If you are not familiar with branding but want to go ahead with establishing your start-up business, it is imperative that branding is understood as a key differentiator in the game. Branding is the key reason that makes some firms successful while you find that your start-up venture is still tottering and yet to make a head start.
Your start-up could really be your uber-cool idea. However, this is not enough. You need to brand your start-up so that you can connect with people and convince them that your yet to be proven solution is exactly what they are looking for.
Nevertheless, several start-ups commence with their operations but die out even before their very first anniversary, just because they did not get their branding right. Frankly, branding gives your start-up the necessary traction and improves its growth potential.
Branding - a lifetime exercise
It’s true that a lot of people have dreams about their start-ups, but the environment seems too daunting enough for them to confront the competition. The answer to this quandary is to build brand-awareness and be consistent at it. Therefore, once you initiate branding for your start-up, there is no way you can end the branding initiative once your start-up begins to show signs of success. Always remember that branding is a lifetime exercise and spans the entire lifecycle of the business.
As you will understand, just like a grown-up human is a baby first and undergoes the teething process, a start-up must go through the teething phase too. At this juncture, you can get swayed by what you think about the brand and tend to forget what the target audience thinks about it. The key to start-up success is in realizing that what people think about your brand is more important than what you think so.
Branding your start-up – the steps
Yes, it is important for customers to connect with your brand emotionally – the emotional connect must be present before the customer gets into the act of purchasing the tangible or intangible asset that your brand represents. Even a massive brand like Pepsi began one day like this – from scratch. Here’s how to ensure that you brand your start-up effectively:
Know and understand who is going to buy your stuff
Without understanding the target market, it is well and nigh useless to brand your start-up. You should have a perfect vision of who really wants to experience your brand. Your branding efforts should enable your target audience to connect with the experience that your product or service offers. Without the brand connect, you are really staring at failure in the long term.
Frankly, it can be easier to create something tangible such as a new book or a new start up than going forward and promoting it, which can be dreadful indeed. It becomes all the more important to understand that unless you don’t understand your customers and whom you’re targeting, you will not be able to speak their language, establish an emotional connect, and even persuade them to buy your stuff. This task is made easier by establishing a buyer persona, which represents the ideal customer. As a start-up, if you fail to establish your buyer persona, you are going to have a tough time to come to the reality that your brand is not going to succeed.
Connect with your target audience
In today’s world, connecting with your potential customers is a crucial part of your branding efforts. It is very important that you initiate a survey that consists of questions concerning your product and how your customers describe the product and relate to them. The key is in building a base of loyal customers – so that you are assured of consistent returns along with witnessing the steady and constant growth of your brand.
Learn how your competitors differentiate themselves
You can learn a lot about how to brand your start-up if you carefully study your competitor’s brands. Study aspects like logo design, customer base, differentiation and other similar qualities.
However, copying them for your brand is definitely a strict no-no. Rather, understand what motivated your competitors to go for these choices. Try to emulate the qualities specific to your brand in the communication to your audience.
The point here is that it is not wise to ignore and adopt an ostrich approach to what your competitors are up to. By doing so, you are only causing for an early demise of your brand.
Differentiate in order to make your brand unique
While conceptualizing your brand, think of some differentiators that can help make your brand unique. Emphasise factors such as lower price, a young and sleek product range, or even something that is more down to earth if the other competitors have branded their product more elitist and for the up-market. Often, as a start-up, one neglects this factor and soon the brand gets lost in the crowd of other brands hogging the customer space.
Run an effective branding campaign
Surely, even if you have followed all the steps as described above, you need to understand that nothing can be possible if you do not put your plan into action. Even if you know whom you are targeting, you must take the right action. Create a branding campaign with the right mix of elements – both offline and digital space to engage with your audience and customers effectively.
Thus, your goal is to create brand awareness that sticks in the minds of people. It’s not rocket science, so at the end of the day, you can do it. It is also a good idea to establish a social media presence. Currently, social media sites such as Facebook have millions of active users monthly.
It can prove to be a disaster if you choose to neglect the social media revolution. Go for other social sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn for your startup, which can prove to be very beneficial too for its long-term health.
Now it is the time to understand that your brand is your start-up's ultimate identity. It is the image that is created in their minds about your company and all things associated. Hence, you need to be able to create a solid measure of trust in the minds of your audience, failing which; even a single misstep could prove to be doom for your start-up. The good part is that a well-crafted strategy and a properly executed plan could mean tremendous success for your start-up. Good Luck!