Creating a brand for a startup company is not easy or simple, and when done badly, can be the difference between success and failure. You could be offering the best service or product in the world, but if you can’t connect with people, grab their attention, inspire them to try you and earn their trust, you’ll struggle to take your business to the next level.
Successful branding can be summarized (very simply) in a few steps, which we explore here, but the overall key is to differentiate your startup from the competition. From finding your target market and telling your brand’s story to create your marketing campaigns, here are 5 steps to take when branding your startup:
1. Identify your target market
Before you start building your brand, you need to decide who you want to appeal to, i.e. who is your ideal customer? Your brand needs to connect with your customers and speak to them on a deeper level than the purely transactional. When you know who you’re targeting, you can research that demographic to find out what they’re interested in, what they care about and why they may or may not use your brand. Try to survey customers and ask them to describe your service or product to a friend or how you can improve.
2. Tell—and sell—your story
Even if you’re entering a busy industry with lots of competitors, there is something you have which they do not: your story. Social media has given rise to many new facets of marketing and advertising, but in particular, it has raised the profile of the people behind the brand. Tell customers how you’ve reached where you are today, and they are more likely to connect with the brand. A professional advertising agency will be able to help you identify what’s unique about your brand and how to tell your story through your brand and advertising campaigns.
3. Communicate an identity through language and imagery
The next step is to use your story and what you know about your customers and pull them together to create your brand name, logo, and visual and written language. The words, colors, fonts, and shapes you use should clearly and concisely tell people who you are, what you do, and how you do it.
4. Be unique and memorable
Now you have the building blocks of your brand you need to communicate your message to your customers in a way that they will remember. This requires creativity as it’s not enough to describe what you do; customers need to understand why you are different from the rest. The way you do this should be in line with your image. For example, some businesses are purpose-driven such as ensuring their practices are environmentally friendly or working with a charity to make a difference in the local community. It’s difficult and sometimes risky to do, but other brands have successfully managed to use humor and social commentary to attract their target customers.
5. Increase your visibility
You have your name, logo, visuals, and a story to tell, so now what you need is somewhere to tell it. There are a huge range of marketing channels and platforms available today but it’s rarely the case that a startup will use all of them. Find out which mediums are used by your target market and coordinate your campaigns across them. Keep your language and imagery consistent, try to create content which people will want to share on social media and start to build your relationships with your customers.