As a creative person people assume I can come up with company and brand names in my sleep! I often do but I have been mulling for hours beforehand. As this has been a topic of conversation recently I thought i would re-issue an article I wrote several months ago for 3rdi magazine, also I am on hols at the moment so bit of a cop out too!! Normal rants resume next week!
BRAND MEANS BUSINESS
Branding has got to be one of the most under rated chinks in the armour of most start up and small businesses. The tendency for entrepreneurs is to think it is not that important and only matters to the big boys and nothing could be further from the truth. I see people getting this wrong ALL the time.
In competitive markets where new ideas are virtually non existent these days, your brand can quite often be the ONLY point of difference, but here is the usual story….
Someone has an idea or plans to deliver their expertise direct, as opposed to working for someone else. They come up with a company name in 30 seconds by combining their surname with their mothers maiden name, the cats initials and the street of their first home or even better their name in latin! Or the ultimate classic their initials & Co! Then they go about saying yes to everything with no clear positioning or niche and pretty quickly the dream starts to look a bit shaky.
Branding is about nurturing a clear identity so that customers have absolute clarity on your offer or at the least are interested enough to find out.
If I sound exasperated by this, I am! It frustrates me that entrepreneurs pay lip service to this area and as a marketing and brand development professional I spent most of my corporate life persuading Boards to recognise that this area of business is all about investment NOT cost! Now rant over, let’s get practical…
First and foremost you have to define and own your niche. By niche I mean what do you deliver, for who, where? As a start up or small company (and by small I mean anything up to £10m turnover) you cannot define your niche by being all things to all people. You must make some decisions – who is my target audience, where are my skills and strengths best focussed, what can we deliver to world class standards, where is my territory. The worst case scenario… ‘I am a coach and I work with everyone, on any issue or challenge, any age, any gender, anywhere in the world, for any amount of time, with any outcome and yes there is just me in the business.’ Better…. ‘I am the entrepreneur’s coach, specialising in working with female entrepreneurs with a big vision who are looking to transform their business and themselves in 12 months. I only work face to face from my offices in Cheshire and I only support 8 women a year via a bespoke 12 month coaching programme. ‘ Get the idea?
Success is about what you say NO to!
Only when your niche is defined can you contemplate branding. Your company name and image must excite people, they must be able to get a sense of who you are, your personality, your fun meter! I set up one of my businesses in 2007 to inspire and empower women to step up to entrepreneurship, wealth contribution and leadership. I wonder, if I had called this new venture JK & Associates or something similar if our growth and brand awareness would have grown quite as fast as it has, our name?? You have to ask…. The Well Heeled Divas – you decide!
Branding is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in business, take some time and money and invest well, you will reap the benefits, I promise. But I accept we are not all naturally creative, so if this feels so far out of your comfort zone you are literally hyperventilating at this point, get some help – talk to friends that are creative, have a look at your competitors online and if you have some money to invest get the professionals on board, it is money well spent and will serve you for years to come.