By Alexandru Stan, serial entrepreneur, CEO of Tekpon, a one-stop platform for all software needs.
People starting their own business don’t always understand the importance of some elements they may have ignored until they feel the negative impact. And as a startup CEO, I was in that stage until I started to learn and watch the biggest brands and apply them in my own company.
Probably everybody is familiar with the word “branding” but not with how much work is behind it. Or, in other words, the stages that begin branding until you manage to build an identity for your brand that will give a boost to your business.
I’ve met many business people who said that their startup doesn’t need branding because it is an idea of business in its early stages. But, after months of trial and error, I’ve realized how wrong they can be. It’s like you won’t name your kid because it’s a newborn, and it has to grow and develop a personality to have a name.
What are the steps for great branding?
First, there are different stages before you reach the brand identity you desire. I’m sure everybody knows that branding is a precise process of well-defined activities that can create an identity for your brand. Your business should have a name, a face and a personality. Here are some steps that you should keep in mind during the process.
Research, research, research.
Before starting with any idea, research is the key to strong branding. Collect as much information as you can about your business and your product; analyze the market, your competitors and even the target audience.
Without this first step, you can’t have a big picture of your business. Thus, you won’t be able to build the right identity for your brand. After collecting all this information, you can get to the next step.
In everything you do, add some strategy.
Each step in your business strategy should be an effort to prevent chaos. Thus, after bringing all the information together, start building your strategy. This step is important to consolidate your business’s values, the tone of voice for your communications and visions for the future. This way, your team and each department will know the business direction and understand how to do their jobs according to your business identity.
Design me like one of your French girls.
With a little bit of humor, design is the face of your business/brand. At this stage, you’re creating “clothes” for your brand to dress all your visions so that people can recognize your signature. Then, together with your design team, you have to translate the strategy into actual visual solutions to make your brand unforgettable in your audience’s mind.
In this step, you create visual elements like a logo, a color palette and shapes. Next, you develop your UI/UX, tagline, fonts and imagery that you are using for marketing and advertising purposes. Each element should help you build not just a business, but a brand that sells itself.
Don’t forget to implement all of these.
Now that you have all your elements ready to be seen, start revealing your identity to the world. Of course, the implementation can have many forms, from creating your website, social media accounts or other ATL or BTL advertising elements in your strategy for your business. But don’t forget to put all of these in the Bible of your brand: the “Brand Book.”
Now that you have all the steps, let’s talk about why it’s important to start branding your business from the beginning.
1. People love a good story.
Branding is the constant story you tell customers, investors or other businesses. And people love a good story more than numbers and business strategies. The brand identity can show the purpose of your business in the market and help you position yourself in front of your competitors.
In addition, your branding can answer your customers’ questions—or at least the question of “Why you?” All of these can give you power in your industry.
2. Make them believe you.
Another aspect branding builds is credibility; in such competitive times, you need to be credible. For that, you can use both your written and visual communication to share your visions. And as a startup, it takes a lot of effort to gain people’s attention. But be true to your business values and don’t use marketing tips to fool people. Instead, build your brand voice on honest communication and strong values.
3. Great personalities attract investors.
Not only is your brand identity an important pillar for your business position in the market, it can also attract investors or people who want to join your company because of the values you promote. Strong branding shows a strong belief in your idea, business and team.
Of course, the final product you offer to the market is also important. But having strong branding can ease the road to the hearts of your customers. Other businesses may look to you and admire all the work you’ve been doing. Thus, even more for a startup, branding is such an important step you have to accomplish before releasing your final products. First, settle your identity and values, and then people can follow and buy your products because they love the brand. And last, your brand identity should continuously evolve; never stop working on it.