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 What happens when you visit a website that looks outdated or DIY?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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Amanda Johnson Young is a brand designer with over 20 years experience. READ MORE
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