For many startup founders who have recently launched their product into the market, the focus is still on product enhancements with little attention to the messages or images being portrayed about their product or business. However, those entrepreneurs who grow to dominate their market have created a compelling “idea” or “value” in the minds of customers that is simply not available by their competitors. In today’s digital world, it’s customers who decide who leads and who follows. Focusing on branding for your startup after launch is key to prospects choosing you.
So what is branding?
Branding is more than a logo or a color scheme. A brand is all aspects if your company that help a customer form a perception about you and your offerings. Every element that leaves a lasting impression or has influence over a customer’s opinion is part of your brand and includes areas such as company positioning, storytelling, and design.
Why should my startup focus on branding?
One of the biggest challenges facing startup leaders today is gaining and retaining customers. The biggest benefit to focusing on branding your startup is customer retention. Through a little bit of time and effort, your brand will help create awareness of your product or service and eventually establish customer loyalty.
How do I get started?
A successful brand can be built on a just a few components:
In order to position your startup in the market, you need to first determine what your company values are as well as your company’s personality. Do you consider yourselves serious and determined? Or are you funny and easy-going? Your company’s position should be a reflection of your company culture and character, not what you hope to portray.
Second, if you have competitors, learn how they are describing themselves. By establishing a unique brand position, you’ll stand out from the crowd and easily differentiate yourselves from your competitors. Remember: “It’s the first company to build the mental position that has the upper hand, not the first company to make the product. IBM didn’t invent the computer; Sperry-Rand did. But IBM was the first to build the computer position in the prospect’s mind.” – Al Ries & Jack Trout
Once you’ve identified your startup’s personality, you can then establish your startup’s visual identity. This encompasses anything from your logo, website, fonts, colors, presentations, and any print collateral you may have. While design is difficult to achieve without a proper professional background, your visual identity should still represent your company’s personality within the context of your industry.
For example, if your startup is in the retail industry with teenage girls as your target audience, your visual identity may encompass bright colors, large fonts, and a lot of imagery. In contrast, if your company is in the B2B finance industry, you may want your design to be toned down – with mostly neutral colors, a simple logo, and text-heavy collateral. Design helps you establish your startup’s visual personality in a way that will hopefully attract your target audience.
Storytelling is important because it gives your startup a human touch and helps your customers connect on an emotional level. Stories are memorable, repeated, and can further solidify your brand in a prospect’s mind.
For example, Dropbox is a cloud storage company that grew from a software startup. The idea behind Dropbox was born when the founder, Drew Houston, planned to do work on a 4-hour bus ride, but forgot his USB memory stick. He was so frustrated that he immediately started building technology to sync files over the web. Dropbox had very few customers in the beginning, but grew to 4 million users in less than two years despite entering a competitive market. The story behind the birth of Dropbox was a contributing factor to their quick success.
If you’re interested in developing your own startup brand, contact us today for a complimentary consultation or to find out how we can help.