As I’ve started writing more and more about branding, and helping to explain the idea to others I keep coming back to the fact that building your brand is as critical to the planning of a new business as writing a business plan. Your business plan could be very thorough and formal, or something more simple, but nearly every business coach or expert will tell you how critical it is. The same goes with building your brand.
A recent article in the New York Times has this quote:
For startups and small businesses, branding can often take a backseat to other considerations, such as funding and product development. This is a mistake, as a company’s brand can be key to its success. Dollar for dollar, it is as important and vital as any other early steps.
Dollar for dollar. That doesn’t mean you need to spend an arm and a leg, but it does mean that time & money used to identify a niche and build a brand is critical and will be well spent.
I think it’s also important, as the writer points out, that this is an early step. It’s not: “I’ll get this off the ground and then brand it.” No. As you get your funding, as you do product development, as you get feedback pre-launch is when you are building and refining your brand position.
Use your business plan to direct your design strategy
One of the key components of most business plans is identifying a niche and describing how your business or product is different than the competition. Use these thoughts as the kernel for your brand. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you get into the design phase of brand building. When we see a logo, typeface or color we have personal reactions that are not always helpful. The reference points identified in your business plans should serve as your checklist when evaluating the effectiveness of design.