A brand is more than a name or a logo, it is a set of perceptions that customers have about your company, or in other words, it is an entire experience you provide for other people. Once you have an innovative idea, it should be sided with an experience in line with customers’ high expectations.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” — Seth Godin, marketing and leadership expert
Building a lasting impact on your audience
There’s a misconception about the idea that startups should build their brand later on, because branding is a waste of time and money on something they don’t have yet, meaning a developed and successful company.
On the contrary, working with a design agency or a design studio will help you to position yourself in the industry, build the bridge between your product and customers, communicate more efficiently, and identify your customers’ problems. These things will help you to earn a good reputation for you to accelerate your journey to success even earlier, and attract loyal customers along the way.
Here are some of the biggest advantages of investing in branding as a startup.
1. Being purpose-driven
Being a purpose-driven company means you’re devoted to your vision. Having a picture of how you could fill a gap in humans’ lives, sometimes just one tiny thing that other businesses are not able to observe.
- Having the ‘Why’ In-Mind - Companies that have a substantial brand, never forget why they started and they will continue to take into account their inner reason in every decision they will make.
- Pursuing Your Vision - The greatest brands focus on how their company’s future will look like. They have a Vision Statement, that spokes clearly for everybody no matter the profession or status standing.
“Make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive.” — Slack
- Lower Costs - Branding helps the company’s employees align on the same vision and remain engaged, so everyone is more involved in reaching the same goal. It helps you maintain your current staff, without spending so much on hiring.
2. Selling the problem, not the product
Usually, startups just try to sell their product without realizing they have to start by making potential customers face their current problems and go back to how their product’s features could resolve those problems. Branding has a great impact on straightening this void, relying on things as copywriting, UX writing, and visual communication.
“Can you answer why people should choose you over your competition? Why are you the best option available? If you were a prospective customer, would you pay attention to the sales or marketing messages you are currently sharing? The best solution without the right message can make it difficult to convert leads.” — Thomas Oppong, founder of Alltopstartups
- Finding the Customers that Need the Product - A cohesive brand means you have a strategy behind, that helps you identify a specific niche that you want to sell to. Also, branding agencies make customer research and user testing for analyzing how that type of people respond to your product idea, and if they consider there’s a match between them and your brand.
- Seeing Things from Their Perspective - In the digital era, it is much easier for businesses to communicate directly to the customers, and understanding their daily experiences and what they get through. Having a brand empowers you to create a community where people feel free to share openly and frankly about what’s missing in the industry.
- Revealing their Pain Points - Empathizing with the customers through your brand aids you to get closer to them and find out how your product could fill their empty spaces. One idea that you could implement earlier, is to include a blog page on your website that educates the customers regarding the hidden problems they might have because there’s a lack of efficient products in the industry.
3. Creating brand advocates
Brand Advocates are represented by your loyal customers that are excited with every new feature that you incorporate into your product, and then they’ll spread the news everywhere they can. They are truly important because they are a significant part of your marketing that grow your company’s reputation for free and help you generate new leads.
- Putting Forward your Values - Respected companies always sustain important causes such as privacy, constant improvement, diversity. Customers will notice, and they’ll share the things that you believe in with other people too.
- Earning Long-Lasting Customers - One of the most interesting parts of branding is the birth of connections with your customers at an emotional level. Humans get attached to the brands that reflect their personalities, the ones that make them recognize themselves inside a social hierarchy.
“Apple aligned themselves with creatives, encouraged their audience to “Change the World” through their creativity, and provided a tool of self-expression to do so, and so they became a “Creator” brand.” — Stephen Houraghan, Founder of Iconic Fox Brand Agency
- Collecting Positive Reviews - Brand Advocates leave positive reviews about your product and they get into details about the experience when doing so. The advantage is that you have higher chances to attract new customers because their interest has been aroused. Brand Advocates have a significant impact on your marketing, their reviews being converted to new sales.
4. Becoming visible for investors through differentiation
Having a great product is never enough, a startup that puts effort in differentiating from their competitors will not become visible just for their customers, but also for investors or potential partners. Talking about authenticity, it doesn’t mean just an aesthetic website, but having a different tone of voice, or having your own point of view regarding certain global issues.
“With effective branding you will further become visible to the investors and other stakeholders and be a valued firm. This is one big reason why startups should make branding an important component of their overall business strategy.”- Mahesh Nair, founder of Picsdream
- Showing that You Care - First of all, showing that you care about your product is being reflected in how you present it to the world. Some startups neglect their websites by not even meeting the accessibility guidelines, taking the risk of not letting people fully understand what they do.
“Most consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. 79 percent of shoppers reported that they will not return to purchase from a laggy website again, and approximately 44 percent will share the poor experience with their friends.” — Maricel Rivera
- Distinguishing Your Company - Bringing authenticity on the market will be always rewarded because people appreciate when they see an innovative marketing approach for attracting them.
- Using a Free Marketing Strategy - Some of the well-known brands don’t even spend money on marketing campaigns, they rely on their loyal customers for spreading their content online. This may result from having a great brand experience and a hard-working and devoted team in your company.
From day one, Slack has been about selling a solution, not a product. They’ve focused on customer experience, believing that one positive experience does more than a big marketing budget could ever hope to accomplish. As their tagline says, they’re “on a mission to make your working life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.” Make it all about solving your customers’ pain points. — Eric Siu
Branding should be a more commonly discussed subject among startups and investors as it occupies an important role in their marketing strategy for getting sales and stirring up consumers’ interest. A product is not enough.