Most small businesses and startups think of a brand as an afterthought, and put operations first. And while that is valid to make sure your business can function properly, you may be shorting yourself in the long run. Here’s why.
Your brand is the driving factor for any of the decisions made for your company. Sounds like it’s overreaching, but in execution it’s really not. Think of it as a guideline or “bumpers” for when you need to make a decision for something regarding your business. Most business owners and operators suffer from what we call ‘decision fatigue’. This refers to a person ability to consistently choose correct (or logical) decisions over a long period of time. We’ve all felt this; we experience it after a long days work at the office and just want ‘something simple’ to eat for dinner. We’ve burned up our ability to make rational decisions for ourselves through shortcuts to find what’s the easiest possible solution is. This concept applies exactly the same when working with any material within your company. Your brand should be what helps make those decisions easier, not harder!
Like mentioned in this article, your brand is an investment. It’s an investment you want to take care of and build equity into. Just like you would with a house. Now of course everyone has a different approach to real estate, but lets look at it from the perspective of lifelong homeowners.
Your house should have a stable foundation. Something that can hold up when the weather gets rough and holds up against the tide of time. If a house has cracks in its foundations, you’ll probably have issues down the road. Same applies to your brand. The better you can build the foundation, the better your house will hold up throughout the years. Things may change inside the house; you might paint the walls, update the kitchen, or put an addition on, but they all sit upon that foundation built.
Not every business needs a full blown brand, at least right away. Knowing where your business is in the process will help you (and your creatives) find what is most important for your brand. As many startups focus on developing their product or service offerings, it doesn’t make sense to try and establish an all-encompassing brand guideline document.
While it would help serve the business in the long run, there likely will be quite a few shifts and changes within the business before launch that can potentially invalidate some of the decisions made with the initial brand. A more practical approach would be to understand what the brand is at the core: who you are, what you do, and why. From there an abbreviated brand guideline or visual identity document would serve as a much more effective tool. A smaller, less encompassing document would allow the brand to experiment more while still being consistent and true to itself.
As mentioned earlier, your brand should help combat decision fatigue when it comes to your business. While it is not your ‘end-all, be-all’ document that is followed to the T, your brand should serve as your north star and help guide you to make the right decisions. If you’re integrating a new brand into an already running company, then you’ll want to look at everything you do from a new perspective. If you’re just starting from scratch, then your brand will help guide your decisions before you launch.
We face tons of decisions each day and every one of those wear down our ability to think clearly and logically. The harder we need to think about the decision, the less energy we are left with at the end of the day. Your brand should help carry and guide decisions so that you don’t have to think as much about each thing you’re doing.
Here is an example of how leveraging your brand reduces the strain on decision making.
Let’s say you are developing your first ever ad set for your new business. There are a handful of variables to consider here like: audience, tone of voice, visual style, photography, copywriting, content grouping. Initially, these variables open up a pandoras box of options and ideas right? You might know your audience, but how do you need to speak to them? Is your tone of voice one of an expert on the material, or do you take a casual approach? If you’re speaking to them casually, how should that appear versus if you spoke to them professionally? The point is that it’s very easy to get wrapped up in micro decisions like this that affect your ability to stay on point all day.
Now let’s assume you have a well made brand foundation and a corresponding guidelines document. Each variable that you need to consider should be as simple as going down a list and matching up the respective answer. You know your audience and how you should speak to them? Yep. Your visual style reflects your approach towards your customers? Sure do. You understand your customer base so well you can make sub segments so the ads feel personalized? Oh you bet. As you can see, it becomes a game of becoming efficient with your brand’s information and how it’s implemented and less of “we’ll figure it out when we get there”.
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