Small Business Branding: Big Idea and Hedgehog Concept

Small Business Branding: Big Idea and Hedgehog Concept

If you’re like me, you might be a little uncomfortable defining yourself and declaring exactly what makes your business unique. That’s OK, it’s normal to have some difficulty paring down your brand.

But here’s the good news: branding isn’t all about defining your current situation. A good deal of branding is about your best intentions.

What’s the Big Idea?

Your Big Idea is what you want your company to look like. It’s the idealistic version of your future company where everything goes right. This can be as simple as a bulleted list. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, it’s a creative process.

Your Big Idea is not about knowledge of business strategies, personal experience or proof of concept. It’s about your desire. What do you want to be when you grow up? If there were no resistance, what would your successful business look like?

You don’t have to limit your Big Idea to what you’ve experienced in the past. If that’s your mentality, you don’t need to do this exercise. Creating a Big Idea is not based on current circumstances. To think positively about your Big Idea is to look at the acorn and see an oak tree (without putting limits on the possibility). Your Big Idea is about vision, enthusiasm, faith and belief in yourself.

With that being said, the practical side of me knows that it’s easier to make your Big Idea happen if you’ve got something unique for the world. So how are you unique? Can that uniqueness translate to a successful brand?

Drafting a Hedgehog Concept

Good to Great by Jim Collins

I’m going to reference one of my favorite business books, Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins (read it, it’s awesome). There’s an amazing concept that stands out. It’s called a Hedgehog Concept.

Many organizations that enjoy long-term success focus their strategy on a relatively narrow set of guidelines. Like the hedgehog that uses only one defensive strategy (rolling into a spiky ball), successful long-term businesses discover and utilize a simple, repeatable strategy.

In short, a hedgehog concept is a business’ core strategic road map that’s based on three simple ideas: passion, skill and financial reward. There are a ton of images out there so I recommend a quick Google search for “hedgehog concept.” Do it now, I’ll wait.

To create a hedgehog concept, you only need to answer 3 questions:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What can I be the best at?
  • What can I make money doing?

Hedgehog Concept diagram

You have to be passionate. It’s what gets you through the obstacles you’ll face. You have to be the best or your competition will find a way to beat you. You have to be rewarded by the market or you won’t be in business very long.

Where the answers to these three questions overlap, lies your hedgehog concept. From this simple concept you can begin to look at your current situation and how it applies to your Big Idea. You might be surprised to learn that you’re already well on your way to your Big Idea. Or you might have to face the facts that you’re not focused enough (yet). Either way, you’ll have the advantage of direction and purpose after drafting your Big Idea and hedgehog concepts.

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