Branding can make or break a start-up. If you’re entering a competitive and saturated market, having a unique brand (as well as a cool product or service) is what will set you apart from your competition. For many founders, getting early adopters in to buy into an unproven solution is essential. One of the best ways to get people involved as you develop your company is to differentiate yourself with strong branding. From your pitch deck to your product – your brand hs to be unique and expressive of the values your company wants to be associated with. Check out ECs 5 steps to help build your startup brand identity, to help you stand out from the crowd!
Before we get started, a quick definition to set the scene.
According to Google, a brand is a product manufactured by a company under a specific name. I whole-heartedly disagree with this definition; it’s too simple. The term brand is certainly amorphous, meaning different things to different people at different times. In this case, a brand can be defined as the experience of elicited feeling created by a company. This is heavily influenced by what the company promises and how the company performs. The intersection of promise and performance is where the real brand lies.
When it comes to pitching, your brand story will be the humanistic thread that runs through your deck and will allow investors to understand you and the company even better.
Find your story
Brand building for startups begins with finding your story. It’s your reason and why. What made you jump into the world of start-ups? What problem are you solving? Showcase why you’re so passionate about the product or service you have decided to provide. When it comes to pitching, your brand story will be the humanistic thread that runs through your deck and will allow investors to understand you and the company even better. What’s more, your story will dictate everything about the rest of your brand, from the voice to the visuals and the audience you’re providing for.
Know your customer, inside out.
Having a deep understanding of your audience/customer will be imperative when you’re making decisions about your brand. Put yourself in the shoes of the ideal customer. How old are they? Where do they work? How do they engage with products and services? Running focus groups or other market research strategies like surveys or polls will be a positive step to understanding your ideal customer. And even once you’ve built your empire, business is booming and the wind is in your sails (literally because success means you’ll have your own yacht), continue to learn about your audience. Consumer habits change fast, life moves quickly so it’s up to you to be one step ahead – constantly.
“If there’s a similar product out there, of course, you want to outperform it but having a stronger brand can actually go a long way in bringing in customers.”
Competitor research will enable you to stand out from the crowd. When you’re entering a saturated market, this is essential. If there’s a similar product out there, of course, you want to outperform it but having a stronger brand can actually go a long way in bringing in customers. You might even have the chance to speak with competitors face-to-face. Networking is a potent tool for building a successful business. And if you speak with any competition, you’ll be able to find out first hand how to make your business and brand unique and set apart from the rest.
Develop your brand voice
So, to recap, you’ve developed your story and done your research on your ideal customer and how to stand out from your competitors. It’s time to pool all this research together and start developing your brand voice. Who is speaking to your customer? Not literally which member of your team is a good copywriter (although, they should be doing it). But what voice is the most appropriate to engage with customers, on your website or on social media etc. Think about how your audience wants to be spoken to; the personality traits of your customers should dictate your own voice. WIth your brand voice comes your tagline or slogan, which should sum up your companies “what” / “why” in a short & succinct manner.
Make sure your visuals and voice are in tune with everything else about your startup. Consistency is key to building a strong and authentic brand.
Define your visual identity
Your visual identity is the thing people grasp onto the quickest and should be the centre point of your digital marketing strategy. Your logo, font and colour scheme should also be influenced by the research you’ve done. What does your audience like? How can I stand out from the crowd? Does this font (ideally not Comic Sans) match the story I’m trying to tell? Make sure your visuals and voice are in tune with everything else about your startup. Consistency is key to building a strong and authentic brand.