Almost all startups have heard the branding rules of a good logo, color consistency in all marketing collateral, and a focus on competitors – not the consumer.
Branding and growing a startup’s brand is much more than those three outdated rules. They may have worked well a few years ago, but we’ve begun to expect much more from brands, and much more from the experiences they give us.
In a really clear definition of what a brand is, branding is about how a customer perceives an organization. It really is more than a swoosh, or a swirl, or a few colorful words.
Startups are pressed for time, and for funds. Getting a product to market continues to be time-consuming, and while it does not need to be perfect it does need to be good enough.
Here are three tips to follow that will help you grow your startups brand, without breaking the flow of your development and growth.
- Be consumer-focused not competitor-focused
A few years ago, when there were not that many competitors in the market, and the Internet was still in what we’ve called Web 1.0, focusing on competitors was not a big problem. It was probably the way to go, especially if you wanted to outsmart them.
We no longer live in a dial-up connection world. We are always connected, and always on the go. We still compete with other brands, but startups are a new breed, working in a new economy, and with a different type of consumer.
It is extremely easy to switch from one brand to the next, and startups are running against time to make sure that does not happen.
Focus on consumers to develop a strong brand. Don’t see other brands as your competition. See consumers as your competition. That being said focus on them, what they are looking for, and what will keep them coming back to your site for more of what you give them.
Analyze what consumers want. We have so many analytical possibilities in the market right now that it really is quite easy to prove why a startup needs to do one thing more than the other. We at least have quantitative data for that.
As a startup, you need to focus your efforts on the consumer from the beginning. Unless consumers feel they are the center of your brand’s universe, and that you really are catering to their specific needs, you will go unnoticed. Differentiate yourself to win with consumers. Consumers are your most valuable asset, and you need to focus on them to make sure they choose you over another brand, whether it’s a startup too, or one they’ve always gone back to.
The goal here: Change their focus, by focusing on them.
- Create stuff that matters to consumers
You need to create stuff – products, services – that really matter to consumers. This follows the first tip perfectly because you are already differentiating yourself, and now it’s about what you’re giving them.
You answered the “why”. This is the “how” of what you’re doing.
Give consumers what they want to see. Give them what they want to hear, touch, and even feel when they are engaging with your brand.
As a startup you have a lot of room to do whatever you want. Nothing has been set nor pre-created for you to follow. You have autonomy, and that lets you use your creativity to decide how to really go about doing things to speak your brand’s voice.
By giving them what they want they will recognize you. You will, like I mentioned above, differentiate yourself.
Don’t fall prey to being avoided. Time is of the essence right now, and no one wants to be pushed aside because what they give is not useful to consumers.
The goal here: Giving consumers what they want will keep consumers on your side.
- Give consumers meaning
Consumers want to engage with brands that mean something.
What happens to brands that add so many services or products that consumers lose themselves in so many choices? The brand loses meaning. Consumers do not know if to think they are the best at one thing or the other.
Startups growing their brands need to focus on the meaning they want to associate with their respective brands.
What’s the meaning of a brand that sells a product, yet has bad customer service? The meaning is going to be bad customer service. That is going to happen, to some degree, no matter how amazing that product may be.
We tend to hold on to what affects us most, and what is going to affect us most in this case is the bad service. It was the moment when we needed good service the most.
What about a brand that is a leader in fresh spring water, and then starts adding other products? Am I going to start thinking that the water they were a leader in is not good enough? Possibly. I may try their other products, but I also may not since their focus on the amazing water is now in nothing but products made to drink. This translates to too many competitors, and too much questioning when it comes to this brand.
Minimizing your band by losing your focus, even while you’re trying to increase your brand by adding new products, is not the answer to strong development and growth.
Startups need to be firm, and very stable in one area, and then possibly consider extending the brand. It would not be a good idea for a startup to do what BIC once did, creating pends for women. Exactly why does a woman need a pen that is not the same as a man’s?
Startups have the power to be the best at one thing, or even a few things. Be the best! Don’t stretch yourself out so far that consumers don’t know what to go to you for.
The goal here: Keeping consumers focused on your best will increase your brand’s strength. It will make them return back to you because… You’re the best.
Startups have a lot of leg-room to play and perfect their brands. They just need to start growing them with strength from the beginning.
The 3 tips I’ve mentioned are really something you need to think about before you create the spectacular logo, and choose your colors, and the words you’ll be using to define yourself.
Decide who you are. Decide who your brand is first, and then everything will fall into place.
Once your brand, that everlasting perception consumers will have of you, is set, you’ll know the best logo. You’ll see the colors that align perfectly. You’ll know the language to speak so consumers can hear you and remember you.
Brands are like people. People are unique. They each have a personality, a way of being, and that sets them apart.
Set your brand apart. Get noticed. Be recognizable. The details matter. You need to start by defining it to yourself first.