and color palette. When it comes to your website, you might have the look down, but a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of either sounding like their competition, being all over the place with their message, or worst yet, they provide too much information.
However, without a strong, clear and concise brand message, you run the risk of your potential customers not being able to determine why they should choose you over your competition.
Not identifying a target audience
Many entrepreneurs start out thinking it’s better to cater to everyone. What a better way to get more business, right? Wrong! When you try to communicate to everyone, you end up with a message that resonates to no one.
Determining a target market helps you hone your message and tailor it to those you really want to work with. The goal is to make it easy for your potential clients to determine if you are the right fit. This saves you both a lot of time and trouble.
Not narrowing focus
Chances are, if you’re really good at something, you’re also probably pretty good at other things too. Most people know a lot of stuff and think it is a good idea to sprinkle all sorts of services into their offerings. I’m sure you’ve seen them. The ones that have a website full of a multitude of services.
So, what happens when you visit a website like that? I can’t speak for everyone, but personally I get lost rather quickly in the sea of credentials and services. After I start to glaze over, I typically leave the site and go back to search for another specialist that’s got a clear service page and an easy way to work with them.
When you specialize, it helps you stand out and be remembered. Not only does that help you to be seen as an expert in your field, it also assists with word of mouth referrals. The more you specialize and are seen as the go-to expert in your market, the easier it is to charge premium prices for your services.
Still concerned that narrowing your focus is going to hurt your chances? Maybe this will help...
Your potential clients are busy and self-involved, and they’re not looking to spend lots of time figuring out what specific aspect of you is relatable and interesting to them. If they don’t believe that you can help them or they can’t figure out why to hire you over the competition, they won’t hire you. Plain and simple.
In conclusion, a successful business launch requires more than just a minimum effort. Just like coming up with your business idea, name, and services; investing in your brand foundation takes a good amount of time, thought, and preparation. It might cost money you don’t have readily available or think you should spend on something else, but in the long run, you’ll have much smoother travels if you begin with your brand foundation.
VAROOM! Brand Design offers brand foundation assistance with their brand design packages. Find the right REV UP package to fit your needs here.
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Car naming is an automotive topic that has always intrigued me. I had an aunt that always named her cars. Because of that influence, when I got my own, I did the same and still do to this day every time I get a new ride. BTW my car is a silver coupe called Luna (yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan from way back!).
Like naming your car, it’s popular to come up with a business name when you are starting out on the road to entrepreneurship. But nowadays there’s a new debate on whether you should use a personal name for your business or create a business name.
When deciding between the two, there’s bound to be a little anxiety. What should you do for YOUR business?
Don’t worry, I am going to break it down for you so you can decide...
The Pros & Cons of Creating a Business Name
The Pros & Cons of Using Your Name
A personal story, and no it’s not about my black coupe I named Elvira...
When I started in the graphics business some 20 plus years ago, it was all the rage to create cool and rememberable business names. So when it came time for me to go out on my own, I decided to go down that road myself.
Looking back, I still like what I’ve created. The logo is fun and says so much about myself and my services, but I think I would have gone the simpler route had I known how hard it is to stand out online these days.
I’m not saying I don’t get discovered with my unique business name and the way I present and position myself online, but now that I know the importance of a personal brand, I have to do double duty.
I have my business branded website and social media accounts AND I have my personally branded website and social media accounts. And I share and post on all of these platforms.
Think about when you give out a referral. Are you more likely to remember a business name or a personal name?
Hands down, a personal name attached to a service business goes so much farther these days.
Not only that, but if someone is referred to you, they are likely to go online and check you out. And if they do, what are they going to see?
Is it going to be your name in the default search body copy linked to your company website or will it be a picture of your latest dinner on your personal Facebook page? Or worse yet, someone else with your name?
All of these scenarios are not ideal if you want to be seen as the face of your business and get the reputation that you know your stuff and are the perfect match for that referral.
So, which way should you go?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong approach. Some people love having their businesses named after themselves and experience wild success in doing so, while others reap the benefits of using a business moniker.
For many entrepreneurs, spending money on a professional brand may seem like a leap when they are starting out. There are many online companies that make it seem easy to go it on your own.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the online free and low-cost design and website services have some major value and even pack some punch. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re wasting a lot of time you could be spending on more important items that will get your business on the road.
I’ve had several clients reach out to me saying that they were about to pull their hair out because they just spent 2 hours trying to figure out how to add a page to their website or they went down the Canva rabbit hole trying to create a social media image to go along with their Facebook post. All to save them a few bucks.
I’m all about saving some money but if it is at the expense of my time, pull over and let me out!
Here’s why you should shift your thinking about where you place your time:
Most people look at their money with great attention and decide how they want to spend it, invest it and even give it away. It’s no different for business owners. But most people don’t look at their time in the same way and end up wasting a valuable resource.
You can’t make more time. You can always find a way to make more money - even using your time to make it - but there is no way for you to create more time. Money can buy you a lot of things in this world, but it cannot buy you more time. You can only spend time. Therefore, you need to spend it wisely.
If you are spending hours, days or even weeks trying to figure out how to do all your own design work instead of focusing on why someone should work with you and how you can help them solve their problem, you are wasting your precious time.
4 Reasons Why You Should Let the Pro Take the Wheel
1. Saves you time & headaches
By hiring a brand designer, they can have a project completed in a fraction of the time it would take for you to do it yourself. They know the ins and outs of most software and applications and work with them every day. So not only do they save you time, you have peace of mind knowing it’s done right the first time.
2. Saves you money in the long-run
Good design and a solid brand foundation have longevity. By paying for an expert to handle your branding, you are saving yourself from paying for subpar design, maybe even more than once. Not to mention that when a business doesn’t take its branding seriously in the beginning, it will more than likely need to go through a brand overhaul at some point.
Not only that, a professional brand designer is going to have a process in place with all the steps you need to take in order to lay your foundation, messaging and strategy. They will also know the most cost effective ways to get your business up and running.
3. You will get noticed
Having a distinct brand is what is going to help you rise above the noise and create your best first impression. You are guaranteed a unique brand so you won’t have to worry about looking like everyone else. On top of that, your brand will be consistent across every aspect of your business so you will appear more professional, trustworthy and memorable.
4. They are creative
Brand designers are trained to take your vision and bring it to life. Sometimes it can be difficult to voice your ideas in words and images. They will be able to incorporate your thoughts and collaborate with you in order to develop a stronger brand ensuring you are clearly communicating to your target audience.
It can be tempting to cut corners when you’re starting out. However, skimping on your brand design can quickly become a costly detour.
VAROOM! Brand Design offers full brand design. Find the right REV UP package to fit your needs here.
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Amanda Johnson Young is a brand designer with over 20 years experience. READ MORE
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