Love Your Brand
by Aron Daniels
You been holding the seed of a dream for years and now you’ve finally taken the first step. It’s time to start your business. You’ve got a catchy name, but that’s about it. Where do you go from here?
Many people start a business with an idea of what the function will be and who the target market of the business will encompass but there are a thousand little steps between the initial idea and your first customer. I know how overwhelming it can be and that feeling of flying blind is scary. I’ve been there.
Here’s a truth: nobody knows what they are doing at the beginning. But it gets better. Find people who are living your dream and ask a lot of questions. Read a lot about business practices. Invest in the skills you’ll need for success in that field so you can offer a quality skill, product, or service when you get your business off the ground. Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to consider the look of your business and developing your brand.
A company’s brand is a group of consistent decisions that they want to be represented whenever their audience views them. New entrepreneurs often fall into a few of different traps when it comes to developing the style of their business. Here are some of the mistakes that many people make right up front.
• The Design Firm – If your business is going to be a high-roller and bringing in millions, a design form is probably a good move, but if you’re a Mom-and-Pop level start-up, please don’t spend $13,000 for a high-end somebody to get you set up with a rule book for your business that is hard to comprehend and is a hard hit financially at a delicate time in business.
• The Cousin – You absolutely have a cousin, nephew, or old roommate who dabbles in t-shirt designs and would cut you a great deal on a sick new logo. That’s not the guy to go to. In 3 years, you are going to resent that decision and you’ll need to secretly rebrand your company without Cousin Larry finding out you dumped his design. Keep it professional.
• Group-Think – I’ve seen it a few times. A client is really digging a look we’ve developed. They’ve narrowed down their logo significantly and just need to fine-tune a little. Their logo is almost complete, font-choices and strong color choices for consistently marketing have been selected. Then the fatal error: “run it past some friends” and it’s like starting from scratch. Getting opinions from others can provide valuable feedback, but do not let a group make decisions for you or your brand will only appeal to the lowest common denominator. Be bold; decide what YOU like. The look you choose demands people perceive you in a certain way. If you are pleasing everyone else, you’ve probably compromised your style somewhere.
• Doing It All – Being thorough is great but if your to-do list is too long, you might never actually get around to starting your business. When it comes to branding, make a small list and work through it. Get a logo and decide on basic colors and fonts. Order business cards to get your name out their quickly. Develop a brochure to include more in-depth content about your business. Use a WordPress template to quickly create a website with as much information as you can wrangle. Then, start working. People get lost trying to check all the boxes on all the lists, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Don’t wait until everything is perfect. Get started and make adjustment as needed.
• Tunnel Vision – I have tons of respect for my design clients. When they have an idea, I work with them to make it come to life. That said, the people who get the most out of a designer are those who allow their ideas to grow. There is psychology to design; rules that result in visual appeal to potential customers. If you have a complete lockdown on the specifics of a design, you may be limiting what that product could turn into. Find someone who feels like a good fit for you, who will collaborate with you to make your brand the best it can be.
What it comes down to is trusting your instincts with your brand. Be consistent with that brand and surrounding yourself with good advice and people to help you. Then, work your tail off. If you just slapped on your “Entrepreneur” name tag, congratulations! You can check that step off the list.