To quit your job and start a company of your own is a big decision. The only thing the drives an entrepreneur is his belief that his business idea has the potential to change the world. A lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners I meet believe that there is enough room in the industry to create and sustain another Infosys or Wipro. True that without having a strong belief in yourself, an idea cannot transform into something which you could call truly great. However, these entrepreneurs often feel that investing in branding is a luxury which only established companies can afford. A few exceptions who believe in the importance of branding feel that a brand cannot be established in the kind of budgets they have. With only a logo designed by a free lancing graphic designer, companies register themselves and go into the market with initial projects they bag through their references. A logo can barely be enough of a branding material and you wouldn’t be able to survive for too long securing projects only through references. Yes, brands take a long time and dedicated efforts to be established well in the market but here is a list of 6 things (apart from a logo) which all entrepreneurs should seriously consider as a starting point to establish a strong brand.
- Website –Most entrepreneurs recognize the importance of a website and in the India market, creating a website has become dirt cheap. People would be queuing to create your website even if you had just Rs. 10,000 to spend on a website, and this would include buying a domain name, hosting, website designing and development. Even the entrepreneur is aware that the quality is going to be sub-standard, yet he compromises on the look and feels of the website thinking that he will change it once he settles down a bit, which seldom happens. Clients, employees, potential clients, potential employees, investors and competitors are just a few people who visit your company website and immediately know what kind of a company you are. So, get rid of your narrow template website, and make use of the whole page. Find a team who know the importance of a good looking website. Put graphics and visuals into your website and reduce text content as much as possible. If you think a person is overqualified for any position, you are downgrading the job, similarly, if you think your website is too good for the market in which you operate, you are downgrading your own company.
- Corporate presentation –What websites do in your absence, corporate presentations do in your presence. A corporate presentation is a fantastic way of initiating a conversation with a company which you want to do business with. It has to be well thought of document. I prefer presentations where the viewer understands nothing if there is no presenter. That is why I cut down sentences and insert just a few relevant words instead. A good corporate presentation looks impressive and makes the presenter look intelligent. A classic tool to leave a lasting first impression.
- Corporate brochure –The primary objective is to send it across when someone demands more information about your company over e-mail. This may be perhaps the only branding content where I can allow you to be as descriptive as possible. This has classically been a PDF file in which you can start right from your vision, mission statement, offerings, a key differentiator, core competencies, management team and so on. It should be a booklet which better explains your website. Virtually no one reads your corporate brochure thoroughly, even if most of your viewers browse through it right till the end, you have been successful in creating a good corporate brochure. This wouldn’t be possible without having a fantastic design and graphics.
- Business cards –The international market is more or less free of business cards, in India, you cannot be a company and not have a business card. The way in which business cards are exchanged has evolved but the importance of business cards stays put. Indians still attach a sense of prestige to the kind of business cards they carry. But it is better not carrying any cards instead of carrying these thin, unattractive, dull white business cards. An attractive business card is preserved years by the recipient simply because it is too good to be thrown away.
- Case studies / Product demo –Congratulations if you have reached a stage where you need to send across your case studies or give product demonstration. Reaching this stage is a lot of hard work for many companies, thus losing business from this stage hurts them even more. However, sending your case studies or giving product demo is only half the job done. That too if the case studies have been well compiled and the product demo is well explained. These can be in the form of presentations, PDFs, pictorial representations or in video format. Whichever format they may be used in, it is important to compile your thoughts well and create an interesting story. The lesser the viewer reads to understand the story, the more chances you have.
- Social Media Setup –These are some of the free online platforms, which give you some of the greatest SEO in the world. However, merely creating a presence on these platforms is not sufficient. You have to maintain it and sustain your efforts over a period of time. You need to believe in the power of social media, interlink all the platforms post at least a couple of updates in a day. Network, interact and express don’t just broadcast unintelligently. Most of the people I meet run their social media platforms enthusiastically for a few months, get busy with operational issues and never return to social media. There are only a few things which turn me off faster than seeing an ill-managed Facebook fan page. If you cannot do something well, ask, learn or outsource, don’t keep on struggling with it heading anywhere in the process.
There is not a fixed strategy with which you can guarantee winning deals. So you have to eliminate those factors which may result in loss of business, either knowingly or unknowingly. Creating high-quality branding content not only ensures that you do not lose deals but in fact, it plays an important role in winning them. No matter how ugly we are, we always fantasize about beautiful looking partners. Similarly, people always want to be associated with good looking companies.
If I have to give you a number, I would ask a start up to allocate a budget of around Rs. 1,00,000 for creating the above branding content and take pains find an agency which will deliver amazing quality in that budget. Remember, by investing in quality branding content, you are creating assets for your company which your business development team will need a day in and day out.