If you’re launching a startup, your mind is probably buzzing with all the things that you need to sort out before the launch. One thing that may be missing from your to-do list is a branding strategy. It’s easy to see how branding may not be seen as a top priority if you’re trying to set up your own business and all the logistics, planning and paperwork that’s involved – after all, launching a startup is a pretty full on, labour intensive task.
You may not realise it, but it is likely that you have subconsciously planned the framework for your branding strategy already without even knowing it. During the planning stages when you were first coming up with business ideas and putting together your business plan, you probably gave some thought to what you would like your business to look like, and how you would like it to be perceived by your customers. Thinking along these lines forms the basis for a branding strategy.
What is branding?
Your brand is the identity of your products, services, and business. A brand is a personality that your business projects to its customers, potential customers and the wider world. Keeping this in mind, it is easy to see why getting your branding right is so essential for a business, particularly a new one.
Your branding includes the visual representations of your product or service, such as the logo, packaging and of course the perception of the product itself. All of these factors come together to create your brand identity.
Why should I brand my business?
Of course, creating a brand for your startup is not compulsory, but it can be hugely beneficial. Brands play such a vital part in the decision-making process when deciding on a purchase; from what car we drive, through to which supermarket we shop in, brands are a crucial factor that informs all areas of our lives as consumers. Not forgetting, of course, the role that brands play in fuelling our aspirations; think of the luxury brand car we would love to drive, or the watch we would buy if we won the lottery – these are all examples of the power of a strong brand.
Your brand identity is what makes your business stand out from your competitors. For example, if you needed to buy a cheesecake to take to a dinner party as the dessert, how will you decide which one to purchase? Do you go
It is likely that the power of branding will inform your decision and you will select the luxury brand in order to impress your fellow guests and to show that you have brought along a high-quality product. Simply because the cheesecake is made by a luxury brand name doesn’t guarantee that it will taste better, but it does mean that you look better amongst your peers for bringing it. This is just one example of the power of branding playing a role in a purchase decision.
How do I decide on my brand?
When considering how to brand your startup, there are a few important considerations which will inform your decision. Things to think about include:
How would you like your business, product or service to be perceived by the target market and prospective customers?
How are your main competitors branding themselves? Do they brand themselves as offering a high-quality service, or do they focus on the fact that they are great value for money?
Where does your pricing strategy fit within the market and how does it measure up against your competitors? Are you the most expensive, cheapest, or somewhere in the middle?
Bringing these elements all together to formulate a branding strategy will help you to build a brand that reflects the values of your business, is consistent with your pricing and positioning in the market, and differentiates your business from your competitors.
How do I build my brand?
Now that you have decided on your brand’s personality it is time to get started on the fun bit and get creative. If you have a huge budget to play with you may want to employ an agency to create your brand for you. Don’t worry if you don’t have a big budget to spend on your branding, the key thing here is that you take a consistent approach to your branding.
Your logo is a good starting point for creating your brand, as your logo is basically a visual representation of your business. Spend some time thinking about what type of logo would best suit your brand. Would you like a logo that screams quality, or do you need one for a children’s brand that has a focus on playfulness and fun? Whichever design that you decide to go with should then be included in all relevant materials for your startup from packaging (if appropriate), to your letterheads, along with signage at your business premises.
The aim of your brand is to be a means of communicating what your business is and what it does while giving it a strong personality that customers will want to buy into. As your brand and your business’ reputation are so interconnected, it is vital that both are protected to give a consistent approach.
If you want to be really consistent with your branding, you may decide to go for some special touches such as vehicle signage and also buy private number plates with your company’s name included in them.
As you can see, your branding serves many purposes for your business, from establishing it and making it stand out, through to adding value to your product and building your business’ reputation. Your brand is one of the most important ways for your business to communicate with your customers.