6 Essential Tips for Branding A Startup
So you're a startup founder with an amazing idea and a rock-solid business plan.... Now what?
An idea for the perfect product or service is great. But it isn't enough to make your startup truly successful. That's where targeted branding strategies come in!
Launching a new business can be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. To set your new venture up for success from the very beginning, take time to develop well-researched branding strategies. Successfully branding your startup helps you attract your ideal customers, grow your revenue, and transition from a new idea to a household name— with fewer costly mistakes and missteps along the way!
Corporate branding tends to be more generic than startup branding, because it aims to reach a wider target audience. Large corporations need a broad customer base to support their multiple product lines. But branding for startups is focused on reaching a niche audience— your focused groups of ideal customers where you have the perfect product market fit.
While corporations are limited in the expression of their brand, startups can be creative with their branding in multiple ways.
In the early stages of your startup branding process, you have a ton of flexibility to choose your own personality, set your brand voice, and start creating your own unique branded content. Branding agencies (like ZeBrand!) can help you define these foundational pieces, or you can use the following tips and steps to create your own amazing brand!
It's time to start building your own targeted branding from the ground up! These tips will help you get started:
Before you can start designing your brand's visual identity or jump into content marketing, you have to establish your brand's main mission and purpose.
Take time to write out your mission statement and vision statement— the main reasons why your company exists. What are you dreaming of? What do you hope to achieve? Who are you serving, and why? Record these answers. They're the real core of your startup!
This step is essential because it will guide your business development for years to come. As your startup grows and faces major decisions, your mission statement and brand purpose will serve as your guide.
Next, consider how you want your startup's brand to make people feel. Remember, your branding serves to build long-term relationships with your customers. So how do you want them to perceive you?
Your branding can communicate a variety of emotions through its logo, colors, website, and other elements. Some brands make customers feel excited or inspired, others are motivating, and many brands seek to communicate a sense of calm, peace, or relaxation.
Once you've determined the kind of emotional connection you want to build with your customers, it's time to define your brand's overall DNA.
Your brand identity is every element that makes your brand unique, setting it apart in the marketplace. When your customers consider your brand, they're considering all the elements of your brand identity that they're aware of— from your logo and website, to your brand personality and product design.
At ZeBrand, we believe your brand identity is best defined by your brand DNA. Your brand DNA is the collection of your goals, mission, target audience, and brand story.
Now that you've established your brand DNA, you'll want to create a set of brand guidelines that serve as the guardrails for your brand. We recommend using ZeBrand's Brand Guideline Builder, which includes each of the brand strategy elements listed below. As you fill in your unique details, this set of guidelines will become like the brand book you use to make your startup branding and business decisions from here on out.
A strong brand consists of these crucial elements:
Your new company name is an essential part of your overall startup branding. Choose a name that's unique and memorable, but not difficult to read, pronounce, or spell. Companies that make up a simple name (a great example is Google) tend to earn the strongest brand recognition.
Your startup's logo design is an extension of your brand positioning. Look for (or create!) a logo that's instantly recognizable and incorporates your brand colors. Your logo should empower your startup, and serve as a valuable piece of your marketing materials. Whether you make your own logo by hand, use ZeBrand's logo design tool to create a unique image with ease, or work with a graphic design professional, make sure it's both simple and distinctive.
Your startup's story is an important element of your startup branding strategy because it serves as the foundation for your visual identity, brand personality, and tone of voice. Think of it as the elevator pitch for your small business that describes why your brand exists. It defines your ideal customer, your company's values, and what amazing solution you offer the world.
The next thing to include in your brand guidelines is your overall typography style. As graphic designers will tell you, typography is a simple way to communicate your brand identity almost instantly. Whether you choose a bold, blocky font, a sleek and modern lettering, or traditional typography, be sure to find an option that speaks to the tastes and preferences of your target audience.
The colors you include in your startup branding guidelines should complement your visual identity and brand personality. Color palettes communicate emotions, so choose colors that enhance your branding, rather than distract from it.
In this section, describe what your brand's tone of voice should sound like. Is your brand identity lighthearted and funny, or serious and educational? Successful branding is built on a cohesive, memorable brand voice.
Next, it's time to outline how social media will fit into your startup's marketing strategy. Conduct user research to determine which social media platforms your new venture should focus on. Look for the top two or three platforms your customers are most likely to engage with.
Finally, describe how your branding strategies will work together to create a relevant, memorable, impactful experience for your future customers. How do your brand assets work together to portray your startup as the top choice in today's competitive market? Note your biggest differentiators, and how they work together to set your company apart.
Want more branding tips to help you launch a successful startup? Check out our detailed startup brand guide, How to Build a Brand: Branding 101. In that guide, we share dozens of our best branding tips for developing your brand voice, brand strategy, visual identity, business model, and more!
Next, conduct some market research to determine exactly who you'll be sharing your products or services with. The more narrow and focused your audience, the better!
Here are some details you'll want to learn about your target audience:
- Their interests: Including hobbies, shopping preferences, and internet habits
- Their demographics: Age, occupation, location, education, and family structure
- Their fears, concerns, and biggest pain points
- Their aspirations, dreams, and ideal success
These details should guide your marketing decisions as your startup grows. Focusing your efforts on one audience and using targeted strategies to reach them is the most effective way to maximize your budget and accelerate your startup growth!
A high-impact marketing campaign is a great way to accelerate your startup's successfrom the very beginning.
To put together a campaign that reaches the biggest group of ideal potential customers, and is consistent with your brand voice, use your branding guidelines to inspire the graphic design and copy for your content.
You can use your style guide to market through channels like:
- Social media
- Online ads
- Your website
- Print materials, including posters, brochures, and mailers
- TV or radio ads
- Email campaigns
If you need more support or guidance to start creating marketing materials that align with your branding, ZeBrand can help! Our branding services include support from an expert Brand Coach who can walk you through the entire branding process.
When you're launching your new business, you don't need to hire a startup branding agency. But you do need a long-term marketing tool that keeps your brand cohesive and aligned as your company evolves and grows. When you're ready to embark on the startup branding process, ZeBrand can help! Our branding company will work with you to create a lasting brand impression that sets your startup up for success.