While the online business world is constantly evolving, there’s one key component that will remain constant and keep you focused: your brand.
If you’re a start-up, you won’t have had a chance yet to brand your product or service.
What is a Brand?
To put it simply: your “brand” is an identity established in the consumer mind as a consequence of all that your business has done to establish its identity and leave a lasting impression on the mind of potential customers.
“Branding” goes far beyond obvious features like design and colour: it’s a reflection of your values, your business practices, and your long-term goals. Your brand, in the most important sense, is “you”, and it’s what can help you stand out from the crowd.
Read on for 7 top branding tips for start-ups.
What Makes Your Brand?
It encompasses the values your brand represents – including how you conduct business, and how your business team behaves, thinks, and feels.
It’s expressed in many ways – from logo, to colour and graphic choice, to your distinctive style and voice.
Selecting a logo is a great place to start, because logos have a powerful, lasting impact. (Think of the Nike “swoosh”). Online tools like the Wix Logo Maker offer a wide range of choices for businesses of all types.
Make Your Brand a Priority at the Starting Line
Steady sales and consistent income generation won’t become significant until you’ve established your brand. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that branding is a nice add-on. It’s critical in establishing your business as one that consumers know, trust, and value.
The earlier you do this, the more likely you’ll be able to develop a branding strategy that is successful in the long run.
Your brand strategy should be an encapsulation of the very best that you and your business aspire to be, rather than a set of rules written in stone.
Who Is Your Target Audience?
Your brand serves two functions.
Internally, it defines your goals as a business, and it gives your team a feeling of cohesion and sense of purpose.
Externally, it influences the way your enterprise is viewed by your target group. While you probably already have a good sense of who you’re marketing to, there may also be some potential targets you haven’t considered. This could include everyone from potential employees to journalists and bloggers who may be interested in writing about you or collaborating with you.
People often think they’ve come up with a “brilliant” idea – and find that it falls far short in the light of day. Customers may be confused (what are you selling?). They may not recognize the benefits (why do they need it?). And they may not be confident in trusting you (who are you, anyway?).
In other words, you should view your brilliant idea from the perspective of an objective third party to ensure your brand concept is clear and easily grasped by potential customers.
Link Brand Strategy to Marketing Strategy
Consider the different marketing tool options – like websites, social media, email, events, etc. – and how each can play a part in your business.
Your marketing choices have a strong impact on how your brand is perceived. This includes everything from marketing material design, to your use of marketing channels like blogs or videos. Developing your brand while starting up will help create consistency of voice and message on those channels.
Those channels can run in two directions. Social media, for example, can be a very useful tool for getting audience feedback about brand perception – so include it in your branding strategy.
Make Your Brand Stand Out
As stated earlier, your brand is “you”.
While your brand should be unique, certain business sectors tend to adopt a fairly uniform brand representation. For example, choice of colours, graphics, and tone can seem very similar from business to business. Some of these trends have proven very successful.
You’ll need to choose whether to follow successful trends in your industry – or whether you want to break away from the pack. If that’s your decision, make sure it’s a realistic one: don’t do it just for the sake of being different.
Check In on Your Brand
Branding is never a “done deal”. As your business and the marketplace evolve, so should your brand.
When you’ve completed the brand development stage and your business is set up and humming, it’s wise to schedule regular check-ins with a brand audit. These should be done every 6 to 12 months.
These brand audits will allow you to track brand efficacy, and answer these questions:
- Is your brand consistent in how it’s presented?
- Does it accurately reflect the way you conduct business?
- How is it perceived by your target audience?
By answering those questions, you’ll be keeping your branding on track.
Your brand is you. It should be built on your unique aspirations and values – and it should accurately reflect those qualities to build trust with your target audience.
For startups, branding should be a key consideration. The earlier you develop a brand strategy, the more clearly you’ll be able to define direction and goals, and how your business will operate.
Developing a smart brand strategy – and reviewing it regularly – will ensure that your business continues to hit your marketing targets. Read more!