The startup phase is one of the best times to invest in your brand. At this point in your company’s history, you don’t have much history. Your target audience has no idea who you are or what you offer. In the absence of a track record, you’ll need an attractive and compelling business idea; an intangible asset, to offset the absence of the ‘tangibles’ that older, more established companies already have. You will need to communicate your value to investors and prospects in a way that will command their interest and attention.
Proper brand strategy ensures that you get through to your audiences and, over time, that your name becomes a shorthand representation for a larger idea. This will make sure all the effort you spend educating the market builds the traction and momentum your business needs to take off. Here are a few considerations to get you started:
Identify your Purpose and Unique Competitive Advantage
What are the essential human and business needs you are seeking to fill and how does your company do it better than anyone else? Staying focused on your purpose will ground your company through the early days. Staying focused on a singular and unique strength will keep your communications simple and effective while differentiating you from competitors.
Establish a Brand Position That is Relevant, Unique, Defendable and Durable
You know what your product means to you, but what really matters is what it means to your customers. Brand positioning is about discovering and then focusing on that one thing, idea, or benefit you can own in people’s minds and pursuing it relentlessly.
Create a Consistent Messaging Platform and Visual Identity
Once you’ve decided what you want your company to stand for, make sure your message is delivered effectively and consistently at every touch point. Establishing verbal and visual identity systems early on ensures that every interaction advances your brand. Clear and consistent messaging will help you cut through the clutter and present yourself as a focused, relevant business with staying power. Tune in to a radio show that explores verbal and visual identity systems.
Position Yourself to Attract Investors Now
A well-established brand strategy shows that you’ve identified and verified demand and you understand how to take your product successfully to market. Demonstrating that you have thought through every aspect of your business will help differentiate you from other startups. For many startups, attracting investors is as critical as attracting customers.
Plan For The Long Term
A focused brand strategy makes it easy to scale your communications efforts as your company grows. With a clearly defined brand it is easier to train and implement a sales team and effective messaging can increase the ROI of your advertising spend. Focusing on the core need you fulfill you will also help you evolve your product offerings over time to remain relevant to your customer base while defending hard-won territory from competitors.
In today’s crowded marketplace, brand strategy and business strategy have to work hand in hand. It requires some investment, but you don’t need the budget of Nike to get your brand up and running. A well-crafted verbal strategy and visual identity system, with built-in, long-term scalabilty will give you a great platform to launch your brand and provide direction for the future.
You only get one first impression. Make it count. RiechesBaird can help.
Learn more about the author of this post, Jeff Lanzi.