What Do You Want To Achieve With Your Business?

Whether you are embarking on a new business, or rethinking an existing business, the starting point is to consider what you want to achieve with the business, what your hopes and aspirations for it are, and then decide how to develop your ideas and brand. Testing the concept will be key, depending on what it is you are introducing to the market.

Once you are ready to launch the business fully, you need a business plan. Just as you would not build a house without a plan, so it is unwise to embark on a business without forethought. It need not be a lengthy plan, but it is important to have one, and to revisit and update it at least annually. Clarity about the problem you solve, which customers you solve it for, and what your stance will be helps you approach the problem you are solving more effectively.5

Some people put insufficient thought into their business and launch without a clear plan. Instead of thinking about the substance of what their brand is to deliver they move straight to getting a visual identity because they want measurable, tangible things for their money and assume that a visual identity exercise will give them all they need to get going with their business. So, they are often answering questions covered in this part 2 of the book for the first time during their visual design work. It is inappropriate to expect creatives to hand-hold you to understand your vision for your business. Their job is the creative stuff, not the business identity. The business identity is the job of the founders.

Design briefs can often be subject to misunderstanding, with designers and their clients not quite meeting in the middle, for whatever reason. As the client, you can avoid this by making sure you are able to clearly communicate your vision and ask the right questions to understand what the designer (or other creative) will and will not be able to do for you. To this end, thinking through your business strategy should come well before the brand strategy and visual design stage. As a bonus, it works out much cheaper in the long run to use designers at the end of the process rather than at the start of it, just as it works out much cheaper to think of IP at the start rather than leaving it till after a brand has already been created.

You need a three- to five-year business strategy with IP strategy as an important part of it. You will also need a brand strategy, as well as annual marketing and campaign strategies to build the brand and attract sales. Your brand strategy will draw from the business strategy while the marketing strategy will draw from both.

Ultimately, the goal of strategy is to identify the way to build a sustainable advantage over the competition. The business model is one of the ways of doing this. Think about your business vision, and the customers for whom you solve problems. By focusing on the end goals, and how you hope to achieve them, you will have clear answers when you turn to having your visual identity designed rather than thinking about them for the first time then.

Success does not come from having an awesome looking logo or website, or a good name. It primarily involves making better decisions, often by virtue of having the right business model and strategy. The importance of thinking and planning should not be underestimated in business.

Depending on the business idea, much of your proof-of-concept activities may be spent on visiting different elements of the business plan. If you need investment, your business plan has another purpose as well – in this case, it should be more formal and thorough to win over investors. Essentially, the exercise benefits you simply because you take the time to plan. It gives you a roadmap for better decision-making that you can return to and take stock of or update periodically. There are a host of issues your business plan will address, which is why business plans are outside the scope of this book. I want to emphasize the importance of the right business model in determining success. Think: easyJet versus British Airways, Dell versus HP, or Amazon versus Barnes & Noble.