Founding a startup and guiding it through its early infancy is one of the most stressful and difficult things an individual can do. It is a constant battle for survival where you claw and scratch your way to some kind of profitability before the seed money runs out.
In such a hectic environment, it is no wonder many startups forget or are very late for the party with branding. While a great product/service will still be the very foundation of a startup, not branding properly can also easily become a startup-killer.
But, what does branding exactly do for a startup? How does it help a startup thrive?
It Makes the Startup Unique
The number of startups being founded and launched every minute (not day, or month) is a staggering one and it is far more likely than not that your startup will start drowning in an ocean of other startups from your niche. Simply put, there are far too many startups out there to think that your one will be the one to capture the consumers’ imagination.
This is where branding comes in. With the proper branding technique, a startup will adopt something of a personality, a recognizable identity that will never be mistaken for anything else but your brand.
This will start with a visual identity of the brand that you should start working on even before you go live. For instance, you can play with a free logo maker or some other service where you can bounce a few ideas around before you even approach pros. You should also think long and hard about a name.
As your startup starts attracting new customers, its brand will grow through providing great service and helping people. The combination of a recognizable visual identity and the good work you do will soon make your brand name a household one.
Becoming Part of Consumers’ Lives
The biggest brands have long gone past being just brands of certain companies. They have become these entities that are present in our lives and that we barely even notice them anymore. This may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t. People simply cannot imagine a world without Coca Cola or Apple. They have inserted them into the fabric of everyday life.
Your new startup brand will need decades to accomplish this, but this does not mean you should not try and make it a presence in the lives of your customers and those you hope to become your customers.
In order to do this, you will need to adopt a brand message that you will then spread around. At the core of this message will, of course, be your product or your service and you will need to build on that. For example, you will want to take to social media where you will communicate (really communicate) with your customers and involve them in a brand. With smart use of social media (and tools like Tweetfavy), you can grow this customer base and “recruit” new brand fans.
Another way in which startup brands can become more visible and involved is by literally getting involved – doing good for the local community. This can range from organizing small, free events to starting charities and perhaps even providing scholarships to your people from the area. Of course, this will all have to wait for some less hectic times, but it is still something to keep in mind.
The Promise of Longevity
The unpredictable and outright chaotic nature of the startup arena often results in startups changing their owners, CEOs and entire teams of people. Sometimes, startups change the way their entire approach to the industry and their product/service and in such situations, they often lose users and customers. These people start feeling that this is no longer the same company and they abandon it.
With a strong brand, the number of such people will drop significantly. The brand will stand for something bigger than a CEO or a certain way of doing things. People may still frown at change, but they will know this particular brand would never change for the worse.
Branding should never be the main priority for a startup (this distinction goes to good service/product), but it should also never be ignored. Also, it has to be more than just a fancy website and a cool logo. Keep that in mind and your brand will be able to survive the harshest of storms.