Knowing the exact right time to invest in creating a cohesive brand for your small business is not always intuitive. There are many factors to take into consideration. I would argue that it's never too late to go through the branding process, but there are situations where it might be too early. You want to make sure you have some key items identified and determined about your business before branding, otherwise you might invest a good amount of money for something that you will likely end up changing once those decisions have been solidified.
I spent a lot of time reflecting on whether this branding process was a right decision for me at this time in my business journey and I am confident I made the right choice based on a few key factors. Hopefully these factors can also help you decide if you are ready to invest in the branding process or if you need to make a few more decisions before you jump in.
Here are three ways to determine if you are ready to take that leap and hire a designer and brand your business!
You have identified your ideal client
This is absolutely key to creating your brand. Knowing who you are trying to attract ties into many different aspects regarding your brand style and personality. Colors, fonts, style and tone of the language used in your website and communications can all be tailored to attract certain types of clients.
If you are considering branding yet you are still at a point where you haven't narrowed down your ideal client you will lack focus when trying to choose elements for your brand. When I say "ideal client" I don't mean something general like "families" or "brides". I made this mistake when I first started my business. I wanted to attract families, but that term is so broad that when it came time to make decisions about how to market, what to market and where to market, I was left scratching my head. The choices were endless and exhausting.
There is nothing wrong with identifying a specific type of client you want to attract to do business with. I would argue that doing this in fact leads to the most successful business relationships. My partnership with Lauren for my branding was so successful because I was the exact type of client she is looking to attract. Because we are on the same page it diminishes the propensity for confusion, lack of understanding and disatisfaction with the final product.
Narrowing down the exact type of client you want to attract to do business with can be scary at first. It may feel like you are excluding large segments of people who you know in life on a daily basis. In reality however, you aren't excluding anyone, you are just narrowing your focus to attract clients who will be ideal partners for what you have to provide.
You have chosen (and you understand) your business model
There are seemingly endless business models to choose from as entrepreneurs. Actually, there are endless business models for all types of businesses out there. Now that I am in business for myself, I can't help but notice and pay attention to business models for all types of business that I utilize on a daily basis. Low cost leader, service provider, luxury/experience based models and the list goes on and on and on.
There are no "right" or "wrong" models in a general sense, but there is certainly an ideal model based on what you want to achieve in your business. If you want to have as many clients as possible and be high volume, low service then low cost leader might be for you. If you want to really take your time with every client and serve them in a way that's just not possible if you have high volume then more of a luxury/experience based model might be right for you.
The model you decide on is not the important part here, its choosing one and understanding exactly what that will mean for your business. Figuring out income goals, cost of doing business, product pricing and average income per client are not necessarily "sexy" parts of running a business but they are essential if you have any interest in achieving goals that you have set for yourself.
If you are still at a place where you aren't 100% sure which business model you want to put into place then branding will be a struggle for you. So much of your brand is intricately tied into how you do your business that many choices will be next to impossible for you if you don't have this decision made.
You have identified your "why"
A while back I talked about how important your "WHY" is to being in business. This is such a huge piece of information that gets lost for so many entrepreneurs, myself included. You find this thing that you enjoy doing and you are good at (photography, design, calligraphy etc...) and you jump in, but you don't have a bigger reason for being in business. Necessity is the mother of invention, but without addressing the "necessary" your services will just get lost in the oodles and oodles of others providing relatively the same service or product. Finding a need and meeting that need through your business pursuits will help you to stand out amongst the masses.
An argument could certainly be made that you don't 100% need a "why" in order to brand your business. In fact, I have seen some photographers out there who have some really good branding who also do not obviously have a bigger "why". However, I would argue that for continued growth, sustainability and the ability to stand out in a sea of sameness, integrating a strong "why" into your branding will only help you in the long run.
If you are at a point in your business where you have these three things solidified then you are ready to take the next step and really start working on the branding process. And if you are, I happen to know a great designer. ;-)
If you already have a brand established, did you have these three things figured out beforehand? Where are you in the process? I would love to hear from you!