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In the last email, I talked about the importance of not trying to please everyone. We looked into these points:

  • It's natural to want approval and consequently, want your business to be a household brand.
  • But it's literally impossible to get everyone to be a fan, and very inconvenient for your business.
  • You have to focus on similar needs, wants and backgrounds so that you can create a group of customers called the target market.
  • This allows you to appeal to as many people as possible, while spending less money on branding.

Nonetheless, branding still seems insurmountable to some. It looks like a necessary evil that they want to put off to a later time. They want to do it when:

  • They have more money to invest
  • They have more time to focus on their business
  • They have more customers
  • They have more products to sell


But "more" is hard to define, and very easy to forget. The very fact that branding is set aside can be the thing that stops them from getting more money, more time, more customers and more products. Funny, right?

Trying to save money on branding will prevent you from making more money in the long run.

I have nothing against business owners who choose not to invest in branding. There are some businesses that, in my opinion, don't need branding in the more comprehensive sense, like:

  • those that rely heavily on location and convenience, like the person who sells burgers by the side of the road
  • those that are intentionally short-term, like people who act as agents for other brands

They may practice some aspects of branding that allow them to be remembered by their regular customers, but nothing too extensive. And it's fine! It works for them, because they're not planning to expand their business. 

But what about people who want their business to grow? From one outlet to three or five. Klang Valley only to Selangor. Selangor to nationwide. Nationwide to Asian regions. Asian regions to worldwide.

It's true that there are businesses that are doing well without any real branding. But if those businesses want to expand, they need a brand to unite under. Or else they'd be starting from scratch at each new location.

I'm talking about people who are so very passionate about their business. They believe in its potential to solve problems and its quality. Is there a reason why they aren't as excited for branding?

 

You can start small with branding.

I haven't done a valid research on this, but I have a hunch. I think that people delay branding because of the perceived cost. They think that they have to start with a bang. Business cards, packaging, website, uniforms, stationery -- to make them, you need money! 

At least, that's how I was when I was running my previous two businesses. I didn't want any unnecessary expenditure - like branding - to cut into my profits. 

But here's the thing: Branding is not an all-or-nothing investment. It can be scaled up, expanded and added to. It grows alongside your business. 

Your business doesn't need to be launched with all the fancy tricks and shiny new equipments. With branding, it's possible to start small. You need to work on the big questions first without worrying about the visual and physical details. Those things can come later.

 

Start by writing down what your brand is about.

Here's some of the branding questions that you can think about that doesn't cost any money but are extremely important for your business:

  • What your business is all about (It sounds so simple but a lot of people aren't actually clear about what they do!)
  • Your reason for starting the business
  • The problem(s) that you plan to solve with your business
  • The potential problems you will face when you move forward with your business
  • Your business goals (Financial or otherwise)
  • Where you see your business one, three and five years from now (Visualize it!)
  • Your current products/services and what you plan to add
  • What success looks like to you (Happy customers? Big coverage? Making money?)

These are just on the tip of the iceberg. Don't write one-liners, write as much as you can! Delve into your own mind because as the owner, you'll be the one driving your business forward. You can't afford to be unclear.

These branding questions will act as a blueprint for your brand. It's a tangible thing that will ensure all your efforts actually contribute towards achieving your goals. The graphic designer who will design your visual identity would also have a much easier time designing something that will help your brand grow.

 

You can brand everything, but you don't have to start with everything. Great branding can be scaled up with no problem and it starts with you. The designer can create a visual identity, but it's not his business. He doesn't know what your business is about. He is paid to translate your vision. 

It's your business. You have to give it your meaning. 

In the next email, we'll look at how to prioritize which detail you should brand first if you don't have a lot of money to invest yet.

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