Are you ready to start a business? Prior to spending, think about brand strategy.

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. Ready to start your own business? Many people who launch a business in an industry they are familiar with already have some knowledge. Many assume that they already know what they need, particularly in terms of overhead such as equipment and office space. This is a bad approach. Many people don’t budget for brand identities or strategies. They assume that if they build it, they will get it. It can lead to costly pivots after launch, or worse, increased overhead costs that can delay or stop business growth. How can an entrepreneur make sure this doesn’t happen?

Related: If You’re Not Approaching Your Brand This Way, You’re Losing Customers

Start with a strategy first

While the idea is just a concept, before the first conversation with a bank, landlord, investor, or other parties, start with a brand strategy. Start by defining the type of brand you want and a concept of your customer base. Also, set goals for the next six months, year and five years. How do you define ‘wins’ in these time frames? What can you wait for? Many startups are able to use the incoming revenue from their openings to fund any additional expenses, or purchase everything in one go before they launch. An entrepreneur can spend less and get better results if they have a solid strategy.

Related: 3 Tips for Mastering Storytelling as a Small Business Owner

Work with a team of experts to ensure your brand identity

While many marketing agencies claim to assist new startups and existing businesses with their brand identity and clarity, entrepreneurs should be cautious of such claims. While agencies may want to charge a monthly retainer, or push companies to buy services and deliverables they don’t need, this can be detrimental for their business growth. This is a critical area that an entrepreneur must be careful about. Ask for references and verify them. Ask other businesses about their experiences with the agency and the impact that the strategies had on their business.

Define the “me only” differentiator

One of the first steps in working with an agency is to define the “me only” differentiator. It is not a “me too” difference or a better one. The “me only” differentiator should be something that customers want and can source. It is important to seek the guidance of experienced brand strategists who have experience in navigating this process, especially before launch. Determine the market’s competitors and the perceived or actual value they bring to the market. Next, determine the differentiating factors that separate the market.

Related: How to Craft a Compelling Brand Story That Drives Sales

Consistently evaluate and pivot when required

After launch or opening, evaluate the brand strategy. What is working? Is there any other business opportunities that may be available? When choosing an agency to work with, ensure that they can produce a strategy before launch as well as after. It doesn’t suffice for an agency just to produce videos and social media content. The agency must also be able to develop a strategy that encourages growth and expansion.

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