One of the most overlooked things in the life of a startup is branding. Somehow, in this minimalist era, we think that having a DIY website and our first 100 Instagram followers is enough when we are just starting out.
While I agree that a startup should first invest in business idea validation and building an audience, branding is one of the things that are not just marketing jargon.
And there is a simple explanation for this: every founder will infuse their personality in their startup, thus laying the foundation of its future branding from the start, even if they don’t intend to.
Let me be clear here. The branding of your small business is made up of three things:
- YOU and your story
- Your audience and their needs and
- How you are different from all the other competitors in your market.
The moment your business is up and running, whether this means having just published your website or having opened your brick and mortar shop, you begin building your branding even if you don’t intend to.
Because you make your audience experience emotion with your content, you share your ideas and values with them. As a result, they perceive your business in a certain way. This is the way the branding gets built up. And you would better control the way it gets built.
And if you think this is hard to do, I am here to say otherwise. Here are the five things you should do:
1. Don’t be afraid to be a game changer; your audience will love you for it.
Maybe you look at your market and see that all of them follow certain branding rules, like maybe all having minimalist, black and white websites and copy written in a serious, professional tone. And you think you should do the same because the audience loves it. Wrong! That audience receives whatever is communicated to them, and it is your job to set your business apart from all the others. How else will you stand out and get visible?
Do you have a weird, colorful, personality? Reflect this in your websites pictures, color scheme and copy. You will make an impact, you will stand out, and you will gain fans for life just from this one action.
2. Get clear on your values
What do you stand for? Innovation, integrity, quality, affordability, environmental consciousness, social impact? Get clear on your core values. Make a story out of it, an honest one that your ideal audience will identify with. As you might know already, people don’t buy products or services. They buy stories.
3. Be consistent
Before launching your business take 1 hour of your time and decide a few branding basics: a pair of fonts, three colors and the general theme of your brand (“fun,” “fresh,” “conservative” etc.).
Then stick to it. Constantly use this across all your marketing materials and in your copy. In branding, as in all things business, consistency is key.
4. Bring a lot of value to your audience without asking for the sale.
You will have lots of time to focus on the sale. As you are just starting out, focus on making it easy for your ideal audience to like and trust you. The easiest way to do this is through top-notch content that solves their struggles. They will become loyal to your brand, so the minute your officially launch your product or services they will line up to buy from you.
5. Reinvent your brand as it evolves
As you will get more and more into business, don’t wait until things are really off to reinvent your brand. The moment you notice that momentum is giving out, you should do something to give your branding a fresh breath of air. But do this strategically, by revisiting your origins and making sure your new story builds up on your original story.
These five steps are a great way to define your branding before it defines itself and make sure you have a solid foundation in place for the future growth of your company.
And remember, it is normal to experience branding insecurities as you are starting out. Rise above it and focus on one thing: making your clients happy. And you will have a business no matter what.