Brand identity is a crucial consideration for companies in any stage of existence. Much like the difference between static and kinetic friction, though, while an existing company’s brand requires maintenance and the occasional infusion of energy, starting a brand from scratch can take quite a bit more effort.
Just like breaking through that static friction, it’s important to approach launching a brand with a thorough and strategic branding strategy that considers both the short term and the long term.
If you’re launching a startup, here are a few of the most important tips and tricks to keep in mind as you formulate a strategy and come up with a brand that uniquely represents your new business.
Understand the Importance of Your Brand Identity
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re launching a startup. The endless stream of duties and responsibilities can quickly make it tempting to weed out insignificant tasks — and it’s easy to start to look at your branding as one of these negligible items. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
That’s why, before getting too far into how to build a solid brand, it’s important to start with why your brand matters in the first place. The value of a good brand identity can typically be broken down into four broad categories:
#1. Customer Perception
Having a solid brand in place can do wonders when it comes to how consumers perceive your business. It provides a recognizable company image that, when developed and maintained, can cultivate customer loyalty, encourage referrals, and even help with recruiting top talent.
#2. Customer Recognition
Not to be confused with customer perception, a good brand identity can also help you create a strong sense of recognition with your customers. This is a highly sought after element in a modern marketplace that is positively brimming with competition. A good brand enables you to stand out from the crowd and catch a customer’s attention.
There’s nothing new under the sun — but that doesn’t mean you can’t do old things in new ways. A quality brand identity enables you to establish precisely why you do things differently (and better) than everyone else.
The ever-evolving modern market means a company can’t stagnate. It must always innovate and develop its offering if it wants to stay ahead of the market forces and trends. A good brand image enables a company to forge its path with a personality. Rather than looking delayed and reactionary, a brand allows your business to appear innovative and inspired as it asks customers questions and provides fresh answers in a relatable manner.
While other perspectives beyond these four can be dug into, the main point here is to take your brand identity seriously. It’s easy to skimp on this part of the startup process, but putting in the effort to develop a solid brand identity is one of the pillars of this early incubating stage that will lead to success in the future.
Setting the Stage
Once you’re aware of the importance of your brand identity, the natural question that follows is where to start — especially when you’re building from scratch. While there isn’t a single, proven formula, it’s always a good idea to start by laying the proper groundwork.
If you have the business partners, employees, or other manpower available, it’s worth starting by building a branding team that can help you share the load. Having a team in place from the get-go can help create a well-rounded personality for your company. It can also help to share the load, as properly developing and propagating a brand can be an intensive activity (more on that further down.)
Identify the Key Data Points
Along with building a team within your company that can oversee your branding efforts, it’s important to consider several essential questions to help you prepare data for developing how your brand will represent your company. Questions to consider include:
- What branding tactics have worked for others in your industry? Look around you. What branding activities have worked for your competitors?
- Who are you and what makes you special? Remember, differentiation is one of the key benefits of branding. This is why you must identify what it is that separates and raises you above your competition so that you can focus your brand’s identity on those factors.
- What is your company’s personality? A brand allows you to infuse your cold and calculating business with a sense of personality and vibrancy. However, this can only happen properly if you identify what kind of personality you want to have in the first place. Do you want to be seen as prestigious, down to earth, knowledgeable, or a combination of different attributes?
- Who are you trying to help? Don’t forget your customers in all of this planning. After all, you must create a product that genuinely answers a problem that they’re struggling with. Your brand should both help to relate to the customer’s pain points and serve as a way to connect and guide them towards your offered solution.
If you take the time to consider these questions, you’ll be able to craft a brand that is a powerful asset to your company’s marketing collateral.
Create a Brand Guide
Up until this point, the focus has been primarily investing your time and energy into preparing to launch your brand. Now it’s time to move past strategizing in order to invest in some tangible brand-focused marketing collateral.
This starts by gathering your team, considering your data points, and then forming a genuine brand identity strategy. This should start by taking the information you have and defining your brand identity’s personality, voice, and tone. How will consumers perceive your company whenever they come in contact with your marketing?
As your brand begins to take shape, assemble a brand guide that encapsulates all of the different elements at play. This can then be used across your team’s smart collaboration channels as you attempt to express a unified, consistent brand identity on different marketing platforms.
Don’t Forget Your Visual Identity, Too
Along with your brand’s voice, tone, and personality, it’s important to develop the visual perception of your company. This includes the color palette that you primarily will work from as well as the art style that your marketing team will utilize in your content. It’s also important to develop a quality logo that you can use in strategic ways to promote your brand.
When it comes to your logo, in particular, it should serve as an essential visual element of your brand that supersedes any individual campaign-focused design or slogan. In other words, regardless of the specific marketing event, your logo should quietly represent your brand, whether it’s seen on social media, your website, product packaging, or anywhere else.
Build a Branded Website
Once you have your brand identity fleshed out, it’s important to adhere to it throughout all of your pieces of marketing collateral. When it comes to e-commerce, in particular, it’s your website that should serve as the hub of your digital marketing efforts. As such, your site must be carefully infused with your brand’s identity.
If your brand’s personality is clean and knowledgeable, you want your site to reflect that fact. The same goes for if it’s colorful and fun, serious and elegant, and so on. Whatever the specifics look like, your brand should instantly be recognizable in the color, look, tone, and voice of your site’s content.
Promote Your Brand with Social Media and Email
The same goes for your company’s social media channels and email campaigns as it does for your website.
Your social media presence is one of the most important areas to build your brand loyalty. Social media interactions are naturally personal, which is why you want every one of your social activities to reinforce your brand’s personality. Email campaigns should also be carefully crafted to consistently reflect your company’s identity.
In order to maintain this constancy across your marketing collateral, remember to make sure that every member of your marketing team is well-acquainted with your brand guide. This will provide crucial counsel as they represent your company through interactions with customers across your social profiles.
Don’t Set Things in Stone
Finally, make sure to avoid defining your brand too specifically. While you want to have a clear understanding of your brand’s personality, it’s important that you provide enough breathing room to let its identity mature, develop, and grow over time.
As market trends and the zeitgeist of consumer interest shifts in the future, it’s important that your brand is able to adapt and change with it. This enables your company to stay alongside your customers throughout their journey. So, while strict adherence to your brand’s online representation is always important, your team should always be ready to tinker with your branding formula in response to the mood of your customers.
Building a Better Brand
Branding is often seen as a necessary yet minor element of starting a company. When treated carefully and with respect though, building a quality brand can actually become one of your business’s greatest assets.
A well-defined, consistent brand identity can help consumers recognize and resonate with your startup. It can also develop customer loyalty and enable you to cultivate a community of repeat clients. A good brand personality can also help you stand out from the crowd and differentiate yourself from competitors.
So don’t let the task of developing your brand identity slip to the back burner as you go about launching your startup. Take the time to treat it as a serious, essential job on your to-do list. Once you have your brand identity developed and your brand guide fleshed out, you’ll be able to start benefitting from the energizing, unifying effect of a strong, deliberate branded personality across all of your marketing channels.
About the Author!
Dan Matthews is a journalist and tech enthusiast with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has written extensively online at the intersection of business tech and digital marketing.