I recently had the privilege of hosting Bloemfontein’s second Start Up Grind workshop aimed at up and coming entrepreneurs. I’ll be honest, I had to giggle when I was given my topic as it is one with which I have had lengthy love/hate relationship with, branding.
There is such a fine balance between getting it right or horribly wrong. Here is the ultimate branding challenge: when we think of branding we think of our business needing a name, a colour scheme, a logo, an emblem to enhance the logo, we need a catchy slogan and finally a research effort on our target market. These are the branding basics, right? We tick off this list and get going with starting up our business. Here is some shock therapy though: 70-80% of all small businesses is South Africa fail within their first five years.
WHY? A big part of this failure is because we miss the boat. Completely. We get so caught up in designing pretty logo’s that we forget to build a brand with substance. A successful brand is not about a logo, a slogan and sweet marketing campaign laid out in theory. A brand is about how you make people feel. It is perception management. A successful brand is a promise of value, it builds trust. People buy what they know they can trust. A successful brand, reflects your vision, your purpose, your why.
So then, if not by logos and slogans, where do I start building my brand? Seeing as hind sight is always in 20/20 vision. Here is my list of 10 things I wish I had considered before building my first brand:
1. A common mistake is getting confused as to whether the brand is us, or its own.
You need to consider the life span this brand may have. When attaching your name to it , keep in mind that you then limit this brand to needing you to make it function. Are you able to one day sell a brand with your name on it? Are you comfortable in someone else buying a business that bares your name? Would they? The ultimate entrepreneurial goal is to one day be able to work on your business and no longer in your business.
2. Find your why
I am such a sucker for anything Simon Sinek does. This guy is so inspirational and when it comes to finding your why, Simon says it best. Do your self a favour and go watch his TED talk at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPYeCltXpxw. When finding your why, work from the inside, out. Define your vision statement by explaining why you do what you do, how you do it and then finally what you do. Follow this up with your detailed mission statement. This is what gives your brand substance, makes it trustworthy and most importantly, this is what provokes emotion from your customers. What is my vision statement? Your vision statement should be clear, it should be one sentence and a long term goal desired and achieved by what you do. What is my mission statement? Your mission statement is a detailed description of how you will achieve your vision.
3. Do you follow a spray and pray approach?
You know, when you broadcast your business across all avenues generally and then hope and pray you reach someone in your target market. It sounds pretty ridiculous when you say it out loud, doesn’t it? Define your target market to the T. Do not assume everyone will buy from you. Research exactly who you will be seeing to. Who are they? How old are they? What gender are they? How do they buy? When do they buy? How often do they buy? How much do they earn? When do they get paid? This will help you create a brand that will appeal to your client realistically.
4. Strongly define what you will offer.
To put this point into perspective…lets think of some brands we know. What brand comes to mind when you hear…
Do you recognise that services are harder to build strong brands for than products? Knowing this will make you more attentive when marketing goods versus services.
5. Your brand is your promise.
What do you promise your customers? What is your company guarantee? What is your red dot on the pizza box? Is it same day delivery?Is it to provide a service in X amount of time? This builds trust with your client. It is your pinky promise to your client. You value him or her enough to make a promise.
6. Envision the work environment.
Your vibe attracts your tribe. Before building a brand consider the type of people you want to attract. Not just clients, but staff too. Do you want a brand that reflects energy, smiles, change and fun or do you want a brand that reflects a more serious vibe, with strong consistency and little change. This vibe will need to reflect in your corporate culture statement. The look and feel of your brand will show in your office decor, uniforms (if any) and even in your dealings with people. Get is right. Attract and choose staff who give off your vibe or it may end up frustrating you.
The above 6 points ,all sewn together equals your brand substance, stirs up emotion, creates a perception of you and what you stand for. If your brand does not do this it cannot sustain itself, you will become a statistic.
Now…make it pretty.
7. Choosing color.
Do not just choose your favourite colour, do some research as to the psychology behind colour. Now, choose something that relates to your brand.
8. Make it scream.
Scream what you do of course. Make sure your branding reflects exactly what it is you do. Do not leave room for confusion.
9. Make it catchy.
Nike says just do it. Coca cola says open happiness. Mc Donald’s says I’m loving it. Choose something really catchy for a slogan. Something that immediately evokes emotion. Something you can hash tag! Mine is Beauty inspires change. It also gives reference to my vision. Reading this makes you want to be a part of something bigger. Your slogan should want to make your potential client want to be a part of what you have created.
10. Make it seen…
Gone are the days where handing out pamphlets at the traffic light counts as a successful marketing strategy. Think about it, do you read that pamphlet or are you like the 90% of us that throw it away instantly? Print media has a very limited success. As an entrepreneur you need to be educating yourself on social (instagram, facebook, linkedin) and digital (emails, google ads, youtube) media. It is non negotiable. Put your brand our there.
I truly hope this helps you build the best brand with substance. A brand that will be part of the minority to make it past 5 years. A brand that will impact your market you serve.
As always, feel free to contact me to chat.