Effective branding for start-up businesses

Brand & deliver.
Creating effective branding for Start-up businesses.

Ok, you’ve got a great idea. You’ve developed a new market defining product or service. You know your audience. So how do you reach them and encourage them to engage with you?

Creating an effective brand identity is key to building a strong, recognisable face in the market, ensuring your personality is amplified and your story is heard.

So far so good, but how do you do that?

A brand embraces a whole range of human and business characteristics. The skill is to understand which ones are important, which are true to you and how they can all manifest themselves into a tangible identity and subsequently a memorable, effective and successful brand.

Think about the brands you identify with. What sets them apart from their competitors and why are you drawn to them? How do they make you feel? Then consider your target audience. What is important to them and how will your brand fit in their world?

Detailed research will help you better understand your audience and enable you to distil a meaningful brand proposition. So, consider the following:

  • Who is your target market? What age are they and are they gender-specific?
  • What solution does your product or service provide for potential consumers?
  • What does your audience do for business and or leisure, and where to they socialise?
  • How will your consumers buy your product or service? And where else do they do business?
  • How much does your product or service cost relative to the market?
  • Who are your competitors and who are the ones to watch and why?

Answers to these questions will help inform all the creative work to come.

As the saying goes, ‘fail to plan and plan to fail’.

If you plan your brand identity based around your research findings: the ideas, thoughts and feelings of your target audience, you won’t make the mistake of building a brand that appeals to you and not to them. Be as objective as you can at this stage, subjectivity comes later.

  • List your long-term and short-term goals
  • Consider a realistic time frame to achieve these goals
  • Think about what help you might need to meet your targets: financial, skills and training, people etc.
  • Ensure your customers are central to the plan
  • Ensure your brand ‘language’ communicates your goals to your audience – they’ll soon tell you if it resonates or not

Remember – your brand needs to appeal to both the hearts and minds of your audience and in order to do that successfully, the head should rule the heart at this stage.

Finding a unique truth around which to build your brand is the ultimate goal. If you look, sound and feel like everyone else in the market, people will treat you as such. After all, the most successful brands don’t blend in, they stand out.

  • What differentiates your business from the competition? What are your USPs?
  • What can you offer that no one else can?
  • Do you have a unique product or service? Or a different approach to the market norm?
  • What makes you different to all your competitors?
  • How will your business stand out from the crowd?

And ultimately how can you distil this point of difference into a proposition that is true, credible and ambitious for your business?

A proposition on its own, is as one dimensional as a logo, a colour palette or a type style.

Used collectively and creatively, however, all the elements of your visual identity should combine to deliver a recognisable and cohesive representation of your brand values, your personality and your business.

They should help engage, inform and engrain your brand in the hearts and minds of your prospective customers and act as a clarion call for brand ambassadors internally and externally.

Brands are living entities. They evolve, they grow, they adapt.

As the world changes, so do people’s expectations. Brands must do the same to remain relevant to their audiences, whether that is through developing unique touchpoints, exploring alternative media channels or developing new products and services.

By continually re-evaluating the way you communicate, watching what your competitors are doing and staying in front of your customer’s expectations your brand will flourish.

Written by Treve Ripley

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