As I’m writing this, we’re not too far away from the fourth and final quarter of 2021.
It’s been a mad couple of years. The pandemic has turned our worlds upside down, not to mention wreaked havoc with our businesses. But there are plenty of people, like you, who are battling the odds and pushing ahead with your plans to start a new venture, even against the backdrop of an insanely unpredictable economic climate.
It is possible to launch a new brand in 2021 – and do it well. You just need the right guidance. You just need to know what to prioritise, and when.
I’ve put together a checklist to help budding business owners like you get to grips with everything you need to do to launch your new brand in these unusual times.
Here are the steps you need to follow to make sure your new brand looks the part, your marketing assets work hard for your new venture, and everything you do will hit the mark in today’s post-Covid landscape.
Before you go any further, nail your company name.
It’s such a vital part of the process, and yet finding a good name for their business is often something that new entrepreneurs rush through so they can get up and running quickly. Don’t fall into this trap. Take your time to come up with something relevant, memorable, and true to what your brand represents.
Top tip: don’t use words or language that are tied in with the Covid situation (unless you offer Covid-specific products or services!), or that are associated with polarising political or socioeconomic opinions. That’s not a smart move, for obvious reasons. Your company name probably won’t age well, either!
Define and refine your brand image.
I’ve written a lot of content about how your branding can make or break your start-up business. In fact, I even put together a piece that talks in more detail about the 5 vital branding principles for new businesses.
Like choosing your company name, this is a non-negotiable stage in your business’ development. And it is absolutely worth enlisting the help of someone like myself to help shape your brand identity and make sure your graphics are rolled out beautifully and consistently across all your marketing materials.
Once you’ve got them, they’re there for you to use for as long as you like, until you decide it’s time to give your brand a refresh. And you can promote your company with confidence, knowing everything you have designed perfectly reflects what you do for your customers and what you’re trying to achieve as an organisation.
Spend time planning, designing and building your website to the highest possible standard.
As I mentioned in a post from a little while ago, users are interacting differently with websites post-pandemic – and they expect flawless functionality from the platforms they choose to visit, enquire with, and buy from. Click to read more about web design in a post-Covid world.
Great web design is still important. But if you want to make a positive, lasting impression on your potential customers, your website needs to be 100% fit for purpose, too. It needs to contain the content and features that your audience expect, and it absolutely must be free from broken links, out-of-date text, misaligned graphics, and all the other stuff that contributes to a less-than-perfect user experience.
If money’s tight, you can always create a fantastic web platform yourself, as long as you follow all the best practices. But you only get one chance to make a great impression, especially if you’re starting a new business. And if you’ve spent all that time and energy crafting a brilliant brand – as per my advice above! – you certainly don’t want to then showcase your hard work with a slow, poorly structured, or technically unreliable website.
Not sure how much your new website should cost? I wrote a blog that deals with this very topic.
Your copy matters just as much, if not more, than your design.
Coming up with the visuals is only half the battle. Your text is going to do the actual talking, so it needs to be clear, engaging, easy to read, and persuasive enough to get your prospects excited about what you’re putting on the table.
Be mindful of the global situation when you’re writing your copy. Sometimes it’s good to include a brief nod to what’s been happening in the last 18 months or so; other times it’s best to assume that the reader will be able to frame your message in the context of their knowledge and experience of world events. The key is to be sensitive to the phrases and terminology your potential customers are using, and to not overstep the mark by using Covid to your advantage or to spread a sense of fear or panic.
The copy and content on your website should also be structured to support better rankings in the major search engines and bolster your overall SEO strategy. Talk to me for more information on how this works, and the kinds of things you need to consider when optimising your page content, meta tags, headers, and other onsite features. I have great links with experienced SEO copywriters who will be able to guide you through the process and make expert recommendations before your new website goes live, so it has the best chance of success from day one.
Get clear on what you need to do to market your brand online.
As I mentioned a little earlier on, customers will expect great things from your website these days, and they expect your online marketing to be on point, too. Everything you send out into the ether needs to be created in line with your branding and written in an appropriate tone and style.
There are tonnes of digital marketing channels to choose from. Whether you’re keen to get instant exposure from Google Ads or other paid search platforms, you want to take a longer-term approach to boosting your organic SEO, or you’re eager to start pushing out your messaging via all the popular social media platforms, you need to plan your approach and set clear timeframes for all the deliverables that are going to keep your strategy on track.
My team and I can help you create – and stick to! – a strategy that suits your brand and your business. We can also help you get an idea of the fees involved in each channel or service, so you can plan your budgets for the months and the years ahead. We know that, as a start-up, you’re likely to be cash-conscious, so we’ll always try to recommend solutions that are both effective and sustainable, especially in the first few months.
Get a good (and short) domain name.
Tying in with what I’ve been saying about keeping things simple and easy to digest, the same principles apply to the domain name you choose for your website. The shorter, the better; the clearer, the better. Plus, if you can include one of your website’s main targeted keywords in your URL, that will work in your favour for SEO purposes.
You also need to think about what domain extension makes the most sense for your business. .com and .co.uk are two of the most common, but there are loads of options out there to help your domain stand out, including regional variations (like .london) for those of you who are servicing a certain area, and industry-specific ones (like .accountant or .consulting).
Understand what you’ll need to do to look after your website in the longer term.
It’s not necessarily easy to look after your website yourself, even if it’s built on a user-friendly platform like WordPress. There are certain things you will need to do on a regular basis to keep your platform safe, secure, and performing well.
For example, you’ll need to consider how often you’ll need to update your themes and plug-ins; how frequently you’ll need to back up your data; and how comfortable you are editing and updating your website’s content yourself.
If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you can outsource all the maintenance and support tasks to me. I can tailor a package that takes everything into consideration, so you won’t need to worry about anything that’s going on behind the scenes.
Don’t forget about print.
Web marketing took precedence during the Covid pandemic, as face to face contact was limited and a lot of traditional sales and marketing approaches were made redundant for a time. But print is making something of a comeback – and for certain types of businesses, printed collateral like leaflets, flyers, banners and customised merchandise can still help to strengthen their brand image and let customers know what you can do for them.
Put some cash and mental energy towards creating assets that people can touch and interact with, because there’s still a place for this kind of tactile experience in your marketing mix.
Get yourself out there!
Even seasoned business owners are feeling a bit rusty as the world begins to open up again in 2021.
But as a new company owner, you need to get yourself in front of prospective customers. Whether it’s attending events, going along to networking meetings, or experimenting with more unusual or experiential marketing techniques, there are plenty of ways you can generate a real buzz around what you’re doing.
After months of lockdowns, uncertainty and general rubbishness, audiences are open to new experiences and looking for solutions to all the challenges life is throwing at them right now. It’s your job to show up and help them!