I have seen many people over the years spend way more time, effort and money than necessary on their brands. All because they chose the path that, on the surface, seemed quick, cheap or easy.
As a result, they end up revisiting the same things over and over again, redesigning bits and pieces of their websites multiple times, and taking years too long to actually have usable brands in place.
I completely understand why you would make such choices. As entrepreneurs, especially when we don’t have a huge team to support us, we are faced with making a million different decisions every single day. We only have so much time and energy available to us, and we have to figure out how to split it between our businesses, our families, and our communities. So it makes perfect sense that so many people choose what seems to be the best and simplest decision for them at the time.
But I’m telling you, when it comes to developing your brand, the fastest and easiest solution will rarely serve you best in the long run. So in the spirit of maximizing the precious time, energy and money you do have, here are a few scenarios where I recommend that you choose the smart way over the hard way.
The Hard Way: Designing and developing your brand piecemeal.
The Smart Way: Approaching your brand development process holistically.
It’s easy to be of the mind that a logo or some colors or some other brand element is the solution to your problem, especially if you haven’t had much experience with a skilled designer. But there are many issues that can arise as a result of that approach. For one, your brand will end up feeling disjointed—a mishmash of various elements without a strong message that connects them. You may now have a logo, but if your overall brand isn’t communicating what it needs to to your audience, is it really all that helpful?
This approach also makes it is easier to fall into the trap of redoing or revisiting something over and over and over again, which leads to an endless loop of time and money spent with no end in sight. I’ve seen so many people spend tens of thousands more than they needed to, as a result of this very thing.
Working piecemeal may serve your immediate need, but does that really serve you in the grand scheme of things?
The smarter choice is to approach your brand holistically, to create a foundation for design by solidifying your voice, values, and vision first. When every piece of the design for your brand is rooted in overall brand clarity, you will get a much more impactful, longer-lasting result.
The Hard Way: Rushing the design process.
The Smart Way: Trusting your designer will work within a timeline that serves you best.
Many people will tend to want to speed through the design because they just want the end result as quickly as possible, so they can move on to the next step. Again, this is completely understandable. You need a website to sell your product and your website needs a logo. Those are clear, straightforward needs, likely with a timeline attached to them.
However, a restricted timeline also limits the results you can expect. A good designer will provide you with a schedule that respects your time as best as possible, while being realistic and intentional about how to ensure you get the best outcome in the process.
It wouldn’t be fair to either of us if I told you, “Yes, you can have a complete brand identity design in two weeks.” Aside from it being a time crunch on my end, there’s no way that you’ll get a satisfactory outcome in such a short period of time.
The Hard Way: Making decisions based on personal preference.
The Smart Way: Making decisions based on what’s best for your brand.
As entrepreneurs, we put so much of ourselves into our work. So it’s easy to come from a personal place when making decisions about our brands. But doing so won’t serve you or your business well. Your focus needs to be on the people you’re trying to reach, not yourself. What do they want? What’s right for them?
Here’s a simple example: You may not love pink. But if the process is concluding that your audience loves pink? It’s probably time to consider pink.
Of course, you need to have confidence in your brand. But my thinking is, if you are passionate about what you do and who you do it for, the brand decisions you make when you put them first will naturally come from a place of love.
The Hard Way: Making decisions entirely on your own.
The Smart Way: Recruiting a couple of trusted advisors to act as a sounding board.
Entrepreneurial life can feel isolating. We’re so focused on bringing this thing we’re passionate about to life that it’s easy to hunker down for hours and hours without human contact. And when you’re running the show—especially when you’re doing it alone—it can be a huge challenge to face the many decisions you have in front of you.
So when you’re ready to embark on developing your brand, prepare yourself beforehand. Recruit a couple of people in your life to act as a sounding board while you’re in the process of making these decisions. Whether they’re friends and neighbors or people you interact with in a Facebook group, choose people who will challenge and encourage you while having your best interest in mind. Having that safety net will help you avoid making decisions from an overwhelmed state or taking the easy way out. In the end, you’ll make the best decisions possible for your brand.
The Hard Way: Soliciting multiple submissions via a design contest.
The Smart Way: Partnering with someone that you trust.
Ah, the design contest. Much can be said about this corner of the design world, but for now, I want to focus on why going this route simply will not serve you.
It makes sense why so many people choose this path. Like the other decisions I’ve mentioned already, it’s quick, cheap and easy. The allure of having multiple people work on your logo at once and receiving many versions to choose from can be hard to resist. The stakes are very, very low. If it doesn’t work out, you’re not out so much money that you can’t make another choice.
But why risk wasting the money – and, especially, the time – at all?
Finding a designer you can trust all but eliminates that possibility. Diving into this process with someone you have a relationship with, even if it’s new, will help to facilitate thoughtful dialogue. You can comfortably move through the process together, toward an outcome that will serve you in the long-term.
Also, when it comes to design options, less is definitely more. Working with a designer one-on-one, you’ll most likely receive far fewer options to consider. But that is undoubtedly a good thing. When a skilled and trusted designer presents fewer options, it’s because she has already worked through a ton of initial ideas and narrowed them down to the absolute best. Giving you less choice is in your best interest.
Developing a relationship with a designer you can call on as your brand grows and changes is an ideal situation to be in. Rather than having to scramble every time you need something, you’ll be able to reach out to an extended member of your team and tackle the problem together. It will put you in a position to make branding choices from a place that is intentional and deliberate, with longevity in mind.
So what’s next?
Many of you reading this might be thinking, “That’s all great in theory. But how am I actually supposed to do any of this?” Believe me, I feel your pain. Even if you’re fully on board with what I’m recommending, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can adjust your budget or timeline to make them happen. So, what then?
This is why I developed Brand Together.
I want to help entrepreneurs, like yourself, to get their businesses out into the world, by empowering you with all the knowledge and tools you need to develop your own brand—a brand that is thoughtful authentic, and long-lasting. And beyond that, I also want to provide you with a community—a place where you can both offer and receive support, feedback, and encouragement from fellow entrepreneurs as you work through this process together.
Brand Together is a collaborative brand building course that will provide you with three powerful outcomes:
- Brand Clarity: A clear picture of who you are, the message you want to share and the people you want to reach.
- Brand Identity: A completely custom brand identity, designed by yours truly.
- Online Presence: A live, user-friendly and fully functional Squarespace website that showcases your brand.
The course begins on September 1st, and I would love to have you join me. Head on over to the course page to learn more and enroll.