The startup ecosystem is a highly competitive one. Though we have grown accustomed to the notion that a great idea that’s perfectly executed, is all it takes to reel in large investments and become a major player, this is no longer the case.
In today’s environment, companies need to beat out the competition, which is getting fiercer by the day. With more and more startups flooding the market in almost every sector, it is becoming harder to attract potential investors and customers.
In order to stand out and form a distinct identity, startups are forced to invest in their branding much earlier in their life cycle. While this may sound complicated, expensive and often unnecessary to entrepreneurs, especially since they have spent so much time and energy developing the product itself, it is an important element needed to succeed.
Actually, branding isn’t that difficult or expensive when we fully understand the underlying principles. From website design to developing a brand’s tone, these are the six fundamental basics of startup branding:
Create a Website
A website is crucial. This is the first place where potential customers and investors will search for you. If your company does not have a well-maintained site, you’ll most likely be left behind, while prospective customers move on to the nearest competitor.
More than anything, a lack of web presence reflects poorly on your brand. It sends the message that the startup is not relevant and is most likely not worth investing in.
Designing and programing a website may seem time and energy consuming. But with website builders, such as Wix, it can actually be done quite simply, without requiring large budgets or hiring designers and programmers.
Define your Brand’s Purpose
A well-defined purpose is at the core of brand identity and it is what separates truly successful enterprises from the rest of the pack. Purpose is not limited only to what the startup aims to provide, but also includes its culture and ideals.
Successful companies center their purpose around a promise to their customers. They aim to create change, to influence the world, to improve lives. This helps promote a sense of loyalty towards the brand, making it much more likely to stand out and garner a strong following.
When a company’s purpose is well defined, it lets investors and customers know exactly what to expect, which in turn allows the company to fulfill these expectations precisely.
Design a Visual Identity
The visual aspect of a brand is extremely important and has a great impact on the perception of a company. As such, the visual language should align with the brand’s identity.
The first thing most people think of when it comes to the visual side of branding is a logo, and it should be designed with that in mind. Designing a logo, like creating a website, has also been made easy and accessible, with services like logo maker, developed by Wix.
Though most startups do, in fact, create a logo, many neglect the other aspects of branding design. This is a huge mistake, as a company’s aesthetic plays a significant role in communicating its message. The fonts and colors used by a startup help create the “vibe” of the brand, which is critical in attracting the target audience.
Give the Startup a Voice
The concept of brands having a voice isn’t new, but it has definitely grown in importance over the last few decades. In the past, companies had to maintain their perceived identity in commercials and ads. These days, brands have infinite ways to reach the public, and vice-versa. There is open dialogue between the brand and the consumer, rather than the classic one-way advertisement. This places greater importance on the brand’s voice.
A voice, both written and verbal, is a brand’s “personality”. It is derived from its purpose and ideals and caters to the audience with consistency. Though different platforms and demographics may require different tones of voice, the message itself should maintain the brand’s core values at all times.
Utilise Social Media
Social media presence is much more than a part of a good branding effort. It is the main platform for outreach and a major part of a brand’s online existence.
Operating social media accounts on multiple platforms, while maintaining the voice and aesthetic previously established, helps solidify the brand’s identity. It increases visibility and improves communication with both investors and customers. This makes social media an extremely powerful tool for any brand in general, and startups in particular.
Although part of a broader effort, social media branding has its own set of guidelines, to help maximise reach and optimise public perception.
Think Outside the Box
This is where true creativity and entrepreneurship skills shine through. In today’s overcrowded startup environment, innovation is key. In fact, more than the product, innovation in branding can carry a startup a long way.
In essence, startup branding is all about differentiating and standing out in a competitive, saturated environment. With this in mind, startups can create their own branding strategies, avenues and techniques and be successful, as long as the basics are covered.