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The Business Dictionary describes branding as the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme.
This process is something that ever single startup needs from day one.
What’s more, while there is an overload on how to set up a startup from the time the idea hits you to when it begins to make money, there is little or nothing written about the research ideation and process that an entrepreneur will have to adopt with his startup in order to turn it into a successful brand.
In other words, it is much like planting the seeds of your brand. It should be done with much care and right from day 1 as it will dictate where your brand is headed both in the short term and in the long term. It is important that you get the steps right because while it takes years and decades to build a brand if it is done wrong it becomes near impossible to rectify the error and salvage the brand image later.
THE BRAND NAME
Let us begin right at the top with what comes first – THE NAME.
Sometimes startups have a name before they have an idea but that is an exception.
Normally you would make a list and then once you have chosen 5 out of 20 names on the list you would share the name with family and friends. Whatever was the consensus would be chosen as the name of the brand after weighing the pros and cons.
The way to do this is to go online and key in all the parameters of your startup including nature of business, its USP, and location. The generator will give you a list of names that are a good fit for your startup. Not only these days the name generator websites give you a ranking and also tell you if the URL for the same is available or not.
A good idea if you are setting up a website for your business as well, a route that is taken by 80 % of all startups today. Up works pager, the grade is all results from naming websites that make the naming of the new brand easy while keeping in mind its life and other factors like recall value and its relation to the business itself.
That said, the naming of a brand is basic in the beginning but gets weight along the way and that has to be kept in mind.
As Sasha Stack, a partner at the Boston offices of brand strategy and design firm Lippincott known for her brand naming conventions says, “A name is how a company introduces itself, so there’s a lot of weight on the name initially, but we always look at it from the perspective of it being rooted in the strategy, and it’s going to have other things that reinforce it, like the logo. We always look at names as just one piece of the puzzle of building a brand.”
THE BRAND LOGO
After the name of the brand comes THE LOGO.
A logo is the first visual the client sees of your brand and it represents the business to the client, and it is not as easy as apple pie.
There is a lot of customer psychology that goes into the designing of a brand logo.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
By Mother Teresa.
For instance, the smile at the bottom of the Amazon logo is meant to send a message of happiness after purchase to the customer. It was not put there just like that, but to give the logo a happy feel. As with the name of your company we are of the opinion that there are two routes to take – one is the online route, that gets the logo designed by an online design company. The reason we suggest that especially if you are in the internet space it is important.
For instance, if your logo is visible through devices big and small. All of these add up to give value to your brand in the long term. The other way to go about it is your trusted graphic designer who will give you many options for your brand logo and you will have to choose from them and then adapt online if you have a brand presence there. Either way, as we look at it the logo should add personality to your brand and give it attitude.
Logo Design Guru ‘Paul Rand’ who designed logos like IBM, UPS, Enron, Morningstar, Inc., Westinghouse, ABC, NeXT says, “The principal role of a logo is to identify, and simplicity is its means… Its effectiveness depends on distinctiveness, visibility, adaptability, memorability, universality, and timelessness.”
BUILDING A BRAND PROMISE
A marketing guru once told us if you ever want to describe your business your product your service what your brand stands for – begin by writing the “About Us” page of your website. In a nut shell that is your communication to the world. At all times look at your brand as a promise delivered. Communicate those promises to your market, to the people who will buy your product or service and back it up with delivery they can trust and very soon you will have a rock solid brand for yourselves.
There is a process to build on your About you page or your brand promise What do you believe? What is it that gets you up in the morning and gets you to work? What pain will you take care of your customer or client , your brand promise is based on that statement.
Start this process by creating a statement that begins like this: “We believe….” Do this as many times as you can each time targeting different aspects of you brand and your product. Make sure to cover every aspect of who you are. Begin with the bigger statements and with versions reduce it to the details. Finally you will have a statement that resonates with all that your brand and product stand for.
Once you have a good number of “We believe” statements, start looking for patterns in your statements. Combine similar statements and discard any that don’t feel true. What you must keep in mind here is that this statement is not a tagline. Look at is more as a guiding principle for your brand.
You know you’ve found your promise when you land on a statement that reminds you of your company when read entirely out of context. Don’t worry – if you land on something that feels 85 percent there, you might come up with ways of tweaking it to perfection as you move along through next steps. This isn’t written in stone, but it will guide the remainder of your brand discovery process.
THE MARKETING STRATEGY
As all leading Brand Building Guru’s will tell you, there are two basic factors to keep in mind while marketing your brand and they are the demographics you market to, who are you selling your product, your brand and who is your real market. Coupled with that is the mode you market your product or brand with.
What are the wheels so to speak that will carry you to the people you target and your product or brand at.
Both these factors together will directly impact the direction your brand takes. The better you define both and the clearer you are with filling in all the blanks and answering all the questions, the faster your brand will travel. So at this stage in the development of your startup, you must, give careful consideration to whom and how you market your product or service. What needs to be looked at carefully, is the pricing well positioned, how you set your prices and where you distribute your products, will all impact your brand.
YOUR EMPLOYEE AND YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE
“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
By Damon Richards
One of the most important promoters of your startup brand are the employees.
They are the representatives of the brand its ambassadors in each and every interaction they have with the clients customers and vendors to your brand.
When building your brand right from the first employee you hire, the brand’s value and philosophy needs to be instilled in every employee of your company. It is imperative that each and every member of your company knows that their actions directly impact the brand and its value.
The role of ambassador of the startup brand also extends to the brand and companies’, customer service experience. If the company is unable to back up your marketing efforts with equally strong customer service, your brand is all but dead.
One final word of advice for all startups from the king of branding himself:
“Don’t wait till you are big before you begin building your brand. Build a brand from scratch alongside your business.”
By Richard Branson