Your personal brand is an investment.
Starting your own brand is not as straightforward as some people seem to think. It's a complicated process that involves a lot of planning, and there is a strong potential for failure if you don't play your cards right. This is especially true if you are trying to enter a more established market with heavier competition. In that case, there is absolutely no room for mistakes, as even the smallest one could compromise the entire project.
Research the market before you start.
There is no way around that – you will need to do some heavy research before you make any actual moves. Study your competition and figure out what makes the current leaders so strong. Try to identify trends that you can follow but also ones that you can break if you have a unique enough approach.
You only get one shot at making this first impression, so you should do your best to make it count. Understand the needs of your future customers, and try to develop your brand around an identity that addresses those problems. This will go a long way in drawing new people to your business.
Know where your brand fits in.
And that brings us to our next point. Every brand that exists on the market is there for a reason. Each of them fulfills a specific need of their customers, and this is what the brand's identity is all about.
With that in mind, you should do your best to pick a more unique problem to address. If there are none, and you're forced to pick something that's already being handled by the competition, try to at least give yourself some edge in terms of what you are offering and how it's presented to your customers.
Try to stand out.
This goes hand in hand with what we said above. Being unique and knowing how to stand out is going to be crucial in developing a strong brand for your business, and it will make it much easier to get things started too.
As long as you can define your image more uniquely, you will already have a head start in the market. It's not just about being flashy with your brand and its presentation though. A lot goes into developing a unique identity that stands out from the rest, and you should think long and hard about how you want to approach that and what will be so unique about your brand.
Pay attention to your competition.
As we said above, it's important to identify market trends and play into them. No matter what market you are entering, you can be sure that some trends have already been established, and it's important to pay attention to them so that you can integrate them into your work.
Of course, we aren't saying that you should outright copy what others are doing. Combine this advice with what we said above about being unique and finding your brand's identity, and you are already on the right track.
Set some milestones.
Developing a brand is not a simple process that can be executed in a couple of steps. You will have to prepare for a long ordeal that can take quite a long time. And if you are not properly prepared for that, it could be a very demotivating process. It can be difficult to see that you are making any real progress, and that's why you should set some specific milestones that you can follow properly.
When you have your goals laid out in a systematic fashion, it's easier to stay on track and remember that you are moving in the right direction. Make sure that those milestones are realistic though. If you set the bar too high, this can be just as problematic about how it will impact your long-term motivation.
Make your brand personal.
People love a flair of personality, and this is something you should be striving to have in your brand as well. No matter what line of work you are in, making your brand more personal is one of the best things you could do to draw attention to it from multiple sides. There are many ways to accomplish this, and it comes down to creativity above all else.
It's also something that reflects in every aspect of your branding, down to the design of the logo. Many factors are important here, and you have to pay active attention to all of them if you want to maximize your chances.
Solve a new problem.
We already touched on this above, but it's an important point to reiterate. If you can identify a unique problem the market is suffering from and can propose a sensible solution to it, your brand already has more than many others in the way of standing out. It doesn't have to be a major, pressing issue that has been plaguing the market for a long time.
It's enough to find something with enough people that care about it as a problem. And in some cases, though clever marketing, you may even be able to open people's eyes to an entirely new problem that they didn't even suspect existed or needed addressing! This is a rather unique opportunity though and requires a lot of clever marketing, so don't expect it to happen every time. But if you do have that option, it's something worth thinking about.
Your name matters – a lot!
As we said above, your brand is defined by the combination of many small factors that may seem a bit irrelevant on their own. Take the name of your brand, for example.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur trying to set up their brand is to underestimate the importance of a good name. It needs to be something that people can easily remember.
Remember, your name is directly tied to several features of your business, including your domain name for your website, the design of your logo, branding issues and various other points that are important to consider. It all starts with picking a good name, and the more effort you put into that, the better you'll fare in the long run.
Marketing starts now.
Another big mistake you can make – and one that happens quite often, unfortunately – is to underestimate the importance of early marketing. Marketing your brand is not something that happens after you're already out on the market, contrary to what the name implies.
Marketing is the very thing that will define the development of the brand as a whole. Every move you make in its growth will be aligned with your marketing efforts, not the other way around. This doesn't have to be scary though. If you go about it the right way, it means that you will have a lot of guidance about the development of your brand in the future, and you will have some actual hard data to work from.
Anticipate issues and deal with them preemptively.
A lot can go wrong in the creation of a brand and it's not the straightforward process that most people see it as. While you can't predict every single issue that will come up, you can still do a lot to anticipate the more major problems that you may encounter in the growth of your brand.
If you put some effort into addressing them preemptively, this can save you a lot of work later on. Some see this as wasted effort, but that's quite far from the case. It's something that can optimize your future workflow more than you might expect.
Colors, fonts and other visual concerns.
Don't forget about aesthetics! A lot goes into the creation of a quality brand, and it takes a lot of skill to pull this off properly. If you aren't working with a competent designer with significant experience under their belt, you are undermining your potential significantly.
This is not something that the average person can handle without the appropriate knowledge and experience, and even though a competent designer can cost a good chunk of money to hire, it's a worthwhile investment in many ways.
Don't be afraid to be a bit tacky if you can come up with something that gives your brand that extra edge of catchiness. There are many ways to improve the likelihood of your name staying in the minds of people who have interacted with your business in some way, and if you can think of something in that direction, by all means, give it a go in your planning. There have been lots of studies in this area, and it's not hard to find useful information on the subject if you search around a little bit. Don't be afraid to experiment, either – there is a lot of opportunity for that, and you will find various interesting ideas that you can attach to your brand to make it more interesting.
In the end, you only get one shot at this. Rebranding is an extremely difficult process when you already have an established market presence, and it can kill your business. With that in mind, you should ensure that you get it done right from the very beginning.
The rest will fall into place more or less on its own as time goes by, and you'll find lots of opportunities for growing your brand from there if you pay attention.