What is the biggest mistake people make when starting a brand?

Dear BDC,

I am just starting out as an event planner and I am eager to get my brand online. That said, I am not sure where to begin and I don’t want to make any costly mistakes. I wondered what is the biggest mistake you see people make when just starting out?  Thanks, Amber 

Dear Amber,

Thank you so much for sending this in. It’s such an important question and one that I wish more budding entrepreneurs would ask. The biggest oversight I see people make is not putting in the work to get a strong understanding of what their brand actually is and what it can be based on where they are, their budget and their current client list. It is vital to do a thorough branding exercise and a business plan before you start throwing things up on Instagram and building a website. Skipping this step often leads to inconsistency and overpromising to clients, both of which will destroy your reputation before your business gets off of the ground.

Anyone who has worked with me knows I am a fan being aspirational, but it is one thing look at pretty pictures and be inspired by successful brands (with strong client lists, bigger staffs and larger budgets) and quite another to execute on a day-to-day basis. I offer my clients an in-depth branding guide which guides them in an assessment of who and where they are and who and where they want to be as well as identify their current limitations and opportunities for growth. We create client profiles and a style guide that will help with consistency. If you don’t have the means to hire an agency to support you in this, create one for yourself and really go through everything from what you want your online presence to look like and how you will support that image in how you run your business in the real world. If there’s a disconnect, you’ll lose credibility. Bottom line: Don’t promise things, even by insinuation, that you can’t yet deliver.

Here are a few other tips.

Figure out your niche and what makes you different than anyone else.

If your answer is “excellent customer service” or “a beautiful eye” you’re not there yet. It needs to be a hard line that is tangible. Preston Bailey transforms bland spaces with thousands of flowers, installations and lighting. DVF created an iconic wrap dress that made women feel like the woman they wanted to be. Taco Bell created the hard taco shell making it easier to wrap and for people to eat “on-the-go”. What’s your USP?  Once you have identified it, ensure that you promote it in all of your communications. The more consistently you share your vision, point of view, values and highlight the aforementioned USP, the more people will associate you with it. 

Clean up your past.

The internet has a long memory so go through all of your accounts and delete content that is not in line with your brand and who you are now. It’s not inauthentic to unpublish photos of your college days or random posts about topics that no longer represent who you are.

Do a little beta testing.

Put together a list of trusted individuals who have an understanding of your industry and share your accounts, website and other collateral with them before you go live. Be open to their feedback and use it to make tweaks where it feels right. Sending a quick survey monkey with clear questions about user experience, visual direction and editorial is more useful than asking their general opinion. In the end, remember that you are the one this brand will represent so you should maintain final veto power. Have a branding, digital media, social media or content question for Brenda? Send it through our contact form here.

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