How Are You Playing Your Brand’s Deck of Cards?

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Much like poker, which is a game of chance, many small businesses knowingly embrace the concept of risk when they launch; it seems to be part of many a founder’s DNA. However, similar to poker, being a successful entrepreneur takes a whole lot of skill too.

The bummer is that there is no basic primer for joining this “club” so when you venture into the world of start-ups, you have to navigate without much of map. Sure, you might have a multitude of advice and insight from your entrepreneurial peers but I’m here to tell you that sorting through the mishmash and often conflicting information will make your head spin.

We all have our strengths and passion for what we do and can bring to the proverbial table; it is our weaknesses that typically trip us up. This very topic comes up again and again after I’m up on stage presenting to a room full of newly minted business owners. Their eyes grow big as I share my point of view on branding, its pieces and parts and the weight they carry as you position your widget in the marketplace. You can visibly see them grow dizzy as the realization dawns on them that they didn’t know what they didn’t know.

Branding is the very essence and the foundation for what your business is built on/around. Without it, it might as well be a house of cards inevitably waiting to be blown away by a stiff breeze. You cannot and should not build a business on a whim or a fancy. You must take the time to do the heady work to ensure your brand (and your time, efforts and financial contributions) are not wasted. With years of experience to back me, I can guarantee that if you don’t put in the work your business is far more likely to fold.

I’ve written before about the MUSTs when establishing a brand (or facilitating a rebrand); doing competitive analysis, digging deep to determine unique differentiators and positioning, considering all the nuances of logos, naming and packaging, and 100% connecting the dots for your target personas via clear marketing, communications and user-friendly websites. If one piece of the puzzle isn’t fitting properly, it could skew all the other pieces and thus notably stand out to your demographic, trust me on this. Consumers are more savvy and discriminating than ever. The margin for error is slim to none.

I’ve heard all the excuses for why individuals don’t feel that the aforementioned pertains to them and seen the hot mess that ensues when “the work” is half-assed or skipped altogether. I emphasize in my presentations that the “re-work” for not doing “the work” in the first place is far more painful (and costly). Consistently that messaging does get people to sit up and listen a wee bit more closely.

 Sharing my own experiences (successes and failures) as well as those of the clients that come to me with “fires” to put out hopefully gives my audiences something to chew on. I know for a fact that a few of my recent clients were individuals who came to me after hearing me speak who had been on the fence about hiring someone because they thought they could forgo some of “the work” and with some soul searching decided otherwise.

Brand work doesn’t have to be extensive or terribly expensive but the cost of doing it properly will pay you back in spades and we all want our deck of cards to play in our favor, right?