By Nick Barthram Founder and Strategy Partner at Firehaus, a brand consultancy
Having a clear and compelling brand when you’re looking to grow and scale your business is absolutely crucial. Often this is downplayed, the logic going something like ‘I have a unique product, it’s driven success to date, and isn’t that ultimately what people buy?’ It’s easy to believe brand isn’t a priority at the early stages of growth, but this logic is flawed.
Others will not perceive your uniqueness and strength with the clarity that you do as a founder. Investors, for example, are looking for evidence that prospective investments have their brand sorted and a plan in place for driving it forward. Unfortunately, that evidence often isn’t there.
So, before you skip over your brand in the rush to grow and scale, consider these brand fundamentals:
Start building your brand from the get-go. Some experts believe that investing in a brand too soon is a sign of a weak business idea. In reality, it’s more likely that early spend is propping up a bad start-up. On the assumption that you have a strong business idea, investing in brand communications will help you grow faster. The sooner you start developing your brand, the better.
Don’t mistake your brand assets for your brand essentials
Your logo and name are brand assets, not your brand fundamentals. A strong brand is rooted in the purpose of the business. Understanding what you want to achieve with your brand powers your business from the inside and helps you communicate your strengths relative to your competition.
Know when to change tack
Your early adopter audience is savvy and motivated to translate your product features into a benefit they need. But once this audience has been exhausted, you’ll need to tap into a more mainstream audience who are far less engaged. This is when you want to switch from focusing on product features and instead aim to become known for the problems you solve. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you notice a sales plateau and make the most of valuable time.
Embed your brand internally
Communicate and live your core ideology internally and it will power your business from the inside. The faster your team grows, the more important it becomes to talk about your foundation. The beliefs and values that launched your company can be a vital part of energising and focusing your team.
Remember your competitors are those who solve the same problem, not just those selling similar products
Though you might have spent years honing an innovative product and making it the best it can be, it’s worth remembering that creating a stand-apart product isn’t the same as creating a completely new category. Firms compete on problems, not products. Your competition is therefore any company that solves the same problem.
Understanding and implementing these five fundamentals will ensure you aren’t making mistakes that ultimately underpin your growth strategy. Your brand will reward you for giving it the time and attention it needs.