So you’ve decided to start a business and you have a name, product or service idea and experience in marketing … great! Now it’s time to work on your brand strategy. Starting a business is not cheap or for the faint of heart, so before you decide to get a DBA, domain name and bank account -make sure you consider the other parts of the business too.
1.) Start with Brand Identity
Ideally you’ll want to hire a company that specializes in brand identity which includes logo, package and website design. Cost is usually $18,000- $30,000. There is a team of experts that give you a professional blueprint and cohesive detailed designs that can almost guarantee success amongst competitors.
Right now I am working on a product launch for a wellness beverage subscription service, so I reached out to Ludlow Kingley based on their portfolio. We had an initial phone call last week and I will be meeting them in their Silverlake office before making a decision the week after next. I will also continue to research designers that can capture the holistic essence that I’m looking for to compare pricing and strategies.
If you’re a small business without that much capital, you still have to figure out who you are as a brand. Figuring out the essence of your brand is knowing the heart and soul of it; it is the single intangible attribute that differentiates the brand from competitive brands as perceived by the audience. Which brings me to suggest knowing your target audience on an intimate level. Build a character profile of your typical client or customer; do they work, do they have kids, did they to college… If you’re opening a store or targeting people in a specific city, look up the city’s data here to help identify the general cost of living to help you with pricing.
As for the logo, package and website design on a budget – there are ways to save money here, but you get what you pay for. You can try Fiverr for a simple logo design. They offer more services, but I’ve only used this site for the Fit Girl Club logo as well as Love Match logo; both are common font and only cost about $10 each. You can also hire a graphic designer a la carte where logos can start at $800. For website design, splurge to buy a template on Squarespace that you like if you’re providing a service or build one on Shopify if you’re selling products. For a subscription service like the one I want to do, there is a plug-in you can add to ship monthly products on Shopify.
Check out the sample Brand Identity proposal that I received when I consulted for luxury eco fashion designer Linda Loudermilk from PS Designs: LindaLoudermilk_PS
2.) Consider Public Relations
If you’re able to manufacture enough product to scale for growth, then consider hiring a public relations firm to ensure credibility for your brand. You’ll want to first make a list of all the publications and/or blogs that you want your brand to be in and don’t hold back. Then do research on like-minded brands to find out who they work with – you can usually find it on their website. With a list of where you’d like your brand pitched – you will eliminate wasted time and money when hiring someone for public relations. You’ll have to let them know where you want to be, so they can pitch to the right people but they come with extraordinary ideas too.
“If you do decide to invest in PR, make sure to hire someone at least three months before your brand’s launch since some editors plan their content 1-2 months in advance,” according to Laide Akao, account executive at Dunn Pellier Media. I’ve gotten many quotes from firms in Los Angeles and it usually ranges from $2,500-$7,500 per month. You may also receive exclusive invitations to industry events for networking and press opportunities to help with content development.
Without PR, you are an unknown person soliciting a product to a very busy editor without loyalty to consider what you’ve got – but you can still do it! Start by writing and submitting a press release to your list of chosen publications or networks; you can find out how to submit one usually on each organization’s website.
3.) Chief Marketing Officer
Designate someone to specifically analyze data and demographics for your ads on social media and email marketing campaigns. Sound complicated? The good news is there is a company that you can outsource called Hawke Media.
You can also learn how to measure your Facebook ads on your own for a better ROI here and/or hire a young social media manager for roughly $250/ month.
4.) Content Marketing Strategist
Content is king for monthly marketing strategies these days! In addition to live video, people like brands that constantly update with photography. Set up a photoshoot for your brand by hiring a professional photographer, model, make up/hair artist and producer to tell the story of your brand. What is the lifestyle of what you do or sell? Create an inspiration board of photos that you like from other brands. You can hire a producer or create a shot list of places that describe your brand with styling that depicts what you sell and work with a photographer yourself. Go live during events!
I just created a content strategy for a website that I’m consulting for called Day/Axe. Through photos that will depict the experience of using a day pass at a luxury hotel, we can better communicate the lifestyle on social media. I am hosting a yoga and pool party where we’ll capture photos and the essence of kicking back, relaxing and having fun with friends – which is what Day/Axe is as an experience.
5.) Sales Representative
What would a business be without sales? This is equally as important as the idea itself! How does the business plan to make money? My favorite part of the process is figuring out how to add value to the customer without compromising the price of product or service. To guarantee sales, there is an art to making people feel like they spent their money well. I love to do this with giveaways, social media accolades or promotions.
As I read from many business publications, it has been interesting that brick and mortar stores are closing and some product companies even regretting going into retail at all. The future of the platform in which you decide to sell on all have things to consider when developing the sales strategy; the question starts with if you are direct-to-consumer or direct-to-retail or both. If you’re both, you compete with your customers. If you’re planning to put your product in retail stores or offer a service, you’ll have to create & maintain relationships through networking and research or hire someone with these contacts. The only real problem with products in stores is keeping up with inventory on large purchase orders, but it’s great if you can fulfill orders, have a product in demand and a motivated sales person.
Everything can be figured out – that is the joy in the process of starting a business! We are so fortunate to live in America where we can start a business with little to no experience, but if you hire smarter than you and build a team of support around you – anything is possible.