January 9, 2020
You’ve got that brilliant idea burning a hole through your brain, and you’re finally ready to take some action on it! You’re ready to start your business and you know you’re going to need some killer branding to go with your brilliant idea.
Before you dive into the fun of finding a talented designer whose work you admire, and before you go paying that person thousands of dollars to work their branding magic on your business, there are some things you should tackle first.
Branding can only be as strong as the viability of your business idea. If you’re not sure how you stand apart from competitors, or are still wishy-washy on where you see your business in two or three years, you’ll be building a brand on…well, nothing but uncertainty and wishy-washiness.
Not only will knowing these five things give you a stronger brand, they’ll make you feel more prepared to actually do something with your branding once it’s finished.
If you don’t know how you’re different from your competitors, how will customers know how you’re different, and why will they purchase from a new-to-the-scene business when they could continue buying from an already-trusted establishment? Knowing the unique value you bring to the marketplace isn’t just a #1 need-to-know fact for branding, it’s #1 in your entire business idea.
A brand designer should be intimately familiar with your unique value and will use those characteristics to their advantage when building your brand. They’ll be able to communicate those ideas in your branding in order to make sure you stand out in the marketplace and clearly represent the values at the heart of your business.
Maybe you know that you want to help women and that you’d be a great coach. But do you know if you’ll offer group coaching, or digital tools, or classes? While you don’t need to know every detail of your product offering yet (like how many clients you’ll take, or what perks they might receive), narrowing down on how your big idea will be presented to clients or customers makes a big difference in how a brand needs to feel, and what environments it needs to be built for.
Depending on what you offer and your field of expertise, your offerings might need to be included in your logo or tagline, or might affect your brand keywords (more on that below!).
This is an exercise I do with all of my branding clients — we narrow down the five keywords that define how their brand should look, feel, and act. While you might not know exactly five words to describe this about your brand, or how exactly to narrow your options down, here’s what you should know:
A great brand should grow with your business and last you at least two years. (Even for fast-growing and ever-changing businesses, a big rebrand within two years of launching either means 1) you completely changed your business or business model, or 2) you didn’t know what you were doing to start with).
So with that being said, know where you want to grow your business before starting a branding project. Do you envision growing it to a six-figure business? What kind of customers/clients do you dream of serving? What role do you see your business playing in the marketplace — do you hope to be a thought-leader, a small business with lots of local charm?
Knowing the answers to these questions will not only show your designer that you’re serious about your business and have planned for the future, but it will also give them crucial information for designing a brand that can grow with you and help you attract an audience that aligns with your goals.
No, we’re not asking you to be a marketing expert on top of all the other hats you wear as a business owner! But, knowing how you plan to get your business in front of people and begin garnering sales is crucial to your business plan. Not only does this show that you’re familiar with the market that you’re launching into and that you’re serious about your business, but it will also give your designer a sense of where your brand will live and how it needs to function. Planning on running a lot of Facebook Ads? That might influence the typography your designer chooses, so that your message is readable across mobile devices. Planning on hitting up all your influencer-friends for a shout-out? We might consider beefing up your photography guidelines.
An added benefit for you and your designer? With a basic marketing plan in place, you know you’ll be able to deploy your new brand and use the assets you paid good money for — unlike many business owners, who pay thousands for a brand and don’t launch anything for a year (or ever — that happens, too, and it’s devastating).
Not sure if you have everything you need to get started on a branding project? This list is a great place to start brainstorming your basic business plan! A great brand strategist and designer may be able to help you get clarity on these five points, but keep in mind that this is your business, and only you can make the final call on your value, your offering, keywords, goals, and marketing plan.