I am a huge fan of working with entrepreneurs. I’m one myself. I often wonder what goes through people’s minds when they make the decision to venture out on their own.

Is being a business owner something that they always envisioned for themselves or were they forced into the role as a result of not being able to secure a position within a company?

If you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, you need to understand that starting a business is more than just selling a product or a service. It’s about seeing the big picture and developing a brand around the product or service. You need to develop a brand blueprint.

Just as an architect needs a blueprint and has to lay the foundation to build a house, an entrepreneur needs a similar process and foundation. This article covers three key elements that should be part of your brand blueprint:


1. Develop your brand’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The marketing statement that describes your brand’s uniqueness or point of difference, in terms of the major benefit that your customer will derive, is called a unique selling proposition or USP.

This concept is used by thousands of marketers to develop benefit messages used in advertising, branding and promotional materials.

In essence, the USP promises your customers, clients or prospects that they will receive this unique benefit by only using your product or service. That is why the USP is also referred to as a brand promise.

In a nutshell, the USP is a “pick-up” line that entices your customers to favour your brand over your competition.

Your USP defines who you are, and what you do in relation to the benefits your clients receive when using your products or services. Creating your own USP enables you to define for the consumer your brand image and positioning, relative to the competition.


2. Create a Brand Personality

Just as every person has a personality, so does your product or service. 

Part of creating a brand also involves creating your brand personality attributes. Brand attributes are human characteristics that can be associated with the brand.

The brand personality is what the consumer identifies with.

The closer you can align your brand personality to that of your target audience, the easier it is going to be to sell to them.

Virgin Atlantic Airlines conveys an energetic, aggressive, passionate personality that is similar to its founder, Richard Branson. Apple is recognised by its brand personality attributes — innovative, stylish, hip and casual.

Consider what human attributes can be associated with your brand so that consumers can easily align themselves with your goods and services.


3. Determine your brand positioning

In crowded markets, it is very important to position your product appropriately. Differentiating yourself is an important element in establishing your positioning. If you are starting a new product or service, you need not reinvent the wheel. The key is to find out how you can improve upon the existing wheel.

The best way to determine the positioning for your brand is to look at what the competition is offering in the marketplace. What is the quality of their product or service? Where do they stand in the market in terms of price? What is their level of customer service? What are their hours of operation? 

Once you have identified what the competition is doing, look for that hole in the market which currently isn’t being served by the competition.

In the late 1990s in Singapore, I operated a ladies’ boutique in a shopping mall that was in between two major hotels. The stores in the mall did not open for business until 11am. Each day I observed a number of tourists walking around the mall aimlessly in the early morning hours looking for some place to go or something to purchase.

To accommodate these potential shoppers, I changed my hours of operation from 11am to 9pm and stayed open from 10am to 8pm. I had identified a hole in the market and then simply made it convenient for my customers to shop by shifting my hours of operation by one hour. The upshot? I did a lot of business between 10am and 11am.

Take a look at your competitors. What can you learn from them that will allow you to position yourself differently in ways that benefit the consumer? Tweak one or two things and do them better than your competition to establish your positioning in the marketplace.

Creating a simple brand blueprint for your new product or service will put you well ahead of the person who starts a business and then simply opens the door for business.