In a recent presentation I delivered, I was asked a question that struck me as a great one to address here: Do you need a logo before you start marketing?  When the question was asked, it occurred to me that it is one that a lot of people are probably wondering to themselves.  Let me give you my take on it here.

I’ll start with a preamble.  There are many marketing experts, design experts, branding experts, and others who will have different viewpoints.  What I bring to my answer is the simple fact that I work primarily with microbusiness owners who have a very limited budget, a very limited team, and very limited time to do the full organizational chart of jobs that are assigned to them.

And with that understanding I want to tell you to get started.  Start marketing.  Do so with a plan first.  The plan involves establishing your BRAND, even if you aren’t in a position yet to get full beautiful BRANDING in place.  If the essence of your message is coming across accurately in other ways, that is a good place to start as you get the look perfected.  This includes a logo, a website, and the other trappings that come with it.

Put the branding in place as soon as you can, but don’t let it stop you from marketing at all if you need more time on those elements.

Put the branding in place as soon as you can, but don’t let it stop you from marketing. #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur #biztips Click To Tweet

I know you might be hitting the ground running.  If you aren’t, just know that a lot of the people who are reading this are.  Many – if not most – small business owners start their businesses in a tricky balancing act, trying to manage working in the business at the same time as they learn how to work on the business at the same time as they try to operate the business.

This is why when it comes to marketing, I am making a distinction of what you really need to get going.  There is a distinction between brand and branding.  You must get clear on your brand if you are going to market effectively.  Start there, and the branding can follow the moment you are ready to invest in it.

There is a distinction between brand and branding. #business #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #entrepreneur #biztips Click To Tweet

As far as your brand goes, begin by figuring out exactly who your target markets are and where they are.  Then ask yourself what your what your company values are (read this) and what your tone is (read this).  Finally, ask yourself what they need to know from you.  How are you going to help them?  All of this informs your brand and should be done before you start marketing.  It’s in your best interest to do it.  It will dramatically improve the outcome of your conversations.  Also, it’s free to think about these things.

Once you know those elements and you start getting out there, your next step will be to invest in branding as soon as you are able.  Branding is when the essence of your brand comes to life.  It may be represented in visuals, like your logo, a website, or any other assets that you create that communicate your message at a glance.

Listen, branding is important.  Don’t get me wrong. The sooner you put professional-looking branding in place, the sooner you will appear professional.  The value of appearing professional is not to be denied.  You are up against other businesses that do have that appearance, and the look you put out there speaks volumes to potential customers.

That said, I want to be practical with where you probably are early in your business.  I am aware of what you are up against.  If you are not in a place yet where you can invest in a logo or other branding, start executing the marketing plan you can do within your price range.  Perhaps you are emailing or calling the people you know and giving them a verbal message.  Maybe you will develop a social media page with crisp but unofficial images.  You might attend networking events at your local chamber of commerce or business association and build a referral network.

The great news is that if you begin by defining the elements of your brand I described earlier – target market, tone, values, message – it will be far easier for a graphic designer or a web designer to get you the perfect branding later.

Start where you are with the best way you can represent your brand right now.  Grow from there.

Start where you are with the best way you can represent your brand right now. Grow from there. #smallbusiness #smallbiz #smb #biztips #entrepreneur Click To Tweet

My business didn’t launch with a fully-formed gorgeous website, eBook, products, logo, or a Facebook page with nearly 10,000 followers.  It was born with me accidentally telling someone I was taking clients and then getting a client.  The rest followed as quickly as I could get there.  I know a lot of you will have similar stories.

As long as you get the message out there, you are marketing.  In the beginning you need to start doing it and not procrastinating.  Put the assets in place as soon as you can, but don’t do NOTHING while you wait for that moment.

Not sure where to begin?  Start at the beginning!  Use these quick worksheets to brainstorm who your target markets are so you can set the foundation of the rest of your marketing plan.  You can find the B2B version HERE and the B2C version HERE!