When should I start branding my business?
Branding is one of the most important aspects of a business, and often is one of the first large investments a company makes. Simply put, branding is what your customer/clients can expect from your business. This encompasses so many facets of your business, but today I wanted to chat about the most visual part: the brand identity, which includes the logo, photography, and look + feel of your brand.
A successful brand identity sets your business apart from competition, and gives you an edge. It establishes you as an expert in your field, and builds trust in your audience. But when should you invest in a new brand identity? Here are a few reasons why it might be the right time to get serious about your branding. Stay tuned until the end for a
PDF on the 5 steps to start building your brand.
The best time to begin the branding process is when you just established a business. It seems a bit paradoxical, but depending on the industry + seriousness of your new business, it is wise to start off on the right foot. A quality brand identity not only establishes your business as professional, it also attracts your ideal customers/clients. If you don’t want to waste time in your business, I would recommend investing in quality branding from the get go, to ensure that you are conveying your message + vision in its best light.
Though, being a small business myself, I completely understand holding off on large investments until you have generated a bit of income to pay for it. If you are in this boat, hop on over to a recent post about
how to brand yourself without spending money
. This is a short-term temporary solution, but should suffice until you have saved up for the branding investment.
If you recently changed your business name, for instance from your personal name to an external name, then re-branding makes sense. Typically, when a business changes names it goes through other transitions as well. This could include new services, a different approach to their existing services/products, or a revitalized outlook on their brand. With all of these changes, it is nice to also give your brand identity a fresh face.
A new brand identity will also indicate the transition to your audience. It will visually tell them that something new is going on behind the scenes. The new brand identity provides an opportunity to build hype around the transition, and to explain the new direction of your business.
New Product or E-course
If you already have an existing business, but decide to create products or e-courses, it could be wise to brand these separately than your current branding. This is a gray area in branding in that there is no universal agreement on the best method, and it definitely depends on your unique brand on how to handle the transition. This refers to the brand architecture, which is the hierarchy of brands within a single business.
The need for a new brand for a product or e-course relies on the nature of the brand extension. For my e-course, I opted to create a new brand identity, yet also allow it to relate to my current Spruce Rd. branding. I went this direction in order to set it apart from my existing branding, and to generate excitement about the course. If you decide to separate your product or e-course launch from your existing branding, it is important that you maintain synergy between the the product and the parent company. An example of this is Oreo and Nabisco. Nabisco, the parent company, has its existing brand and a series of products underneath it. Oreo has its own branding, because it serves a unique audience, but also benefits from the association with Nabisco.
As you can see, this can get a bit muddy! I ran into this situation frequently when I worked in-house at a university. Each department, student organization or event was at question on how to best brand it. The best takeaway is to make sure the new product or e-course aligns with your existing brand, and maintains the integrity of the brand recognition you have already established.
If your brand is strong enough, and if your products are all complimentary of each other, you could stick with your existing branding. This has been the case with Apple. They have multiple products, yet maintain the same branding for each launch. Whether it is an iPhone, macbook, or apple watch, the branding is easily recognizable as Apple. This has definite benefits to solidifying their brand, however this tactic does not work as well if a brand offers an array of products that don’t compliment each other. Apple products have similar functions, and are all in the tech field. If your products are too contrasting, I recommend treating them with their own brand.
Once two companies merge, it is a great time to communicate the exciting transition to your audience. There are many ways to communicate the merge, one of which being a fresh brand identity. This can get a bit tricky as well, depending on the brand loyalty of the two businesses.
Ready to Up-level
If you didn’t invest in a brand identity when you initially created your business, you will most likely have a turning point where you are ready to take your business to the next level. Once you are more serious about the longevity of your business, I recommend one of your first investments should be branding. Quality branding builds trust, and will definitely allow your business to establish itself as professional.
I think it also depends on your target audience. If your ideal customers are creatives then having a strong, visual brand from the beginning is important for business.
I can understand needing to wait before investing in design and photography services until you have a “larger audience” however you risk losing some of your current audience when you make that transition.
Hey Monica! I definitely agree, and such a great point! It really does depend on your audience. Obviously for my business, I invested a lot of time into my branding, and money into my custom website! DIY branding for businesses should only be a temporary solution until they can invest in branding + web. It is a tough balance between staying debt-free in your business + establishing yourself as a professional in your field! Thanks for stopping by, I always love your insight!
Love that! The old “fake it ’till you make it!” I totally agree with you that you should really invest in your brand…even a little bit of money can go a long way from just a DIY job!
Good stuff Jamie, I’m in the process of narrowing down on how to rebrand my lifestyle blog and design business and if I want to merge them into one or still keep them as separate entities. Since neither are official businesses, it’s the perfect time to work on how I want to move forward. I know my blog needs a major overhaul since I outgrew the name and I’d rather have something less niche specific and instead can grow to what I have in mind.
Thanks Shae! That is such a tough decision, when you have two brands that don’t necessarily compliment each other! Best of luck!