Branding exercises are perceived as projects for the big players and multinational companies. Having the need to be frugal, how then can a start-up embark on building a brand? A common question raised was, “As a small company, do I do branding now?”

At the Start-Up Enterprise Conference 2009 organised by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and DP Bureau Pte Ltd with their strategic partner Action Community of Entrepreneurship (ACE), Lawrence Chong, Director for Strategy Development at Consulus Cato Partners, shared how branding can affect one’s business and cleared the misconception that branding is only for the big industry players.

The fundamentals of branding require one to consider long-term implications. Planning for a rocket launch was used as an analogy to illustrate branding for companies. The period where rockets commonly fail is not during orbit, but in the course of transiting from launch to orbit path. To avoid so-called engine failure, a branding exercise must not be done hastily without long-term consideration.

“Often, entrepreneurs are too caught up by ideas and neglect [thinking about] how to put it all together.” Lawrence explains. “Branding [must be] logical, because you want to maximise your chances of success.”

Causes of “engine failure” as shared during the talk includes lack of common purpose and poor leadership.

1. Lack of Common Purpose results in Wastage of Resources
Entrepreneurs tend to work on promises and what they can do for their customers. The promise is the delivery of a motive. The partners should instead discuss and establish the shared purpose that all the partners can work towards.

2. Poor Leadership causes Talent Drain
The essence of leadership is the commitment to ensure that talents stay in the company and are able to thrive. When leadership is lacking, the message will be confused, which will in turn result in slow channel momentum.

Lawrence also stressed the importance of creating a unique name and relevant design in achieving brand success, supporting his points with business case studies in Singapore.

Entrepreneurs in start-up or young companies need to ask themselves the pertinent questions:

  • Where do we want to go?
  • What is the reason?
  • How will our company grow?
  • How will we build relationships?
  • What is our brand plan?
  • How will we get people on board?
  • How will we develop leadership?

Answering the questions will be tough, but it will result in a brand that is grounded by purpose and ready for success.