Why your startup needs a grown up brand

Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, once said “the Disney brand is our most valuable asset. It is the sum total of our 75 years in business, of our reputation, of everything we stand for.”

Of course, when you haven’t been in business for 75 years you probably won’t feel your brand carries the same weight. Branding might not even be one of your top priorities.

Starting a company from scratch involves a lot of hard work. There are so many things to get done and certainly not enough hours in the day.

But branding is important for startups.

It’s not a step that should be skipped or put aside to think about later. Ideally, you need to think about it before your business formation. If you intend to grow you need a grown up brand, and you need to start thinking about it now.

This is why our experts have put together this guide on the true importance of branding for startups, complete with our pro branding tips and tricks along the way.

What is branding?

Branding is the use of a name, terms, designs, symbols, or other features to identify a product or service and distinguish it from those of other producers.

In simpler terms: your brand is what makes you different from everyone else.

It’s the promise you make to your customers about what they can expect from your product or service. It’s the personality of your business. And it is vital for success.

So - Why is startup branding important?

For startups, branding is even more important. There are so many companies vying for attention, and if you want to stand out you need a strong branding strategy.

Your brand encapsulates everything. It’s not just the logo you’re going to stick on your marketing materials. It is your visual identity, communicating who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.

Ultimately, it’s what other people are going to think of when they think of your company. Having a grown up brand from the start can help guide your company. It can help you do a lot of things.

From meeting the needs of your target audience to developing a recognisable brand identity for your business, a great startup branding strategy can:

  • Help you attract and retain customers
  • Generate leads
  • Increase awareness of your company
  • Make your company more efficient and organized.

Here’s why you need branding for your startup:

You need to stand out.

Today’s marketplace is highly saturated with companies doing everything they can to get attention. Your brand can help your startup carve out its own identity and differentiate you from the competition, making you recognizable and memorable.

By building your brand recognition, you’ll have a better chance of attracting new customers and retaining the ones you already have.

You need to be consistent.

A strong branding strategy will help ensure your company is consistent in its messaging and presentation, both online and offline. This consistency creates a sense of reliability and trustworthiness for potential and current customers.

It can also make your company more efficient by streamlining processes, from marketing and sales to customer service.

You need to connect with people.

A strong brand can resonate with your customers and make an emotional connection, leading to what will hopefully become a long-lasting relationship. You can be a company that’s admirable, that makes people feel good.

You can show people that your values are their values by tailoring your startup's brand voice to the potential customers it is designed for.

You need to get people on board.

Your startup might be doing something that’s never been done before. You’re about to disrupt the world with a new and exciting idea. Surely that should be enough to get people to notice?

Well, not always. It’s going to be hard for people to buy into your company if they don’t understand what you’re actually doing. Getting your branding right can be a huge help in communicating your startup simply to customers.

You need to think long-term.

Branding is not a short-term fix, it’s a long-term strategy designed to help you reach your business goals. By taking the time to develop a strong branding foundation now, you’ll set your startup up for success down the road.

For startups, long-term branding success comes down to three things:

  • Differentiation: what makes your brand unique and how will you communicate that to your target audience?
  • Positioning: what is your place in the market and how will you stay there?
  • Relevance: how will you make sure your branding remains relevant as your company grows and changes?

You need to think about what other people think.

It’s easy to get caught up in creating and developing an idea you love, all the while forgetting that other people might not love it as much as you do.

Building a brand forces you to pay attention to your audience and what they think of you. It will help you to develop your business with them in mind and create a great customer experience that will have them coming back.

You need funding.

All of the things branding can do to help you reach customers can help you reach investors too.  This aspect of business development should not be ignored.

There are a lot of things you need to think about when you’re a startup. Make sure branding is one of them. It might just be your most valuable asset 75 years down the line too.

How To Create a Startup Brand Strategy

The startup branding process begins and ends with strategy.

Creating a brand strategy for your startup should be your first step. This branding foundation will guide all of your branding decisions moving forward, from your visual identity to the way you communicate with customers.

Here’s what you need to think about when creating your startup branding strategy:

  • Consider an expert startup branding agency: The most effective branding strategies come from branding services that understand startups. If you have the budget, consider working with a branding company to help you create a branding strategy tailored specifically for your company.
  • Think about your target audience: who are you trying to reach?
  • Define your business goals: what do you want to achieve?
  • Research your industry and competitors: what does the landscape look like?
  • Outline your brand values: what do you believe in?
  • Create a branding position statement: Now that you’ve done your research and thinking, it’s time to distill everything down into a single branding position statement. This should be one or two sentences that capture the essence of your brand strategy. Here’s an example:

“Our branding strategy is all about differentiating our company in the marketplace. We will accomplish this by communicating our unique value proposition to our target audience and position ourselves as the leading experts in our industry. Our goal is to build a long-term relationship with our customers by providing them with an exceptional customer experience.”

Building your brand guidelines:

Once you have your branding strategy in place, it’s time to start putting it into action. The best way to do this is by creating brand guidelines that will serve as a roadmap for all of your future branding decisions.Your brand guidelines should include everything from your logo usage to your company voice and tone.

These guidelines will be used internally by your team to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to branding. They will also be used by any outside agencies or contractors you work with, such as your website development company or PR agency.

Your brand guidelines should be living documents that evolve as your company grows and changes. Make sure to revisit them regularly and update them accordingly.

Your startup brand guidelines should include:

  • Your logo and branding assets: Include your logo, color palette, typography, and any other branding assets you have created.
  • Your company overview: Give a brief overview of your company, including your mission statement, target audience, and values.
  • Your brand positioning: Include your branding position statement from earlier.
  • Your brand voice and tone: Give communication guidelines for how your team should be representing the company across all channels, from your social media marketing campaign to your customer service team. Your brand voice and tone should be consistent cross-channels, with clear guidelines in place to aid this.
  • Your marketing materials: Include any approved marketing collateral, such as your content marketing strategy details, website copy, brochures, or email templates.

Branding For Startups FAQs

What branding does a startup need?

Oh boy, how long do you have?

In all seriousness, the branding needs of a startup vary greatly depending on the company and its goals. However, there are some branding basics that all startups should consider, such as creating a branding strategy, conducting market research, developing brand guidelines, and creating marketing materials.

How do startups do branding?

When branding a startup, the most important thing is to focus on your target audience and what you want to achieve. You should also research your industry and competitors, as well as outlining your brand values.

Once you have all of this information, you can begin to create a branding strategy that will differentiate your company in the marketplace.

What are the 4 steps of branding?

Laying the groundwork for your branding strategy is essential to ensure success. Here are four steps all startups can take:

  1. Research your industry and target audience.
  2. Outline your brand values.
  3. Create a branding position statement.
  4. Develop brand guidelines.

Looking For Startup Branding Support?

Well, there you have it! Hopefully you can now see why branding for your startup business is important, and how to go about branding your startup the right way.

If you’re still not sure where to start, or if you need help bringing your branding vision to life, we’re here to help.

At Huddle Creative, our branding experts have years of experience working with startups to develop strong, impactful branding that resonates with their target audiences. We’d love to chat with you about your branding goals and help you take your company to the next level.