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.)
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.
Julie, my simple answer isYesterday". I joked with my 21 yr old cousin recently that his drunk pictures posited on his FB account would impact his personal brand when he sometime soon looked for work or other more serious pursuits. Unfortunately for many people and companies, they don't worry soon enough and their lack of thought in fact creates a brand they don't want or can't get away from (like my cuz). If you don't worry about your brand from the get go, you also miss the opportunity to build the brand much like you would build a nest egg - invest whatever you can afford now so you can take advantage of compounding as well as the wisdom gained over time.
So...my advice to anyone with your posted question is "Just Do It"...and yes, I intend that to be both literal and an example of how important brand is.
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".
This is a great question. I think many people make a mistake of focusing too much attention, too early, on building their brand, instead of their business. To me, a brand is so much more than just your logo or your name. When you look at the most successful brands, their logos are recognizable but they became a brand through their history of business, service, and signature products. That takes time. A truly recognizable and public reputaion is the result of time and consistant work. Marketing can help but in the beginning it will only encourage people to try a business. Marketing will not determine if a company executes well or not. Additionally, businesses evolve over time and many times, what a business offers or, more importantly, what people end up buying, can change significantly after a business gets established. I think that businesses should spend a few years building their business and their reputation, before spending too much time, "running the brand.'
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.
Start NOW -- start conveying what makes you special and what makes you DIFFERENT THAN THE COMPETITION. Because that's what builds a brand.
Basically, every company has two choices...
Either convey your brand in the way you want to be seen, valued and differentiated in the most positive light -- or just leave it to chance and be swept out of the way by market forces. The latter is what most marketers do -- and then they wonder why they get no respect and are seen as nothing-special also-rans!
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.
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.
Your brand is everything about you - what you do, when you show up for appointments, how you treat people... EVERYTHING.
Start right now.
Hi Julie, As you are about to see, I have my own opinion on the answer to your question. This could have been "When is the best time to take your first step" and I would have said "When you decide you are going to walk"! I feel that you should know you have to develop a brand before you go into business, therefore you should decide what that brand will be and how you will go about developing it prior to starting your business. It should be part of your business plan. You do evolve your business as Brooks stated, however your brand and your business should evolve together over time so that in the end they become one and the same. Trying to build one without the other is a bad idea and will result in poor marketing. You market your brand and sell the benefits of your product or service. They come together to represent the essence of your business.
i think to start building your brand must be at first, when you idea is finish. Your brand must be already to communicate it to your clients.
Having just started a new business, launching in September and researching since December 2011, the 'brand' evolved from the pre-launch research; it was simply an identity that arose from our positioning statement. I strongly disagree with some of the suggestions above about 'sorting your business first (Having made this mistake before). The boundaries between B2B and Consumer have blurred to such an extent over the last 10 years that business people identify with business propositions in the same way that they would with a consumer product .. so you need have that identity and positioning proposition clear at the point of launch. Look at all the digital businesses that have a clear brand/name/logo/statement from the offset .. half the time you know the brand before you know what they ACTUALLY do !
The right time to start building your brand is when you start for educate your prospects about the products or services you have to share with them. You need to have a front-end informative product or services so you can create a back-end in a long-term relationship you'll have with them. Design your business model before you decide educate your prospects is very important for you can benefit from them to trust and respect you.
Good question Julie - I'm an advocate of figuring out/building/establishing your personal brand first; this will of course natually translate to your company's brand/image and help differentiate. I think a course on how to build your personal brand would be well recieved.
Hi Julie, Sounds like we are in similar fields and I would say that one of my most common observations is that entrepreneurs are often focused on product and think that a brand is something that can be tacked on to the end of the development process right before launch rather than a core set of values that defines the product development and tracks with the central value proposition at the heart of the venture.
odds are before you start telling people/put a product out.
Your branding assets and strategy need to already be in place by the time the idea is shared.