Mastering the Art of Formulating, Launching, & Branding a Major New Business Concept
Ever wonder how creatives do it — go from a vague idea to a beautifully executed final concept? Following are some tips about becoming a guru of the creative process:
Lead with Passion
Many startups fail to grasp one simple concept: a brand should embody the passion of its leadership. A successful brand conveys vision, connects intrinsically with its consumer base, and emphasizes the company’s value. Think of Steve Jobs — from his first to his last day at Apple, his passion emanated through everything the company created.
It All Starts with an Idea
You have to believe in the idea — and validate that it has reason to exist for particular target markets. If it’s a viable solution to a pressing problem, chances are it will succeed. The next thing to do is present it properly. And listen to your niche audiences; they’ll tell you exactly what they want in their ideal solution.
Next, Bounce the Idea off Others
Share the concept with friends, family and team members. Go further to crowdsource first impressions via social media. Remember that honest feedback is key; there is often room for improvement.
Absorb Best Practices
Innovation is all about making existing solutions better. So take the time to learn about what’s already out there; then mull over how this new idea offers a unique alternative to options that tackle similar problems on the market. For instance, think of how Airbnb improved upon what HomeAway was already offering for vacation rentals, or how Car sharing services disrupted the industry by getting people from point A to point B in a much more enjoyable, effective way than traditional taxicabs.
Start anywhere and make the idea into something real. Whether it’s an online service or a tangible product, give it an identity. Brand it.
There is always a (big) chance of failure — 90% of startups go belly-up within the first couple years. It’s a daunting fact, but that’s part of what makes entrepreneurship exciting. Don’t be afraid to fall flat on your face, even if you know it’s all uphill from there when you get right back up. On the other hand, if you are still growing (or at least making steady profits) after three years, chances are your startup will survive for the long haul.
Focus on something else for a while, and let the idea in progress soak in all that genius. You don’t have to leave for a month on a trip around the world, but a day or so to let the mind relax and then see the project from a fresh perspective is incredibly helpful.
Constructive Feedback is Key
Ask direct questions about specific elements of the idea that may seem unclear. Why do this? Because leaving a blank slate open for feedback on anything and everything will confuse audiences, and their replies then risk being irrelevant. So never just say “What do you think?” or “Do you like it?” If it’s the color of the buttons on the site that are questionable, ask for suggestions about better colors, and cumulate a vote on the top choice. If it’s the shape of the package that looks funny, seek alternatives. Well-formulated questions lead to useful answers.
Put it All Together, Like a Jigsaw
Launching a new idea is like putting together a huge puzzle with hundreds of tiny pieces. Keep track of notes, lessons learned, aha! moments, and take action on the most feedback. Eventually, the pieces come together, and the big picture then becomes ready to present to audiences.
Capture (Dwindling) Attention
Don’t be afraid to promote your message through multiple channels, because you never quite know exactly where your target audience’s attention will be at a given moment: a few people could be scrolling through Twitter feeds on their smartphones while waiting in line at the store, while others could be sneaking a peek at Facebook during break time at work, or flipping through pages of a (tangible!) magazine while waiting for an appointment, or glued to the game on the big screen at the gym during a workout.
Online and offline presence must be coordinated in order to give due recognition to the result of your creative process. You’re proud of your work, so tell as many people as possible about it!5