You have finally kicked the boss goodbye. Oh, what a feeling! You are starting your own business!
Meet The Boss. Day 1 finds you all dressed up and seated on your favorite chair, ready to kick off your billion dollar enterprise. Fifteen minutes later, the billion dollar smile is slowly fading into a 1 dollar frown. Your brow starts to crease into four lanes, as you shift uncomfortably on your once favorite seat. This is harder than you thought. The startup expenses are way beyond cash at hand. ‘Oh dear, some things just have to go’, you sigh. The axehead falls several items and one of them is the branding component. With a bright red marker pen you scribble; ‘review after 6 months’. Big mistake.
Truth be told, the market (customer) has an extremely short concentration span. Market trends are also very dynamic. You only have a limited window of time to give people a reason not to forget you. Especially now, when you getting off the blocks, your launch needs to be both noticeable and memorable.
So as a startup business owner you cannot afford to make the following mistakes.
Mistake 1. Not fully understanding the value of a brand
Branding related decisions are best made at the very initial stages of planning. This is when you are selecting a logo, colors, taglines, fonts, marketing material and even the people selling your product or service. So going through logo selection without considering what brand identity you’d want your business to be associated with, is doing yourself a great disservice. A strong brand crafted in the formative stages of business, is the best opportunity for rapid growth.
Mistake 2. Saving the penny
Yeah, we understand. Money is tight. And so you decide to design the logo (no, you are not a graphic designer) or worse still, ask a quack to do it for you. These short cuts produce half baked, unprofessional logos that are obvious miles away. Poorly crafted brands, tell the customers that you are low on quality and lack seriousness at your product offering. If the market is to take you seriously, position yourself as such.
Mistake 3. Lack of branding guideline documentation
Six months down the line, all your branded material should look the same. All your suppliers should have clear and detailed reference to your color scheme, variations, font style, etc. This information ensures that there will be uniformity in all your branded material. Lack of guidelines will lead to inconsistencies, which will affect your brand identity. So insist that your graphic designer/agency provides you a blue print, on how your brand should always look like.
Mistake 4. Complicating your brand
The simpler it is, the more recognizable it will be. Do not overuse graphic images or work with five different colors. Have a primary and secondary color. If you must have another, choose a neutral color. Images should be simple and quick to decipher for anyone. Choose graphic representations that are easy to implement. Make your logo, clean and simple and your customers will understand it better.
Mistake 5. Being generic
No matter what it is you are selling, even if it is similar to the shop next door, do not be grey and amorphous. Identify a unique and intriguing selling point that is aligned to your brand. Refuse to go with the flow. Do something unique, rather than commonplace. Go counter-culture and avoid the herd mentality like the plague.
Remember, that branding is a need and not a want when starting up your business. It is a critical exercise, which has to be done in the initial stages, just as is opening up a bank account. You will reap the fruit of having a brand that is identifiable by your customers, and that will single you out of the crowd. So brand now, not later. It is a mistake you cannot afford to make.