In many cases, branding is almost an afterthought for startups, especially when their founders are starting the business for the first time. For an entrepreneur, there are a lot of problems to solve and a lot of goals to reach during the launch, so branding is not the first thing they are concerned with. Moreover, startups often have limited budgets when it comes to building the brand.

What is branding and why do I need it?

A popular belief says that brand is a logo of the company that makes it recognisable. Of course, a logo is designed for recognition, but it is most certainly not a brand! It’s a tool for branding, a stimulus, which aims to trigger a particular response in customers.

Brand is defined as the emotional response to a product or service, something in the minds of potential and existing customers that tells them to go buy.

Logos and other artifacts are thus tools that help to achieve this response.

The branding, in turn, is the connection between customers and company that helps the customers to understand why they should use the brand to satisfy their needs. Clearly, understanding of customers’ needs is essential here because it contributes to driving them to the business.

Take Instagram for example. When the company launched, it had an amazing service but got the customer message wrong. The slogan of their branding campaign promoted the newly-established brand as “fast and beautiful photo sharing service.”

Come on, that’s not the way to approach the online audience. What is exciting about photo sharing? There are many other tools for that. Thankfully, Instagram revised its messaging later. Then, the vision statement read that the company “helped us to notice and share beautiful in the world.” Now, that’s a message!

Naturally, it is critical for startups take branding seriously if they want to survive in a competitive market. An entire industry of branding has emerged as the result of this need.

To help you to get your branding on the right track from the day one, read these tips below. All of them were specifically designed with startups in mind.

1. Create a brand identity

Brainstorm this topic by asking a series of insightful questions. For example, you could ask yourself:

  • What issue in the lives of customers will my product solve?
  • Why customers should buy my product?
  • Why do they need it?

The main purpose is branding is clear: Make the brand different from other brands that sell similar products. By answering these questions, you will create a core of your brand identity because the answers will guide your branding effort.

Try to come up with one simple sentence and try to make it encompass everything that your brand stands for. Let’s recall the example of Instagram one more time:

Instagram helps us to notice and share beautiful in the world.

What do you think the brand identity of this company is? This vision statement, although does not explicitly tells us how we are supposed to share “the beautiful,” shows that the tool can help people who love to share fresh photos of some extraordinary events and sites.

Therefore, it satisfies this specific need of the users. Also, this statement gives some ideas for creating promotional materials.

Cost of Brand Identity: Sleepless nights and communicating with possible clients

Value of Brand Identity: Priceless.

Also read: Branding basics: What game designers can teach startups about building a brand

2. Stick to one style of brand identity

Now, that you have your brand identity defined, it should be presented to potential customers using a specific style. One big mistake that many startups make at this point is trying to make it perfect. But how can one be wrong trying to make something perfect?

Very easy, because startups that tried to make identity perfect often overdone it. That’s right, the biggest enemy of good is perfect. It is very tempting to apply different designs and elements to see how a logo or another branding tool can be enhanced but you’re running a serious risk of creating a complex style that could be confusing to the audience.

Can you take several examples of brand identities and combine them into one? Absolutely not! The examples you’ve picked up may be good-looking but that doesn’t mean that photos of the first, font style of the second, and color of the third will go great together!

In most cases, it doesn’t. Instead, it creates a confusing and shattered brand message. Why? Because every color, every font, and every image has to say something about the startup and trigger a particular reaction from the viewers.

For example, green colour in a logo is typically associated with nature and good luck.

Orange colour is generally associated with the heat of the sun, so it is used in branding material to trigger the feelings of warmth and energy.

Blue colour is associated with ocean and sky, and it is often used to stimulate order, cleanliness, and trust.

Red color is also typically associated with the heat of the sun but it stimulates the feelings of passion, aggression, other strong emotions, and encourages appetite (that’s why McDonald’s is using it).

Read more about meaning of color on logos in this Inc article. And stick to the style and color you choose to be consistent in our branding!

Cost of Brand Identity Style: Brainstorming, design services, communication to potential clients

Value of Brand Identity Style: Priceless.

3. Aim for credibility and uniqueness

One of the main challenges faced by startups is making their customers notice and appreciate them. Often, some startups try to copy famous brands hoping that they would achieve the same success by using a similar strategy, but it doesn’t work.

The reason for this failure is lack of uniqueness and credibility. Who is going to appreciate a copycat, right? The right approach here is to differentiate the company from the rest and appear credible at the same time.

It could be achieved in many ways:

You site and promotional materials should tell the story of your brand. Brand storytelling, which became extremely popular nowadays, is an effective tool of differentiation and building credibility. According to this method, the story of the brand should go beyond what’s obvious and contain the following elements:

  • An inside look at your startup for potential customers;
  • The reasons that motivate company members to come to the office every day;
  • The reason why the company was established.

WeddingWire has one of the most interesting and unique stories that owners of startups should check out. This service is specifically designed for easier wedding planning by connecting the couples with everyone and everything needed to arrange a great wedding, including planning tools, venues, and vendors.

The blog of the company is perfect because it provides the viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at how WeddingWire works. The About Us page on the website has a description of the company’s history: It began with an office in a living room and turned into a comprehensive online marketplace for weddings.

The key takeaway here is that a lack of story means that you’re just another company. That’s it. Just another cog in the consumption mechanism that can be easily replaced.

In contrast, if a startup shows the commitment to building something that other people also care about, it has much better chances to build credibility and uniqueness, and ultimately brand loyalty.

Cost: More cups of coffee and hours in the office

Value: You guessed it right, priceless.

Also read: Branding basics: Logo design tips for startups

4. Use social media

The benefit of using social media for both startups and well-established businesses is apparent: it gives the access to a vast pool of potential customers. According to NinjaOutreach, there are 1.23 billion people that log into Facebook every day. That’s a lot of much-needed exposure!

Using social media wisely is a critical requirement that startups need to follow. For example, before even creating profiles there, a social media strategy must be developed to guide the effort and ensure that goals and objective will be reached.

Next, the choice of social media networks for the startup is also crucial. The network that you selected for your new brand should fit its image to make it interesting for the potential customers.

The way a brand treats its followers on social media is another valuable consideration. Every person who liked or followed the page of the brand needs to be turned into brand ambassadors who expand the reach and expose more people to it.

One of the most successful stories of turning customers into brand ambassadors is GoPro, a specialty camera company. It achieved this goal by posing the photos made by their followers using the product as “Photo of the Day,” thus showing how cameras can be used and inspiring others to take stunning images as well.

Cost of using social media: Even more cups of coffee and hours in the office

Value of using social media: Priceless, as always.

5. Use tools

There are so many tools that can assist brands to accomplish their goals more efficiently using expertise and technology. Here is the list of good ones.

  • Canva helps to make stunning designs in hours by providing a wide range of visual aid resources. For example, startups can use it to incorporate elegant images into social media posts.
  • AssignmentHelper.com.au. Marketing texts for startups are as important as anything because they persuade the viewers to take a certain action, such as conversion. This tool can be used for assistance with marketing texts for website, social media, printed materials, slogans, and anything related to branding.
  • Mention.com is great for discovering what social media users are saying about a startup. Comments, posts, and other information created by third-parties is displayed using this tool. Replies are also available!
  • Bufferapp.com makes sure that a startup’s social media account does not spam the news feed of users by allowing to build a schedule for posting information.

Hope these tips will help you to start and grow the strong business!

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