Startup branding might seem murky. If you ask 10 people what even “branding” means, it’s likely that you’ll get 10 different answers. Many B2B startups think that branding is the visual identity—like a logo or color scheme—and therefore something that can wait until they’re ready for a full scale launch. However, there’s much more to branding and startup branding than meets the eye—pun intended.
Branding refers to any way that you communicate the value of your company to your target customers, and it is derived from who you are as a company and how you want to be perceived.
For startups in beta, time and money are generally a rare commodity, and the majority of these resources are rightly allocated to developing the product. However, startup leaders cannot ignore the brand, because like it or not, customers will form a perception of you, and it’s up to you how that develops.
Luckily, there’s a lot you can do with small investments or in some cases, merely looking at a task through a different lens. Try on these startup branding steps for size:
Social media is a great way to create brand awareness for your startup. Many founders think that social media takes too much time, but there are effective ways to start small and grow your efforts alongside the rest of the business.
For B2B startups, a LinkedIn profile is a ‘must have’ these days. This doesn’t mean that you need to add new content daily, but you should be sure to have up to date information about your company and the value you bring to your customers. Second, find out which social media channels your target customers use most, pick one or two to join, and make an effort to engage with them through thought leadership and company updates. Remember: creating an account and not using it is the same as not having an account at all. Leverage social media smartly on day one to amplify your message and enhance your startup branding efforts.
Messaging is a key component of startup branding. Regardless of the demographic you sell to, creating a simple message or elevator pitch that conveys what you do in a way that resonates with your target customers is essential to building an identity for your startup. Even as your message evolves over time (which it will), it is important that you’re the one putting it out there, as it keeps your team on message and in control.
User Experience is Brand Experience
Many startups are so focused on being lean, they forget that part of a minimally viable product includes creating (and testing) the user experience, at least in as much as it supports the needs of the testing. The experience your beta testers have with your product is synonymous with the brand experience of your startup. By incorporating design thinking and investing time in your product’s interface and usability early in the process, you get more accurate feedback and enhance the way your startup is perceived.
After deciding the most important branding tasks for your startup at this juncture, it’s important to decide who should take the lead. If your startup has a team of strong writers with a good eye for design, putting a team member in charge can be a good approach. If your startup is mostly compromised of tech experts, working with a consulting firm that can provide the initial framework for your startup branding strategy can help set the foundation and pave the way for a more successful launch.
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