How to Brand your Startup?
Updated: Apr 21
Defining your startup’s personality
Branding is always one of the most challenging parts of launching your business: the message you send needs to perfectly convey your values and appeal to the market. Just like a person, your company is unique and you want it to be likable.
We let our personality take a lead on our lives: choose our job, our friends, our clothes, how we spend our Saturday night. So why shouldn’t we do the same with our startup?
In this article, we follow a series of questions to help define your company’s branding, all inline with your vision, values and personality.
Breaking down your vision
Defining your brand starts at the core: what is the basic function that your business delivers?
Beyond the seductive vision statement, who are you and what do you do?
From “To be the most creative organization in the world” (BBC) to “We broadcast television”.
From “To create a better everyday life for the many people” (IKEA) to “We sell furniture”.
From “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” (Tesla) to “We sell electric cars”.
From “To nourish people and the planet.” (Wholefoods) to “We are a supermarket”.
Used to the daily pitching and selling of our business, the language we use becomes too formal and dreamy. When you think about branding (or re-branding) your business, you need to go back to the roots and define the basic customer needs that you satisfy. Only after this, you can move onto defining your brand.
Goals and Values
Once you are sure to define your business, you need to set some goals to achieve. The most important question you need to ask yourself: How will we know it has worked?
As every business owner, you want to see a positive bottom line, but can you define your business as “thriving” only because you are making profits?
What will add onto the list of “success factors” are your business values.
BBC does not want to simply broadcast television, they want to do so in the most creative way possible, surprising the customer over and over with their programming. Wholefoods does not want to be a simple supermarket, it wants to make an impact in the lives of those who help deliver food to our plates.
Rethinking your business values from the core is extremely important when you define your brand.
Your Friends and family
Without a doubt, our inner circle shapes our personalities and life decisions. The same applies to our company: customers, competitors, and partners define the business decisions, so we need to know them very well.
Beyond the traditional market research that will undoubtedly shape your business model, ask yourself: How do you want people to remember your business when they see your brand identity? What do you want people to think, feel and do?
THINK: What is it you want them to know, believe, or remember?
Not many people think of Tesla as a simple car manufacturer; beyond its basic function, the company sells a different, brighter vision of the future. Define what you want your customer to associate you with.
FEEL: What do you want people to feel? Excited, shocked, loved?
Both Wholefoods and Tesla make you feel like you are doing something good for the planet, for yourself and for the future. Similarly, you need to grasp the feeling that you want to give your customers and project it into your branding.
DO: What do you want people to do? Read on, sign up, and contact you?
BBC wants to be the first channel you turn on when you come back from work. IKEA wants to be the first store you visit when you move into a new home. You need to define the key actions or moments when your clients will need you.
Moving into the most interesting and challenging part, taking a personality test for your company. Behind every vision and mission, you will see the underlying values that help guide your decisions in every aspect of branding.
If your business was an object what would it be?
What energies and emotions would it be?
What colours best represent your business?
What is the meaning behind your company name?
Answer these questions keeping in mind how you wanted to make your customers think and feel about your company. Make a mood board out of those elements and let them connect with each other.
Lastly and importantly, know your likes and dislikes. Think of other companies that inspire you, move you, make you think, or repel you. This will help you make decisions, from big to small, about your own brand.
Branding your company is a process, there is no manual or magic formula. But getting to know your brand’s personality can make it easier.