A brand is the cornerstone of any successful startup and can make or break your business. The mistake many entrepreneurs make is thinking a brand is just a logo. While that’s part of what differentiates your company from other businesses, there are many more important aspects to consider when you’re building your brand, including personality, values, and culture.
Your brand will help you attract the customers and talent you need to succeed. Without a strong brand, it’s easy to get lost in the competition or face customer satisfaction problems. Here are six tips for building a brand for your startup.
1. Know Your Target Audience
Before you build a brand, you need to know your target customers. If you’re a startup, this may be a small set of people, but regardless of the size, it’s important to know what values and ideas your target audience finds necessary. This knowledge allows you to craft messaging and make decisions that resonate with your target audience to attract them better and build relationships.
2. Personalize and Build Profiles
What do you want your brand to stand for? What are you willing to give up to build a strong brand? Before you design your logo, define your values and how those values fit into what you’re trying to build. Think about how you want to represent those values through marketing efforts, websites, and social media profiles. Using a persona can help you clarify what these are when making decisions at all levels of the business.
3. Get Clear on Your Message
Knowing your target customers lets you know what type of messages your brand needs to send. Are you trying to build an up-and-coming business interested in changing the world? Show this in your messaging and ensure it’s consistent across all communications. If you have a brand with a more transactional focus, this will show as well.
Regarding the logo, look for a designer who can help you define your desired message and ensure that it is part of what helps communicate that message. For example, having a professional business card, note pads, or stationary with an embossed logo could be important for giving your brand a premium look and feel to your target market.
4. Partner with a Professional
Sometimes, you may need a more experienced designer to help you with messaging, color palettes, and overall brand consistency. When this is the case, working with a design firm specializing in branding can be beneficial. Many of these firms have in-house designers for your needs and can guide naming conventions and how best to use types of imagery.
Expert branding advice can also help you stay focused on the big picture instead of getting bogged down with the details of developing logos, print materials, and website design.
5. Be Consistent & Flexible
Once you know your brand, it’s important to maintain and prioritize those values when making decisions. While you may consider the logo more important, do all the other things that support that branding. Have a company holiday party? Make sure it matches your brand. If you’re trying to appear more serious or professional with your messaging and visuals, think about how your office space is set up. Some fun and creative things can help communicate your brand without being too over-the-top.
6. Learn Your Competitors’ Brands and Build Trust
Where do your customers get their information? As an entrepreneur, it’s important to make sure that you’re establishing yourself as a voice in your specific niche and industry. Spend time researching the competition and what other businesses are doing to communicate the same messages you’re trying to get across. Make sure you clearly understand the messages these brands are sending, what’s missing, and how you can fill in those gaps for customers.
A strong brand is built on trust, built by doing things you believe in. Take this responsibility seriously because it’s difficult to attract customers if you’re not trusted as a business.
As a startup, it’s important to have a business strategy that is flexible and adaptable based on your needs. No one else will be if you’re not committed to your strategy. By taking the time to define your brand and build trust with customers, you can work toward success for years to come.