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Building a brand is a marathon, not a sprint
Building a brand is a marathon, not a sprint
When starting a brand, often people design a logo, choose some colours and think they are done.
In reality, building a brand is much more complex and time consuming.
When starting a brand, often people design a logo, choose some colours and think they are done. In reality, building a brand is much more complex and time consuming.
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Branding is a constant sequence of thinking, doing, reviewing and improving. It’s about implementing a strategy across all of your brand’s touch points and maintaining a consistent image and voice. Everything you post or release, every interaction you have builds up your brand.

A brand can’t be built over night. It takes time and money. In the early stages of your business you will probably be lacking in both. For this reason at Studio Unbound, we like to think of a brand’s journey as a marathon not a sprint.
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How to Train for a Marathon
Planning

Every marathon runner begins with a plan. Without a plan, it would be extremely difficult for an athlete to reach the required distance without injury. In the same way, any business owner who is committed to the long process of building a brand should first formulate a strategy.

Strategy is important if you want to create a consistent and effective brand image. A clear brand strategy will point you in the right direction when it comes to branding decisions and help you create consistency across all of your platforms. You need to reflect on who your audience is, how you will position your brand and what your key touch points are. After reflecting on these things you will be able to create a brand strategy through prioritising certain areas and leaving others until you have more time or money.

If you have a young audience, you may decide to prioritise social media presence, get a tiktok account and start creating branded hashtag challenges, if you have an older audience you may prioritise radio or newspaper advertisements. If your business sells direct to consumer, then you will want to spend time optimising your website, whereas if you are selling your product in retail stores, spending time engaging with buyers will be more important.

Every brand will have their own plan and their own priorities so make sure to reflect on your own business before making any branding decisions.
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Embracing Imperfection

Athletes could sit all year with their coaches and discuss training plans. If they actually want to run a marathon though, at some point they will have to get out there and run. Sometimes this means starting without a perfect plan. Other times it means having a perfect plan, but being unable to follow it entirely whether that be because of personal reasons or injury.

As important as strategy is, there is only so much you can plan before you have to get your product and branding materials out there. They will not be perfect the first time round. That’s okay. Even the biggest brands are constantly refining and tweaking. It’s all about learning as you go and improving your brand in manageable and incremental steps based on the performance of existing content.
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Get Help

No one could run a marathon without some sort of guidance. Even beginner runners do significant amounts of research and often partner up with more experienced runners. Those who are looking to improve their time significantly may invest in an experienced coach, who can help them with the subtleties of the run.

If you are struggling to create a brand strategy or implement it, or if your strategy doesn’t seem to be working, it is a good idea to start working with a partner who can guide you and help you to achieve your brand goals.

There are many different options for you to choose from in terms of finding help and guidance. If you are just starting out, your budget might not stretch to outsourcing your branding work. If this is the case then the best you can do is to invest in some good books or an online course and learn more about branding for yourself. Independent research will get you by until you have the budget available to start working with branding agencies or consultants.

There will come a time however, when if you really want your business to keep progressing you will need to seek help from an expert. It is extremely rare that brands who design their own labels become successful without having previous experience in branding or the help of a branding professional.

For new brands, an ‘Unagency’ like Studio Unbound serves as the perfect middle ground between working with freelancers and working with big london branding agencies. You will get a running partner that can work alongside you giving you advice, making sure that your brand is consistent across all platforms and helping you spot new opportunities to engage with your audience. We also work project by project, helping you tackle one issue at a time, prioritising aspects of branding that you feel least comfortable with managing yourself. Either way, if you want to grow your brand, it is best to get help from an expert as soon as possible.
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Get Faster

Once a marathon runner is capable of running the entire 26 miles, the focus then becomes decreasing the time in which they can do it.

In the same way, once you have a good idea of what is working and what isn’t working for your brand. It is a good idea to start using tools such as: templates, response emails and social media scheduling programs to speed up the process.

By creating tools that make your job easier, you will find you have more time to focus on other areas of branding that you previously neglected.
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Don’t be Afraid to Start Again if You’re Running in the Wrong Direction
I know what you are thinking. Isn’t this metaphor a little stretched? Surely no marathon runner has actually made the mistake of running in the wrong direction. Well, it turns out it’s more common than you may think. In fact, in the Marathon of the North 2013, 5,000 runners ran the wrong route!

Our point is that if you feel your brand is going in the wrong direction, don’t be afraid to start making changes. There may be multiple reasons you wish to rebrand. Perhaps your business is changing direction a little. Perhaps you have realised that you aren’t attracting the right clientele. Maybe your designs are just a little outdated.

Sometimes, unforeseeable circumstances mean that we have to change the way our business operates. I don’t think there is a better example of this than the effects that Miss Rona has had. The businesses that managed to survive, are the businesses which could afford to adapt to the situation. If there was ever a keyword for 2020 that keyword would be ‘pivot.’
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We hope that the information above has helped to give you a little more perspective on branding as a long and ongoing process. We are sorry if we have burst any bubbles in sharing this information, but we believe it is important that businesses are realistic when budgeting for the time and money necessary to build a successful brand.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed or aren’t sure how to move forward with your branding, take a look at some of our other posts which share valuable information about brand strategy.
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