Why new business owners should NEVER spend big on their first brand

WATCH THIS EPISODE ANSWERING HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD YOU INVEST IN YOUR BRAND

How much money should you invest in your brand? Well, there’s actually a way to work this out, to feel confident that you’re not spending too much (or too little) by answering one small question…. and that question is what I’m going to help you answer right here in this video.

The question to answer then is…

How long have you been in business and which stage is your business really in?

Then when you jump into the main content you need to reveal that the question people need to answer is…

How long have you been in business?

IT’S DIAGRAM TIME

Let’s begin with this quick diagram then.

Here you can see the different stages of any brand and indeed a business. Startup to Growth to Maturity to Rebirth or Decline.

It doesn’t matter what you do, this is the model you are in as a business owner. Correctly identifying where you really sit in this is where a lot of people make mistakes. The wrong assumption about what phase you’re in can then be compounded when you start justifying what budget you ought to allocate to investing in your brand.

Let’s go a little bit deeper then.

START UP PHASE

You can return to being in start-up phase multiple times in a small business. Whenever you pivot what you’re doing, or you change direction it’s fair to say that you are returning to start-up phase in your branding.

When I began my portraiture business years ago, I foolishly went to a full-service agency to get my brand started. In a swanky office in a board room, I was given a presentation and a quote that made me choke on my cappuccino. I felt really unsure that the agency had interpreted me and my new business. I made a bunch of excuses and got myself out of that awkward sales situation as quickly as possible.

Looking back on this I shake my head at myself AND at the agency.

9 years down the road, I now think that the agency who tried to sell their all-in branding package to me was irresponsible. I’m also happy to shoulder the responsibility here too. It was foolish to think of sorting my brand out as a quick tick box exercise.

MVP – MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT

When pursuing a new direction or a new business, it’s a smart idea to avoid heavily investing in branding, it’s highly likely that who you serve, how you serve and what you serve will be in a state of flux whilst you find your feet. It’s good to experience a few nightmare clients to develop your ideal client avatar.

When you know precisely who you want to serve, you will be in a much better place to de-brief any creative supplier to create a brand that will work for you.

5 QUICK INDICATORS THAT YOU ARE IN START UP PHASE

  1. Your Processes are not set in stone. You’re still tweaking your business model.
  2. There are no clear job descriptions because whoever works in your business wears many hats.
  3. You still can’t succinctly answer the question “Who is your ideal client?”
  4. You haven’t made much money on your product or service even after giving sales a solid try. This could mean you aren’t selling properly or what your selling is simply not in enough demand.
  5. You’ve been in business for years but in that time, you’ve changed what you’re doing and who you do it for. Even though you have a few scars and bruises you are in Start Up Phase.
I’ve just seen @laurapcreative #MwahTV episode about why you SHOULDN'T spend big on a brand! What an interesting story! Click To Tweet

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD YOU INVEST IN YOUR BRAND – IN START UP PHASE

So, if you’re in the start-up phase take the DIY bootstrapping approach towards your branding until you know that what your selling is truly viable. It’s at this point you want to be working with different creative suppliers to help you on the more technical things you can’t bootstrap on your own. Again, you’re going to have nightmare experiences when working with different people. When you find your people the experience feels joyful. They fully understand you and you actually feel happy to spend your money with them because you understand the value that they are bringing, you’re confident that the investment in what they do is actually a bigger re-investment into your business.

GROWTH PHASE

The growth phase is all about the right investment to grow in the right way. From a branding perspective this is also when you really want to affirm your position in your share of the marketplace you operate in.

Investing in internal branding alongside building up your team is key at this point. A team that doesn’t understand your brand properly can significantly inhibit the speed and success of growth. It’s at this point where all of those previously tested out relationships with creative suppliers should be assured. Investing in a longer-term outlook as opposed to lots of odd jobs is where you can start getting your suppliers to give you even more value in their recommendations and how they work with your business.

5 QUICK INDICATORS THAT YOU ARE IN GROWTH PHASE

  1. You know you’ve found your creative people.
  2. You are in the process of building up your team to help you grow.
  3. Your forecasted sales feel predictable because you know who you serve best, and they enjoy depending on your brand.
  4. You have plotted out how to expand your team even further.
  5. You are in a confident place about saying no to the things that do not suit your plans.

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD YOU INVEST IN YOUR BRAND – IN GROWTH PHASE

So, if you’re in the growth phase you need to be investing wisely ESPECIALLY with your brand.  This can involve educating your team as well as your clients properly on the nuances of the brand you’ve bootstrapped.

At face value, this can seem quite tedious to you, but its wise investments like this that help you grow more sustainably and begin to remove yourself out of being stuck in the day-to-day.

WHAT PHASE ARE YOU IN?

I’m really interested to know which phase you identify with the most, so here is a personal invitation from me to tell which phase you’re in below in the comments.

MATURITY PHASE

5 QUICK INDICATORS THAT YOU ARE IN MATURITY PHASE

  1. Your business is consistently growing about 5% annually and your first employees are now reaching their 8-10 year employment anniversary.
  2. You should feel the most secure in your journey so far.
  3. You are taking regular dividends.
  4. Professional management should be running the day-to-day business. At this point you’re there just for the emergencies whilst considering your next step.
  5. Your brand is recognised, you know that when people talk about it they are sharing the key messages you’ve worked hard to craft in a creative team.

The beauty of being in this phase is that you have the cashflow in your business to defend your place in the market. Having built up brand recognition, it’s in this phase that you need to begin considering the next step. This could be cashing out and moving on or grow in a new way or new market. Regardless of which path you want to take with your brand, this phase of business requires some focus on your brand equity.

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD YOU INVEST IN YOUR BRAND – IN MATURITY PHASE

Working with existing creative suppliers to get the best out of them. The beauty of building a great working relationship pays real dividends now. They ought to be coming to you with backed up recommendations for helping you to prepare to cash out or go through the re-birth phase of your business. So, if you’re in the maturity phase you can be claiming that amazing payback from the investment you made when growing in your creative team. Call upon them more now, use their advice and recommendations to inform you on the right call for the next stage of your business.

REBIRTH/DECLINE PHASE

5 QUICK INDICATORS THAT YOU ARE IN REBIRTH/DECLINE PHASE

  1. Your revenue has declined for three consecutive quarters.
  2. You are well aware of competition who serve the same people you do at the same price, and their businesses are doing better than yours.
  3. You are more focused on the money you can get in a cash out to the point where you’d rather not invest on anything new.
  4. For some more savvy business owners, this is a phase they embrace and actively have on repeat. Actively exploring new markets and new ideas whilst keeping another area of your business in growth or maturity makes things far easier for rebirth and re-investment.
  5. Rebranding with solid strategy is necessary. A shallow facelift at this phase is probably not going to make everything better for your business. This phase is about significant updates.

Brand equity can now be easily calculated based on the preparations you put in place in the last phase of your business.

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD YOU INVEST IN YOUR BRAND – IN REBIRTH/DECLINE PHASE

This means when you’re dealing with a cash-out or exploring new services or a different market you have all of the information you need to make the right decision. Part of this work should involve new market analysis, and a real understanding of your brand perception in these new markets

So, if you’re in the rebirth/decline phase it’s all about gathering the right branding data together to support you in your next move. If you’ve done things the right way you reliable and trusted team of creatives can do this with you if the lack of creative investment is what has to lead you to this point you’re going to need to invest fresh on getting this data together to avoid repeating the mistake again.

IF YOU ARE NOT 100% SURE ON DIRECT COMPETITION

Get a grip on the market place you operate in as well as an objective view of where your competition REALLY is. I show you how to do this by using the Fish Market with The Photography Market.

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