Why you should be thinking about your brand idea as soon as you have your product idea.
You have that moment, when a bunch of thoughts, ideas, fluff and anti-matter coalesce and BOOM, your Big Bang. There’s a surge of adrenaline, you stop still and it hits you: This might just work…I’d start with content….I’ll use an API…and I can own the search terms…and if we did x then y would happen…and we’d have a network effect and, OH MY GOD, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!! Quick!! LEG IT!!! How do we build the #*#?in’ thing?
You spend the next year thinking about the product, the broader offer, operations and money.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in the world, there’s another over-excited human being going through exactly the same thing. Maybe not that moment, but in the grand scheme of things, when they make the Internet Era start at 1.5 minutes to twelve on the civilization clock, it’s around the same time.
The fact is we live in a world of over supply. It’s too easy to make stuff, especially digital stuff. Whether it is copying or just landing on the same idea, you won’t be alone.
The first questions StartUps ask themselves tend to be about product, or business plans, or traction. But once you have you’re big idea, your first question should be this:
How can I defend it when people are copying me?
The answer to that is to do something that can’t be copied.
The one thing that is nearly impossible to copy is the bundle of intangibles, mental associations and gut feel about your business that exists in customer’s heads. What we call a brand. You can leave that for customers to create on their own or you can try to shape it yourself and that is what we call a brand building.
Brand is difference, brand is emotion and logic, brand is complex, brand is everything the business does. To use Warren Buffet’s vernacular, brand is your moat. There are other moats but they are harder to control yourself.
So once you have the big idea, you should ask yourself: how does my big idea translate into a brand concept?
Once you have a point of view on that (and yes, it can iterate to begin with, just like a product) you should ask a second question:
how does everything the business does deliver that brand concept?
This will result in lots of things in lots of places. The product will change, the offer will change, operations will change. It will be infused with a unique spirit.
So with two questions, you’ve created something that is very hard to copy.