If you’re reading this post, you’re no doubt familiar with the idea of “branding”. When you’re founding a new business, establishing your brand identity is one of your most critical tasks. In fact, startup branding is so key that at Trajex, we recommend figuring it out before you take any further steps in your business!
So why do we put branding so high on the priority list? Simply put, you begin by branding your startup because your company’s identity affects literally everything else you do! A lot of people hear the term branding and immediately think “oh, that’s my logo, the ‘brand’”. While it’s true that having a great logo is an important part of branding, thinking about it in this way actually puts the cart before the horse. In reality, the brand is who you are, and the logo is simply a reflection of that. If you want to succeed in branding your startup, you’ll have to understand all the business areas affected by your brand, and the process you need to follow in order to get started.
A great place to start is just to think about your company and its position in the marketplace. Are you a high end retailer targeting the upper crust of society? A software company trying to reach large enterprises with data solutions? Or perhaps your firm is a service startup like Uber, solving a problem for everyday consumers in a remarkable new way. Each of these businesses have to think about branding in a different light, and this is because the primary impact of branding on your business is in defining the way your target customer sees you.
Think of some famous brands: Apple, for example. Apple is all about ease of use, cutting edge technology, and quality customer service. These are all ideas, rather than physical things, but they all define what the company is really about. From that baseline, you get their sharp, clean-lined computers, boundary-pushing approach to new product lines (remember when they made you get AirPods?), and the famous Genius bar. A company like Rocket Mortgage does things a little differently. Their primary value proposition is how simple and easy it is to get a mortgage through their website. Thus, the rocket logo, the repeated use of the word “rocket” in their advertising, and their TV commercials emphasizing speed above all else. The brand starts not with a logo, website, or email signature, but an idea, and it’s no different for your startup’s branding strategy.
Let’s consider how to create your startup’s brand, and the key elements in putting it together. I’ll provide some suggestions for how to approach each one!
Before you can have a great image, you have to be really clear about why you do what you do. It’d be easy to think “my mission statement isn’t branding, that’s an entirely different area”, but at Trajex we believe that branding is everything that makes your company unique. When you can clearly define your purpose in the market, a lot of other branding tasks come together more easily!
So you’ve got mission and vision defined - now it’s time to build the client profile. Who are the kinds of people you want to reach? What do they like, what do they respond to? Do they want to be entertained, to get a quick fix, or to be inspired? Are they male, female, living in a particular region, or have other clear defining characteristics? Having the answers to all these questions and creating a concept of your ideal customer is hugely helpful as you go about putting together the next element: visual identity!
This is the “look” of your company. It includes such elements as color palette, logo, and font. Each of these have to be considered in turn. The color palette, for example, can have a surprising impact on the public’s perception of your company. Want to indicate steadiness, reliability, and strength? Blues are a great choice. Innovation, creativity, action? Red and orange convey those attributes. Once you’ve figured out the color scheme, you can put together a logo. A lot of startup founders like the look of highly complex and detailed logos, but don’t forget that the most famous logos in the world are almost all incredibly simple, like Nike’s Swoosh, but highly memorable. Font choice is highly subjective, but it’s worth experimenting with at least a few and running them by friends or mentors for their thoughts. Even something as simple as a font tells your customer something about you! Most companies take all this information and produce what’s known as a style guide, a document that helps anyone in the company who’s involved with design to know exactly how the brand needs to look in any piece of content.
Also deeply important to the market’s perception of your brand is the way you communicate with your target audience. Do you want to be a company that has a wicked streak of humor, like Wendy’s? Or are you all business, like IBM? The brand voice comes across in such areas as your email and SMS marketing, the choice of copy on your social media posts and ads, and even in how your salespeople (or future salespeople if you’re just starting out!) will talk to customers. The great advantage of deciding early on how you want your written text and communications to be perceived is that you can share a cohesive vision with your team. Everyone will understand how your startup speaks to the market.
Once you and your design team have collaboratively established your startup’s branding, the world opens up! Now it’s time to build your website, add graphics to your products, create your social media posts, and basically do everything else that promotes your business to the masses. With your branding set up, it gets a lot easier to create valuable content for your audience that isn’t just useful, interesting, or fun - it’s part of a bigger picture representing your company in a logical, cohesive, and recognizable way.
If all this sounds a little overwhelming (and this is a fairly basic overview), the team at Trajex has years of experience creating branding for dozens of companies. We’d be honored to help your startup launch in the best way possible with high-quality branding at a price you can afford. Shoot us a message any time, and good luck!
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