No one ever said building a brand was for the faint hearted – often it’s a massive undertaking that breeds more work and complexity as it grows.
Yet, when you read or watch start-up stories, while they do highlight the struggle in getting something off the ground and starting to grow the brand, they’re generally looking backwards following success and therefore the struggle…
“I trudged round 300 farm shops, getting listings one-by-one and wearing-out multiple pairs of shoes in the process and it took us 3 years of persistent phone calls just to get a meeting with the Tesco buyer”
…ends up being quickly glossed over as the story builds towards the inevitable success of the venture…
“and now I’m on course to turnover £3m this year!”
So rather than trot out inspirational ‘you can do it’ success stories, I want to share some thoughts around how you can keep going (and keep your sanity) when your brand is at the awkward ‘It’s established and now I need to grow it’ stage. At this point in a brands growth, there is an ever-widening amount of things you must/should/could do that can very easily get you busily running around trying to do everything (and feeling like you’re achieving little).
Who can help you work out what you should do vs what you could do when you get to this point?
Well, in my experience when faced with challenges in branded businesses, no matter how big or small, I always remind myself to think of the consumer first.
Yes, it’s obvious — It was the desire to help consumers that led to the brand being started in the first place anyway wasn’t it?
But it’s just so easy to get lost within your business sometimes that you simply can’t see the wood for the trees.
So, on a practical level, how does putting the consumer at the heart of everything help you work out what to do and (importantly) what not to do as your brand grows?
Firstly, remind yourself why you’re doing this
It’s just for the money, right?…Er, probably not.
There’s often a much stronger emotional reason you’ve decided to take this path and help these consumers. Remind yourself of your ‘whys’.
Now, who you are doing this for?
Challenge yourself to really get under the skin of your consumers. Who are they? What binds them together? Describe them richly – What are their attitudes?, their behaviours? What makes your brand so unbelievably in tune with their needs?
Where and when should you engage with your consumers?
There are many ways to engage with consumers, the challenge is knowing which methods you should use and which to ignore.
Starting with the consumer enables you to cut through the noise by working out where and when your consumers will be most receptive and willing to engage with your message. This doesn’t mean you need to be on all social media channels – just the ones that are most important to your consumers and, critically, at the right time. Trying to engage with parents on Facebook in the morning while they do the school run is unlikely to get the result you’d like!
So, always think of the consumer first.
I know it sounds simple. But being really clear on why you’re doing this, who you’re doing it for and where and when you engage with them will cut through the noise and help you see your next steps more clearly. Both the steps you need to take, and those that are at best a distraction and at worst could be damaging to your brand.
When you’re not sure which decision to take, challenge whether doing this will help your consumers and you’ll keep yourself on the right course. After all, as Richard Branson said
“a business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better”.
I love hearing about the challenges that ambitious, growing brands are faced with – please leave your comments below.