From Startup to Established Brand: Are You Ready to Transition?
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A founder's journey typically includes daydreams of his or her company becoming a global giant, synonymous with its sector. "Google" means search. "Uber" means local transportation. "Airbnb" means unique accommodations available almost anywhere.
Wouldn't it be amazing if one day your company could achieve the same level of recognition (and profit)?
While reaching that kind of high point is rare, even the more achievable goal of becoming a notable and recognized player in your category takes an investment of time, energy and resources. That's why deciding to pour even more resources into your branding initiatives is a big decision that needs to be executed properly, and, more importantly, at the right time. Too early, and you may be throwing money away. Too late, and you may watch your competitors grab the spotlight.
So, the message is that if you’re waiting for a definitive moment that tells you “it’s time,” that probably won’t happen. However, by keeping an eye out for the following four signals, you’ll know the time is right to see things through.
1. You're leading your space.
If you have a good hold on your market and your product provides a unique value proposition, you’re in a good position to effectively differentiate yourself from the competition.
That’s a great starting point, but even the best of products have flaws. You’ll need to prepare yourself, and more importantly, your product or service, for the inevitable scrutiny that will be generated by existing and new competitors. Once you start aiming for a notable brand status, the spotlight will be on, so make sure your product is ready for the test.
Second, your company shouldn't just be providing a product, but shaping the future of the space you’re in. When we started Wix, we offered a great platform for anyone to create his or her own website. But as we grew, we understood from our users that what they needed was something beyond a "website builder."
They needed (still do) a platform that provides simplified solutions to the many different aspects of running an online business. Acting on this realization set us apart from other players in our field; and today we continue to expand our offering and strengthen our position in the market.
2. You've found equilibrium.
Sometimes, how we see our own company is very different from how we are perceived by the wider public. The most important characteristics of your company are the ones that resonate with your audience; however, these are not necessarily the ones you most want to be associated with.
We’re a transparent company and take pride in our offbeat way of nurturing an innovative and creative environment. Yet, while we’re happy to share this side of our work culture, at the end of the day the brand we push forward needs to be associated with things that matter to our market. Having our user base recognize that ours is the simplest platform for building and growing a business online is more important than knowing how awesome we are to hang out with.
Finding that balance between who you want to be and how you’re being perceived is a crucial step as you’re maturing your brand. Correctly identifying this equilibrium will help you shape and communicate your brand story.
3. You've gone the distance.
The investment necessary to achieve an established-brand status means that you need to adopt a long-term focus reflecting the time and effort necessary to see this process through.
Once you’ve taken the plunge and shifted some of your resources into branding initiatives, you’ll need to plan for the coming quarters and even years. Think of this as a long-term investment toward getting your company to a market-leader position. The vision is there, but the actual execution requires cumulative efforts that will show their value over time.
Bear in mind that measuring your return may not be as clear-cut or rapidly visible as other marketing initiatives may be, and you should establish your key performance indicators accordingly.
4. You can handle it.
The final piece is to have in place a team that is ready to handle the transition. Acquiring users demands an entirely different skill set than growing a brand, and you need to make sure your marketing staff is ready to take on these new responsibilities.
Take the time to honestly assess the capabilities of your staff, and embrace the needs they may have to learn more and try new tactics toward this next, monumental task. Putting them in the best situation to succeed will pay off big time once you are ready to aim for established brand status.