Getting out of your typical nine-to-five routine and getting rid of the shackles of corporate life is a massive step that only some of us really dare to take. Now, don't get us wrong. We have nothing against corporate, but we know that some employees truly want more: they want to make a difference and show the world they're here to help.
They are entrepreneurs. They know that with the right tools, resources, and people, they can really make a change in an industry. They have what it takes to solve the problem; there’s just only one inconvenience: how to become noticeable in a sea of startups who’ve settled out with the same goal?
No doubt about it, there’s a massive amount of work involved with breathing life into your vision. For most companies that aim for the stars, the path to ultimate success is full of mistakes, hazards, and other challenges. So, what can help you avoid the same mistakes?
While a strategic approach to startup branding won’t address every single obstacle on your path, it can definitely help an aspiring company get off the right foot. A well-defined and funded branding strategy can double as a roadmap for the firm, laying down the building blocks for growth and prosperity,
Still, startup branding, by itself, can be challenging if you don’t approach it the right way. There are several things to look out for, and in this article, we’ve tried to put together a comprehensive guide to help you get started.
Branding Strategies for Startups: Why?
You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 owner to know that excellent branding is the driving force behind every great business. Sure, having great products is also a must. Still, apart from that, without a great vision and a cool identity, you simply cannot present yourself effectively enough in front of your potential audience.
Branding is hard work. Still, there are several advantages to it, including the following:
- Branding gives you a direction: By investing effort and time into building a brand for your startup, you will be more capable of making important business decisions in the future. For example, having a solid brand will help you approach marketing the right way and present your products or services to the world.
- Branding gives your company an identity: Branding gives your firm a distinct image, a voice, and a personality. As such, it helps you become different from your competitors and more noticeable.
- It can help you focus: Branding isn’t a fly-by-night process. It requires research and a thorough understanding of your target audience, your services, your market, your industry, your products, and so on. Sure, by getting expert help with your startup branding efforts, you can give yourself a head start, but still, good branding will require you to learn more about your future prospects, your business, your industry, and yourself.
- Branding makes you memorable: Startups aren’t just about excellent or unique selling points. Branding gives you the opportunity to build familiarity and affinity with your audience.
Startup Branding: How To Get Started?
By now, you probably understand why there’s a lot more to branding than a log and the name. Good startup branding means having an in-depth approach and addressing several other factors, such as:
- Your name
- Your image
- Marketing strategy
- Visual representation
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Still, with the right approach, forging a solid branding strategy doesn’t have to be daunting.
On that end, you can always refer to the following steps that we’re going to break down in this article.
Identify Your Target Market
Without proper context, you can’t really build a successful business, let alone a brand. That’s why it’s imperative that you know who your ideal buyers are, your current position in the marketplace, and how your services/products compare to the competition.
On that note, avoid trying to sell to everyone. You can’t make the entire world your audience (no matter how sad it sounds). Still, by identifying the segment of the population that’s most likely to be interested in what you have to offer, you can be more specific about your branding, your pricing, image, marketing strategies, and more.
The more info you gather about your potential buyers, the easier it will be to tailor your brand to them right from the very start. This way, you’ll speak to them directly right off the bat, which means, some might be more likely to invest in your business as well.
Researching The Competition
Let’s face it; startups don’t have it easy today. Hundreds or thousands of companies are already in the game, striving to achieve the same goal.
That’s why you should take the effort and time to study your competitors. This will help you identify any market gaps where you can position your brand and your product successfully.
To get started, try asking yourself these questions:
- What are the most popular logo designs?
- What’s the first thing that pops to mind when thinking about a name?
- How do my competitors engage with our customer base?
- How does the competition market itself?
- Where are my competitors’ weak points/advantages?
Dare To Be Different
Unfortunately, there’s a chance that someone’s already marketing a product similar to yours. To make a difference in the sea of startups, you need to put a spin on your marketing strategy and products to grab the attention of your prospective customers and investors.
For example, if you’re selling craft beer, research the market and see where you can make a difference. Why not go with gluten-free options? On the other hand, if there’s not much space left to differentiate yourself with your products, you can definitely stand out with your marketing or product design. Also, you can always opt for excellent customer service and support to stick out from the rest.
Remember, small things can make a massive difference in the long run, and focus on the things that you’re doing differently than your competitors.
Name Your Brand Wisely
Don’t run the risk of naming your brand too soon, as it might leave you with something that you’ll want to change somewhere down the road.
Your name will be the number-one thing that your customers will associate with your products; it should be an essential part of your branding identity. As such, think of what people will think about when hearing your company’s name.
For example, if you need to explain yourself or need to clarify how people should pronounce your brand’s name, chances are, you might need to change it.
Create a Brand Image
After doing all the research, you will see that startup branding is an intricate process that requires informed decisions to make the best out of the process.
Once you know who you are, whose attention you want to grab, and how, it’s time to start working on creating a brand image.
Again, there are many things that go into creating your brand’s image. This includes not only your logo but the color scheme of your entire company, website, social media, offline materials, and even your company’s physical interior design.
Still, we’re living in a world that’s focused on the digital aspects of things, so it’s essential that your online branding is consistent and present on all platforms that matter to your situation.
Needless to say, this will also require some help from startup branding experts with experience in graphic design and several other branding tasks to get the most out of your project.
Startup Branding 101: Tell a Story
At this point, you probably have all the market and demographic info you need for the base of your branding strategy. Now, it’s time to build your “presence,” or what you’ll mean to your customers when you start your marketing journey.
Startup companies have the “luxury” of starting from the ground up, meaning they are able to start with a fresh and contemporary branding idea. In today’s world, people want a relatable, human, and transparent brand. This means giving your firm identity and history before you start marketing can help you develop long-term and nurturing relationships with your prospective customers.
Tell Your Story
It’s in our nature to tell stories and to listen to them. Take advantage of this and tell the story of your brand. Share your vision, the idea for your services/products, and how you wish to change the world for the better.
Where did you and your company come from? What got you started? The deeper you go, the better you will understand your own values, motivations, and purpose.
Determine Yourself, Not Just As A Legal Entity
Humanize your brand so customers will resonate with your company. Give your company a personality and come up with a few phrases and words that best describe your firm.
What are the words that best convey the value you offer to your customers? Do you have a unique approach? Demonstrate your personality to become more noticeable to your prospects.
Get The Message Out
At this point, you’re ready to convey your message. This is when you’ll want to start implementing every aspect of your branding into your marketing strategy. This alone can seem really frightening, as marketing is a constant uphill battle, not to mention your brand will also most probably require a few tweaks every now and then to stay relevant and up to date with every trend.
As such, it’s always a great idea to get the help of a startup branding agency. These experts know how to get your message out and how you can get the most out of every digital and offline platform.
Before we conclude this comprehensive guide, there are a few more tips we’d like to share with you.
Even though every startup is different, there are a few universal rules that every new (and old) company has to keep in mind. Here’s what we’re talking about:
Always Be Authentic
Branding isn’t a fast-paced process. It takes time, effort, research, patience, and above all, originality. Some startup owners might feel tempted to jump the gun and say what they hope their customers want to hear. This might help you in the short term, but you will sacrifice your originality and authenticity in the long run. Determining your values early on might mean a longer process to reach your audience, but the effects will last longer.
Branding isn’t simple, but not all aspects of it have to be complicated. Take things one at a time, and always focus on simplicity. For example, don’t overcomplicate your logo design process. Don’t try to cater to a broader range of audience than you initially planned. In the end, you’ll end up with an overcomplicated mess you’ll want to brand redesign.
Remember to give yourself a break, and don’t shy away from adopting an approach that enforces simplicity. It will be easier on you, your branding team, and your customers as well.
Don’t Be Afraid of Making Waves
Chances are, there will be companies with similar services and products with a similar marketing angle. Don’t get discouraged! Always be confident about your products and have your brand stand tall at all times. Customers are overrun by different companies, ads, brands, products, and services, and chances are, they won’t take another look at what you have to offer if they sense that you’re not sure of yourself. Why should they be sure of you, then? Right?
Branding Isn’t a Nightmare
While it’s a lot of work, branding services, at its core, should be a fun and creative process. It’s about creating a new identity out of an idea and a product/service. You should be excited about this process and feel confident that you will succeed.
Especially if you have an experienced agency by your side, you may even exceed your expectations as you’ll be a part of a prospering environment in which people understand you, your brand, and your vision.