Business Startup Branding
3 steps to building your reputation.
Many people confuse branding with a logo or a color scheme. Entrepreneurs fall into this trap and often spend a lot of money with creative agencies on logo design, defining the color scheme, designing a web site and preparing all of the sales and marketing brochures. At some point, the business will need to invest in developing these things to help establish its identity after it has launched. Before early stage business startup entrepreneurs exhaust their savings on a logo, they can take a few far more valuable and meaningful steps to develop their brand.
The reputation and messages delivered directly by the entrepreneur are not separate from the business during the formative stages. It is important to be intentional in deciding what that reputation communicates to prospective customers, investors and others will be. Small missteps can send them running instead of choosing to participate in your business. A simple process comprising just three steps can make a huge difference in helping you to establish a clear and consistent brand from the very beginning. When you are preparing to launch, you will have created a good foundation for the agency to build on for all of the creative design work.
Your brand personality begins with you and your own personality. Think about your personality traits that other people find attractive. If you’re not sure, talk to friends and family – they will know! Don’t be concerned if people are attracted by slightly quirky behavior or off-beat sense of humor. Instead, emphasize those things because they have been working for you and they are what make you unique. Also, ask people how they benefit from a relationship with you as an individual. You might be good at problem-solving, listening or making deals. Bring these traits to the forefront every day and with every relationship in your business.
Business purpose and direction.
Define how you and other will be expected to behave, make decisions and deal with other people by defining a set of values, or guiding principles. Write down several – no more than 6 – statements that will clarify this expected behavior. This helps everyone to know what to expect in working with your business. To clarify your direction, develop a set of long-term, measurable goals that clarify where you are going and helps to keep you and your team focused in the same target. The combination of values and goals acts as a constant guide to keep your decisions and actions focused and consistent. This is an important aspect of building a reputation.
Do tell everyone, but actions speak louder than words. For example, if you are able to support someone else’s business ideas, or enable them to break through a challenge in a way that is consistent you’re your values and goals, then you are demonstrating your brand reputation in a very powerful way. Building relationships with lots of people takes time. Keep a steady drum beat going using social media tools, blog articles, videos and seminars to name just a few. Remember that developing a reputation for offering outstanding products and services requires many people to purchase the product over time.
Be consistent throughout all that you do including your personality, guiding principles, goals and persistent communication strategies. Strong reputations require satisfied and loyal customers who are willing to tell other about you. Mistakes and missteps can damage that reputation overnight. Be diligent.