Branding: When’s the Right Time to Start

It’s really simple. We all know it. Good branding creates customer loyalty. Loyal customers will continue to support you in thick and thin. They will also pass on a positive message to other people they know. Their influence, in turn, will introduce new customers for your company… but, the million dollar question is, when should a company start promoting the brand? Should they put stress on this process right from the beginning? Or should they concentrate on branding after they have successfully curved some milestones in their journey? WHEN?
Let’s take an example. We all love Starbucks. Their coffee is simply to die for. Do you know that this Coffee Giant had started as a small, independently owned coffee joint in Seattle? And the shop was just selling coffees at that point of time. Yes, people did love the taste at that time too, but the brand ‘Starbucks’ was not present. It was just a quaint little coffee shop, which was serving good coffee. But the minute Starbucks decided to change the perception of itself and developed as space which provides the feeling of community over a cup of coffee, the business story of the brand changed completely. Yes, the business story of the ‘brand’. Starbucks became a ‘brand’ and narrated a brand story, projected a brand statement and the story completely changed.

So, branding is important. Management gurus always state, ‘first build a brand. Then you’re in business’. Think of any business that has a huge impact and you will actually end up thinking about the brand! Any business that sells things can do well, but those that create feelings and emotions become imprinted in people’s minds. They also gain more visibility and sales that way than through traditional means of growing a business.
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Branding is often one of the first large investments a company makes. Simply put, branding is what the customers/clients can expect from the business. A successful brand identity sets any business apart from the competition and gives it an edge. It establishes the particular business as an expert in that very field and builds trust in its audience. But when should a company invest in a new brand identity?
Here are some pointers which will make you understand what might be the right time to get serious about your branding:

  • Start from the beginning:

    The best time to start the branding process is when you just established a business. It seems a bit paradoxical, but a quality brand identity not only establishes your business as professional, it also attracts your ideal customers/clients. If you don’t want to waste time, then you should start conveying your message + vision in its best light right from the very beginning.

  • New name, new identity:

    If you recently changed the name of your business, then it’s the perfect time to start branding/rebranding exercise. Typically, when a business changes the name, it goes through other transitions as well. This could include new services, a different approach to their existing services/products, or a revitalised outlook on their brand. With all of these changes, it is nice to also give your brand identity a fresh face. This new brand identity will also indicate the transition to your audience. It also provides an opportunity to build hype around the transition, and to explain the new direction of your business.

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  • Introducing a new portfolio:

    If you already have an existing business, but recently decided to create new products/services, and then it could be wise to reposition your brand. You may brand these separately than your current branding, or completely restructure your current branding strategies and start a new one.

  • Merging businesses:

    You didn’t have a branding strategy at all. But recently have merged ways with a company to expand the business. Then it would be really helpful if you start a combined branding strategy. Once two companies merge, it is a great time to communicate the exciting transition to your audience. There are many ways to communicate the merge, one of which being a fresh brand identity. This can get a bit tricky as well, depending on the brand loyalty of the two businesses.

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  • Ready to up the level:

    You might not have invested in a brand identity when you initially started your business. But in the course of time, as you have progressed, you will most likely reach a point where you will be ready to take your business to the next level. Once you are more serious about the longevity of your business, one of your first investments should be on branding. Quality branding builds trust, and will definitely allow your business to establish itself as professional.

  • If you don’t, your competitors will:

    In today’s world of continuous competition, branding is no longer considered to be a ‘luxury’ investment, which businesses should think of when they are at least some million worth and a couple of years old. Companies should start projecting their products/services the moment they are up for production as you never know that the time you are investing only in creating a good product, your competitor may have created both a product and have started bragging about it too!

Branding is actually a way of identifying a business. It is how the customers recognise and experience a business. A strong brand is way more than just a logo; it’s reflected in everything from the customer service style, staff uniforms, business cards and premises to the marketing materials and advertising. A brand should reflect what the business stands for and what sets it apart from the competitors – it expresses the qualities, strengths and ‘personality’ of a business. Therefore, branding should be considered in the early stages of starting a business – launching a business with a strong brand will provide a greater chance of success.
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Building a company and a great product that customers love is one of the hardest things one can do. Hence, don’t let this be the testament of all your work: ‘They had a great product that nobody ever heard of!’.

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