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Essentials of Startup Branding Strategy

Behind every successful company stays a well-thought-out branding startup strategy. It ensures a solid foundation to move forward. Let us dive into it deeper.

16 min read

Companies appear here, there, and pretty much everywhere. Almost every niche is a competitive space where players fight for their place under the Sun. There are many ways to win this battle and maintain your position; however, when it comes to organizations that only have just embarked on their path to success, there is no better way to do this than to capitalize on the startup brand strategy.

Branding for startup strategy is a dark horse of today's marketing. Companies are obsessed with trends and social media, trying to keep up with the current mainstreams and make them work for them. However, the answer to their stability and success lies on the surface.

According to studies, consistent brand presentation across the platforms in both online and real-life markets increases revenue by 25%. Another survey suggests that over 60% of customers prefer to buy from companies they trust. This means that oldie but goodie startup brand identity runs like clockwork, and with the professional branding agency for startups, it even does more.

Let us dive into a brand strategy for startups and find out how it can help your company stay afloat.

Branding Strategy For Startups Definition

Branding strategy is the central pillar of the successful development of branding startup nowadays. It is a constantly evolving process that assists organizations in achieving their short-term and long-term goals as well as maintaining their identity and building an overall image in the face of the customers. It is based on the company's mission, philosophy, and message and includes intangible elements and a set of actions that ultimately raise awareness and reinforce brand equity.

Unlike other facets of a company that communicate with the audience, brand strategy requires being revisited regularly to ensure it pushes the brand towards the goal instead of dragging it down.

What is brand strategy | Image by Olya Kobruseva

Difference Between Brand Start Up Strategy and Branding

Some companies mistakenly believe that start up business branding strategy boils down to designing the memorable and meaningful logotype and graphical assets used to identify the organization in the digital and real World. However, it is much more than that.

The main difference between developing a brand and developing start up brand strategy lies in process and outcome. Unlike brand development, the development of the strategy lies in creating a set of actions and tactics that adapt to new trends, fluctuations in the market, and current customers' preferences and expectations. It aims to strengthen the brand identity and help the company achieve its long-term goals. Unlike brand identity, that as a rule stays intact, it is often revisited to remain effective and valid.

The Importance Of Branding Strategies For Startups

As many professional marketers agree, branding for startup is one of the first steps that every company should undertake to ensure success. The reason for that is banal; it comes with numerous benefits. For instance, it stands behind greater recognition among customers that generates warm leads across various distribution channels.

Let us consider some other strong arguments over the significance of branding for startups strategy.

If you still question yourself, whether "I need to brand my startup or not," consider recent statistics that prove the significance of good brand strategy on practice:

  • Every 3 out of 4 people prefer a brand because of its customer service and overall user experience that strong brand strategy keeps on the top.
  • One in two people expect from modern brands good-looking, inspiring and unique design across both marketing and sales collateral – brand strategy achieves this through underling the solid foundation for designers and marketers.
  • Brands with poor strategy pay 10% higher salaries and experience regular talent loss.
Snippet from infographic “Branding statistics” by Visme

Components Of Successful Strategy For The Branded Startup

Strategies for branding startups vary because many aspects influence their content. Niche, age, scale, the current situation in the market, expectations of an ideal client – all these factors may drastically change a company's plan of actions and tactics in attaining the marketing goals.

However, as many professional branding agencies, which have already established millions of profitable businesses in the digital World, agree, several crucial components should always be in focus. They are:

  • Core values. They underlie the organization's primary mission, message, and philosophy. Therefore, they need to be clearly defined and rarely changed.
  • Positioning statement. It should be sharp and to the point because it puts the brand in the customers' minds.
  • Ideal client. Much like core values, the ideal client's profile should be clear. It embodies a well-selected segment of the market. Therefore, the company should stick to it to target the audience effectively.
  • Brand promise. It is a logical continuation of all the components featured above. It is the message that speaks to your target audience and delivers the company's values in the digestible form. It should be simple yet at the same time inspiring and relevant to the company's core values and mission.
  • Visual identity. According to studies, humans are heavily attracted to beautiful things. It is in our nature. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that all, without any exception, big brands and small successful organizations prioritize their design and copywriting. Some of them even invest millions of dollars into that. The look and feel of your brand should be attractive to your target audience and, most importantly, consistent across various platforms.
  • Brand touchpoints. Every object or element that bears your brand identity and communicates with the client in one way or another is a brand touchpoint that needs to be well-polished. This includes a website, blog, email newsletter, social media profiles, customer support experience, virtual assistants, digital and brick-and-mortar stores, packaging, and even print on T-shirts handed to the company's employees.
  • Voice, tone, and language of the brand. The way in which you communicate with the target audience needs to be well defined, consistent across platforms, and perfectly aligned with the brand's mission and core values.
Brand touchpoints | Image by Olya Kobruseva

Starting Your Startup Branding Strategy

Branding agencies are perfectly aware of all difficulties that lie ahead of new companies that want to establish themselves in the market and identify themselves among the others. The constant fluctuation in global economics, cut-throat competition, ever-changing preferences, and expectations of the target audience, to name a few.

However, according to studies, most of them agree that developing your strategy of brand building for startups needs to be done no matter what. It brings numerous benefits, but most importantly, it is the only viable way to achieve brand objectives.

Therefore, whether it is tech startup branding or not, let us consider 13 main steps used in the process of developing the brand strategy for every company out there:

Step 1 – First things first

Everything begins with making it clear where you want to take your company eventually. Ask yourself what type of organization are you.

Step 2 – Get to the essentials

It is time to create a solid foundation to build up. Define such crucial elements of the brand as purpose, vision, mission, and values, as well as list the beliefs, commitments, and behaviors of the brand.

Step 3 – Define the target audience and ideal client

According to the survey, all successful firms have one thing in common: they are perfectly aware of their market segment. Not only do they know the target audience's preferences and expectations, but they constantly monitor the changes in this field to adopt the strategy. Therefore, like it or not, you need to focus on having a clearly defined target client group.

Along with determining the market segment, it is vital to identify the portfolio of an ideal client. The latter is a person who benefits from your product or company the most and converts into a loyal customer who often buys your products or uses your services and frequently recommends your brand to friends and colleagues.

The professional branding firms suggest doing regular research on the target group to polish its profile and understand its current perspective and priorities. This helps them use language and message that resonates with the prospects and, most importantly, lowers the marketing risks that occur during the brand development. The recent studies reaffirm this: they show that businesses that conduct the surveys once a quarter better anticipate the target market's needs.

Note the target market is not only about prospects and loyal clients. It is also about potential employees who might improve your company inside out and referral sources or other influencers who might bring potential partnering opportunities. Therefore, take this stage seriously: do not miss this group of people.

Step 4 – Explore the competitive landscape

Along with knowing your target audience, it is vital to know your foes. To be more precise, what solutions and approaches do they use to serve the same segment of the market. To avoid contributing to the market noise by simply replicating the things done by the others, it is vital to analyze the competition thoroughly, list their weaknesses and shortcomings, and find ways that your company supersede them.

Note, this step does not suggest doing things differently (though in some situations, this might help); it suggests doing them better or filling in gaps by finding new things that are beneficial for the clients.

Step 5 - Uncover the brand positioning

With in-depth information about your competitors and target audience, it is time to develop the market positioning. It identifies how your company is different from the competition and why should prospects within your target audience choose to work with your firm.

As a rule, this stage boils down to developing the positioning statement that describes the brand positioning in three to five sentences. The latter should stick to the point, be realistic, and be inspirational.

Step 6 – Develop the brand message

After defining the brand positioning, it is the perfect time to determine the brand message because it translates the essence of the positioning and delivers them to the audience in the digestible form.

First and foremost, the message needs to convey the perceptions of your brand that reveal the value that the company brings to the customers.

Second, it should have different aspects that serve various target market groups, emphasize the most relevant points, and address all of their needs.

This way, it will become relevant to the target audience, resonate with them, and serve its purpose well.

Step 7 – Develop the brand personality

Like it or not, humans connect with others through personality and emotions. They often decide subconsciously whether or not they like your brand based on its character. Therefore, organizations need to develop their personalities very carefully.

The brand personality embraces the company's fundamental traits and includes ways it communicates with the market and how the audience receives the message.

At this stage, organizations need to choose their language and tone of voice because how you speak to the audience is significant to successful brand identity development. For instance, it enhances the believability of the brand personality and delivers the message specifically to the target group.

Step 8 – Design visual identity

When all inner aspects of the brand identity are shaped, the time has come to take care of the visual identity - objects and elements that visually identify and symbolize the company on the market. There are different facets to develop; however, you need to design name, logotype, and tagline at the minimum.

This trio plays a crucial part in remembering your brand by the audience. It is developed late because brand personality, vision, mission, language, and tone of voice shape it.

Consider huge brands: they have nailed this step perfectly. If you want to follow their path, apart from this trio, you need to design such elements as:

  • Color palette;
  • Typography;
  • Image style;
  • Mascot;
  • Iconography;
  • Graphics.
Corporate identity by Ahmad Mamdoh

Step 9 – Develop the content

Content is always king, whatever niche you try to conquer. After designing visual identity, it is time to communicate with the audience. This means creating good content for all your distribution channels, including websites, social media profiles, email newsletters, etc.

Good content needs to reveal characteristic traits of the company, show value, contribute to the reputation, and increase visibility.

Step 10 – Develop tools for communication

Based on the content, brand value, message, and mission, you need to choose tools for communication. To give you some hints, as a rule, modern businesses develop websites, landing pages, digital shops, blogs, email newsletters, social media profiles, videos, advertisement elements, shopfronts, business cards, and all sorts of collateral material.

Step 11 – Decide on the marketing platforms for analyzing brand strategy

Without a professional marketing platform, your chances to emerge victorious are minimal. The market is moving very fast, whereas the competition is getting tougher. Therefore, you need automated instruments to keep up with this pace. There are plenty of them on the Web; choose one that fits you most.

Step 12 – Decide on marketing tools to realize marketing strategy

Marketing tools come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, it is crucial to narrow down the choice and focus on instruments that help bring your brand strategy to life and achieve its main objectives.

You need reliable instruments to develop such marketing assets as landing pages, email campaigns, videos, advertisement graphics, brochures, flyers, etc.

Step 12 - Launch brand awareness campaign

Brand awareness campaign comes first in the parade of marketing campaigns. Therefore, focus on SEO, opportunities for partnership, shareable content, free trials, free samples, advertisement, social media contests, etc.

On top of that, it is crucial to set expectations and KPIs to define what success looks like before launching any campaign.

Step 13 – Track and evolve

Brand strategy is a long, flexible and adaptable process that requires constant tracking of implementations and results. Supervising this process helps to maintain the authenticity and distinctiveness of the company, which in turn increases audience engagement, strengthens the reputation, prolongs the life of products, and generates revenue. Do not be afraid to change your strategy – it needs to be done if it starts to drag your brand down or lag behind the changes in the market.

Sum up. You might have noticed that these steps can be broken into three main phases:

  • The first phase is getting your business strategy aligned with the objectives.
  • The second phase is designing and developing all crucial instruments for communicating your brand. This includes logotype, tagline, websites, social media accounts, digital newsletters, marketing instruments, etc.
  • The third phase is strengthening and improving the strategy to meet the current situation in the market and comply with the standards to fight the competition effectively.

How To Measure Effectiveness Of Start Up Branding Business Strategy

The main flaw of branding strategy is that it often involves intangible elements that are difficult to quantify or qualify. It is a true challenge to measure the success to define whether the company moves toward the ultimate goal or not. Although every company has its approach, still many professional branding agencies offer to take these actions to overcome this shortcoming:

  1. Answer such questions as: "What are brand objectives?", "How your goals will benefit the customers?", "How should customers feel about your brand?", "What are the main competitors?"
  2. List all solutions company uses to engage prospects and customers.
  3. Use real-time tracking widgets to collect as much information as possible.
  4. Aggregate data from all sources.
  5. Remove the guesswork from PR and marketing success by adopting these approaches:
  6. Analyze metrics from marketing tools and platforms and brand tracking software.
  7. Analyze social media profiles: check the number of followers, views, likes, and comments.
  8. Analyze performance on the website and effectiveness of email marketing campaigns.
  9. Analyze the effectiveness of blog posts, videos, and social media content.
  10. Launch surveys with different target groups.
  11. Capitalize on Google Trends data analytical instrument.
  12. Analyze branded search volume in Google.

Best Startup Branding Tips For Startups

Branding for startup businesses has many stumbling blocks on its way. However, no obstacle is insurmountable with these tips and practices shared by professional branding agencies that have ensured the success of many organizations, including tech startup branding.

  • Whatever objectives you need to maintain, value comes first. Remember, customers are never too addicted to the company's products. Plus, competition is tough. Therefore, prioritize value and stick to it no matter what.
  • Make a promise and always honor it. This is one of the ways to overstep competition.
  • Educate employees about the mission and objectives to channel all efforts towards achieving the primary goal.
  • Prioritize brand strategy from day one to get an opportunity to control it consciously.
  • Set realistic, measurable, achievable, and effective short-term and long-term goals. On top of that, ensure these objectives have measurable standards and are associated with a timeline so that you can assess the overall progress.
  • Avoid unrealistic branding objectives because they cause frustration and slow down the process.
  • Define brand objectives in these time-proven six steps:
  • Determine target audience, including first-time buyers, loyal clients, ideal customers, future employees, and potential collaboration opportunities with influencers.
  • Break the bigger marketing ambitions into smaller and more detailed objectives.
  • Set actionable and trackable goals.
  • Define start and end dates for each goal.
  • Monitor the company's progress through various analytical tools.
  • Revise brand objectives based on changing data and marketing strategies to adjust them to the current needs of the target audience.
  • Establish the most significant benefit of the company and make the most out of it.
  • Focus on brand experience and do not skip over any reactions people might have on your company, product, and message.
  • Choose solutions that make fans and buyers passionate about your culture.
  • Document the strategy so that all employees easily understand the organization.
  • Make the strategy adaptable to meet new trends, requirements, and expectations.
  • Zero on in the target audience. Consider potential customers and employees who may bring value to the company and those whose skills may be beneficial for promoting your brand, such as bloggers, social media influencers, and journalists.
  • Check the effectiveness of brand strategy with brand audit every six months.
  • Set particular focus on work culture. Improve it from various perspectives to ensure employees give the best of their efforts.
  • Do not be afraid of adopting out-of-the-box marketing strategies.

Think carefully about the strategy for branding a startup. Whether you are a well-established business or an early-stage organization that seeks investors, it is crucial to find a suitable partner, aka branding agency.

Do not neglect professionals in this field. Although it seems that you can do everything by yourself since the Web is teeming with various resources and DIY solutions, as practice shows, this can be a poor choice that leads to drastic outcomes such as loss of money and tarnishment of hard-earned reputation.

Nike – Just Do It

Conclusion

Branding for tech startups, much like for non-tech startups, requires cardinal investments of efforts because the path to success is torny, especially in today's oversaturated market where offers, services, and brands appear like hot pancakes. However, nothing is impossible when you have a well-thought-out brand strategy.

The well-built strategy for start up branding is the only way to enter the competition and stay there as a strong player. Not only does it bring numerous benefits like strengthening reputation or driving engagement that give a competitive advantage over others, but most importantly, it assists the company in achieving its short-term and long-term goals, prolonging its life, and securing the much-needed revenue to move forward.

The best part is that even though every business has its unique strategy, the way to develop it still stays the same regardless of niche and target market. Therefore, follow the 13-step plan and implement practices shared by the professional to nail it.