21 November 2012

Re-Evaluating Your Business

Following on from our recent post of How to Choose the Right Design Company for You, this week I wanted to help you to all think about re-evaluating your businesses yourselves. This is not only a really good thing to practise - essential for the owner of any business if you ask us - but it can be extremely helpful in aiding the build or refreshment of your brand, when and if needed.

This is relevant to any business owner at all, no matter whether you are a new start-up that hasn't yet launched your business, or if you are a young or more established business - whether you have fallen
out of love with your existing brand or not.

Business owners should really be re-evaluating their businesses and brands on a regular basis, and it can actually be very therapeutic. We ourselves do this once a year - to sit down and really look at where
we are, and where we could improve. As the year goes by, you tend to wear so many hats that it can
be really tough to keep on top of absolutely everything, and all the while your business is growing and evolving. By the end of the year your business could be targeting a new audience, or you may have
even had some kind of restructure of the services you offer - all clear reasons why evaluation is key.

The following worksheet will help you in the re-evaluation of your business and your brand as a whole,
no matter what stage it is at.

Your Business
Focus on your business basics, and explain it in as many words as necessary - include when it began
(or when it will begin, if you are yet to launch), your main services or products, your company ethics and your company mission.

Your Message
What is the main message that you want to communicate with your business? Look at the words below, and select which reflect your company (or that you want to reflect your company) in the various areas.

Your Company's Nature

Ambitious, Brave, Challenging, Clever, Comfortable, Confident, Friendly, Inclusive, Innovative, Intelligent, Unique.

Your Company's Attitude

Approachable, Conservative, Expansive, Future-facing, Inclusive, Leader, Professional, Questioning, Responsible, 
Risk-taking, Warm.

Your Company's Main Focus

Cost, Customers, Future, Growth, Innovation, Partner, People, Products, Profit, Quality, Recognition, Relationships, Scale, Service, Solutions, Stability, Staff, Techniques.

What Your Company is Like to Work With

Collaborative, Consistent, Dependable, Exceeds Expectations, Expert, Flexible, Have-a-go, Meets Expectation, 
Proactive, Procedural, Reactive, Supportive, Value-for-money, Worth-the-expense.

Your Company's Culture

Dynamic, Evolutionary, Feminine, Formal, Fun, Informal, Laid-back, Open, Revolutionary, Serious, Stable, 

Your Company's Style

Bold, Contemporary, Different, Edgy, Exciting, Loud, Quiet, Sexy, Sophisticated, Surprising, Traditional, Uniform, 
Witty, Young.

Your Target Audience
Describe your target audience - their sex, marital status, age, profession and lifestyle. Nail down as many specifics as possible - What do they do in their spare time? What kind of activities to they enjoy? Remember, if you are an established company, you are not looking at what audience you are currently attracting, but the audience you want to attract - your ideal customer or client. You can then evaluate if you are actually attracting the correct audience, and if not, put steps into place to change this.

Your Competition
Who is your competition and how are you different to them? You may have many or few competitors,
but your USP (unique selling point) will be the thing that sets you apart - pinpoint it.

Your Future
Where do you want to be in 5 years? What is your vision and your ambition for the future of your business? Think both big and small and put it all down.

Your Ideas
Building a mood board is a great way to focus visually on your business. Whether you are yet to get your brand built, or whether you have a current brand that may require development, building a mood board can be extremely fruitful.

Your board can include absolutely anything - from colour ideas and photographic styles, to random bits of imagery or pattern that inspire you - it is really just all about building a visual feast of the things that you feel help to represent your business.

If you already have a brand - whether you are unhappy with it, or whether it may just need a little tweaking to bring in line with your businesses development - put it out of sight and begin your moodboard from scratch, with fresh eyes. Whatever your circumstance, this in itself will highlight what parts of your current brand are failing.

Your Brand
If you have yet to get your brand built, take some time to think about the things that might need to be included. If you are at the very early stages, this could begin with brainstorming your company name,
but if you already have that established, think about whether you perhaps need a strap-line.

Your brand covers much more than your logo of course, so think about what else you will need - a website, what stationery your company will need to really strengthen your brand, and what promotional material you will require to get your business out there. You may also want to research social platforms, to figure out which ones might benefit your business - not all will, and to some extent it is a case of trial and error. Remember - they are free advertisement, so you have nothing to lose by giving them a try.

If you already have an existing brand, do not discount this part of the brief. No matter where you are with your business there is always a need for reflection to keep your brand relevant as your business grows.
If you are unhappy with your current brand, or something isn't working quite right, start again from the beginning - what bits are working, and what bits are failing you? By pinpointing them really specifically, you can move forward. This isn't just a case of thinking about whether your logo or colour palette is right, it is about the whole picture - think about your materials and online presence as a whole - anything and everything that represents your business. Go through your brand experience through the eyes of your customers and clients - are there any inconsistencies or is there room for improvement?

I hope that by the end of this exercise, you will feel like you have really re-engaged with your business, and feel much clearer on how to move forward. This is the perfect time of year to do this exercise, as we approach the end of 2012, with an eye on the next year and all that it holds. But remember to also reflect on how far you have come this year, and give yourself credit for all that you have achieved to date!

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