So you’ve got your business idea and decided on your name, but what next? Make your life as easy as possible with these simple tips for building your brand.
It’s easy to get carried away and take the idea and run with it without doing the groundwork but doing it right the first time will save you a whole heap of time (and potentially money) further down the line.
Formulate a business plan
Many entrepreneurs think you only need to do a business plan if you want to apply for funding but the reality is that a business plan is a great tool to help you answer all of those all-important questions. Putting everything down in a document will also help you get all of your ideas out of your head and into a succinct and formulated plan.
Doing your plan at the start of your business also provides you with a working document to guide you and your business in the right direction, as well as being a reference tool which can be referred to in the future to ensure the business is on track with meeting goals, sales targets and milestones.
A business plan is also a great document to review when you’re having a bad day and things aren’t going to plan, to remind yourself why you set up in the first place and get your focus back.
Do your homework
Market research is key to any business, that’s why the big companies spend a small fortune conducting market research, so they can always be ahead of the curve.
There are so many different ways to understand the market, from competitor research to surveys and feedback to focus groups, interviews and statistical data which can all form the basis of a strong plan.
So as well as knowing your business, knowing your competitors will go a long way to helping you succeed.
It’s worth asking yourself the following questions:
- Is the market saturated?
- Does your city really need another clothes shop or restaurant?
- How much money is spent in your industry each year?
- Is there room in the market for one more business?
Once you have determined that you have a viable business idea, attentions turn to your competitors.
You need to know what they do, what they are good at and where you can capitalise.
Reaching your potential customers is the most vital part, so you need to know who they are, where they are, and what they want.
That’s where networking and informal focus groups are worth their weight in gold – right through from business planning to website launch. Find out what they think of everything before you press the button, that way you already have your own tribe before you even launch.
Write your mission statement
Writing a clear mission statement will help you define your business with a clear, concise declaration of your strategy.
If done right the statement alone will become your framework and purpose. And then as you progress everything you do should still fit into the same framework and if it doesn’t then don’t do it.
According to Forbes, there are four essential questions your mission statement must answer.
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- Who do we do it for?
- What value are we bringing?
If you need some inspiration click here to read 51 Mission Statement Examples from The World’s Best Companies.
Define your products and services
It’s easy when you set up a new business to get carried away and offer everything that you think your customers will want and need, but it’s essential to be focussed.
If you can’t easily define what products or services you’re offering, what hope have your customers got in understanding you?
Your offering is key to your entire marketing message and there’s nothing wrong with starting small. You can always add more, especially when it comes to products because the last thing you want is to be stuck with stock.
There aren’t too many businesses that launch without any kind of competition so it’s essential to focus on your unique selling proposition.
What makes your brand stand out from the rest?
Just being better than your competitors is not always enough – especially when you first launch because there’s no proof!
You might be what stands you ahead of your competition so don’t be afraid to shout about yourself, but, if you can’t pinpoint what makes you different it will be difficult to plan your marketing accordingly and target the right people so you will fail to stand out from the crowd.
Become a KPI
We have talked a lot about the fact that people buy from people so don’t be afraid to introduce the people behind the business from an early stage.
Using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to talk about your new project is a great way to start the ball rolling and generate interest. By using your own social media you are inadvertently growing both your brand and that of your new business – making you essentially a key person of interest.
While you are embarking on the business journey, which can be a long arduous one before you have anything real to show people, you can still become a thought leader in the industry.
Comment on stories and articles, share relevant information and get writing yourself – all will help you further down the line – after all, all good publicity is good publicity.
Personalise the brand
Taking the idea of becoming a key person of interest even further, social media allows you to give your brand a real life and personality of its own.
You can define the look and feel of the brand yourself, making it exactly what your customers want to identify with and relate to.
The use of Instagram is perfect for this element of brand building. We’ve all followed businesses because their feed shows the life we want to lead and aspire too so, you too can really create the dream (and sell it).
A brand image is not only how it looks, but also how it sounds, so creating ‘the voice’ is also a key element.
The voice of your business should be dependent on your mission statement, the audience you’re trying to reach, and the industry you’re in.
A business voice could be:
- Informative, etc.
- Reflective of your business persona
- Remember too, that there is also a time and a place for humour and personality
Once you have decided on the brand voice and imagery the essential thing is to be consistent. The same message needs to come across in everything you do, but that doesn’t have to mean exactly the same pictures, words and colours.
To gain trust and become recognisable takes time so reinforcing the message is key, but once you get there your business will make a far stronger, longer lasting impression.
While enthusiasm and excitement play a key role when launching a new business, it is essential to breathe, take a step back and do things properly. You never get a second chance to make a first impression so do things right from the very beginning of building your brand.