When is the right time to start building your brand?
I need some expert help from entrepreneurs and small business owners: Are you deliberately building your brand? If not, why not? What would you like to learn about brand building? (I am developing an online course, and could use some input – both for the finishing touches and for the marketing.)
Nothing is so destructive to a small business as building a brand before building a business.
Your brand is more about who you hire/partner with and why you do the work you do than anything that is traditionally called "marketing".
Working with serial entrepreneurs I see the brand identification process as a valuable part in defining the strengths of the business idea and the role of the entrepreneur him/herself.
The great opportunity to start with branding in the (pre) startup stage is that 'test, learn, adjust' is enriching the development of the product before it can be tested on a real client.
Branding is the experience the client has with what you offer as a company. No product ready, no clients, does not mean you have to wait finding out what is in tune with what you think is important to deliver. "When you can't do great things, do small things, in a great way". Charge your brand with quality ideas.
I say build your brand from the beginning. Otherwise, your products and services are generic and do not denote any special qualities that the marketplace will be drawn to over time. The qualities that are associated with your brand will either attract or discourage buyers. It is a bit painful to structure your brand so I would like to see a branding matrix that would help me understand my competitors brand better and help me build my brand in light of the advantages and disadvantages that I face in a competitive world.
Kenneth, I can empathize with your answer, but I think it really depends. When it's early on and you are still in start up mode, you have nothing, but you want to be heard and found. So you have to start somewhere initially, and then spend more time being active in brand building as you grow, and build around those success stories.
I have founded 2 companies to date, one consulting services, and another a software product. I spent no time building a brand with my consulting company until I had a couple of deals under my belt. I found it overwhelming to start doing this "cold" later on, because by that time business was booming, it was extremely difficult to pull myself away to focus on it. It took me 3 times longer to get to where I wanted to be, than if I had at least started on a foundation.
The product company was different, because of how much stronger an influence/factor brand plays, so we started building it right out of the gate, and never let up. So in the end, most entrepreneurs know what they need to do to build brand, but the "deliberacy" will vary greatly depending on what stage the business is in, and what industry.
The right time, is when you have a message that helps your target market and has proof that it really works. For me a brand has NO meaning unless it has proven results for your ideal client. When your message is meeting the need (providing true benefits) to your market, you will have a brand that others want to know. So, building a brand first is why most entrepreneurs fail at marketing. Message FIRST (building proven results in your niche) WILL cause your brand to be built.
Great question. As an entrepreneur I am always deliberately trying to build the brands that I work on. I curate and actively post content that I believe my followers will benefit from and will gain me retweets, new followers and allow me the ability to show up in search results.
Although I think many people focus on building their brands, they don't understand what actions they did that were successful. I think educating people about how to build a successful branding plan/campaign would help immensely.