What to Know Before Branding
I won’t lie to you - branding can be expensive. Not only do most high-quality studios come with a large price tag, but it’s impossible to completely outsource your brand. It requires your time, money, energy, and focus - but if done well, it’s like a good marriage that can only grow stronger over time.
If you’re wondering if it’s the right time for you to consider a branding project, here are a few signs that you may be ready:
Before beginning an in-depth branding project, it’s important to take inventory of your business and make sure you’re building upon a solid foundation. Our motto is that the business needs to deliver on what the brand promises, so before we spend time crafting your message and appealing to your target audience, you need to make sure you’re able to provide the very best to your customers.
The first area to analyze is your business’ financial health. Even if you’re just starting out and plan to brand with a small nest egg of savings, you want to make sure that your business is an actual business, and not just an expensive hobby. Have you considered how you’ll price your products or services? How do you line up within your industry and among your competition? Is your price point sustainable to running your business at least through the first year? Will your potential customers see the value and feel like they’re getting even more than they paid for?
You’ll also want a clear idea of who you’re targeting. As Marie Forleo says, if you’re speaking to everyone, you’re actually speaking to no one. Consumer studies continue to report that we buy products as a way to solidify our sense of identity. Think about it - from your personal style to your kitchenware, we express our individuality through our purchases and if it’s unclear who your product is for, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to resonate on a deeper level with your ideal customer.
Finally, it’s important to go into a new business venture (whether brand new or a new direction) with a clear intention for where you want to go. Entrepreneurship is uncertain territory, but that doesn’t give you a hall pass to fly by the seat of your pants. Your business deserves your full energy. No one else is going to be able to set the vision of your business - that part is up to you!
Don’t let your foundation become your roadblock. Honestly consider where you are and if you will be able to sustain an investment in your brand, but don’t wait until everything is perfect before moving forward. Most businesses hit a major growth spurt after branding, so you’re likely to make back your investment pretty quickly.
And speaking of vision, there’s a lot that goes into dreaming about the future. A vision is deeper than a vision board, and it requires some actual research to make it a reality.
Position in Market
When thinking about the success of your business idea, it’s important to take a look at what else is out there. I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but you DEFINITELY have competition no matter who you are or what you do. It’s amazing if you’ve already landed on a unique spin, but there are constant demands on your customer’s resources. It’s important to do your research and see where you fit within your industry and market.
Defined Style Preferences
Even though you’re hiring a designer, it’s important to spend some time thinking about your own style preferences. Oftentimes, we create businesses that we ourselves would want to buy from (aka we are our own target customer) and if that’s the case, pay attention to what sparks your interest. What products or websites do you gravitate towards? What inspires you on social media? How do you define your own personal style? Even if you aren’t the intended audience, it can help to identify your own style preferences so you can watch out for giving biased design feedback, or defaulting to the preferences of your chosen designer.
Once you’ve researched what else is going on in the market, and what specific style and experience appeals to you, you’ll most likely have a good idea for what kind of unique spin your audience would get excited about. Deconstruct your services and products to think about the features and details that would matter most to the exact person you’re trying to reach. You’re looking for that sweet spot of value - combining what you find most important with what your customer finds most valuable.
You may have a loose idea about what makes you distinct without being able to land on that perfectly worded secret sauce. That’s ok! Part of branding is putting language around those ideas, or instincts about what makes us unique. In my own experience, it took working with a brand copywriter for me to find the words to describe how I wanted our studio to be different. This is exactly why it’s so hard to brand yourself - that outside perspective is crucial in helping us discover our innate potential.
Once you’ve built a foundation and set a vision, you’re almost ready to invest in your brand. But I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t tell you that it’s going to take a lot from you to go through the process. Branding is a commitment, and I want to share three key ways that you’ll need to create space before moving forward.
First, you’ll want to make sure you can afford it. Will you be able to make each payment on time or is the stress of the investment going to cause a strain on the project? If you’re not ready for the financial commitment in the beginning, there are so many ways you can start to build a brand online without going through a professional designer.
Second, you want to consider what kind of energy you’ll be bringing into the experience. Are you desperate for a change in your business or excited for what’s to come? Are you completely stressed out and on the verge of total burn out or are you hyped up on inspiration and ready to make it a reality? I know it may sound woo, but your mood and energy will definitely impact the project. Check in with yourself and see if this is the right time for you.
Finally, branding projects do take time. While working with a professional designer will most certainly take a load off your plate, you’ll still need to be involved in the initial creative direction, and make space to give thoughtful and considered feedback. Most designers will do a good job of setting expectations so you know how to work these reviews into your schedule, but it’s important to know it’s not a total hand off. Your brand needs YOU, your designer is your guide to making sure the time and resources you invest result in a successful end result.
You may not be ready to take the next step, and that’s ok! However, if you’re reading through these indicators and realizing that it might just be time for your brand to come alive, we’d love to set up a time to chat. You can browse through our branding services, or click the link below to tell us more about your business.
However, if professional branding is something you know you want but you’re not quite ready, we’ve created a free scratch pad to get the ideas flowing in the meantime. Ever since we launched the first version of this guide three years ago, we’ve received hundreds of emails from new business owners who have had amazing results getting off the ground.
Then, when you’re ready, we’d love to come alongside and help you elevate your business to its highest potential.