Building a brand for your startup can be very tiresome, especially if your company has been just founded and it doesn’t have regular customers, prospects and leads.
In this article, we’ve listed 4 important tasks each branding process should include.
You’ll learn how to make profiles of your ideal buyers, create your brand’s visual identity, choose the best promotional products and create engaging marketing messages.
Know your audience
Every branding action needs to be tailored for the right audience.
Although you may think you know the crowd which would be interested in purchasing your product, you need to conduct an elaborate research that will give you precise consumer profiles of your targeted audience.
In marketing terms, you need to find a buyer persona for each one of your products or services.
These are fictional and slightly generalized representations of your ideal customers.
The best way to find an ideal buyer persona is to interview the right people and sum up their answers in a persona template.
If you already have customers, try offering them some incentives for taking part in your survey.
Entrepreneurs who have just started their business can hire third-party interviewers or interview their own acquaintances.
Here we listed some of the important categories your interview should cover, together with a few sample questions for each category:
- Personal demographics – including: age, gender, marital status etc.
- Role – “What’s your job title?”;
- Company – “In which industry do you work?” and “How many people work in your company?”
- Goals – “How do you plan to elevate your life in the next 5 years?”;
- Challenges – “What was the most challenging thing you’ve ever done?”;
- Pastimes – “How many books do you read per month?” and “What’s your favorite blog?”;
- Shopping preferences – “How do you prefer to interact with vendors?” and “Describe your most recent purchase”;
At the end of the interviewing process, you will have a lot of raw data that needs to be organized.
Find downloadable persona templates online and organize all the information you’ve gathered.
These templates usually have several segments that range from basic demographic info to motivations and behavioral data.
After you run all of the consumer data through the template, you’ll be able to round off your perfect customers’ profiles.
Create your brand’s visual elements
Appealing visual elements are the most essential components of every brand.
If you’ve just founded a startup, the first thing you need to think about is your company’s visual identity, which usually includes color scheme and a logo.
Before you pick your favorite visuals, you should study how different shapes and colors affect consumers’ minds.
DIY entrepreneurs often decide to create their own logo, but we wouldn’t recommend this option unless you’re a professional graphic designer.
Give them something useful
Consumers like free things.
A useful and appealing promotional product allows consumers to recognize your brand and to share it with the rest of the world.
The type of promotional product that will create the biggest buzz for your startup depends on your niche and the consumers you want to attract.
If you’ve already created your ideal customer personas, it’ll be easy to find the perfect product they would use, share and walk around with.
Useful promotional products can be categorized in 2 groups:
- Products for long-term use – are durable products that last from 1 to 3 years on average;
- Products for short-term use – are products that are useful only at the given moment, like wet tissues or SIM cards with limited credit;
Promotional products are relatively cheap and come in a variety of options.
You can consider different types of booklet printing, brochures, flyers, cards but also promotional materials such as t-shirts, reusable shopping bags, pens, coasters, key holders…
Use the right words
Your marketing message is usually the first contact consumers have with your business.
Most entrepreneurs want to create a short brand message, like Apple’s “Think Different” or Nike’s “Just Do It!”.
Others make their messages too explanatory, which also makes them bland and weak.
When you’re designing your marketing message, you should use the 4E framework.
- Explain – Explain the products and services you’re offering;
- Emotion – Play with consumers’ emotions;
- Evoke Questions – Spark consumers’ interest;
- Exclude/Include – Target specific groups of consumers with your message;
If you can’t sum all of these criteria in your marketing message, try to include at least some of them.
In the early stages of your company’s development, you should focus on raising consumers’ awareness, which means that your messages will mainly stick to ‘Explain’ criterion, because you need to tell consumers who you are and what you do.
You should also give a special attention to message’s emotion, because people’s buying decisions are rarely based on logic.
Although branding can be very complicated, it’s still the best shortcut to consumers’ trust.
Since products have lifecycles, brands often outlive them and become company’s most valuable asset.
When Tata Motors bought Jaguar and Land Rover company for $2.3 billion, luxury vehicle and SUV brands were more valuable than all other company’s assets combined (including factories, machines, distributers’ network etc.).
Another reason why you should start building your startup’s brand in the early stages of business development.
Adrian Tan is CEO of The Resource Group, a boutique HR Consultancy that focuses on helping SMEs. Before this, he was the MD of RecruitPlus which he co-founded in 2004 and led to two HR Vendor of the Year award. He was named the HR Entrepreneur of the Year by SHRI in 2013. He blogs regularly on #Entrepreneurship and #HRTech on adriantan.com.sg.