Today, many aspiring entrepreneurs feel the urgency to create a brand identity before they even make their first dollar or do any market assessment. Some spend too much time, money, and energy on pretty websites, extravagant logos, far-fetched names, expensive packaging, and the whole works.
Let us understand what a Brand is and when to make it a priority.
- Your registered Company name is EXAMPLE, LLC. That is your legal name, not a part of your Brand.
- You have a collection of products sold under this company. That is your offering, not a part of your Brand.
- Now Customers see the name abcjewelers.com or ABC Jewelers whenever they see your products. That is called a DBA (doing business as), a part of your Brand.
- But now you must fully determine how you want the world to perceive, identify and remember your Products/Services. That is Branding!
The Branding phase is the act of creating a Brand Identity. (Logo, brand colors, symbols, and packaging)
Branding is 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 a 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 with no packaging, logo, website, or name; would you believe me?
I designed and manufactured one ring. The only thing I knew was that it was a unique idea.
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 manufactured my first 25 silver rings to sell. I sold out in less than one week. I then took the profits and manufactured 50 more. At this point, I registered for a legal business because I was now conducting business. I still had not invested in packaging, a logo, a website, or a name.
People just wanted that ring so I focused on just that. These 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 paid myself a full salary after my first two years.
As a start-up business, heavy branding is not a priority in order to start making 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 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).
Below is how I built a strong community around my small business and grew without focusing on a brand.
My first two years consisted of 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 product. 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. That is how companies become successful, stay strong and continue to grow. It is all in the data, not your branding.
I am not saying that branding is unimportant, and it may have just been a coincidence that not focusing on branding worked perfectly just for me. But, I still sincerely believe many start-ups would have made it further if they had focused on building and understanding their community, studied their data, and perfected their craft before 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. Don't do this through DM’s, because you still want to appear professional, so get a simple website that accepts PayPal and Major Credit Cards. It is much more affordable now than back when I was getting started.
Then when you start to build some momentum, it is 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 is even worth investing real money in.