How to Go From “Have-a-Go-Hero” To Actual Brand In One Year
Everyone wants to be a brand. Whether it’s having a stellar personal brand, or developing that cool app you’ve been meaning to get off the ground for ages: branding is valuable. It separates those who aspire to do well, from those who actually do. To succeed as a brand is all about using the right language. From your website and social profiles, to the emails you send and your photography — make sure you have a consistent brand tone and direction across all channels and platforms.
Here are some tangible ways you can create a brand with a great future in just one single year. Challenge accepted? 2018 is also set to be the year when data makes it mark — so start cooking up a brand strategy that puts data first.
Develop a mission statement
Writing a mission statement might seem like an odd thing to do when it’s just you working in a garage — but it’s a really worthwhile exercise. A mission statement will provide much-needed brand direction and purpose, and will stop you from taking the wrong turn early on in your journey.
A good mission statement underpins all you early business decisions:
Do I hire staff or outsource?
Do I look for venture capital, or go it alone?
Do I want a co-founder?
Do I invest in this one mega influencer, or test out these ten hopefuls?
A mission statement should cover both your brand values and goals, and will guide all your strategic business decisions. A strong mission statement will ensure that you stay on-course as your brand develops and grows. It’s also the perfect way to intro people to your vision — a great mission statement needs no explanations or qualifiers.
Display your mission statement somewhere you can always access it, and share it in a format that feels natural with other people.
Find your UVP
Start ups often fail because they are too generic, or they offer services or products that the market doesn’t want or need. Do not be afraid to take a stance: find a niche, and nail it.
Here are some ways to find your unique value proposition (UVP):
Can you go above and beyond with your content or client experience? Can you offer something that no one else is doing?
Are you serving people whose needs no one has taken into account before?
What drives and innovates you?
Focus on the ‘V’ — value. It’s important that your brand is created with the idea of value built into it, rather than tacked on as an afterthought. Luckily for you, ‘value’ to the consumer is not always achieved by big budgets and money, but comes from a deep need to improve and enhance what’s already there.
As a brand, be blatant about your UVP and don’t be afraid to share it about. It’s what makes your brand special, and will encourage people to invest their time and money into you.
Work with your community
The best brands have an army of advocates, and you need to pound some pavements to make that happen. It’s not about being brash and ‘in your face’, but about taking advantage of every single opportunity out there. Start thinking BIG.
PR is about give and take — sharing other people’s content and supporting their brands will often pay off. It’s not as formal as doing co-marketing (though that works too), but about contributing to ongoing conversations happening around you in the community.
Join a few offline and online business groups, and sign up for some networking meetings.
There are so many ways to get in touch with people. Get good with emails, social media, and phone calls to make the most of the human capital around you.
Local events and festivals can improve your brand footprint, and they are also a great learning opportunity.
Social listening is a great way to do research for your brand, and it can also contribute to your online marketing strategy. Having your ‘finger on the pulse’ will help direct your brand in the right direction, and will keep you informed on the latest developments.
Nail your product-market-fit
This is the tipping point when it comes to revenue, investors, and long-term success: product-market fit.
Essentially it means launching iterations of your product, constantly updating and tweaking it based on market feedback and behavior. It’s a strategy that not only works for products like software, but it can also be used to refine any product or service offering.
Your number one branding rule: the market is always right. Build feedback into your brand so that you can adapt, pivot, and move quickly based on what your customers and the market want.
Ecommerce is a great niche to invest in right now, and product-market fit is built into the core of this business model. Data analysis, a constant feedback loop, and awesome online marketing will take your online business from 0 to 100 very quickly. It’s important to select a good niche for your online business — many of the good ones are already taken. Check out any websites that have recently come unto the market, as you may be able to snap up the ideal domain and business for a fraction of the original setup time and costs.
Don’t be afraid to change
Pivoting may be the best thing you ever do! It can be scary to have to change brand tact in one year, but in business — that’s normal. In a globalized tech marketplace, fads are over before they even start. Change can be healthy and purifying for a brand, and even established brands are always innovating and re-branding.
There is a lot of pressure on founders to be ‘constant’, especially when it comes to team members, but don’t become too arrogant and assume that you are on a fixed path to success.
Financial and collaborative opportunities often come at the most unlikely times, so try to keep things fairly adaptable and fluid in the first year. It’s not a good idea to invest in too much capital or tie yourself down too quickly.
Watch your finances
Cash flow can be devastating for a young brand. Watch your finances so that you don’t bottom out. Too many brands fade into nothingness because of poor financial planning.
It’s advisable to have a bit of a ‘bootstrapper’ attitude, and not invest in a ton of fancy branded merchandise just for the sake of it. Focus on creating awesome branded assets that don’t cost the Earth instead.
Be sparing when it comes to the tools and software your purchase — monthly subscription fees quickly creep up, and you don’t want your brand to be reliant on expensive, external tools.
Embrace the power of powerful intentions, and think very carefully about the values that you want your brand to stand for. The best brands are the ones that really aim to serve a core audience, and aren’t afraid to take risks with their brand voice and marketing.