I contend that the brand is the most long-lasting and valuable asset of almost every successful business.
Companies can switch physical facilities innumerable times and brand awareness will not change. They can go through several CEO’s without customers noticing any basic change in the brand. Economies will cycle through good and bad times without affecting a brand’s image.
Think investment when you think of branding
Successful companies know their brand(s) are valuable assets.
They consider the money spent on branding is an investment – an investment in the long-range equity of the business as well as a magnet for current sales.
Those firms also know that the best form of investing is “dollar-cost averaging”, so they continually invest in their brand, keeping it fresh and relevant over time.
Brand smart from the start
For a small company, even a start-up, branding is just as valuable – in relation to the company size – as it is for the mega-billion enterprise. And that value is the key to faster growth as well as long-term stability.
But many an entrepreneur neglects to factor branding into their initial planning, most having the idea that branding is too expensive for their beginning business. So quite often branding is not a primary concern. Except for the name and possibly a logo, branding is thought of as a “nice to have” activity which can be delayed until the business has gained some success, i.e., positive cash flow.
I contend this is a grand mistake.
I also believe branding need not be a great expense. Building a brand is an ongoing process which begins with spending time defining what your brand can evolve into. Now there are certain elements of the brand do have to be in place from the very start like name and logo. But additional branding functions can be put in place with little or no expense except time.
Begin with a brand platform
The first step of branding is to develop a brand platform. This is a document that describes what the company is all about and how the brand will be expressed to stakeholders, particularly customers and prospects. It will include elements of the business plan as well as strategic branding elements as depicted in the chart below.
From the platform, decisions can be made and then implemented, perhaps one at a time over a reasonable length of time. But at least the price of some of these platform “planks” should be included in a start-up’s budget, to be performed as quickly as possible.
Then look at the items you will need to create immediately and make sure they comply to the brand you wish it to be. To begin, determine how to differentiate the business from competition and determine a position from which you can compete most effectively. Then we’re looking at physical elements like graphic standards, trade dress, type faces, color palette, brand story, tagline, tone and style of writing. You’ll also want to set policies and hire people that fit the company vision. In short, there a myriad of aspects of a brand that can be implemented from the beginning that will help the brand grow with consistency and relevancy. And by having a brand platform in place there’s a great chance that re-dos and their associated costs can be avoided.
Branding: an investment in solvency and growth
A startup business has many demands on its budget and on its time. But please, even from the start, think of developing the brand. It’s an investment that pays off right from the start and continues to grow in value as it’s nurtured over time.