A few Hub members are leading the creation of the Hub Communications Lab, a place Hub members can come to work through marketing and communications needs. It’s a virtual and a real place to ask questions, gain insights and work through solutions with Hub members who have professional experience in the communications field.
Here’s our first post in what we intend to make an ongoing series. The idea is that you have questions about marketing and communications, and we have access to answers. Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and then watch this space. And if you need more info, let us know and maybe we’ll put together a workshop if there’s enough interest!
We are just getting started; how do we establish a brand platform?
Brand building is something that happens over time and is much more than your communications materials. A brand is what gets people excited about what you’re doing. Brand elements (name, logo, tagline, etc) are tools for communication. The important work starts before these and can be started – with some discipline – immediately and without expenditure.
As an entrepreneur, the most important thing you can do to ground your brand is to have a clear vision of what you stand for – your values, your vision, and the parameters in which your company will operate– both written down and in a place that staff (or future) staff can connect with.
Vision: Ask yourself, why did you start this business? What do you envision it to look like in 5 years? Get very very specific. Will you have your own building? Will you join forces with another business or organization? How many products or services will you have? How many employees will you have? What kind of people are they? What will your office culture be like? Personality traits, vibe, etc. are important here. What kinds of clients or customers will you have? What is their situation or need? How will your business be conducted (on the web, via other company web sites, via distribution at national retailers?). Write this down.
Values: What do you want to be known for? What would you like your legacy to be? What defines your company’s reason for being? What values do you and your staff possess that will get you there? Write these down in whatever way you can. Gather pictures. Get video. Compile it all and then sit with your key partners (internally) to figure out what feels right, what is unique and what you all have passion for. Keep writing all of this down.
Parameters: What do you know for sure you do NOT want to be. This acts as an important tool for re-visiting your practices and even in helping you understand your purpose. Make a list of things that your business will NOT be (often developed relative to what the competition or others in your industry are doing).
Now take a look at what you have and whittle this down to a few of the key big ideas. This will be hard. But you can’t be all things to all people and positioning your company is the art of sacrifice. One thing that may also help you here is looking outside of your industry at other brands for inspiration. Who do you admire and why? Nike? Richard Branson? The Gates Foundation? These are all brands with traits that you can take cues from. (It’s no accident that strong personalities lead strong, well-known brands).
The bottom line is to stay focused. It will help you look for the best opportunities that “fit” with what you are trying to achieve.
And finally, remember that a brand is a rallying cry. It should excite you and all who are working towards your business goals. Make sure that you develop a brand that feels as exciting as the work you are doing.