Why Branding is Essential For Startups
90% of startups fail within the first 4 months. Why? Because they often overlook one of the key pillars to a successful venture: their branding. For early-stage startups, they often see branding as something to indulge in — a luxury meant only for established corporate giants with indispensable budgets. In reality, your brand is one of the key ways to gain traction and attract the right resources. Here we’ll break down why branding is essential for startups and how you should start thinking about yours.
Color pallets and fonts matter. But a powerful brand comes down to two things: how you make your customers feel and what promise you make to them. In its simplest form, your brand is a blueprint for representing who you are, what you stand for, and why anyone should care. When your brand is executed properly, every interaction, from the experience of your website to the way you onboard new customers, should communicate that same promise and that same feeling. Let’s look at Starbucks as an example. They’re not one of the most successful brands in the world because of the angles in their logo. They’re successful because their brand promises something specific: to create a second space outside your home. And they reinforce that promise consistently, in every intentional detail — from the interior design, to the music, to the language used by their employees, and yes, even the regal aesthetic of their logo. Even in the pandemic, as they transitioned to strictly drive-thru service, we’re still able to expect the Starbucks experience — it’s in the replicated science of every cup of coffee and the on-brand feeling delivered by every employee interaction.
Think about your target audience (the people who your company is positioned to serve best). List the problems that your company helps them solve. Which ones have the strongest emotional pull?
Consumers have endless options to choose from. Branding allows you to stand out from the competition because it emphasizes how your company is different in comparison to the market. Is your company a disruptive innovator? A premium luxury? Or maybe you’re a modern mind in a conventional industry? Your brand should intentionally communicate that positioning at every touchpoint — your website, design aesthetic, messaging, and user experience. Additionally, your brand will either be appealing to your audience or tragically forgettable. The question is this: how effective is your first impression? How memorable is your key message? Are you consistently putting out content that reinforces that message?
List out your main competitors. List the key messages you get from each. List the ways that your company is different from theirs.
When pitching your startup, investors want to know that you’ve got your bases covered. And aside from your value proposition, business model, and financial projections, having a well -crafted brand signals to investors that you have a plan to enter the market. A crafted brand identity illustrates that you know your customers and have a strategy to connect with them on a deeper level. Branding also tells investors why you’re in business aside from making money. Your brand communicates your values and philosophy, and attracts like-minded partners to your cause.
Aside from making money, list the philosophical reasons why your company exists. What common values do your founders share? To help you, complete this sentence: Besides making money, we exist to ______.
In a recent study people ranked meaningful work as one of the most important factors when choosing a job. The key here is to articulate the philosophies, culture, and mission behind your brand; by doing so you’ll be able to recruit passionate people who align with your cause. When it comes to recruitment, branding is more than company swag bags. It’s about alignment towards a unified vision. So the question here is: what is the brand of your vision? Who are the people that resonate with your company’s vision? What type of internal culture do you want to cultivate?
Get with your founders and list out the reasons why you’re passionate about your company. What types of people share these passions? What are the common values you believe in?
When it comes to branding, you want to hire capable creative talent — you’ll need an eye-catching website, professionally produced content, and concise messaging that’s both memorable and emotionally compelling. But before all that, you need to understand why you do what you do. The idea is to articulate your vision and build your brand around that. Doing so will allow you to connect with your audience, attract resources, stand out from competitors, and align your team around focused objectives.
Branding isn’t just how your startup is presented. Branding is strategy — it’s how your business invites people to be a part of your vision. How clearly can you see yours? This article is the latest in our series on branding for innovation. Follow Vidi on LinkedIn or visit our blog for more content.