Good Branding is Like Putting Together IKEA Furniture
Raise your hand if you take the IKEA furniture out of the box and toss the directions to the side saying, “No thanks. I got this.”
If you do, then you must be an engineer (or my Dad). You might know what the final product should look like, but without following the directions to get there it’s going to take you way, way longer than it needs to. Yeah, you saved money by not paying for that fancy furniture already put-together, but how much is your time worth? What else could you have been doing instead of putting together that furniture? And, honestly, even if you do follow the directions - there’s a very good chance that bedroom dresser is going to take you 8 hours and your dog will leave the room because you’ve started throwing wooden pieces across the floor and screaming obscenities that melt into flat out crying. (True story).
The thing is, Branding is a lot like this. Business Owners want to either A) Bypass the directions or B) Re-write the directions that fit what they want their brand to be. Neither of these are very good strategies.
I always talk to business owners first about what they think their brand is. I take notes. I ask questions. Then, I ask their employees. From the person that answers the phone to the person on the ground in front of customers all day - what is the brand of their company? If they don’t all have the same answer, they’re not all working off the same set of directions. Therefore, logic dictates, how are you successfully going to build that dresser?
In the instance of branding, that dresser is your reputation. It signifies all the new clients you haven’t reached, and the possibilities for how your business is going to grow. You can have all the pieces on the floor: social media, SEO, newsletter, etc. But without knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each piece, you’re building by trial and error. You might get there eventually, but shouldn’t you just talk to a branding expert? Or, at least someone who can tell you the pitfalls of the directions before you begin?
If that person existed before I started building the IKEA dresser for my bedroom, I would have called them immediately. If I had, I would have definitely saved myself 8 hours of frustration, and I probably wouldn’t have had to use packing tape to cover up my mistakes (see photo to the right). If you squint your eyes, you can’t see it. But in person it definitely cheapens my already pretty cheap furniture (not to mention the dresser wobbles a bit if you hit it at the wrong angle).
Don’t cheapen your brand, and don’t mend structurally inadequate pieces with packing tape. Your business is more important than IKEA furniture, so treat it as such.