How to Know if Investing in Your Brand is a Smart DecisionOct 08, 2018
Investing in your brand is a big decision.
It’s not just a financial investment, but an investment of your time and energy too.
Plus, there are so many places where you could invest in your business, how do you know if your brand is the right place to invest?
Then, if you decide you want to invest in your brand, how do you choose the right support so you get your money’s worth?
I get it.
But before I dive in, let’s address the elephant in the room: I’m a brand strategist, so I’m a little bit bias. That being said, I’m a business owner too and I’ve traveled the same path you’re on now.
I understand your desire to make smart investments in your business because I want to make smart investments in my business. So even though I'm biased, I’m going to give it to you straight (which is my goal. Always).
To help you know if branding is a smart decision for your business, let’s break this down into two parts:
- How to know if you should invest in your brand
- Once you know that you should invest in your brand, how do you do it in a smart way – so you get your money’s worth?
How to know if you should invest in your brand
While I believe that every business needs a professional and authentic brand to maximize their profit and impact, there are some situations where investing in your brand isn’t the smartest choice.
To determine if investing in your brand is a smart decision, ask yourself the following questions:
AM I READY?
Branding isn’t just for established business owners making millions. It can be extremely valuable for beginners too because the clearer you are about how you show up and the experience you create, the faster you will be able to attract clients and make money.
But at the same time, you do need to have a vision for the business you want to build. If you have no idea what you want to do or whom you want to serve, it’s best to get clarity on these things first. You’ll get the most value from your brand investment if you do.
CAN I AFFORD IT?
This is a tricky one because I truly believe in the power of investing in your business: investing money upfront, to see a return later. Most people don’t have a few extra thousand dollars laying around to invest in their brand, so if this is you, you’re not alone.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t afford it.
This just means that you need to take out a line of credit, create a fundraiser or borrow from a friend or family member.
On the other hand, if investing in your brand means your family will go hungry, then I’d say you legitimately can’t afford it. If this is your situation, start saving now so you can invest in your brand down the road.
AM I THINKING ABOUT INVESTING IN A NEW WEBSITE?
If you’re thinking about investing in a new website, the smart decision is to invest in your brand first.
Your brand makes up the building blocks of a powerful website, that not only looks great but is profitable too. The way your website looks, sounds, and the experience it creates for your website visitors, is what determines if they stick around and buy, or if they hit the back button never to return.
AM I THINKING ABOUT INVESTING TIME AND/OR MONEY INTO MARKETING MY BUSINESS?
Marketing activities are the places where your business comes in contact with future clients. For example public speaking, Facebook ads, social media, webinars, YouTube, etc.
Branding is the experience future clients have when they come in contact with your business through your marketing activities. Your brand experience is made up of things like your personality, values, opinions, and philosophy expressed through visuals and messaging that send a clear and consistent message to the world.
Branding and marketing are BFFs – they basically can’t survive without each other. Having a brand without marketing won’t do any good because no one will know about your business.
Marketing without branding won’t do any good because, while people might see you, they won’t understand you, they won’t think you’re credible and they won’t remember you later when they need your service.
So if you’re thinking about investing in marketing, great! But make sure you invest in a solid brand first to see a return on your marketing dollars.
AM I WILLING TO BE SEEN AND GET VULNERABLE?
You can invest in the most amazing brand in the world, but once it’s created, you must show up as the face of your brand to make it work for you!
This means being real, open and honest through the stories you share on your website, blog, social media and video.
If you’re not willing to be seen and get vulnerable, you won’t create the connection and trust required for people to want to give you their money.
DO I WANT MY BUSINESS TO REACH SIX OR SEVEN FIGURES?
Branding is essential for business owners who want to escalate their income, build a stand-out online and offline presence and make a global impact delivering their message.
But if your goal is to keep your business small and low-key, just working with a handful of one-on-one clients on the side, then investing in your brand might not be the best decision. You can probably achieve this simply with referrals from friends, family and happy clients.
How to get the most value from your brand investment
Ok, if you’ve read through the above questions and feel like investing in your brand is your next best move, here’s how to do it in a smart way – so you get your money’s worth.
PRIORITIZE LONGTERM VALUE OVER UPFRONT COST
Branding doesn’t have to cost a million dollars, but it’s also not the place to pinch pennies.
Your brand is the first impression potential clients have of you. And if they don’t feel trust and resonance within the first few seconds of interacting with your brand, they will leave and probably never return. Poof: that’s $6,000 (<= insert your program price here) that you might as well have just flushed down the toilet.
A smart branding investment is never the cheapest option. When you hire a designer on Fiverr or somewhere similar, the price is cheap, but so is the design. This ends up costing you time and money in the long run because you end up having to hire someone more experienced to redo what was created.
The smart branding investment is to hire an experienced professional who can get it right the first time.
MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND IS BACKED BY STRATEGY
A smart brand investment is so much more than a pretty design, it needs to be backed by strategy.
- How does your brand stand out in the market?
- Who is your brand aiming to attract?
- What are your brand’s values and opinions?
- How do you want people to feel when they engage with your brand?
- What topics does your brand speak about?
- What is the consistent experience your brand delivers?
- What is your brand story?
- How will your team deliver your brand across your business?
- How do your brand’s voice and visual identity align with all of the above?
These are just some strategic questions that need to be answered to ensure your brand will survive out there in the world.
DON’T START WITH A LOGO
You’d be amazed at how many entrepreneurs I meet who think, “I need a brand” so they go out and find a graphic designer to make them a logo.
The problem is, a logo is not a brand.
If your logo isn’t created from a solid brand foundation, it’s empty and meaningless. And if it isn’t delivered in a complete brand package (with other visual elements to go along with it), it does no good. I dare say, don’t even waste your money.
Have you ever tried to design a website with nothing but a logo to work from? Or create an Instagram profile that looks beautiful and cohesive?
You can’t do these things with just a logo. You need a complete brand identity that includes things like colors, patterns, fonts, textures, imagery, words, phrases, graphics, icons, etc.
But even this is not enough. Your visual brand must be birthed from a strong brand foundation so it’s rich with meaning, reflects your truth and attracts the types of clients you want to work with.
HIRE THE RIGHT SUPPORT
Should you hire a graphic designer or a brand strategist? First, let’s define each role so we’re on the same page.
Graphic designer: captures a brand’s story and personality through visual elements like logos, colors, fonts, and graphics.
Brand Strategist: helps cultivate and develop the underlying brand identity and position in the market.
A brand strategist will help you define the underlying purpose, personality, story and message behind your brand, while a graphic designer creates visuals that align with that message.
Graphic designers are typically not trained in brand strategy, so if your underlying brand identity is not developed (and clearly documented somewhere outside your head), the smart choice is to hire a brand strategist (like me) first. Otherwise what the graphic designer creates risks falling flat.
The awesome thing about working with me and my team is that you get both: the brand strategy and design. I’ve curated, and personally vetted, a small but mighty team of highly-skilled graphic designers who create beautiful visual brands for my clients once they’ve worked with me on their brand strategy.
CREATE A PLAN TO MAKE BACK YOUR INVESTMENT
Making an investment can be scary, even for the most seasoned entrepreneur. Ease your fear by putting a plan in place to make back your money.
How many private clients do you need to attract?
How many courses do you need to sell?
How many speaking gigs do you need to book?
Putting the numbers on paper will help you gain perspective on your investment. For example, maybe you only need to enroll 2 private clients to make your money back – that’s not so bad! Plus when you think about the additional business that having a solid brand will bring your way, the numbers just keep getting better!