In my book, the sooner you get in touch with your brand the better. Notice I said “get in touch with your brand”?! That was not a typo. You already have a “brand”. You have had one for some time, long before you ever thought of making a business for yourself. In fact, everyone you know has one they just don't realize it. Once you realize yours, you can use it to your advantage as you begin to build.
After all, what goes into a brand? A brand is the artful combination of words symbols and signs that transmit (or reinforce) the customer or consumers perception of a product or a service. The value and the quality of the goods or services become closely aligned through reputation to the point that the consumer or customer may build a deep attachment and an unflappable loyalty to the company behind it. That connection is the ultimate driving goal for anyone in marketing or sales efforts. It usually means you have done really well at establishing brand loyalty. When you are getting started in your business, chances are you are wanting to be financially successful. In order to do that, you need to get noticed and what gets you noticed is your unique brand.
So if you translate brand to look at what a personal brand would be, you could say it is your image, your speech, your inflection, your associations, your behaviors and the combination of them that transmits who you are as an individual to the world around you. It lets others know if you would have any common interests or values, if you share enough to build a bridge to really connect with them. Think about the last time you went to a concert or a large outdoor festival. Remember back to all of the people there. Did you notice how much you had in common? How many were dressed alike? How everyone could sing along with every song as if it were their own. How similar people were (even though they were individuals). How “At Home” you felt in a massive crowd of strangers. That is Brand Affinity in action, or should I say “Band” Affinity!
Imagine harnessing that for yourself as you build a sustainable business. That is why so many smart business‘ work on the brand from day one and carefully nurture it in every action. It does mean that you pay very careful attention to what you say and do. It is the colors they choose, the image or icon, the font they select, the website look and “feel” (layout and navigation), in every piece of content from the smallest of tweets and meme's to the content rich blogs and website. It is reinforced in every bit of the product or service they provide.
So when do you think you should start branding yourself? The sooner you start the process of aligning with your customers the sooner you can build a sustainable business. I coach my customers to set a solid foundation and we weave the brand with the product and/or service. The result is a more cohesive presentation to potential customers. So the real question you should be asking yourself is when do you want to start building? That's when you start branding.