The 3 C's to Effective Startup Branding

October 2020

I'm a big believer in the effectiveness of a strong brand. When done correctly, branding has the impact of molding public perceptions to help strategically position your company. Depending on your overarching goals, branding develops associations that your target audience becomes aware of. From the look and feel in your logo, color palette, and typography, to the purposeful photography and catchy tagline that you use in your social media, branding as a whole can have powerful effects.

Startups have the (exciting!) task of building their brands from the bottom up. From brainstorming a company name to designing a mood board with visuals, founders can pick and choose every element to bring together a brand - with the driving goal of bringing results. If you're a new follower to my blog, I previously covered a handful of branding hot topics including:

What is the true value developing your brand as a startup? Numerical figures will likely vary depending on who you ask. There are, however, substantiated results that brand building brings brand equity. Brand equity for a startup will contribute to:

Your brand should be clear.

There have been times when I watch a TV commercial or read through a magazine ad and have no understanding of who the company is or what they are trying to sell. Audience confusion is the biggest demise for any company especially a startup. In order to gain traction, your audience needs to have a clear understanding of what you do, the value you provide, and how you differentiate yourself in your industry.

I've seen examples where brand copywriters try to get (super) creative with tagline development. Unfortunately, it doesn't always translate well. Although tagline development is undeniably a crucial element for marketing, sometimes being overly clever brings unfortunate confusion. Your content should be easy enough to understand for a broader audience and delightful enough to repeat from one potential customer to the next.

Got Milk? How the iconic campaign came to be, 25 years ago

Your brand should be cohesive.

One of the biggest pain points that I've seen in startup branding is brand inconsistency. From inconsistent color codes to mixed typography, brand inconsistency makes a startup appear elementary and unorganized. Starting out small with a young team, startups need to look put together with intentional thought behind their design. Create an icon library to showcase features. Develop a photo gallery with images that speak to your audience. Use these elements cohesively throughout all of your digital marketing efforts.

Not only do your visual elements matter, but your messaging is the penultimate of effective branding! Take for example your value proposition in your investor deck. You may have worked through multiple versions just to perfect your pitch for your Series A. But if that messaging doesn't provide cohesiveness with your other platforms or marketing collateral, its effectiveness and persuasiveness will likely get lost.

Cohesiveness directly contributes to your brand identity. Audience recognition and ability to understand who you are as a company guides startup growth. Strengthen your brand name recall by staying consistent and cohesive.

Coca-Cola Zero Brand Identity and Design Standards  

Pin on Brand

Most importantly, your brand should be compelling.

Compelling brands bring digestible storytelling to the forefront. They highlight the friction points that their audiences are facing. The story needs to resonate - but more prominently, your company's solution needs to pull at the heart-strings of what their audience needs (or never knew that they needed). With today's rise of marketing candor, humanistic traits of transparency, mission-driven content, and progressive thinking have been some of the most impactful marketing campaigns.

Draw people in based on a relatable character. Represent ideas of tangible, real-life scenarios. Where does your startup come in? How do you bring impactful change through your brand? Show the conflict. Tug at the human elements by bringing your audience into the story. Bring your brand to life by making it memorable and compelling enough to resonate.

If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive.

By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.

- Coca-Cola Executive, quoted from Design Change

Dig deep and stay intentional when building out your brand. Innovative, effective branding is clear, concise and compelling. Remember, throughout the process, to stay cool, calm, and creative!

If you're a founder who needs help developing their brand, get in touch! Bounce off ideas, share creative concepts, and dive right in to build your brand today.

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