8 Startup Branding Tips You Should Consider

When you first start, your company is a blank slate. People don’t know much about you, and you may not yet know what you stand for exactly. Building a brand name from the very beginning is exciting because you can put any image you want out there. Branding is mainly about the way the outside world sees you, but can also involve how your staff sees you. 

Approximately 433,000 new businesses start each year in the United States. Unfortunately, startup failure rates are about 67% over 10 years, with one-third of firms surviving. Of course, failure rates vary by industry and many other factors. One way to beat the odds and stand out from your competition is through robust branding efforts. 

If you can afford a dedicated staff member to work on branding, they’ll have dozens of ideas for you. If you’re on a tight budget and can only hire freelancers at this time, or must do the work yourself, here are eight tips to keep in mind as you build your company.

Branding

1. Write Your Business Plan

If you don’t already have a business plan in place, go ahead and complete one. Within your business plan, you’ll provide a mission statement, which defines what you stand for and care about most. Consider your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, including what you can reasonably budget for. Looking ahead five or ten years also gives you some insight into how you want others to see your organization and what steps you need to get there. 

2. Develop a Style

It’s essential to show a consistent message to potential customers. Not only should your tone be the same, but the look of your outreach needs to match. A style guide keeps everyone on the same page. If you send out a brochure to leads, it will have the same colors and font styles as your website and social media pages. 

Define when, where and how your logo gets used. Include a color palette with HEX codes. List out what fonts to use and where, such as for headers or body text. The more specific you are, the more consistent your branding. 

3. Invest in Signs

If you want to excel at corporate branding, invest in eye-catching signage while staying on point. In fact, according to one study, poor quality signage was behind around 60% of consumers’ decisions not to enter an establishment. If you put up a store or office sign to indicate your business, make sure it reflects your company colors and font choices. You can also utilize banners and flags to get your tagline and mission statement out to passersby. 

4. Know Your Audience

The best brands reach people on an emotional level. Think about the last time you cried over a Folgers coffee commercial or a Hallmark ad. Some brands tug at the heartstrings. Tapping into the feelings of your potential clients makes your brand much more memorable than just putting out a bland message. 

Figuring out what emotions to hit on requires knowing who needs your product or services and what their biggest concerns are. Do your research and create buyer personas. Aim marketing at the models you’ve created representing your typical customer. 

5. Find a Mentor

How can a mentor help with branding? Finding someone who’s gone before you and overcome obstacles is a valuable resource for everything from dealing with cash flow issues to creating a name for yourself. Startups with mentors grow about 3.5 times faster than those without. A business coach helps you avoid pitfalls, such as sending out a message and angering most of your customers. 

6. Put Your Audience First

You want people to think of you when they need help with something in your wheelhouse. Put the needs of your audience first, and you’ll create content driving people to your website because they’ll know you’re the go-to expert on a specific topic. 

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 90% of top-performing B2Bs put the informational desires of their buyers first, even behind the promotional needs of the company. 

7. Improve Company Culture

Another aspect of your brand is how the outside world sees you as an employer. Do people want to work for your company, or do they run in the other direction? Attracting top people in each field helps you remain highly competitive. You might not be able to match the benefits or payscale of a big corporation, but you can offer perks those larger firms can’t. 

Give your employees paid days to volunteer for a cause of their choice. Offer flexible work hours for parents or seniors. Get creative and host a pizza Friday or food truck day where you treat those working hard for you. The word will get out, and people will come to see you as a brand valuing its workers. 

8. Tell Your Story

A big part of how people see your brand ties into your story. What challenges did you overcome to start the business? What was your core reason for wanting to offer a product or service? There is usually a more profound reason than just making money because there are easier ways to turn a profit. Figure out the passion behind what you do, why consumers should care and then engagingly present the information. 

9. Gather Information for Excellent Branding

Reach out to your customers regularly, even once you establish your startup and are no longer a new company. Ask them what they would do if your product weren’t available. Find out what annoys them about your business model. How can you improve? Let them define your brand in the way they see it and then figure out how to move the compass so that their view is closer to the image you want to convey. 

About Author:

Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she’s not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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