Sunday, 18 December 2016
Branding for Startups
Brands are like children. They need constant attention and investment to grow and prosper.
A strong brand with strong values will survive forever – well beyond the life of its founder or any of the managers of the company. It is not the cost of designing the logo but the cost of inputs and perception that builds brand values. Your brand is created from customer contact and the experience your customers have with your brand will determine its ultimate value.
Therefore, as you think of building the brand for your startup, think of some of the following points.
Find the Right Name
The care and attention we normally give while naming a child is no different from the care and attention needed in naming your brand. You will need to nurture your brand just as you would your child as it grows in stature and establishes its place in the World.
For every Startup, it is critical to select a brand name that will convey the correct meaning of the business enterprise first to the entrepreneur, then to the employees and finally to the customers. Brand names have been known to fail if their meaning changes in another language. By way of example, a brand named “Horizon” failed in India because the common man colloquially called it “Harijan” (untouchable) in Hindi.
Understand your Competitor’s Brands
Remember that it is a crowded world and your brand will have to find its place among all its competitors. To give your brand a fighting chance, you need to clearly understand the brands of your competition and how you wish to position yourself. Understand the logos and the tag lines and try not to copy any of these. Understand how each of these differ from one another and then decide on how you will position your brand.
Define your Brand as a Person
Try to define your brand as a person, rather than an inanimate logo. Think of your brand as a human being. Is it male or female? Is it young or old? Is it fashionable? Will it make friends with the millennials or the pre-millennials or the post-independence generation? Is it modern or conservative? How would it talk? What kind of food does it like? How does it interact with its neighbours? Is it flamboyant or reclusive? Is it outgoing or shy?
As you answer these and more questions, the characteristics of your brand will become clearer to you. The answers to these questions may never come up in front of a customer, but they will help you come up with a better, more precise feel for your brand.
A clear understanding of your brand will help you to define marketing and communication strategy for your young business.
Logo, Tag Line and Corporate Colours
The logo of the company must identify with the brand name and should empower the vision of its founder. Hence lot of thought must go into this.
The tag line of the company must evolve from the brand name, the logo and the value proposition that the business is proposing to offer. It should be able to communicate to your customer the value proposition of your brand.
If competition is using red and white colours, you can be different be selecting another set of contrasting colours for your brand. What is important is to ensure that whatever colour you select is used consistently with no exception.
Respect for your Brand within your company
Getting company staff to understand the importance of respecting your brand is a huge challenge. You have to ensure that your entire team is on board with the brand and using it correctly in every application.
I used to find our staff members misusing company stationery, company branded paper bags were used to wrap foodstuff and company poster or damaged signages would be used as floor covering on a rainy day. During one of my rounds when I saw a member of the staff standing with his shoes on a company branded point of sale poster.
Instead of getting upset like I would normally have done, I decided to try something different. I asked the employee to write his name on a blank sheet of paper in bold capital letters. Once he did this, I placed the paper on the ground and asked him to stand on the paper. His immediate reaction was one of horror and he said “How can you ask me to put my shoes on my name. That would be disgracing my family name!” I pointed to the company poster under his feet and showed him that he was standing with his shoes on the name of his company.
The message was loud and clear and this spread story through the company very quickly. Everyone understood the meaning of respecting the company’s brand name.
Get Professional Help
Once you have the answers get professional help to design your brand and the logo. You must make this investment no matter how “boot-strapped” your startup is. Designing the font of your brand or your logo and committing these designs to the right set of colours is the task of a specialist and unless you have been trained as a graphic designer, assuming that you can design the brand yourself will create serious challenges for the future.
Be patient with your brand.
With the right inputs, it will grow and thrive. Stay consistent with your message. Do not permit any exceptions when it comes to the brand name, the logo, the tag line or the colour. You will find that your brand will slowly but surely increase its visibility, authority, retention and acceptance with your customer.
To quote Warren Buffet, “Your brand had better be delivering something special, or it's not going to get the business.”
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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