25. March 2013–
A brand is not a product or a promise or a feeling. It's the sum of all the experiences you have with a company." – Amir Kassaei
Startups are set up to conquer new markets with business models around new ideas or services. For them, it’s all about speed. When it comes to programming, infrastructure and logistics, many start-ups are leading edge. Unfortunately, many startups are not setting the pace regarding branding strategies for their businesses.
Branding matters – and it is in fact part of your USP
There is no history and no established product or service at this stage of a company, so it’s essential to start with shaping your brand from day one. It doesn’t matter if your new product or service is self-explaining or complex, it doesn’t matter if you’re just a pure consumer electronics retailer or if you’re placing a new fashion product. Branding matters – and it is in fact part of your USP.
So let’s have a look at what you can (and should!) do – even on a shoestring budget.
1. Plan your brand – be concise
Even for startups in the brand-focused automotive sector crafting a branding strategy often takes the backseat. And yet, branding will happen, whether you’re actively steering it or not. Better have your branding toolbox at hand, because if you don’t take ownership of your brand, other people will. So roll up your sleeves and start shaping your brand into the clear, concise representation of what your business is all about by first taking a look at the essentials.
Don’t build your brand around your product/service.
Do build your brand around your customer. And this is something new startups can learn from the “old economy”. Ask yourself: Who am I talking to as a business? What is their pressing need? How does my product/service answer to that need? Why should they believe in me? And finally, based on all that: What is the one single thought everyone should have on their mind when thinking about my business? Write it down.
2. Craft your brand – be consistent
You have your plan. You know that branding is about creating a sustainable and unique association with your company, the product, the service, the people, the entire organisation. It’s about both functional and emotional benefits to the consumer – at every touchpoint. So to craft your brand, put all the pieces together and translate your brand plan into everything you are and do as a business.
Don’t stop at the design of your logo.
Do strive for one consistent consumer experience which will leave your clients with the single thought that’s the essence of your brand and the heart of your business.
3. Communicate your brand – be convincing
Communicate your brand internally first. Make your coworkers your brand advocates. Once your entire organisation knows, lives and breathes your brand values, you’re ready to approach your customers. And whether you excite, surprise, entertain or comfort them – be convincing. Make sure you connect to the right people at the right time with the right reasons in the right way.
Don’t think that branding can only happen via big budget above-the-line campaigns.
Do value every interaction as an opportunity to create clear brand associations in the mind of your clients. Make it count.
Branding strategies have evolved. Companies like Apple, Amazon or Google didn’t get big by using established branding formats. Online marketing, PR and most of all word-of-mouth were key levers for building those brands. Yet they all started with a clear vision and profited from actively steering their brands – from product development to advertising.
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