Have you ever sat up from the jolt of a brilliant business idea and immediately wondered what to name your business or how to design your logo? If you have, you’re certainly not alone. I’ve been there before and I know how tempting it is to dive right into the fun stuff, that is – designing your logo and toying around with the frilly things like business cards and sometimes even branded merch. All the stuff that thriving, successful businesses flash around.
Except that’s the stuff of businesses that are already operating and have clear marketing and sales objectives. If you’re just starting out, it’s important to have a plan. It made sense to fit a quote about planning here and I found a pretty apt one from my Google search:
Put in context, “goal” would probably refer to your dream business, while “plan” would refer to your strategy. I don’t know about you, but I love a good plan. I find that planning saves me a lot of time – time that would otherwise be spent hemming and hawing over which decisions to make. And in business – sound decision-making is everything. Having a proper plan in place helps to filter and eliminate those distracting choices and options that don’t fit your goal and narrows them down to those that do. In today’s post, I’ll share some of the things you’ll need to get started on a brand strategy or plan.
#1 Know your product or service
It’s fairly common to fall in love with the idea of owning your own business or company. It happens – what with the luxury of managing your own time and the kind of autonomy it’ll afford you. Of course it’s alluring! But without having a firm idea of what your product or service will be, it’s really a house of cards.
Knowing your product goes beyond what your product will look like, but also knowing how it will be sourced and produced at cost-effective levels. If you intend to provide a service, that will mean not only knowing what service to provide, but also how it will be delivered differently from competitors and who will deliver your service – will it be you or another member of your team that has the skills and expertise?
When deciding on your product or service, going through the basics of answering “what – why – how – and – who” will help to bring clarity to the most important cornerstone of your business.
#2 Know your cost and pricing
Surprisingly, this is something that is frequently overlooked! Much as I’d like to, I won’t go into detail on how to determine the price of your product or service because it’s something that varies from industry to industry, business to business and even person-to-person.
If you’re keen to run a business, then you’ll probably already know to price above your cost. But how much above? Pricing above cost is also known as cost-based pricing – that is to calculate the total cost of making your product or delivering your service then adding a reasonable percentage on top of it to determine the final price. This is one of the quickest and simplest ways to add a little profit margin to any product you intend to sell.
Click on this link to get a headstart on other types of pricing strategies you can adopt for your business. It’s a good resource for helping you decide if market-oriented pricing, dynamic pricing or discount pricing is right for your business. Whatever you do, don’t rely on guesswork when determining your price!
#3 Know your target market and target audience
As a consultant, something I encounter often is business managers not knowing who to sell to. It’s probably appropriate to insert yet another quote here:
I love how this quote speaks volumes. I almost feel like I could leave it here and move on to my next point. But okay, okay – I’ll try to put it in perspective. Have you ever been invited to a party only to stall on your RSVP because you didn’t know who was going to be there? And maybe you did or didn’t end up going to the party but the bulk of that decision hinged on whether your friends were going to be there.
You could think of the party as the target market, your group of friends as the target audience, and the party planner as the business. In many cases, the party planner often has a group of people they’d like to invite – the more the merrier right? Not quite. Ever been to a party with so many different groups of people with varying wavelengths that the atmosphere within the room just fell flat? If you have, great – this example will resonate with you. And if you haven’t, lucky you! But back to my point – successful party planners are those that know it’s not how many people there are but who’s at the party that will attract others to turn up.
By definition, your target market is the whole group of people you want to sell to but your target audience is the group of people whom you expect to buy from you.
By knowing who you want at your party, you’ll be able to deliver the right invitations in a way that appeals to them. In the same way, if you wanted to sell freshly-baked preservative-free and crunchy cookies, you’d probably need to narrow your audience down from people who simply love cookies (target market) to people who appreciate fresh-baked goods and who have a love for crunchy food (target audience). That might mean focusing your marketing material on people with strong teeth (so maybe not the older folk) and people who are willing to pay a slightly higher price for healthier food products.
When consulting with clients, I find helping them gain a firm understanding of who should buy their product or services one of the most gratifying things. It’s a sure way to move them closer to the thriving end of the scale and away from the surviving end.
#4 Consider your brand personality
Can you think of a cafe or shop that you really like and why you wouldn’t bat an eyelid to frequent the place? I’m not saying I know exactly why you do but I have a hunch that it’s got something to do with the vibe or feel of the place. A lot of this vibe is related to the store’s brand personality.
Every brand can be associated with one of 12 main personality types or what we typically call brand archetypes. And at the risk of suggesting the possibility of brand schizophrenia, some brands may reflect a mix of personalities – but that’s a story for another time. Here are some examples of brand personalities that I got from investopedia.com for you to mull on:
- Excitement: carefree, spirited, and youthful – Think Coca Cola
- Sincerity: kindness, thoughtfulness, family values – Think Gardenia
- Ruggedness: rough, tough, outdoorsy, and athletic – Think Patagonia
- Competence: successful, accomplished, leadership – Think Grab
- Sophistication: elegant, prestigious, pretentious – Think Apple
Much like the party example above, you could think of brand personality as a set of traits you might look out for in a friend – it’s a set of personable characteristics that customers tend to enjoy or want to be associated with. Like so many charismatic people, personable brands use this to their advantage to enjoy consumer preference over their competitors.
#5 Think about your vision and mission
Even while you’re toying with the idea of setting up your business, setting aside some time to think of your vision and mission statements may be a good way to steer yourself in the right direction where goals are concerned. You may have heard of these terms countless times before – sometimes used interchangeably but neither of these terms mean the same thing:
In other words, your vision statement helps to give your company a sense of direction and purpose. And because human beings are wired to care more about why people do things; and less about what they do and how they do it, a solid declaration of purpose may just help to scope and define your target audience.
And from your vision statement, you may derive your mission statement which suggests the doing part – it answers the what, who and how questions, and clearly states what your company or business intends to accomplish.
To help you out, here are some examples of vision and mission statements curated by Oberlo of largely successful businesses around the world.
Alright, that wraps it up. I wasn’t expecting such a long article but sometimes I have more coffee than I should. Anyhoo, I fully understand the excitement of owning and running a business and can’t wait to pat you on the back when you make that life-changing decision. Just remember to consider these five things and make a plan so that you can hit the ground much faster and harder when the time comes!
Is there something that has helped you and deserves more love? Write me a comment and I’ll be happy to reply! Chat soon and remember, don’t be a stranger.
Nadine is the Creative Director of The Outsiders Co. (now Superminted) and is a nonconforming, divergent thinker with a conviction that effective branding is the cornerstone to a successful business.