When you launch your startup, you are immediately facing a level of competition that is almost disheartening. One of the ways in which you can level the playing field is to build a strong brand identity, which will set you apart and, hopefully, bring in customers. The problem here is that brands are usually built over time, and to a great extent, develop organically.
When starting up, there is plenty you can do to build your brand from scratch the right way.
Focus on the product
One of the worst things you can do with your brand is try to build it on various esoteric “ideas,” “statements” and “concepts.”
We have all seen startups engaging in all kinds of self-hyping, claiming that they will “change the way people think about X through changing the Y paradigm and reinventing Z while also totally disrupting XYZ.” Then, months later, it turns out their product is nowhere near finished and it looks like a half-broken version of something that has already been around for years.
A successful brand starts with a product (or service) that solves a common problem. This product has a very clear purpose, a direct and affordable way of fulfilling its purpose and very clear reasons why consumers need it.
A brand is built upon that product. You do not build a brand and then try to fit the product into the brand. That way, your brand is built on something concrete and you do not have to worry about sending a false brand message. Moreover, it actually makes branding easier as it helps you formulate precise and tangible branding goals, the strategies to meet those goals and the tactics to put those strategies in action.
Another very important thing to remember is that you can have the most spectacularly developed brand, but if your product does not work, it will be for nothing.
Establish an online presence
Unless you operate in a particularly specific and insular niche, you will gain traction online, your customers will find and approach you online and chances are you will communicate online as you onboard them and help them achieve success with your product.
Therefore, your online presence is key to building your brand identity. Establishing your brand online will have two main facets to it: the artistic one and the technical one.
The artistic aspect of building your brand online includes several elements:
- A name that is clear and immediately evocative, but also interesting enough to pique people’s interest
- A logo that makes sense and features the potential of being instantly recognizable in the future
- A color palette that makes sense for your startup and the products you sell
- A website that is more than just a description of your product and a selling tool
On the more technical side of things, you want to ensure that anyone interacting with your brand online has a user-friendly experience. There are a few ways in which you can accomplish this:
- A fast-loading, streamlined website that is easy to navigate and organized in a way that leaves no doubt as to what your brand is about
- Covering search engine optimization basics, domain-related SEO stuff, on-site optimization, optimizing for mobile devices, etc.
- Making your brand mobile-friendly, with a truly responsive website
The important thing is that your brand is distinguishable from the competition and that people start associating it with a modern, friendly user experience.
Talk to consumers
Keeping a startup afloat and developing a product is insanely hard work, requiring long working hours and sleepless nights. In such an atmosphere, it is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to become detached from the market, their customers and investors. They become insular entities which operate on presumptions. This can lead to an array of problems, such as misjudging the market and ignoring what the customers want, which ultimately hurts the brand.
When you peel away the many layers of brand identity, it all comes down to how your brand interacts with its consumers. Without consumer interaction, you do not have a brand identity.
You should be present on social media to converse with your customers, rather than simply bombard them with your product. No matter what industry you are in, it’s important to get involved in the conversation. Let people know that you have something to say, and establish your brand as an expert.
A blog is a great way to communicate with people. Your blog can feature video content, resources and insights from behind-the-scenes, and is a great tool to position your brand.
Also consider attending industry events to network in person. Not only will you put your brand in front of people who are important, you will also help grow your startup and improve your product with face-to-face interaction.
Brand identity conclusion
Building a brand identity from scratch is more difficult than it seems. By focusing on your product, delivering your brand message in a meaningful way and interacting with your target consumers, you will set a course that should serve you well as time goes by.
From there on, your newly-established brand will develop naturally, while still getting your input when needed.