Branding. A big concept that can communicate a lot of things about your startup without you having to say a word. It can give you a unique identity that distinguishes you from the rest. It can tell your audience they’re looking at your content through something as simple as colours or font. It’s important to keep everything seamless throughout each platform you use: your website, Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, and Instagram page.
We’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover, but that hasn’t stopped us. The same goes for your branding; users will decide whether they want to continue learning more about your startup based on it alone and they’ll decide whether you’re credible based on if it matches across the board. If it doesn’t, they’re gone. It’s a harsh world out here, isn’t it?
Customers are faced with millions of options in every industry, with 89 thousand Google searches done each second, so you’ve got to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward straight away. The reality is that the first impression you make hangs on how well you’ve branded your startup.
There are a few things to think about when it comes to branding. There’s your logo, colour palette, fonts, graphics, customer connection, and telling your story. It sounds like too much, I know, but a distinct strategy acts as a map to business growth.
As will be mentioned a lot by blazon, but for good reason, research is vital. Studying your competitors lets you turn their weaknesses into your strengths. Look at how they market themselves and how your shared customer base reacts to it. Are there areas they’re lacking in? How can you make the customers experience better by coming to you? How are you filling the gaps in the market? Perhaps their branding is confusing and complex, how can you make sure yours is different?
Building your brand to be consistent across all channels means you’re building trust and loyalty with your customer base. As viewers of content, we want our experience to be as easy as possible. We don’t want to find that your Twitter and Instagram have different handles, or that your Facebook and LinkedIn have different profile pictures and headers. There needs to be none of this ‘having to think’ business.
This applies to the design elements of your platforms, especially your website. They should all reflect your branding and personality, whilst being simple to understand and navigate. Say you’ve uploaded a different logo to your Twitter profile to the one that is displayed on your website, customers will see this and think “Oh, this must be incorrect. I won’t follow them or use the website just in case.” The same goes for if your colour palette or font choice is suddenly different on one page to the next. It creates doubt that they’ve stumbled across the wrong page and it is unlikely they’ll carry out extra searching to find out it is your startup.
Coca-Cola is a great example of why consistency is key. For over 100 years, they have been the leading soft drink brand with over 19 thousand beverages sold every second. Their iconic glass bottles haven’t changed since the 50s and are the most recognised ones in the world, having been created so distinctly that they could be recognised by feel, in the dark, or lying broken on the ground. If you look at their logo and brand colours throughout the years, they have changed very little and are simplistic – standing the test of time. By applying this to your startup, you’re removing the guesswork that can come with trying a new brand for the first time and giving customers the peace of mind that your product is the one to solve their problems.
Studies have found that companies which connect with their customers on an emotional level receive twice as much awareness. So, having a strong, established brand can help you make lasting connections and continuously grow your reputation. Maintaining this connection in every part of your communications, including branding, helps you sustain your longevity.
Though you need to be consistent, you also have to be memorable. Look at Cards Against Humanity. They are unforgettable and consistently terrible. I don’t mean in the sense that their branding is bad, but that they’ve taken the offensive nature of their card game and expanded upon it with everything they do. It shouldn’t work. A company that is rude to their customers and calls them ‘horrible people’ in their tagline shouldn’t be as popular as it is, but they’ve found what makes them different and carried it throughout everything they do.
Most importantly, your branding must be relevant. Accurate branding, branding that makes sense, allows your startup to flourish. Branding that aligns with your startup’s USP and mirrors your values is good sense. If you’re creating the latest running shoes, your branding should be sleek in nature. If it’s to do with cat care, you don’t want to be featuring dogs. If it’s a new cleaning product, a messy, cluttered website will turn people away. The right branding helps you get noticed. As Jeff Bezos once put it: “Your brand is what your people say about you after you leave the room.”