PLEASE DON’T LAUNCH YOUR BRAND YET
So you’ve decided to take on the risk and responsibilities of starting your own company. That takes courage and conviction. I call it staring the unknown in the face and jumping off a cliff with nothing but a belief that the universe will catch you. Besides being confident in your concept, and belief in your product and/or service, the most important thing is confidence in yourself. That will sustain you through times you don’t know are coming yet. Keep hold of that enthusiasm and energy, because you will need it for the long haul. But don’t launch your brand just yet.
With all the complexities of bringing a new product to market, it’s easy to focus more on the nuts and bolts than the paint and polish. You might be neglecting the branding and marketing to focus on building the actual thing you are selling. That makes sense, but you might never actually sell if you go to market with an underbaked brand strategy. Like any start-up, you could run out of seed money before you make your product buzz-worthy. It’s ironic, but you need to market even when sales are good and you are busy. Otherwise, you won’t be covered if things slow down due to seasonality, etc. If you are always marketing and it’s a core part of your business model, you’re reducing risk. No one wants to be on that flat line, but no one definitely wants to be on the line pointing down.
As a brand development consultant, we work with companies in all phases, from just-funded startup to publicly traded behemoth. The former aspires to become the latter, but they can both suffer from unstrategic branding. At the beginning, you need to take advantage of being small to position yourself to be big.
When a bigger company hires a marketing and branding consultant, it is inevitably going to be a costly and more complex situation. Changing someone’s already formed perception of a company is harder than creating the initial perception. And redoing the signage, letterhead, business cards, and web presence of a mega-corporation is often necessary but always time-consuming and expensive. However, we won’t let a client turn on any marketing spend until the brand messaging is clear. We come up with those words that define you. We will push you to ‘own it.’ The perfect messaging takes price off the table, establishes the authority your sweat equity earned, and implies a sense of urgency — or, as the millennials in my office would say it, the FOMO.
So talk to a branding expert now, before you are financially invested in something that wasn’t thought through. Do not pay your nephew $100 for a logo and then sink $50k on t-shirts, stationery, and vehicle wraps sporting the amateur’s handiwork.
This is about more than just the look and tone of your business. A real brand consulting company will take a big step back and consider all the potential customers and what will appeal to specifically to them. The agency will analyze trends and address your immediate needs while positioning you for growth for the future. Ultimately, a brand strategy firm will save you money, because your company will be prepared for immediate and long term growth. You won’t have to rebrand later at a higher cost.
You might be skeptical of a brand strategy agency praising the virtues of the very service it provides. But to us, it does not make a difference whether you come to us before you launch or years later. To you and your bottom line, the difference is massive. But if you can sell at a higher price to a less price-focused crowd, or get into a new vertical sooner, why not let branding increase your margins? Good branding is about brand value. We can measure that. When people start searching for your company by bypassing search engines, it’s a sure sign your sales cycle is about to shorten.
We have seen companies go live with names that are so generic, they are impossible to Google (e.g. something like “Global Business Limited”). We’ve seen companies sink their budgets into apps and websites that fail to serve a purpose. We can fix those things, but we’d rather save you the agony of going through those missteps.
So relax your trigger finger, and talk to us before you launch your brand.
For more articles by Annie Liao Jones, see here.