Start-up on the Right Foot
Why Start-up Branding Really Does Matter
You have taken the boldest and bravest step already by deciding to build a start-up. The excitement of finding a new idea or improving an existing one and finally building a business around that can be exhilarating. You are ready to innovate, to positively disrupt.
However, a common mistake made by start-ups is that amidst the drive to launch at speed, branding is either totally neglected or executed haphazardly. Branding influences so many aspects of a business, from sales and employee endorsement to customer recognition and investor buy-in, the list goes on. It is critical that it is given the attention it needs at an early stage.
Taking branding seriously from the outset will not only pay off in the long term but it will also save you from backtracking 10-12 months in.
Here are six key reasons why start-ups need to place branding high on the priority list:
Being different makes something more memorable, in an ever-increasing competitive market, this is a need not a choice. Developing a strong brand image, voice and personality can help you achieve that. This goes far beyond choosing a few colours and designing a logo. You will need to go deeper than that. What is your brand’s mission and vision? What is the narrative? What are its unique selling points? What tone of voice does your brand use? What photography style isimg-align-ed with your brand? How can all of this translate into a solid colour palette or typography or logo? You need to be sure that the mission behind your start-up is clearly reflected in everything from your visual design and your content to your customer service style.
Your branding can act as a compass. There will be several times when your leadership team will need to make key decisions. Already knowing what your brand stands for will help you stay true to what you originally set out to achieve. Having your true north already established will also help when you scale. As a start-up your focus will be on speed and growth, so you will need the basics such as branding to make that happen.
The sign of a reputable brand is one that is always clear on what it is offering.. Having a strong brand foundation already in place means messaging and marketing will remain constantlyimg-align-ed with the brand values. This will also enhance customer trust with the expectation and promise of the same quality product or experience every time someone makes a purchase.
Often within start-ups the founder(s) knows exactly what the brand stands for and they assume anyone else that joins the team knows that too. Here is where you need to be careful, you can’t communicate your brand fully through osmosis. It needs to be documented and shared, for example in the form of a brand guide. This stops assumptions being made. It is easy for an internal team to begin to interpret the brand identity in their own way when nothing official is documented and shared. To maintain focus and clarity for both internal operations and external success, allow branding to keep everyone on the same page.
That idea that sparked your brand may have happened as a napkin sketch on a lazy Sunday afternoon or as a gap you identified straight after you had your first child. Whatever that ‘aha’ moment was for your business, you own that and you should share that. That story is the cornerstone of your brand. It’s unique identity and reason for being. It is those words that will allow your customer to resonate with your brand and in turn help you find a life-time customer.
People are always remembered for how they make you feel. It is the exact same thing with a brand. Your brand personality has a lasting effect on a customer. Is your brand creative, artistic, determined or comforting? How are you ensuring your brand personality is present at every single brand touch-point? Every piece of content, every photo used in your social feed, every customer conversation and every interaction needs to be heavily based on your brand’s authentic personality.
Being obsessively passionate about the idea behind a start-up is great but it won’t be enough. If you want to be part of the small percentage of start-ups that do survive and thrive, then branding will need to be placed on the priority list. Zoom into your brand identity and decide cleverly how that can be reflected visually and it will help your start-up distinguish itself early and ultimately grow and scale faster.