Timing is everything

These days everybody’s talking about brands, they’re the new celebrities. As a brand design studio we often meet with entrepreneurs and innovators with a plan that’s sure to be a winner!

They will mention Uber or Airbnb and tell us they want to come out of the starting blocks strong, hit the ground running and make a splash. Then we tell them we’ll put our heads together and come back with a proposal to deliver what they want. Which we do, and the conversation rarely goes much further.

You see, quite often this is the wrong time to be talking to a branding consultancy. For all the talk of agile and lean approaches, there is still a certain amount of rigour, process and ultimately time that needs to be accounted for in order to create and deliver something of substance. This all costs money. Money which, in many cases (hospitality and fashion aside), would be better invested in their product or service, and many entrepreneurs are smart enough to know this.

So they employ a young designer (a friend of the family perhaps) or get a five dollar logo and a Squarespace website. If they really do have a good idea and the balls to get it off the ground, this is usually enough to get them started.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is if your business starts getting traction and growing, you’ll eventually find that DIY design is holding you back. There’s a turning point in the life of every brand. A coming-of-age when fledgling entrepreneurial ventures must compete with much bigger businesses and deeper pockets. In order to scale they must convince more people of the merits of their product or service, persuade them to change behaviour and opt for something new. That’s never easy and it takes a certain alchemy to make it work.

Add to this the myriad of challenges that scaling brings to enterprises in terms of people and culture, and it’s no wonder that without clear direction and alignment things can quickly get out of control.

Despite this, we meet many successful entrepreneurs who view branding as unnecessary. They’ve come this far without it so why should they need it now? For them, branding is a cost that they can do without. Many fail to realise that pivotal moment between sitting on the cusp of greatness, and sitting by on the sidelines as somebody more charismatic swoops in and steals the show.

Our challenge as a brand consultancy is to help business owners realise that an investment in their brand is as important as investing in their product or service, but only when the time is right.

So how do you know when to invest in design for your business? Unfortunately there’s no simple answer to this. The triggers vary, but here are a few things that we’ve heard from clients in the past:

  • “We got a lot of traffic from PPC ad campaigns but they don’t stay on our site or follow through with a purchase.”
  • “We have plenty of repeat customers, but we can’t seem to attract new ones.”
  • “We tried to raise our price point but customers and retailers dropped off.”
  • “Once people try our product they love us, but it’s so hard to get them over the line.”
  • “We often get invited to tender but we seldom convert those into projects.”
  • “People don’t understand the difference between us and our competitors.”
  • “Staff retention is a problem, our best people don’t stay for long.”
If any of these sound familiar, it might be time to invest in your brand.

A strong brand communicates value and allows you to target specific price points and markets. It can build trust, loyalty and improve conversion rates. A strong brand clarifies, simplifies and identifies. It sets you apart.

So remember, what once served its purpose may no longer give you the competitive edge you need when the stakes have been raised. Is it time to invest in your brand?

If that’s you, why not get in touch? We offer a free brand assessment workshop by way of introduction. Think of it as a health check for your brand.

Written by Gareth Procter

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