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When it comes to building your business, everyone’s goal comes down to the same thing ‑‑ to stand out, to make an impression, and to get noticed and drive traffic.

Why is it that most businesses don’t start off with the right branding? I truly believe it’s because they skip a very important part and that’s two steps ‑‑ research and planning. Before you even get started, it’s really important to step back and take a look at a couple things.

Let’s talk about some of the key components to starting a project. Whether you are starting from scratch to building out a logo, a website, collateral, or maybe you’re already in the midst of things, but you’re really not sure where it’s going, it’s really important to step back and take a look at some of these pieces.

Number one is to do your research. This is probably the most important step, is to really go out there and see what your competitors are doing, what their website looks like, what their logo looks like, what social media channels are they using?

Take a look at what you do like and what you don’t like about their branding. Take a look at what their website functionality is and see if those are some of the components that you do want to use or maybe you see something there. You’re, “No, this is something that I don’t want to use. It actually makes it horrible.”

The reason for this is that it’ll really give you an understanding of what your branding should look like and what your needs are. Number two is to communicate your vision. The way to communicate your vision is to do the research.

Once you know exactly what you like, and what you don’t like, and what everybody else is doing, you can really communicate what will work for you. Gathering supporting materials, make sure and be organized, and just really know what your company represents.

Communicating your business goals, too, is really important when it comes to working with somebody on design. Whether it’s your Web designer, your developer, or maybe it’s your local designer; they really need to understand your business as opposed to just saying, “Well, you know what? I’m a roofing company. Just make it look pretty.”

To really understand what your business goals are in the long run, we’ll help them create something that will tell that story visually. You also want to create a hierarchy of needs, things that you need right away for your business and for your branding, and maybe things that can wait.

That way, you don’t feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Be very specific and very honest with yourself. Again, find several resources. Lastly, have a realistic timeline in mind for yourself and anybody else that you may be working with.

Let me give you a fun statistic. A study was done on website design at Northumbria in Sheffield Universities that impressions are 94 percent design‑related. That means that only six percent has to do with content.

Whenever you are doing a research, whenever you are looking around, really take in the visual aspect of what you’re looking at. Why is this important? As a founder of a digital marketing agency, it’s really important to us to understand what our clients want.

If they don’t know what they want, we have to guess at what they’re thinking. The process becomes longer, which means that it becomes more frustrating and then we end up going in circles until we guess.

When you know initially what you need and what you want, and you have a right direction when it comes to your branding, whoever you end up working with is going to be a much better experience. Your costs are actually going to be lowered because it’s going to take us less time as designers, developers, SEO experts to get you to what you really need.

At Merge Forward, we take on several different types of clients anywhere from big brands to small non‑profits to startups. There’s definitely a huge difference between somebody really coming in and being very specific about their business goals, their needs than somebody just saying, “Give me a website.”

We’ve had a situation where we had a client that just said, “OK, put it up. Put something up.” We’re, “Well, OK.” We started going in the right direction. We started designing and they just weren’t giving us any feedback. They weren’t really telling us what they need and what they don’t need.

All of a sudden, they’re just, “We’ll just put something up.” I couldn’t honestly say that I was able to do that. I had to stop the client and say, “You know what? This is not a good idea because we’re putting up what we think you need.” Communication is so important especially at the beginning of the project.

Let’s talk about our three forward strategies for today. Before starting a project, number one, do your research with your competitors and make a list of the dos and don’ts that you do like and you don’t like. Number two, write a description of your target market.

That way, you know your customer and whoever you end up working with in the future, whether it’s the developer, the designer, also knows your customer. Number three, create a realistic timeline, a calendar of expected deliverables.

That way, you in your head know exactly when you want things done and then whoever you’re working with knows when to deliver those pieces. The communication is nice and clear. Our takeaway for today is the initial research and planning phase will give you a better perspective on the needs to building out your brand.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please share with your friends and colleagues. If there are any other topics on running a business or building a brand you’d like to hear about, please leave a comment. Remember, the time and energy you put into your brand determines the success of your business.

Thank you for your time, all my best. Keep rocking and dream big.

Kasia Johnson






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