By Marilyn Trent

Founder & CEO, Trent Creative

Branding is more than a catch phrase. It’s one of the most foundational elements in establishing and growing a business.

Many new businesses try to focus on lots of things simultaneously once they have a business plan: like increasing sales, getting a website, keeping current customers happy and prospecting for new ones. This can and does work; it is in fact critical for growth. But to maximize the return on all those efforts, you must have a solid brand strategy for customers to connect with.

The hard truth is that 90% of startups fail. Not even the internet has changed this. Despite the plethora of new marketing tools and ways to reach your customers, the percentage of failures is still dauntingly high for anyone looking to take the plunge. 

Did you know that branding can cut a few years off your scheduled growth projection and will help you hit your growth goals sooner?

Most startups think branding is not that important and is something they can tackle later. The fact is that branding can help you focus on your True North and help you make informed decisions on who to hire, what type of customers to pursue and make sure you never lose sight of why you started your business in the first place. That’s because developing your brand means asking certain questions.

What makes up a brand?

Depending upon the branding expert, it may vary, however, most will agree on the list below:

  • Position in the market place (What is the differentiating factor that people will choose your brand over your competitor’s brand?)
  • Value proposition
  • Company core values
  • Personality
  • Unique selling points
  • Brand essence
  • Brand promise

If you can do the hard work of discovering the answers to the questions above, you will have the foundation laid for the decisions that your company has to make—from hiring new talent to what markets to pursue and which ones do not align with your brand.

Once you eat your vegetables (develop your brand), you can move onto reaping the rewards and have the dessert of your choice.

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To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Trent Creative, marketing and graphic design expert Marilyn Trent is sharing tips from her reservoir of lessons learned.