Key Principles to Building a Brand

When it comes to building your business and your brand, there are a few key principles to help get you going and keep you in business:

Keep it Concise

You need to be able to explain what it is you do in as few words as possible. Be that your tagline on Linkedin or a killer elevator pitch on hand ready to pull out as required, you have to be able to boil it down to something simple and concise.

*JAGGAR's elevator pitch is as follows: * JAGGAR International is the ultimate online resource for the discerning, ambitious woman and seeks to mentor young women and seasoned executives alike in the pursuit of success and entrepreneurship.

Here's another one: Rosie Remotely is a virtual assistance and web design service offering clients exceptional, professional assistance - worldwide and on any timetable, allowing your business to reclaim lost time without the HR headache or FTE expense.

Even go shorter if you can! It needs to be easy to memorise and pull out at a second's notice. A tagline is always great too, like Nike's "Just Do It" or Harlow Garland's "Happily Ever After Starts Here" - they're concise, to the point, and give a view to what the company stands for and is about without the need for extensive description.

Keep it Simple

Our generation and the one following are notoriously lazy. We have everything at out fingertips already but every day we complain that we need things faster, smaller, bigger, stronger, more flexible - contradiction after contradiction but there it is. You need to make it easy or you're not going to get buy in and that applies regardless of what your selling and especially so if you're internet based. Dumb it down, make it obvious, make navigations on your site blatantly obvious and minimal. Make it logical, make it obvious, make it easy.

Tell Me Why

Why should anyone work with you? You need to differentiate yourself from the pack and make it obvious what that difference is. If you're a luxury service when your competitors are on the lower end, you have your market cornered and you're telling people that you're there to offer the higher end. If you have a fabulous reputation for something - service, price, quality etc, leverage that - that's what you should be pitching. People need a good reason to pick you or they simply won't.

Constantly Improve

You're never 'finished'. Your business is never done. Even the giants continue to churn out new ideas, new extensions, new partnerships to grow and build on their company's foundation. Launching a company with one product and no plan for expansion is generally foolish with the odd exception but even the exceptions irk out new ways to reach people, and draw in repeat business. You must be constantly looking for ways to improve or expand or your competitors will leave you in the dust.

Creating Authority in Your Brand

It's so easy these days to create a website using a user-friendly template and platform, throw up some basic information, a shiny Shopify tie-in store and some social media shares and call yourself a business but unfortunately, with such ease of set up, there's a vast number of businesses out there that are simply looks with no substance. They're businesses that have been set up to make a quick buck rather than out of the authority of experience.

While some of these businesses will see rampant success due to an overdilution of brand bombs through social media and brand alignment, your business - which is likely to be more authorative, may not stand a chance because people get used to solely seeing the 'show' and not the substance.

Your brand needs to be an authority on its industry. It needs to offer something that others do not, it needs to come from a foundation of honest-to-goodness hard work and determination and the experience of establishing relationships with clients and suppliers to reflect this.

Other than the exceptions above, a well-crafted web presence will only get you so far, there needs to be value behind the work, behind the brand. You also can't launch onto the industry scene and call yourself an authority right away either, you won't win friends in the industry and you won't win the right clientele either. Focus more on establishing the right industry relationships, partnering with other industry businesses where possible to create a kinship that clients will relate to and from which you can get good word of mouth from those industry insiders.

Focus on education - learning everything you need to know about the industry, the business, your competitors and create a business model that reflects the values you want your business to emulate and the experience you can contribute to the industry.

You also need to ensure your business has a point of difference. So many businesses these days effectively just copy what someone else has created - jumping in at the entry point instead of putting in the work, trying to poach clients, but again, this kind of business isn't going to last long. Your business needs to achieve a level of respect and credibility that is only achieved through establishing relationships and making a name for yourself associated with professionalism and quality.

Commit to the work on your business' foundation before you launch unprepared and spend time educating yourself in as many ways possible to ensure that when the time comes, you can begin establishing yourself as a credible authority in your industry. You can't build a skyscraper without a solid foundation and you can't create credibility from a pop-up business.

Good things take time. Authority is achieved not awarded. Cultivate your brand image and the clientele and industry respect will come.

Choosing Your Brand Name

You've decided to go out on your own and forge your own way in business, you have a plan, you have your product or service and you have the passion, for your business, now - what do you call it?

This is where so many people get stuck and delay launching because while you can give yourself a nickname if you don't like the name you were born into, for your business, it's a lot more difficult - logistically, practically and just in terms of maintaining business.

Here are a few tips for choosing your brand name:

Make it clear what you actually do

A brand name that doesn't actually include any detail about what service or product you're providing, is just downright confusing and may mean you lose out on valuable business, just because they don't understand what you do or who you are. If you're adamant that as business partners, you want to combine your names, then make sure you add in something relevant to your industry ie 'Pearson Specter Law' or 'Harlow Garland Weddings'. Once you're well known enough, you may have some play with the name and be able to drop the decscriptor but keep it there until you're a household name.

Don't use someone else's christian name as your brand name

Speaking of using names, something learned from Rosie Remotely Virtual Assistants and Web Design is that every client addresses them as 'Rosie' when they email in, even though the name is pluralised and references the reason why it is called 'Rosie Remotely' (after 'Rosey the Robot' from 'The Jetsons' who was their loyal assistant). Not only is it irritating to keep getting called by the wrong name but it's also just widly confusing for your clients to think they're contacting someone who doesn't exist.

Choose a name that resonates

Your name needs to be consistent with your brand and what your brand represents. Imagine you're considering plastic surgery and your options are between 'Insert Name Here Clinic" and "Jim's House of Noses", you're not likely to choose the latter because it conjures images of a sweatshop style surgery practice that appeals to no one. You're looking for a superior service, you're paying out the nose for it (excuse the pun) and so you're going to go with the brand that most resonates with quality.

Choose a name that is relevant and allows for expansion

I read a case study online about a business called something along the lines of 'Reusable Bags' which, you guessed it, sold resuable bags. but when it came time to expand into additional eco products, the brand name didn't reflect it. If you're planning to expand (which all business do at some stage), you need to prepare for it. Expansion should be part of your initial business plan in how you will grow the business 5 years, 10 years from now and so you should have an idea of what your future offering will be.

Make it easy to find

If a potential client hears about you through word of mouth and doesn't necessarily know that you spell 'Free' with a '3' instead of an 'e' or that your company uses NZ spelling rather than US spelling, you're going to run into issues when it comes to online searches, urls and SEO. Online, you can combat this by purchasing domain names that include alternate spellings and rerouting them to your actual domain but it's easier to start out with a brand name that is easy to pick up and find in the first place.

Make your choice of brand name an intentional decision, one that you've put thought into and haven't just had spring into your mind. Research it to make sure it's not the same or similar to other brands to save yourself a headache later down the track when it comes to trademarks and make sure it's a brand name that has longevity. Your brand name will be with your forever (or until you sell) so it's important that your business' name really resonates with you, with what you're selling and the audience you're targeting.

Tips to Protect Your Startup

When you're building a startup, you're generally excited about your great idea, so excited that you want to share it - often before it's ready and often before you've built your brand. While the attitude is brilliant motivation and likely to help propel you through the startup process, it's also the prime time for lazy copycats to take your accidentally wholly publicised and unbranded idea, repackage it and sell it as their own. 

We've assembled four quick tips to help your protect your startup in the early days when you're most vulnerable: 

1.) Build hype without giving it away

Build a contacts list so that when you're ready to launch, you have an established customer base to directly market to. This can be done by using a landing page on your website where people can sign up to be the first to hear about your product or service, build hype about the brand without releasing the details of what it is or what your product or service is, just find your target demographic and market directly to them.

2.) Once you're ready to launch, hit the ground hard and fast

 Plan your PR ahead of time- whether it's through social media, print, guerilla, press releases or a combination of all, get a marketing strategy ready, schedule posts, prepare releases and make sure you hit the market with a bang. Not only does it help you launch to an excited public but it also deters copycats.

3.) Protect your brand

It's important in the early stages to plan your Intellectual Property Strategy. The early days are where you're most vulnerable to copycats, before your brand is fully developed, before your customer base knows your brand, knows what it represents. Be proactive - Business.govt.nz ad IPONZ.govt.nz have teamed up to provide a veritable font of IP knowledge on the Business.govt.nz site with easy to follow infographics and how-tos to help you work out what needs to be protected and when. Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents are your friend when you're just starting out.

4.) Put a face to your brand

Customers (and suppliers) want to know who they're dealing with. Especially so if you're a small business. Whether you're a brick and mortar brand or an online presence, if your customer base is familiar with who you are- the face behind the brand, they're not only more likely to identify with your brand but also more likely to defend it when the second rate replicas come out of the woodwork.