When is the right time to invest in branding for your business? Let me start by saying, this is kind of a trick question. I whole-heartedly believe that branding can elevate your business, so a huge part of me says – it’s always the right time to invest in branding!
Then I take a step back, and I hear the difference between these two statements:
1) It’s always the right time to invest in branding.
2) You have reached a point with your business that developing your brand further (whether you are starting from scratch or fine-tuning your already well-oiled machine) will benefit your business.
The difference is that in the second statement it becomes clear that you understand how branding will make a difference and are ready to implement it with a longterm, comprehensive mindset.
Believe me when I say, I get as excited as the next business owner about creating visuals. As we get started, I often tell my clients that developing a visual identity creates a tangible component to making your dream a reality. For this reason and so many others, it is so important! But for the same reason, it can become easy to jump the gun. In my experience, there are a few things you want to nail down before committing to professional branding.
1) Have you have decided on a name?
This sounds really basic, but you would be surprised the number of times I have started working with clients and after we get through the initial logo stages, they find out the name they have chosen is taken. The last thing you want is to get your business going, only to find out another company is already operating under that name. I recommend doing thorough research before making a concrete decision on your business name. You don’t want to begin with an uphill battle to establish yourself. At a minimum, I would research:
- Domain Listings - Check to see if there is an ideal domain name available for the name you want. If not, you will always be battling that.
- State Registry – It is more than worth the small fee to officially register your business. Depending on what is right for you, this could mean a sole proprietorship, an LLC, or an S-Corp. Rules and regulations vary from state-to-state, so check your state’s listing to make sure you can legally and officially use the name you are considering.
- Social Media Handles – Make sure you check the social media platforms you plan to use so you won’t be confused with another company.
2) Has your business has outgrown the visuals you are currently using?
Do I wish that every business owner could invest in their visuals from the get go? Would I recommend making it a priority? Yes and yes! But, the reality is, when you are starting a new business, capital can become a tricky thing to maneuver. For that reason, it isn’t uncommon to do what you can with your visuals for a couple of months to stabilize your cash flow, then turn your attention back to you visual identity. If you start to become aware that you feel self conscious about handing out your business card or directing people to your website because your branding is no longer up to par with your business, it is time to talk to a professional. When you become aware of feeling this way, not only does it mean you are in tune with your growth, it probably means your customers can recognize it as well.
3) Do you have an understanding of what you want to project to your clients?
Oftentimes, I meet with people and they have an understanding of what they like and don’t like – a solid starting point. They also have an understanding of their target market. The disconnect occurs when you want to merge your personal preferences with a strategic direction. It is important you like your brand; you are going to have to live with it everyday. However, it is more important that your customers like and identify with your brand. During the questionnaire process, I have seen people become conflicted about the style or look they want to achieve. It tends to become about what they like rather than what will resonate with their clients, but I would suggest you make sure the latter is at the forefront of every idea.
4) Have you have defined the value you bring to your clients with the service you offer?
Knowing what you offer and why is important for similar reasons to the above point. If you can’t explain your service, it will be hard to project, hard to brand, hard to become know for, and hard to market. Spending time evaluating your position in the market will be helpful in the long run and will make your branding efforts more worthwhile.
5) Do you have time to commit to the project?
All of these points are irrelevant if you can’t find time to dedicate to the process. While the designer you work with should be carrying the bulk of the weight here, your feedback and opinions are crucial. If you don’t give yourself time to dedicate to the process, you will find one of two things occur.
- You won’t develop a fully formed opinion. If giving feedback on the visual identity of your brand becomes a chore, not an exciting task for the day, you won’t have the space to honestly evaluate what you want. Make sure you are able to give yourself that time.
- The process will become exhausting rather than exciting. After our fist meeting, you will be fired up about developing your brand. But one week later, you have deadlines and a hundred other things demanding your attention. The thing is – I get it! But if you don’t schedule time to dedicate to this, you are giving yourself the short end of the stick. You will reply out of obligation and to get it out of the way without giving yourself time to determine what you want for the big picture.