Branding your business can sometimes feel like a Catch-22. In order to afford to invest in creating an authentic, polished brand, you have to have an authentic, polished brand that clients will trust and buy from in the first place. So what to do first? Do you invest in design up-front or do you wait until you’re more established to invest in design?
The cool thing about starting your entrepreneurial venture is that your business constantly evolves. The scary thing about starting a business is that it constantly evolves.
When you’re first starting out, your business is constantly changing. You can re-strategize, tweak and evolve from day to day. You get to revisit your target audience if it’s not quite who you thought you’d love working with, you can fine-tune your services & packages and for all intents and purposes “shoot from the hip” and see what you capture.
As you start getting more comfortable with your business and start building a following, however, you want to start being more consistent and cohesive. Huge changes that happen too often (and for no significant reason) can rattle your audience. You certainly don’t want to appear to be fickle, especially if you have high-ticket packages.
In my opinion, a design investment should come once you’re a little more established in your business. This does not mean you have to wait until you have been in business 5+ years and have a multiple 6-Figure business, but spending money and resources too early on a business that is constantly evolving can be a money pit.
Unfortunately, if you were hoping for an exact marker (6mo, 1yr, 4yrs), I can’t offer you that. Some brands take longer to find their groove than others. But, I will leave you with some questions to ask yourself to see if you’re in a good place:
Do you have Proof of Concept?
Are you offering something that people want? Whether you’re the first person/business doing what you do or there are hundreds of people out there with a similar business, you want to know that you have something that will be sustainable. You want to book a few clients, sell a few products and streamline your process to make sure you have something solid.
Do you have a strategy in place?
As you know there’s more to your branding than having a pretty logo and stunning website. Who’s your ideal client? Have you established your brand voice? Can you explain what benefit your client will get from working with you? You want to be clear on your message and values, to the point that people can see what you’re worth even before you re-brand. Whether you’ve been in business for 3 days or 30 years, design can only do so much if you don’t have a solid foundation. For help with this, download my Defining Your Brand and Business workbook.
Can you afford a designer?
You don’t want to go broke right off the bat because you spent way more money than you had available into your logo, website and other materials. True, we all want to have a beautifully designed brand that’s both cohesive and visually impactful, but if it will be too big of a strain on your finances, you’re best to hold off and save a little more. And during that time, start thinking through your strategy so that you’re ready when you’re able to hire help.
What is the next supportive investment for your business?
Maybe you can’t afford a full overhaul of your branding, but your website is outdated and you can start there. Perhaps you’re realizing that you don’t have a strategy in place and your next step should be working on your signature package or work with me page. Maybe most people follow you through your newsletter and that’s the next thing you want to revamp. Work with a designer in stages (if they offer that option) to come up with a plan together that will help you get going in the right direction.
Branding is important at any stage of your business. Whether you Do-It-Yourself or hire someone from the start, you want to look at all your materials with a discerning eye to ensure it’s authentically representing you and your business. Do the best you can with what you have. Start with a strategic plan and then go from there!
Ps. I’m currently building a (free) Creative Resource Library that will include useful worksheets and tutorials to help you while you’re in the DIY stages. Sign up over here and you’ll receive my top 2 workbooks: Defining Your Brand & Business and the Stress-Free Launch Website Planning Guide. As more items become available, I’ll alert you by email so you don’t miss anything.
If there’s anything you find particularly challenging when it comes to your personal branding, feel free to comment below and it might be my next resource to you!