3 Pitfalls Entrepreneurs Fall into When Branding Themselves

Being an entrepreneur and launching a brand is no walk in the park. It requires a lot of skill, hard work and, sometimes, a little luck. One of the most crucial early stages of launching a business or a product is branding. In branding, sometimes one mistake can derail even the best idea. Read on to avoid possibly falling into any of these three top pitfalls in branding:

Being customer-oriented rather than competitor-oriented. Successful businesses are used to making assumptions to be able to project an outcome. You should assume that most of your competitors are going to be customer-oriented. This results to everyone in the marketplace ending up with a similar product. Set yourself apart by analyzing your competitors and trying to find a way to be different. It is hard to win by striving to be “better” – as this is a highly subjective concept. In branding, you can easily win by being different.

The inability to define the focus. Every successful brand has a focus. An effective entrepreneur makes sure his company has a strong angle and all his actions and goals are in line with this focus. Ask yourself, “What category am I competing in? How do I verbalize my distinction in just two or three words?”Say your brand is the market leader like Pizza Hut, thus your focus should be “leadership.” Domino’s narrowed its focus to “home delivery” and soon after became the second-largest pizza chain. Little Caesars refined its focus to “two pizzas for the price of one.” There are hundreds of pizza chains out there, but these three chains dominate the category.

Assuming your new brand will take off rapidly. Yes, assumptions are often made in business but only for the purpose of projecting and measuring likely outcomes. To assume that your new brand will instantly take off willlead to many ill decisions, such as spending heavily on advertising or over-hiring personnel to market it. Today, the best way to launch a new brand is with public relations or PR. Venture into advertising only after your brand has been established in the market. PR first, advertising later. But hiring a PR firm is an option only for those companies that have already built a substantial business, otherwise it is a waste of time and money. Write up your own articles and start establishing contacts with local publications – that’s a good place to start.

On a final note, once your brand takes off, you will need to resist the temptation to expand. Take Yahoo, for example, a company that once upon a time dominated the search engine industry. Yahoo was worth $140B in the stock market. Yahoo then quickly diversified into Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Games, Yahoo Groups, Yahoo Pager, etc. Today, Yahoo is worth just $30B. Meanwhile, Google remained a pure search engine and is currently worth $498B on the stock market. However, Google is now giving in to the urge to expand. Google’s future worth is almost predictably fated towards the same road as Yahoo is down on. Except for geographic expansion, entrepreneurs would do well to resist the urge to expand their brands and, instead, keep the focus refined.