Branding Makes or Breaks a Startup and Successful Strategies Require Intense Work
Branding presents the face and identity of a company to the public. Strong positive branding elements strengthen a brand over time. Veteran companies benefit from time and hard work, over the course of years. However, for a startup, how do you build a brand from nothing?
Major brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Microsoft already have a brand established, with all of the important branding features in place, and they can modify and tweak their well-known label in either subtle or dramatic ways over time. For example, Walmart can boost its brand identity by launching a campaign with a sharp new logo. Big brands have little risk in altering their logo, successful companies are more than just logos.
A startup has no face or identity in the public eye. Therefore, when people start a company, they begin with basic branding elements that create the image the company represents. The logo & the name represents only a small step in branding, and startups have a lot further to go than picking a name and designing a logo. They must focus on every customer faced touch points including social media, websites and physical stores when it comes to branding. Lack of focus on branding elements may result to mixed signals to the customer and eventual failure of the company.
Startups lack the advantage of the giant brands such as Pepsi, Red Bull, and Walmart, and therefore, lack the luxury of time to plan and execute over time. They must anchor their brand immediately or die as their funding and resources quickly dwindle in the early stages of construction, organization, and development of their infant company. Here are three hacks to create a magnetic brand identity.
Focus on Your Audience and Their Experiences
How can a startup successfully develop a great brand persona while at the same time building the company itself? This is a serious problem, and entrepreneurial thinkers have experimented with different solutions recently. The first essential step is to learn as much as you can about branding from reliable sources and case studies.
Novice marketer starts with thinking about a sweet logo, but that symbol of the company is a complex starting point, where you deal with design features such as fonts, color palettes, textual features, contrast, and ease of recognition, scalability, impact, shapes, and sizes. All of these affect the emotions and thoughts of your audience, and you have to consider other fields such as psychology and marketing. You cannot simply whip out a logo and be finished with your identity. That would lead to a major blunder.
Image, color, and text are only the surface of the work your brand does in the collective minds of your audience. You establish a real psychological connection, whether strong or weak. “Your brand is the experience you deliver customers. The entire essence of branding is the connection between company and customer, learning to understand the customer and why they love your product. Once you understand the customer and what drives them to your product, you can create your brand’s visual identity.”
The road that leads to success is in audience interviews, surveys, and comments, tests that illustrate the customer insights rather than what you assume they think or feel. In a hurry to launch, startups often focus on what they think looks cool rather than on how a real customer reacts to the aesthetics of design and presentation.
Finding a fitting name for the startup is crucial. The name should not only resonate with the core business values but also be interesting and catchy to get instant public attention. Looking for business names can be challenging but be patient. If necessary, take help from brand name experts such as Popcentric, Branditory, or BrandBucket to find a catchy business name for your startup. Finding a perfect brand name is difficult but the effort will pay you off once the name catches on.
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Educate yourself with Basics of Branding Elements and Practices
Connecting the audience positively toward your brand through design and presentation is the key to success. After analyzing your potential customers in detail, you should learn branding strategies through a self-guided review of expert advice you can find on the MOOCs.
Using only top-notch resources from authorities and influencers in brand marketing will provide you with a limited but informed body of knowledge to create a strategy that bonds with customers. In The Next Web, George Deeb lays out the elements that make up a solid plan:
- Powerful Name That Can Become Symbolic of Your Values
- Emotionally Engaging Logo
- Strategic Marketing Tactics That Empower Costumers
- Professional Graphics That Represent Authority and Influence
- Positive and Transparent Communications Inside and Out
- Stellar Social Media Reputation on the Major Platforms
- Excellent Customer Service That Fulfills Their Heightened Expectations
- Empathic Employees Who Connect with Customers
Deliver on Your Brand Promise Immediately
You began your startup with values, plans, and vision. You made promises to customers based upon these, and you extended a promise to your customers. To turn your branding into successful relationships, make your promises come to life and fulfill them.
Brian Honigman suggests that you relate stories that emotionally connect your audience to your promise. Humans relate to stories because the brain imagines the narrative as if it were real. If you tell your brand stories with powerful emotion, your customers will feel it. A psychological bond will connect them to your brand.
When you deliver in a way that fulfills your company value proposition and benefits the customer beyond expectation, brand identity and awareness naturally emerge. The viral nature of a positive brand image spreads through communities and cultures, and all the goals that motivated you are fulfilled. That’s a rosy picture but you can do it if you think of your brand systematically from the start.
Obviously, your brand needs an excellent visual face, but to achieve real success, you must roll out this broad emotional and psychological connection with the public. Focus on powerful, consistent, and emotional design that tells your brand story, and follow through on every front from communication to customer service. Align the functions, values, and aesthetics of your dynamic brand.
True success emerges from relationships, and your brand creates your bonds to the public. Let us know of your success stories. What is your brand story? I would love to hear from you and engage in meaningful discussions.