Whenever a solo entrepreneur asks me whether or not to brand her business, I rarely give an answer.
Instead, I ask a question. It goes something like this…
What are you avoiding?
Here’s why I ask:
Many, if not most, of the people who ask me if they should brand their business are using the idea of branding as a way to avoid taking some kind of action. Usually it’s action that makes them feel uncomfortable. They need to go to that networking event, send a note to their referrals, write some copy for their next marketing campaign, hire an assistant, do that follow up phone call, or even get their first client…
…and in the mind of the oh-so-creative-and-distractible entrepreneur, all of those things feel less exciting than the idea of a kicky new logo.
Admit it. The tedious stuff is just so … tedious. So “branding your business” becomes another bright shiny way to convince yourself that you can’t possibly do the tedious stuff until you have a matchy-matchy website or a tagline to die for.
So let’s say you’re good with all of the above. Clients are beating down your door. Business is thriving. You have support. You’re growing. And you really do want to think about branding. Fabulous.
In this case, my answer is this:
It depends. It depends on what you mean by branding, what you hope to achieve, and how much money you are willing to invest.
Here are three things to consider when it comes to branding your business:
1 – Branding your business is not about your “look.”
Many people think that branding is about a new logo and some hip new colors on your website.
Branding is NOT about your look. It’s not about your color scheme or your cool mark or even your tagline. If you just want a logo, then you can just go to 99Designs and getting something fast and inexpensive.
When you do it right, branding is every bit as intense and deep as the first three modules of my Uplevel Your Business™ Program.
It’s a deep exploration of your ideal client, of yourself, and what you do and why you do it. It will connect you with your WHY, with your message, with your point-of-view. It will force you to face your scattered, covered and smothered product line that confuses everyone.
When I went through a branding process, it took months to work through, and months more to begin implementing it. It continued to be an on-going task for my team.
Also, it was hard. It forced me to face some tough issues and let go of some of the splatteredness I had unknowingly created as I built this business.
So, are you ready for this level of focus? Or do you need to do some of your own clarity work before you invest a heap of cash hoping someone else will just “do it for you?”
2 – Branding (or re-branding) your business is an investment.
Look. You want to invest some money on this. You want to work with someone who knows how to do it. Depending on your revenues, that can be expensive. And it will be a waste of money if your business isn’t ready to get a return on that investment over the coming years.
The business highways and by-ways are littered with branding expenses that never got a return because the business changed, the entrepreneur went in a different direction, the ideal client wasn’t right, the branding process was too hasty or was started too early on in the business’s growth. Give this some consideration.
3 – Everything is branding. Take some simple steps on your own first.
Here’s what’s great about marketing (when you do it authentically and with service):
You can ‘brand’ yourself without spending a dime.
Three places to start:
Positioning is clarity about all aspects of your service, credibility, results, offer, client, message, solutions and perspective. This is contained in every touchpoint of your marketing.
• Point of View
Your point of view is your unique voice and your message. Make sure it shines through in every single thing your prospect reads or hears or sees about you.
When your prospects see the kinds of customers you have worked with – and reads their stories – they will feel connected and “related” to those previous clients. That feeling of “relate-ability” is what branding claims to create. You can create it by systematizing how you collect client success stories and using them to position the results you deliver.
So, should you brand your business?
Sure, at some point, you should brand your business.
But first, have all the clients you need, make sure your marketing and messaging is as clear as you can get it on your own.
Then, hire the finest branding expert you can and see it as a long-term investment.