Developing a strong brand is an important factor for any start-ups or small businesses. It acts as your identity; the image you portray to the world and it is an incredibly important asset. Not as important as your product, but none the less an important part. There have been some instances where people have bought into the brand, but have been let down by the product.
As a startup you often have two brands, your business and you. If you are a founder/ co-founder, you are your company ambassador and people buy into you as much as the product you are selling. Your brand needs to reflect your business and vice versa.
So what do you want your brand to say? If you are setting up on your own or have launched your own business, the best advice I have is:
Get your brand to say something.
A great place to look into finding your brand identity is looking at Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism. The prism is a good way of highlighting six elements that are key in building your brand identity.
A breakdown and very brief explanations are found below:
Physique -the physical characteristics
Personality-the character of your brand; a consumer wants to feel like an individual, does your company ‘speak’ to them as effectively as you’d like?
Culture – What values does your company hold?
Relationship – the relationship between consumer and brand. As a point made above; does your company ‘speak’ to your target audience effectively?
Reflection – To build on the above point; does your company’s brand reflect your target audience?
Self Image – does your company represent your core audience?
So, why is a strong brand identity important? I personally engage far better with brands that have some connection with me and who I am.
The emotional connection
A strong brand should evoke and build on emotional connections with your target customer. Your brand should reflect the values and ethos of your company and this will enable people to buy in to who you are and what you are about. What makes you connect to a brand?
It is a competitive landscape out there, especially if you are a startup and trying to break through. So how do you do it? I would say don’t copy, but disrupt. If you try and compete head to head with established players you will likely run out of money! Find a niche in the market. Add something good or remove something bad.
Building upon the point above, your target audience should be able to know what your business offers from the offset. What sets you apart? Why should they join your gang?! People spend less and less time on websites and reading marketing literature, so you need to get your message across clearly, in a manner that is engaging and most importantly action orientated. Also you need to keep in mind reputation.
When I did a comedy course a few years ago, I remember the tutor saying to me that I am an unknown…that I am going out to do a five minute set to people who have paid money to be made to laugh. I had 10 to 15 seconds max to establish who I am, and to get the audience to understand/have a connection with me and to get my first laugh.
You have longer than 15 seconds to get your brand right, but it is an area you shouldn’t overlook and first impressions do matter.