One of the most exciting elements of starting a brand new business is precisely that word – brand. You have a blank canvas. Every aspect of your new organisation’s brand, from its tone of voice to its colour scheme – is up for grabs.
However, this choice and freedom can be overwhelming for many new business owners, particularly if they haven’t had previous experience of branding and marketing. Or it can go the other way, and a new entrepreneur can have very specific ideas of what their new brand should look like – the only problem is the individual, not the business, drives those ideas.
This, then, is the first in a series of blogs looking at brand basics, from generating initial ideas to putting a proposition and strategy in place. Today, we’re looking at the processes you need to go through before developing your brand – the knowledge you need to have at your fingertips if your ultimate proposition is to be effective. Here are three key areas that you need to know like the back of your hand before you begin your branding journey.
Know your audience
One of the most common branding mistakes made by start-up owners is in thinking that their brand begins with them. It is true that many highly successful brands are built by showcasing and reflecting an individual’s personality and inspiring biography – and that may end up being what’s right for your business. But the point is that you won’t know whether it’s right for your business unless you begin by considering the people who really matter.
Your future customers, partners, suppliers and employers – these are the people you really need to engage with your brand. These are the people your brand needs to work for, to inspire and excite. So, you need to know them inside out. Who are they? Where are they? What is their background? Their likes and dislikes? Their motivations? It is crucial for any branding strategy to start with an incredibly detailed audience overview, broken down into as many categories as is necessary. If you need an external research partner to help you with this task, so be it.
Know your competitors
Next, you need to know what you’re up against. Who will those audiences engage with, if not you? And – crucially – why? A comprehensive analysis of your competitors’ brands will give you unparalleled insight into how your sector operates, what succeeds and what doesn’t.
A competitor brand analysis should focus on a broad range of elements, from logos and colour schemes to tone of voice and mission statements. It should be formatted to note similarities as well as differences, and, if possible it should include information on the organisations’ products and services, pricing and market share as well. In this way, you can draw clear parallels between branding and success in the marketplace – and choose which messages to take away and apply to your own business.
Know your products and services
Funnily enough, this often gets left out of branding conversations. Many entrepreneurs and start-up owners get caught up in thinking that branding is about fonts and imagery – and forget that it’s actually about putting together the most effective front for the nuts and bolts of products and services that the business is selling.
Before building your brand, it is absolutely vital that you are able to explain, in brief as well as in detail, exactly what your organisation is selling and what makes it special. We’ve blogged before about building up the skills to pitch your business idea – click HERE for a read.