Most business owners go through many obstacles when building their brands.
While there are too many to name, these mistakes can be identified early on and avoided in the early stages of your business.
If you are an entrepreneur currently building your brand, this article can serve as a tool—or a warning (your choice), while you’re busy paving your road to success.
Here are the two deadly branding mistakes and how to avoid them:
I’m certainly not downplaying the importance of a strong brand, but the brand is not going to create a desired product or service or build the business for you.
There are, of course, many miracle stories of how rebranding (or even original branding) helped a product skyrocket to popularity,
but these stories invariably involve an already great product and a business designed to accommodate massive growth.
One of the most famous examples is Rice Krispies with its Snap, Crackle, and Pop. Did the elves help Kellogs sell more cereal? No doubt.
Are Kellogs’ shareholders happy that someone came up with this branding idea?
You bet! But they didn’t start the business by agonizing over the brand..
First, there was the infrastructure to take care of manufacturing, distribution, and advertising, then there was the product,
then there was the brand Rice Krispies, and only then, as the icing on the cake, Snap, Crackle, and Pop appeared.
Am I saying that the product and the infrastructure must always come first? No.
What I’m saying is that simply having the perfect brand and nothing to show for it is not going to get you anywhere.
If you came up with a great brand name—marvelous!
Go out there and figure out a way to dominate the market with your products and services.
But don’t expect the brand to do all of the work for you.
Remember, for the brand to be valuable, it needs to be associated with a successful business.
If there’s no business to speak of, there’s no value to the brand.
As Grant Cardone wrote in “If You’re Not First, You’re Last”, the single biggest problem of any new business is obscurity.
Don’t procrastinate behind the excuse of trying to pick the perfect brand for your business.
Frankly, nobody cares about what you call your product or service until you have a crowd of people lining up to buy from you.
And even fewer people care about what your logo looks like.
Pick your top 2 and toss a coin, if you have to!
Now go figure out a way to let the world know you exist.
Intellectual property (IP) laws were designed to help the little guy.
Big companies and corporations, a.k.a the “big guys,” have all the money in the world to spend on their advertising agencies and lawyers—so these laws are what allows smaller businesses to have a hope of having a competitive advantage against the big guys.
But the little guy needs to recognize the importance of using IP in general and trademarks in particular as a tool to get a crack at one day becoming one of the big guys.
We’ve all heard the mantra, “Ideas are nothing, execution is everything."
This is, of course, wonderful, but, like it or not, idea-less execution is no more valuable than an unexecuted great idea.
Don’t believe me?
You can see the perfect illustration for this “do as I say, not as I do” approach in checking when these brands filed their first trademark applications:
They all did it before anyone knew that they existed!
They weren’t making big bucks, they didn’t have millions in funding, they had no user base—all they had was an unyielding, rock-solid belief that they could become the next big thing.
And with that belief, they did what anyone would do when you’ve got something valuable. Protect it.
You don’t wait until your revenues can cover an army of lawyers to fight over the brand you never bothered to protect against competitors.
You don’t wait until you have a massive following to whom you would need to explain the reasons you suddenly need to rebrand.
You do what’s necessary to nurture and grow your business, making all necessary investments in the business and its assets because you know that one day your returns will eclipse your expenditures a thousandfold.
The answer is as simple as it is frustrating.
Most entrepreneurs make these mistakes because deep down inside they don’t believe that they can be the next big thing.
It’s like they don’t think that they’re worthy of having built something legendary.
They treat their business as a hobby or as a game.
That’s why they delay the launch of their products or services for months and even years, preoccupied with picking the perfect logo as if the logo will sell the product for them.
And whenever their business shows the first signs of success, they are invariably surprised—because they don’t believe in their greatness.
They expect toil and failure, not triumph and prosperity.
They act like Doc Brown from “Back To The Future” who, after seeing his time machine for the first time in 1955, exclaims, “I’ve finally invented something that works!”
To them, success is not the logical result of a sequence of steps they have taken.
Rather, they believe it’s a fluke!
That’s why their answer to the question, “Why haven’t you protected your brand?” is typically, “I can’t imagine anyone who’d wanna steal it from me…”
To test an entrepreneur’s true aspirations, I often ask, “Imagine someone offered you a full-time job that paid you twice as much as you’re earning from your business, but only if you shut your business down… would you do it?”
If they say that they’d accept the job or even if there is a moment of hesitation, you can be certain that their business will never amount to anything.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with starting a business because you found yourself unemployed or unemployable. Nor is there anything wrong with looking at your business as a temporary solution to make ends meet.
But at some point, you realize that if you work 14-hour days building what you call “your business”, you might as well spend the time building something significant.
I understand that not every venture will be a billion-dollar empire. But business is so much more than just a way to barely survive!
Here’s the irony. Those who don’t seek greatness will rarely build a business worth saving or protecting! How then are they supposed to recognize these two branding mistakes as mistakes? In their minds, they’re doing the right thing!
First, they assume that the perfect brand will build the business for them, and when it doesn’t happen, they attach little to no value to the brand—even if they end up having a business that is starting to get somewhere.
They genuinely believe that they are being diligent when they choose to save a few hundred dollars by leaving their brand unprotected. Worst of all, they coach other entrepreneurs to do the same.
If I inspire someone to strive for greatness, wonderful. But this is not what this article is about. I did not write it to convert the non-believers. I’m neither a preacher nor a shrink.
My hope with this piece is to help those who do believe in themselves and their business to avoid these mistakes.
Don’t let brand selection procrastination paralyze your ability to build a strong business and don’t let recklessness and stinginess cripple your ability to take things to the next level.
If you believe that what you’re building (or even your new, crazy business idea) can one day become the next big thing, you have a sacred duty and an obligation to give it your best shot.
The brand you chose for your growing business is already a valuable asset, and will only get more valuable as your business grows.
Double-check if you picked a brand you can protect (you can do it by requesting your free comprehensive trademark search from Trademark Factory®) and protect it early on.
Do it today.