From idea to startup to a sustainable business – that’s the most exciting but failure-prone part of the journey to success regardless of which stage of entrepreneurship you’re at. The fear I hear about most often is “What if someone steals my idea?” and you are right – there are many copy cats who could steal your idea without paying for it, and you can’t stop them from trying.
The good news is, ideas are worth nothing – their value is in the execution of them. The better news is even though you are bootstrapping till you get decent amount of traction, you can set yourself apart from copy cats. Branding is about your uniqueness and here are some tried-and-tested ideas for how-to maintain it:
1 Use social media as much as you can to share about your business. A page on Facebook is a great way to attract and engage followers, but retaining them will take some commitment of your time. It is well worth investing your time on this as you can get good feedback as well as loyal customer, without spending any cash.
2 You mobile phone is your friendly reporting tool for taking photos and video clips about your events and milestones, to keep your followers engaged in your journey. By making these interesting, you can attract even more followers too.
3 Don’t be shy about offering good ideas and advice, and soon you’ll be attracting even more attention from those who want to learn from your experiences. After all, we’re all on private journeys and can benefit from each other.
All of these are ideas which you don’t have to spend money on to let people know about what experiencing your product or service is about, and that is what Branding is – the user experience. But I haven’t told you about the biggie yet!
4 Even seasoned investors say that they put their money not with ideas or even customer bases, but with the caliber of the team behind a product. So, your best Brand Strategy is to have a team which shares the same vision for the product, because it is this bond which will sustain your idea through many different seasons of market sentiments and will carry your business on to the next level you all want it to get to. Examples can be seen in the popular music industry – notice how great guitarists sustain their brand whether they go solo or join other groups?
Think about those Brand Names which have survived. For example, Apple showed us that when its Brand Essence was lost, it plunged in value and approached bankruptcy and it took the Founder’s vision to revive it again. It’s about the user experience and is more about passion than budgets.
Evelyn Samuel founded 4 startups (1995-1012) and is recognized as a pioneer by the Technopreneurs Association of Malaysia in their book ‘Women on Top’ (2010). Having delivered Brands internationally, she conducts workshops in Branding as a Sales Tool – see a sample here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuCRJ_ZaQxo
She’d love to hear from you – connect with her on BrandAid$ at Facebook