Most of us had a million-dollar idea at least once in our lifetime. It's when you think of something completely new, spot the concept yet to be implemented in your city, or something like that. You know that the idea you came up with is excellent. Only to find out a year later that somebody has already done it while you were sitting actionless. And, who would've thought, it's killing it, and everybody loves it.
If only you had a What?
What should you have to done to turn your idea into a brand effectively? Let's delve into this question to find out.
First Things First - What and Why
To create a successful brand, you have to start with a good idea to implement. I know, revolutionary, right? But no matter how obvious this step might look, a few handy details will help you craft better ideas and increase their chances to fruit rather than die in the early stages of the venture.
Let's start with the basics. First, you need to answer two simple questions, what and why?
What is the easiest one. It determines what you want to do. Basically, what the whole business idea would be. But even here, you can step into a booby trap - most newbies think their What before their Why and soon find out their idea is irrelevant to most. But in reality, you first need to spot the problem and then offer a solution, not vice versa.
Your idea needs a purpose to survive. Unfortunately, "I don't want to work in the office 9 to 5" is not a very strong Why. Well, for you, but not for the customers, who are more concerned about their well-being than yours.
Generally speaking, there are a few kinds of purposes:
Upsides: Complete lack of competition, strong wow effect, progressive image
Downsides: Inability to analyze demand, high risk of rejection, no developed market
This category is for new products or services that never existed or are unknown in your area. It is best suited for tech brands and startups. Implementing such ideas might take a lot of resources, time, and expertise. Statistically speaking, the failure rate of these innovative brands is over the top, with the success percentage for first-time founders being around 18%. But like any other high-risk - high-reward venture, it will do wonders if it works.
Better Quality of Life
Upsides: Clear demand, low brand awareness cost, low customer acquisition cost
Downsides: Limited scalability, limited market size, average profitability
This category is for the brands which do not necessarily innovate but make the lives of their community better. Let's say there are no family restaurants in your neighborhood or absolutely zero decent gyms around the block. Such business ideas are local and won't make you a unicorn, but the demand is there, and the customers will only require a little effort to engage with the brand.
Upsides: Existing market, an opportunity to learn from failures of others, a lot of successful brands to take examples from.
Downsides: Huge competition, high marketing costs, and high customer acquisition costs.
This one is for the brands that add more choices. Usually, these are clothing brands, retail stores, and other similar places. The obvious perk is that you will have tons of case studies and prime examples to take inspiration from without spending time and money developing all those insights yourself. But while it's less risky business in terms of understanding your audience and establishing the demand, you will have to spend significantly more resources on making yourself visible and relevant in the sea of competition.
Of course, there are other, more specific purposes, but most brands lie in one of the three mentioned above. So choose your Why carefully and mind the upsides and downsides of each of them.
Now, after the base is touched, let's proceed to branding.
Basic Branding - Whom and How
Let's say you have your idea set and ready to go. The next step would be making it into something real and tangible. And for that, you need branding.
But the trick is to not start with the naming, logo, website, and all the standard attributes of the brand, but with the question much more important to the longevity of your brand - whom you will sell it to. In other words, your audience.
Studies show that only 42% of businesses have basic knowledge of their audience, including basic parameters such as name, age, gender, or geographical location. It means that almost 60% of business owners have zero clue about who they are dealing with. But if you don't know who you should be appealing to, how would you know what they find appealing? Because the only task of branding is to create a specific image in your audience's heads, making them see, like, and remember you.
So first, you need to sort out your Whom issue. Create a general customer profile of your core audience.
The most basic data that you need to do that is:
- Gender Ratio (male/female)
- Age range
- Income Level
- Education Level
- Needs (should correlate with your brand's purpose)
Of course, there are many other helpful pieces of information to gather and analyze, but knowing at least that data will make branding much more manageable.
After gaining a basic understanding of your target audience, we can finally get to the branding phase of the party.
So, finally, we're heading to our How.
How to Brand Without Going Broke
There are countless types of branding, including personal, corporate, product, service, online, offline, etc.
No matter what you're working with, any brand should have a foundation to build upon. It's called brand pillars. And there are five of them. Purpose. Personality. Positioning. Perception. Promotion.
The Five-P formula. We've already cruised through a Purpose part, so let's look at the second P - Personality.
There are a few main ways to develop a brand's personality in branding.
- Visual identity - logo, design, fonts, brand colors, etc.
- Personal identity - naming, social network handles, etc
- Storytelling - long reads, bios, articles, posts, and videos
Each brand has to have a combination of those three. But you don't have to get everything done at once. In fact, you shouldn't.
A "founding duo" in branding is logo + naming. Those two attributes are must-haves. Generally, they are the first two pieces of branding every brand undergoes. To learn how to get those two parts right, we'll have to write an individual guide for each of them, and we will later in the series.
But one thing is sure; those two attributes are the most essential point of contact with your audience. That's why it's wise not to neglect them and hire an expert to help you.
Generally, your branding would go much smoother should you stick to a few simple rules.
Those rules are:
Make sure you cover resources your core audience uses often. There is no need to rip your budget developing a website if your brand targets people aged 18-25 whose primary point of contact is either Instagram or TikTok. Sure, the more, the better, but you'll be much happier using your limited resources on what is really needed, expanding your brand naturally when the time comes.
Choose branding that your audience would like, not you. Many brand owners treat their brands like a passion project, even calling them their children. But the difference between the child and the business is that you won't be selling the subscription for your kid for $9,99 to anyone ready to pay. So with branding, you should always prioritize your audience's taste first if you want to build brand loyalty without throwing tons of money into it.
There is much more to learn about building brands smoothly. And as you can see, turning an idea into a brand takes much more planning than some might think. To have an effective brand, you have to build an effective system. It's always much easier to lay a foundation for the big house rather than constantly add ugly extensions to what you've got and change things on the go.
So do not be afraid to think big and to act big as well!