4 Branding Strategies for Startups and Small Businesses
Startup founders and small business owners have a lot on their plate - business development, client management, team management, finance, the list is endless. It is only natural then, to let the activities that seem not so essential to the day-to-day operations, such as branding to be overlooked. But, evidence has shown, that there is considerable merit in spending some time to create a brand strategy for your startup.
Here are 4 simple branding strategies that you can implement even with a limited budget.
Benefits of creating a clear brand strategy
You are probably already aware of the benefits of creating a strong brand. It is what helps sets you apart from the crowd and can also help build a long-term connection with your consumer. Building a strong brand is important for businesses focused on B2C as well as B2B customers.
If you still aren't convinced, here are some more reasons why it is important to invest in your brand:
It is your identity - By giving your brand a distinct voice, personality, and image, you are able to differentiate yourself in a saturated marketplace. It helps your consumer pick you out or choose you over the others.
It gives direction - If your brand is well defined, you are able to make decisions on marketing and future investments to ensure consistency and business growth. It also helps employees and other stakeholders to align themselves to what is important to the brand and what is not.
It helps in recognition and recall - In order to be remembered, it is important to connect at an emotional level. Branding helps build consistency in how you are perceived by your audience and consumers.
Ultimately, it is your brand that will help you to move from being “just another startup”, into a powerful industry, sector, or household name.
But, a good brand is incomplete without a good strategy to help bring alignment and direction. A branding strategy gives an outline and a plan to work through, making sure that you hit all the goals along the way.
While it takes time and effort to create the perfect brand strategy for your startup or small business, the results are well worth the effort.
4 Simple Branding Strategies for Startups
Building a brand is hard enough when you have an abundance of resources (people, time, and money). So, startups and small businesses need to put in that extra effort to overcome these shortcomings.
Here, we offer you 4 (relatively) easy-to-implement strategies to ensure that your branding stays on point, even if you have limited resources.
1. Get your basic brand elements in place.
Branding is more than just your name, logo, colour, etc. However, these form an integral part of your branding strategy. They are what will help bring your brand alive and communicate its personality and purpose.
We have listed out a few of the basic elements that you will need:
Name - Choose a name that will resonate with your target audience, one that is easy to remember, spell and pronounce. Consider cultural implications of the name you have chosen.
Visual Elements (logo, imagery, colours etc.) - It is best to use the services of a professional designer to help you select the right colour palette and visuals to represent your brand.
Purpose/Story - Your purpose is your reason for existence. It is the why behind everything you do, so make you have articulated it well. You might also have an interesting story to tell about how you decided to follow this purpose.
Value Proposition/Promise - These are the functional, rational, and emotional benefits customers can receive when they associate with you. You need to clear right from the start so that you are able to attract the right type of customer.
Positioning - This will help your brand get associated with a particular space in the market and in the minds of your consumer. You will need to research the market and your competitors to be able to do this well.
Getting these in place is only the start of your process. It is what will form the base on which you will need to build.
2. Focus on Emotions.
Most often in your enthusiasm to communicate quickly, you might forget that you are ultimately speaking with human beings. And, all human beings are governed by emotions. When you speak to the heart (emotion), you are able to tap into parts of the brain that help in recall and memory.
So, focus on how you want your audience to feel when they come in contact with your brand.
Here are some ways to build an emotional connection:
Tell a Story - Remember Aesop's fables, 1001 Arabian Nights, Panchatantra? These short stories helped us connect to the characters and remember valuable life lessons. Use your motivations, challenges, and life experiences to evoke emotions in your audience. These aspects are what make you and your brand interesting.
Talk about Values - By telling people what you stand for helps your brand align with your audience's values and builds an emotional connection.
Be Yourself - People connect with other people who are real and authentic. There are things that will make you and your brand unique, no one is perfect, let your quirks show. Be real.
This strategy may be really easy or really difficult for you to implement. But once you get the hang of it, it makes everything related to your brand fun, relatable and exciting.
3. Build an online presence.
There are more than 4.6 billion people with access to the internet and over 3.6 billion social media accounts today. It is hence safe to say that if your brand is not visible online, it may as well not exist. Creating a website or social media account does not cost anything.
Consumers are increasingly turning to official social media accounts to research new brands, learn more about them, get the opinions of others, and interact with the brands themselves.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you go digital:
Align your brand identity - Make sure your brand is represented correctly across all your digital entities.
Know your audience - This is probably the most important tip. Create buyer personas to help you create real-life examples of who they are. Understand their preferences, needs, and places you are likely to find them.
Engage and Respond - Find relatable ways to engage with your audience on the platforms you choose to be on. Also, make sure that you are being responsive when someone gets in touch or interacts with you.
By creating an online presence that aligns with your brand identity, you will be able to connect and engage with your audience at their convenience.
4. Be Consistent and Cohesive.
Imagine meeting a person who constantly changes their look, sounds different all the time, and is inconsistent with their reactions. We either don't think too highly of them or don't seem to recognize them when we see them. Being consistent helps in recall and reinforces the brand's personality.
It is important that your brand maintains consistency of tonality, visual elements, and style across platforms. Consistency may become more and more difficult as your team grows and the 'brand touchpoints' increase over time.
Here are some tips to help you maintain consistency:
Create a repository - Consider creating a space keep all your brand assets so that it is easily accessible to your team. Make sure this repository is regularly updated.
Consider regular audits - A internal brand audit once in a year helps you keep track of how consistently your brand comes across, how well it aligns with the way you do business, and how it’s perceived by your customers.
Train your team - Training your team can help align them on the essential elements of your brand and ensure that they are always looking out for inconsistencies.
Consistency and coherence help you nurture your brand right from the start.
Go on, Build Your Brand Strategy.
It is never too early or too late for a startup to consider building a branding strategy. When you are able to differentiate yourself and create a unique personality for your brand, it puts you in a very different league.
Consider creating a branding strategy as an investment that is going to give you returns several times over. You might even consider using the services of a professional brand development company to help you build your strategy.
Get in Touch.
If you need help with your brand strategy, get in touch with us. We have brand development services that are specific to startups and small businesses.