Build A Brand Right

Let’s talk about money. Sometimes people say, once I get a business going, I will go back and build a brand. Learn how to avoid a common mistake made by start-ups, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Early on, when I’m working with startups and entrepreneurs or even small businesses, I’ll say, “Well, what’s your marketing budget?” And the most common response is “Well, let me just get the business up and running and then I’ll go back and build a brand.”

Small businesses that get up and running like this, they have a lot of friends and family and a lot of people interested in their product and the services, but after awhile they run into what I call the inevitable ”stall point”, where they really need to rely on brand marketing. They have not yet done the work of defining the brand identity, brand expression, and brand personality.

What happens is your messaging is chaotic and your target audience can get somewhat confused or what’s worse, is they don’t really understand what you’re all about and they can’t say, “Wow, I got it.” When we work on a brand we’ll work on it, work on it some more, keep working, then we hit a point where all of a sudden it all becomes crystal clear, for the client as well as for us. Then it’s a piece of cake. It’s clear what we stand for; who we are. Then we work on the naming system: the name, the descriptor, the tag line and we get at those nuances, but when we got it, we know it, because we can feel it. Yes!

Build A Brand Strategy

When you don’t build your brand strategy first, you will need to go back and inevitably, you will spend twice or three times as much money on investing in that brand identity and those marketing materials and those sales materials, which you could avoid had you done the brand first. The brand is the heart and soul of the business, of what you are and what you stand for of the services and products, but also of the relationship with the client, so the brand is the core of everything.

So when people forgot to pour what I call the foundation of the house and then they build their design or brand expression on top and then they build all their marketing materials (the website, the stationary, the signage, collateral, etc.) They also add a sales team, process, and budget on top as well. It’s an exciting time to need sales people because it means you’re growing, but it also is scary because it costs money, so what the team is saying, the brand voice, the expression, is coming from a faulty or a non-existent foundation.

What’s going to happen to this awesome townhouse that we’ve just built, right, if we skip the brand? It’s built on no foundation so what happens is when your business hits that stall point, you’re not crystal clear about what you’re driving towards, about what you really stand for, what matters to you and to the brand emotionally and what is that connection to your target audience. Why are you serving this audience and why do you care so much? When you don’t have that articulated or clarified initially, then your marketing, your logo, your design work, your videos, your marketing materials, your sales tools and materials don’t take any of that into account. And this is all a big investment, right?

When you get to a certain point of building up your business without the initial brand work you’ll inevitably say to yourself. “I think we need to go back.” We used to think we worked with more start-ups than small businesses but what I realized looking at our metrics is that we actually work with more small businesses that are re-branding than start-ups. I have clients that have businesses up and running for ten years or more. The business is fine, but they don’t feel compelled to work in it anymore. They don’t feel driven by what they care about at this point, so they’re building a different business.

Build A Brand Budget

At this point in your business it’s possible to re-brand or leave that one and establish a new business with all the awareness that you have from the first one, so that could be looking at your first business as a prototype, and now you can build a brand that you really, really get and that has longevity. This, building a properly poured foundation for your success model, is imperative and I’ll ask people how much you’re going to spend here. Do you have a marketing budget? Do you have a brand identity budget? What’s the investment of the start-up? You know, you need to go into Excel first and look at where is the money and when you outline those costs, you need to take a good, hard look at how much money you’re putting in the website and all the tactics, but when you don’t have your brand voice clarified.

Build A Brand Legacy

When you build your brand first, it’s much easier to build and grow your business, increase your impact and create a true legacy. Isn’t this why you originally started a small business?

Kerri Konik


P.S. How will you build your legacy? Let’s get into a conversation on our FaceBook page.


Kerri Konik is a seasoned senior branding executive who has committed her focus and expertise to bringing big agency strategies to business owners and entrepreneurs to achieve next level growth. Kerri is the CEO of her 5th venture, Brandscape Atelier, a women-owned boutique agency specializing in strategic branding for small business. They develop brand strategy, identity, messaging and marketing that ignites emotional connection, increases sales, drives growth and profits, resulting in sustainability and achieving a greater impact in the world.

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