I caught myself complaining about how long it takes to grow a brand and the blood sweat and tears it takes to build a business. ‘Small business’ is often thought of as something very different to bigger business and because of that, most small business owners tend to think that they don’t need to spend as much time on branding and marketing. This could not be further from the truth. Most of us small business owners want the shortcut to success and there’s no such thing.
I’ve been in marketing for long and I should’ve known this but it took a while for it to sink in. The big brands, that we know and trust today, took time to build their credibility. They were nurtured with a clear positioning, a consistent narrative and the brand story told over time. This is something small businesses today don’t do. Many small businesses seem to all be making the same mistakes. They do not build a clear brand positioning or take time to grow their brand for the long term. Most are just focussed on making money now and not thinking about the future. Coca Cola sold 25 bottles in its first year. So why do we think it will take us just one month to find success and sales?
What small business owners need to understand is that it takes time and money to build a brand. The more powerful your brand is, the more equity you have and the more you can charge. To build this brand, you need to spend a lot of time determining what your brand stands for and what it does not stand for. This is important because if you send mixed signals to your consumers or clients, they stop trusting your brand and your business. You then lose the ability to attract more business and retain clients.
I, like many other small businesses, did not want to spend money on creating a credible brand and communicating it on the right channels but I did. These days, when people ask me how I started building my brand and business, I clarify that it was not done overnight (which most think is the case). Working on my brand is a 24/7 job. My communication and content to clients and potential clients comes from a clear vision and positioning strategy. I spend time writing my content. Everything that surrounds my brand comes of a clear plan. I am involved in everything I do. I micromanage my brand.
I also realised early on that I did not have the skills to do everything. One example is when chose to do my own digital marketing and create my own website with disastrous results. I then chose to find experts to assist me with putting together a digital strategy and helping me execute it. It often feels like I am spending a lot of money but I don’t want to look back in 5 years and regret not doing this. I am not building a brand for the short term. I am building a legacy and a brand with a long future. It might take longer to see results but I know it will be pay off in the greater scheme of things.
If you’re looking to still have your business running in the next 15- 20 years, you need to start building your brand now. Spend the time, energy and money. Be patient and nurture it like you would your newborn baby. Guard your brand against jealousy. Obsess about it like you would any precious thing you love in your life.
I am determined to build my brand and to make sure it has a strong foundation and equity.
Don’t take shortcuts. Do everything properly from the get go. It may cost more money and you may not see immediate results, but you will see the benefits of this approach in time and it will have lasting effects and pay off in the long run.