Now this will differ widely depending on your industry but here are some basic things that everyone will need and some of those things that you almost certainly won’t.
Some people get off on starting a business. They get off on having their logo plastered all over mugs, t-shirts and company cars. They can’t get enough of their nice branding and their nice mouse mats and their nice business cards. These are exactly the sort of people who fail in business.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be proud of your own brand, but IN NO WAY is that directly generating work for yourself. Yes, it is a contributing factor (some might argue a small one) but if you are more focused on making things look nice then you are actually getting them out into the world, you will fail.
Things will change
The original website, branding and Logo I had for my business were an eyesore. Really they were disgusting, but I didn’t care, I was focused on getting our first clients in and changing that later.
The only time many of us think about brands and branding is in relation to huge companies with a lot of experience. Nobody cares about your start up. They aren’t really going to notice if your logo goes from green to blue. In order to build up familiarity it is important to have a consistent message, colours and branding but at the start it really doesn’t matter. It’s more important to be flexible and adapt and change as time goes on.
Buy Cheap, buy twice
Although it’s key not to waste money on crap you don’t need, don’t just go for the cheapest possible option when it comes to your marketing material. You can spot a vistaprint business card a mile away because they are always ordered by newbies through a TV deal and generally don’t look great. Some decent business cards are only going to run you £15 at most. The same goes with flyers and other marketing material, there’s a clear line in the sand between value for money and just plain crap.
For most start-ups I would recommend that they use templates for their initial marketing material. Although templates are rarely a perfect fit, it is definitely more cost effective than hiring someone and time consuming against doing it yourself. You don’t necessarily need professional software in order to change and edit most templates either which is a big bonus.
As above, don’t get crazy with your branding and marketing material to begin with and understand that most likely your business will change dramatically over the next few years. Don’t spend money on things that aren’t going to make you a direct return.