Over the years I’ve had hundreds of customers come to me to have a website designed or a logo developed for their new business. It’s quite a privilege to be involved at such an early stage.
However, the customer –with all their excitement about this upcoming adventure, their ‘new baby’– usually wants to jump straight to seeing what their website or logo will look like.
They want something tangible, not me asking them key questions as to how their business is going to work. I get it. Everyone likes the visual bit; spending time thinking about the look and feel of your website can often be much more exciting than brainstorming your vision or working out what your values are.
[Note: Not in our workshops of course. We make this fun!]
The problem is that customers are often not ready to have a website or logo commissioned as they don’t have enough clarity on their vision. They know the ‘what’, but they don’t know the ‘why’. They haven’t thought through their strategy: who should they be targeting and how they are going to attract these people to their new venture?
So the actions they are taking at this early stage, such as getting a website developed, are not the right ones and are liable to end up costing them a lot more down the line.
How do you know if you’re not ready?
Having spoken with hundreds of businesses over the years, there are some key indicators I’ve picked up that will show you aren’t ready for your new website or logo. Bear in mind, these are generalities and each individual and business is different.
One person will have more business experience than another, and marketing may be something that you are very familiar with. Even so, knowing something and acting upon it are two very different things.
5 reasons you might not be ready
1. You don’t have a clear understanding of what it is you do or the problem you’re solving
Sometimes an idea can overtake everything else and your excitement –the desire to succeed, the vision you have of everyone using and loving your product– can cloud why you’re doing it. What exactly is the problem you’re solving? Is it an itch that needs scratching? If so, why are you best placed to scratch it? These are some of the questions we ask in our Clarity workshops.
This doesn’t mean you need to have everything worked out from the start. Many people stumble across the best way to develop their product and market it over time, and often by mistake or unplanned opportunities.
When I started out in web design (back in the late 90s), there weren’t many people offering those services at the time. I was running an Internet Cafe part time with two other colleagues and, with increasing frequency, customers would ask if we knew anyone that designed websites. I had just got into web design, having had the opportunity to work on websites for a university and then contracting to a city bank. It wasn’t planned though; designing websites was something I picked up along the way as the need was there.
So in my case, what I did was design websites and the problem I was solving at the time was alleviating the frustration that people had in trying to find a web designer.
Knowing the problem you’re solving and why you are best placed to solve it will really help you to clearly explain your proposition to others.
2. You think branding is for big businesses, not for you
During our Clarity workshops, when we’re discussing brands some people comment that branding is for big businesses; if you’re McDonalds or Virgin Airlines then you need to think about branding. But if you’re Sue Blogs running a small cake shop in Luton, you don’t. Wrong!
The fact that big businesses spend so much on their brand, trying to maintain their reputation and have a consistent image around the world, shows just how important it is. They simply wouldn’t spend the money if it didn’t make a significant difference.
As a small business, it’s worth remembering that: a) you don’t need to spend anywhere near as much as a large business would budget for their branding, and b) your customers will be affected by your lack of clarity in this area. They need to see just why they should choose you over all the hundreds of other similar businesses. Which leads nicely onto our next point.
3. You think branding IS your logo
A logo is not a brand. Many people think that as long as they have a professional logo and website developed, their branding is sorted. This is nowhere near close to the truth.
Your brand is made up of every way your customers will interact with you. This includes but is not exclusive to:
the way you talk on the phone
how you treat your customers
your tone of voice (how your website and marketing material is written)
how you write your emails
what your premises looks like (if customers visit or you have photos online)
how you dress (again, if customers see you regularly)
what your website looks like
and of course your logo
If you think your brand is just your logo, you’re not ready to have a logo or other marketing material developed.
4. You don’t have consistent messages to send out
This partly relates to your vision and tone of voice. If you’re not clear on what it is you offer, it will be extremely difficult to commission any designer to develop your logo, website or other marketing materials.
This is not just the case for startups. It can be the case for long standing businesses whose product range has expanded.
One of the reasons I left my first web company was that we were getting too stereotyped as a development company. We were not as strong at communicating the design and, ironically, communications side of the business. We promoted this via our website, but when we spoke to customers we still seemed to focus on the development side. Our messages were inconsistent.
The more consistent your message, the stronger this will come across to your customers and potential customers. This way they will be coming to you for the right reasons and, importantly, you won’t have to spend a lot of time filtering your enquiries.
5. You don’t know who your target audience is
How can you make a business out of selling a product or service if you don’t know who wants it? Many startups go down this route, however there are some great examples of companies that made sure they knew their audience before they fully developed their offering.
Your target audience is key to knowing whether you have a sound business or not. And you will need to recognise that your target audience is NOT everyone. Assess and refine just who it is that will purchase your products or services. Aim to know everything about them.
If you don’t know who you will be selling to, you’re not ready to have your branding developed just yet.
Knowing why you do what you do –your vision and values– and who you are doing it for, will long outlive your website by some margin. Time spent working this out is far more cost efficient for you. To try and have your website or logo designed at this stage is like putting the cart before the horse.
Many designers and agencies can help you through this process, but the more homework you can do beforehand the better.
Our clarity sessions help you get ready to have your logo or website designed. Email us or call Richard on 07974 575 422 to find out more and to book a session for you or your team.