Every business needs to have a strong brand. For startups it is even more critical to have a brand that is message oriented and communicates their differentiation. However, often we find that entrepreneurs who stand at the helm of startups merely consider branding to be a footnote - something that is considered done with the logo design. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
So how is branding critical to startups? How can branding add value to a startup? These are the questions I will be tackling in this post.
Defining the story
Branding, which goes beyond the visual identity of the company, ensures that your new brand has a brand story. For startups, it is very critical to have a strong story to tell. A powerful idea for a product or service becomes more powerful when you tell the right story.
For example, one startup, called Harry’s, cracked a $2.4 billion market with branding. They did this with telling a great story: Co-founder Andy Katz-Mayfield went to pick up a razor at his local pharmacy and found himself shelling out too much for an uninspiring product and only a few extra blades. When he told his friend Jeff, they decided there had to be a better way to infuse shaving with an affordable, personable, and creative touch. These principles have since become a north star for the company. (Source)
Differentiate the brand
Being different and standing out is important for businesses and more so for startups. Even though startups usually have innovative products or services at their core, it is important to create a differentiation that is explicit. Branding usually does this effectively through framing the value proposition.
Take the case of LUSH – a cosmetic brand like no other. Lush made a conscious effort to look different because they are different. Had they gone the traditional route in terms of how they framed their differentiation and used the same methods of explaining this, perhaps they would not communicated their differentiation that well. One look at their branding will tell you why they are different.
Communicate a clear message
Message clarity is the holy grail of startups. Especially if their product or service is technologically driven or if they are trying to disrupt an established industry, communicating a clear message is paramount.
Helpscout is an excellent example of a brand whose message is super clear. In fact their recent rebranding is a case study on why one should have a clear message. You can read more about their brand evolution here.
Visibility Key To Branding Success
A good logo design is one of the important ingredients in enhancing your company’s image. But that’s just the beginning of building a strong brand. It is important to make your brand very visible to your target market. In simple terms: Out of sight, out of mind.
The good news is that there are practical ways to increase brand awareness.
The objective is to take advantage of all relevant branding opportunities available within your reach and budget. Leave no stones unturned as they say. Knowledge of your business and customers are vital in choosing the media to use.
If you have an e-commerce store, logically you have to do a lot online campaigns and viral marketing to establish your presence before going offline. On the other hand, an offline business might want to focus in building brand awareness through newspapers, billboards, vehicles, and other tangible objects.
Forming alliance is one of the ways to boost your awareness without spending too much. Find companies with the same target market as yours and complements your products or services. For example, our logo design firm targets small business owners so it’s reasonable to partner with business consultants or SEO companies. We can recommend their services to our customer database and vice versa. In some cases, you don’t have to shell out money if the other party agrees to pure barter.
Article marketing is another option you can take. Build your company as the authority in your industry by writing high quality articles and submitting it to article directories and offline publications related to your field. Share your expertise and experience to gain recognition and followers over the long haul.
These are just a few examples of increasing brand awareness and there are various tactics available at your disposal. Even if you already established your presence in your industry, don’t be satisfied. Explore other branding opportunities that add value to your business.