Lately I have been seeing a lot of startups fighting to boot-strap and develop their strategy in order to get things rolling. It seems like almost all of my friends are either running or trying to start a small business these days! I love it! I think the greatest thing about this is that the majority of boot-strappers today are people like me, who just decide to start a business and figure the rest out as they go. I wanted to write a few basics to developing brand strategy that I have learned from launching a few startups as a reminder to myself, as I am once again in startup mode, and to help others that are on the same path as me! Launching a business shouldn’t be scary. If you have a little bit of confidence, some determination, and coffee, you should be good to go!
At the very core, your brand strategy should have a vision, direction and action plan.
Most companies and brands get the vision part. Everyone has an idea of where they want to go with their brand, company & future. It can be as grand as being the global leader in your industry, or as simple as growing big enough to be recognized to the point so you can sell to a larger company. Understanding and developing the vision of your brand is the cornerstone to the success of your business. I think the important thing to strive for when developing your vision is not to over-complicate it. Developing a vision is a necessary process to help form a picture of where you want to go; it will serve as a basic guideline to follow, but it will also mold and change along the way. For some brands more than others, developing a rigid and complex vision at the start is the wrong approach and a waste of time. Get your vision, and move along.
Your direction, while different than your vision, will get its influence directly from your vision. Direction is the step you need to take to get to the end goal you have developed in your vision. Direction starts with what is called a Critical Path Analysis, where you start with the end goal in mind, and work backwards with each step required to get to the next benchmark in mind. Think of this as your blueprint for your brand’s success. Details in this plan may change, but once the foundation of the plan is laid out, it shouldn’t stray too much. Once you have the vision in mind, developing the plan and direction needed to get there shouldn’t be too difficult. My recommendation is to ask for help from other people that have success in areas you need help in. Developing your blueprint for success can be a daunting task at times, but people are willing to help and give advice!
The action plan is simply laying down the work for the direction you have developed. How are you going to achieve the goals you have set in your Critical Path Analysis? Who is going to do the steps? Whose help is needed to help achieve these goals? And then doing all of the steps.
Once you have these things in place, all that is left is to put in the time and do what you already know best! Running your business from here on out should be a fun adventure!