The Right Time to Brand

ReadytoBrandAs we build a business, we’re creating a brand with every decision we make — whether we intend to or not. Yet, I still encounter too many business owners stuck at the starting line, waiting for the perfect time to begin.

They’re waiting:
… To get their ducks neatly in a row before working on their brand.
… To have enough money to finally build their brand “right”.
… For the time or energy to take on a branding project.

Does this sound familiar? If so, let’s have a closer look at the possible misconceptions that have been holding you back from seriously loving your brand.

The Wrong Reasons to Wait:

1. You need answers first.

You don’t need to show up to the branding process with everything figured out, because that’s precisely what brand strategy is for: clarifying and defining your business fundamentals. It’s normal to feel completely inarticulate and scattered when embarking on brand strategy work.

Your brand strategy is your business strategy. It involves nailing down the decisions that set the course for your entire existence as a business: who you serve, why you exist, what you’re doing differently, how you’ll do it, etc.

Why are they one and the same? Because these business decisions are the prime opportunity to craft a business that is truly and deeply different, that is innately noteworthy. Bringing brand thinking to the very core of your business is the best way to build a really remarkable brand.

What you need to know: Branding happens in two stages: strategy, then implementation. Your strategy is what enables you to implement your brand accurately everyday, with every new decision. It’s never too soon to take a first crack at your brand strategy.

2. Branding costs a fortune.

Implementation with a strategy is like showing up at the supermarket with a meal plan, a grocery list, and known food restrictions. It sets the direction of your business, and allows you to chart a direct course as much as possible.

That means you’re more likely to get things right the first time, avoid wrong turns, and save money.

You’re going to need some combo of the standard stuff to get your business’ message out there: a website, blog, business cards, social media, etc. Having a cohesive and unified brand across each of these doesn’t cost more than keeping them piecemeal and arbitrary, it just takes some inspired, intentional thinking.

You’ll also know which components of the customer experience, or touch points, you plan to “own”, so that you can invest your budget wisely where it is most likely to help you make an impression. The good news is that you only need to do something awesome at one of these touch points to become worth mentioning — and it doesn’t have to cost you an extra dime.

The most important part of portraying your brand is how it makes people feel, and there are always affordable ways to create your desired emotional connection.

What you need to know: Confusion is expensive. Clarity is efficient and much more powerful. Creating memorable on-brand experiences is about much more than an expensive logo and lustrous packaging — it’s about creatively crafting branded experiences.

3. You’ll get stuck with the wrong brand.

The idea of our brand being set in stone overnight can be enough to keep us stranded in a safe and generic place off indecision. But that’s not how this works.

An authentic strategy will be pulled from “truths” (things like your beliefs, values, exceptional talents, passions) that will anchor your brand as it lives, breathes, and evolves. These are unlikely to ever change so drastically that you’ll need to do an entire 180.

Your brand will evolve, and that’s a good thing. It’s never done. You’ll develop it further every day by enforcing the principles of your strategy creatively in every single aspect of your business. Every new day, every new decision is an opportunity to make the brand even better within the guideposts of your strategy.

It does require a bit of leap of faith to start carrying out your initial decisions, but having an imperfect “version one” is so much better than having no plan at all. You’ll reap the benefits of a focused brand, while making enough progress in your business to get a clear picture of what “version two” might look like.

What you need to know: Your brand should be an authentic, ever-evolving thing. It’s not a one time project that you have to get right or wrong — it’s a way of thinking that you adopt as a business.

Where to Start:

The benefits of shaping some sort of brand strategy are just too great to miss out on any longer. I want you to start reaping them, and now you know that you can!

Tear down the idea that your business decisions and brand decisions are separate things, and approach them all from the same perspective: building a noteworthy business that’s bringing something valuable into the world.

My suggestion? Start with my free Brilliant Clarity Workshop to get deep into the core of what your business is all about. And check out the following related primers on how to get moving with your brand:

Still don’t feel ready? Tell me where you’re stuck in the comments below!