What I learned from having an aquarium and how does this resemble a branding process?
1. Starting phase: Research. A lot of research
Starting an aquarium takes an initial three weeks.
You have to invest your time and energy, not knowing if it will work out in the end. It’s purely experimental.
First, gather all your elements: the aquarium, sand, light, and water filter. Then do some landscaping, try to adjust the temperature, put in a water filter, get the right water, and wait.
This phase is called cycling.
A branding project starts the same way. First, understand the market, your target, and your main direct and indirect competitors. After this initial data is gathered, a strategy plan can be developed. From there, the main branding communication elements can be formed: vocal and visual brand identity.
After the cycling period, you can add some livestock like plants, snails, fish, shrimp, and/or amphibians. The tragedy is that you can’t predict if any of the parameters will make their lives thrive.
This phase can be compared with the branding launch.
With a lot of energy and enthusiasm, all businesses start off well. As an entrepreneur, you will make all the initial efforts of planning, investing, creating, and finding the right people, but at the end of the day, no one can guarantee that your business will be a success.
2. Second Phase: Maintaining
An aquarium is hard to maintain. Having crystal-clear water, healthy livestock, and easy-to-maintain equipment is a constant hassle. You have to periodically change 10% of the water, replace damaged plants and dead fish, test the water’s PH and temperature, clean the water filter, clean the substrate where you need to, and so much more.
After the initial launch of your brand, which takes approximately 3-6 months, you start to make some changes to the business plan according to your first-hand experience with clients in the marketplace. You will modify services and products to better fit your needs and also replace or add members to your team. After that, you will have to make some changes in the visual and verbal branding communication parts as well. Maybe develop some additional tools to help you sell better, like investing in a blog, e-commerce, CRM/CSM, advertising, and so on.
3. Third faze: Unforeseen problems
Like in any experiment, whether you own an aquarium or a business, you have to be morally prepared to lose everything in an instant.
The livestock in my aquarium had to be replaced a few times over the past 4 years. Every time, it was a lesson that I had to learn quickly.
I forgot to replace the water, the filter got stuck, a fish was too aggressive and killed all the others, or the temperature was too low or high…
Any of these reasons can be translated into the business world.
There are things you can control and others that will come unexpectedly for so many reasons: COVID, the stock exchange, consumer behavior change, unsuitable employees or partnerships, or other unforeseen things like life itself.
Sometimes it’s not about what you do. You don’t have control over external factors.
4. The final phase: The longer game
After 1–2 years, the aquarium is finally stable.
You could get bored of the landscape, but you can start anytime from the base you already know.
When your business works like a charm, you can make bolder moves and build big without error.
Also, your brand will give you exposure and notoriety to grow.
Let’s hope nothing major comes along soon.
Have a blast!