Today, many aspiring entrepreneurs feel the urgency to create a 'brand identity' before they even make their first dollar or do any market assessment at all. Some spend way too much time, money and energy on pretty websites, extravagant logos, far fetched names, expensive packaging, the whole works.
Let’s understand what a ‘Brand’ is and when to make it a priority.
Here's an example:
- Your registered company’s name is EXAMPLE, LLC. This is your legal name, not a part of your Brand.
- You have a collection of products that will be sold under this company. This is your offering, not a part of your Brand.
- Now Customers see the name abcjewelers.com or ABC Jewelers whenever they see your products. This is called a DBA (doing business as) This is a part of your Brand.
- But now you need to fully determine how you want the world to perceive, identify and remember your Company’s Products/Services. Now we’re talking “Branding”!
The Branding phase is the act of creating a Brand Identity. (Logo, brand colors, symbols, packaging, etc.)
Branding is usually done after conducting your market research and defining who your target audience is. But many fail to realize the importance of this step when thinking of their new business or side hustle.
What if I told you I literally started my first company out of the trunk of my Ford Fusion for the first year in 2013; no packaging, no logo, no website, no name, etc. Would you believe me?
I designed and created one Ring and all I knew was that it was a unique idea I had come up with.
When I decided to share that one ring with the world, I received lots of positive feedback, thank God! So I made the leap and made my first 25 silver rings to actually sell. Sold out in less than a week. Took the profits, and made another 50. At this point, I then registered for a legal business because...I was now conducting business. Still no packaging, no logo, no website, no name, etc.
People just wanted that ring and I focused on just that. The rings got delivered in little plastic 'dime bags' (haha). The customer was happy, and I made the profits I needed to grow!!
I grew to where I was able to pay myself a full salary after my first 2 years.
This proves to me, that as a small business, you don’t need superb branding or branding at all at first, in order to make good money. I then opened a store with staff and expanded to more designs. It was now time to build an official company.
However, I still did my own logo on Microsoft Word (free), learned to build my own website to service the overseas customers ($29 per month), and did minimal upgrades to my packaging (no fancy boxes our pouches with my name on it. Just secure packaging to keep my products safe).
Here's how I built my 'strong community' around my creation, and grew my company, without focusing on a 'brand'.
My first 2 years consisted of me meeting and interacting with people face to face; getting feedback on the service and designs. All opinions were needed and welcomed.
During this time, I was busy collecting data about who my customers were, what age groups / ethnicities favored my designs, how much they were happy to spend, etc. I used all that information to set my prices, and perfect my designs. To this day, I still monitor and take notes and use the data to perfect my marketing/advertising campaigns to attract new customers and keep previous ones coming back. This is how companies become successful, this is how they stay strong and continue to grow. It's all in the data, not your branding.
I am not saying that Branding isn't important, and it may have just been a coincidence that not focusing on Branding worked out perfectly just for me. But, I still sincerely believe lots of awesome startups would have made it further if they had focused on building and understanding their community, studied their data and perfected their craft before focusing on ‘branding’.
- Focus on your offering first.
- Make sure people even want or NEED what you have to offer.
- Invest time and minimal funds in perfecting the product/service.
- Understand your market, audience and customer.
- Ensure your process for accepting payments is easy and seamless for your customers. DO NOT do this by accepting DM’s, because you still want to appear professional, so get a simple website that accepts PayPal and/or Major Credit Cards, its much more affordable now than back when I was getting started.
Then when you start to build some momentum, it's then time to become official. Invest in your logo, decide on your colors, upgrade your packaging if necessary, get a professional photo shoot done and even upgrade your website to one that is bigger and has more features to assist with sales.
Your priority in the beginning as a new small business, is to validate your idea and see if it’s even worth investing real money into.