Mistakes are meant to be learned from. So, let's review the most common mistakes new founders make when launching their first brand. And, remember: mistakes are okay. They're good. It's the process of learning. If you're building your first business, you'll need to get really comfortable with making mistakes. The faster you fail the faster you get to the wins.
Mistake #1: Not developing a founder personal brand
Celebrities and content creators with large followings have a leg up on anyone else launching a new brand not because they make better business owners or because of money available to them but because they have a built audience and earned their trust and respect.
The thing is this: you can do this, too. If you’re having just a drop of desire to launch your own brand, start today developing your personal brand and building an audience. When you’re ready to launch your company, you’ll have people ready and waiting to buy your products. They’ll be excited to support you and have a little piece of something you’ve created.
Mistake #2: Not gathering UGC like content and reviews before launch day
A secret in the ecommerce business that shouldn’t be a secret: you can capture UGC and product reviews before you launch your product and have paying customers. Not only can you do this, you should 100% be doing this to have a successful launch day.
It’s really one of the easiest and most important things you can do. For example, Bread Beauty Supply’s founder uses her own UGC like content on their website to this day. And, getting product reviews is as easy as giving your product to friends and family (or anyone who will agree to use your product in exchange for a review) and ask for honest feedback in the form of a review. The product does not have to be your final product. As long as the formulation or design is complete, you have a product to capture reviews with.
Mistake #3: Launching with too many products
Unless you’re a seasoned founder who’s launched multiple businesses and developed many products and have successfully marketed these products, you’re in for a nightmare trying to launch your first brand with multiple products. Aim for one hero product that’s easy to develop and easy to market (Meaning, you don’t have to explain what it is or how to use - it should be something people are familiar with already.) If you must, you can launch with a few products within a product line. For example, one lip gloss formulation in 3 different colors. Or, one blazer style in a few different colors.
The reason why you don’t want to launch with multiple products is because it makes everything harder and more expensive. All of your development and marketing efforts are multiplied. Even after you’ve launched your products, you now have multiple products to market. Master one product, learn the ropes of running a business and marketing, then launch more products. Last, don’t convince yourself that more products means more money. That’s not true and in fact the opposite has a higher probability of being true since you’re likely biting off more than you can chew.
Mistake #4: Not prioritizing brand equity
Let’s talk about branding. We all know that branding is more than a logo. Branding is also more than what we see. Branding is the process of strategically positioning yourself within your market and within the minds of your ideal customers through visuals and words. These elements give your brand substance and personality. Without it you have a faceless, boring company with no branding. You build brand equity by being consistent with the same recognizable content that shows you understand our audience. Content like this is not possible without branding. Great products will bring repeat customers and eventually will drive new sales through social proof but there are many, many great products that go unseen by the vast majority of consumers because they lack branding that captures attention.
Here’s what you should be getting out of your branding: in addition to the visuals like a logo, colors, typography, and a defined photographic style you should also deeply understand your ideal customer, know how you’re positioning within the market and how you’ll differentiate yourself, a defined brand story, compelling messaging in varying lengths, brand value, mission, vision, and tone and voice. All those components get you centered and focused on the direction of your company as well as providing guardrails for content you will create.
Remember, your product can be duped and copied but your brand cannot. It’s the highest valued element of your company and should be prioritized as such.
Mistake #5: Skimping on photography
Listen, we make a living developing brand identities. So what we’re about to say should hit hard: there is no amount of branding that can overcome bad product photography or poorly executed campaign photography. If you’re self funded and trying to make your dollars stretch, you can DIY your branding and use an out-of-the-box website template and pour your dollars into photography that sells. Do this to get your initial sales to fund a professionally developed brand identity.
Mistake #6: Not understanding the difference between brand marketing and product marketing
Brand marketing brings awareness to your company while product marketing sells. Part of your product marketing experience is the product photography (see above) but another big piece to it is the product description. The number of times we see product pages that are missing basic information about the product is shocking. Describe in full detail what the product is. Use images and words to show and describe the texture, the colors, the fit, the smell, and anything else that will help mimic the experience of shopping in person. The more you help them see, feel, and hold the product the better your sales will be.
If you’re making any of the mistakes, it’s okay. You’re in good company. There’s not a company out there that hasn’t made mistakes that they now look back on with embarrassment. The point is to learn as you go and implement what you’ve learned as quickly as you can.