Branding your start-up is a lot like introducing yourself to someone you want to impress at a party. Or a mall. Or a conference room. You get the picture.
So what do you do before you meet them?
You make sure that your clothing is perfect, that it delivers the impression that you want it to. You check that you look suitably professional or grungy or colourful to make the person you’re meeting find you interesting.
Then you consider approach. Do you want to boldly walk up to them and introduce yourself? Or would you rather have someone else introduce you to them? And if the latter, then who? Maybe you have ten friends who know this person, but you have to think very carefully about which one you pick to introduce you. I mean, Jessie is incredibly brilliant with numbers, but considers email an evil invention perpetuated by spider monkeys. On the other hand, Jayanthi is calm, very right-brained, quirky and creative…which is the impression that you want to make as well. So perhaps you ask Jayanthi to make the introduction this time. Remember, the person through whom you meet someone always influences their impression of you.
You also ensure that you present yourself in the right way, and sometimes, that might mean picking the name you introduce yourself with. Do you go with a nick-name, your full name, your middle name, or Lord Destroyer of The Seven Seas Bartleby?
And then, there’s the question of your credentials. Do you want to introduce yourself as a carrot-smoothie magician or a razor sharp dividends analyst? Are you a detail oriented person or are you wildly creative and dramatic?
Once you meet them, there’s the question of how you act. Are you acting the way you want to be perceived? If your appearance and the way you act communicate two different things, then you’re probably not communicating very well. So your demeanour matters. No one’s going to believe that you want to sell rainbow unicorns to five year olds if you look like you just came back from a death metal concert.
Even if all this goes well, and you know that the person you’re trying to impress likes you, what is the next step? Just because they like you, it doesn’t mean that they want to hang out with you. What makes you, apart from all the other people that this person likes, someone they should spend time with? What is it about you that is your own unique brand of awesomeness?
You think about all of these things, consciously or unconsciously, when you meet someone. And for some reason, you really think about it when you’re meeting someone you admire — your date, your future spouse’s parents, your boss, and your pet-groomer. Er, maybe that last one’s just me. But you get the point.
So, when you clearly spend some time and effort presenting yourself to someone, when you take care to do so, why wouldn’t you do the same for your startup?
Yes, there are a couple of things you’ll need to get in place before you think of branding. You’ll need a good business plan and access to funds or funding opportunities, you’ll need a scalable business model, you’ll need to ensure production capacity, and you need to identify your product and your customers. And then, before you enter the market, it’s essential that you get a branding strategy up and running. Without a good brand, all the hard work that you’ve put in to developing your product can go to waste if you fall prey to miscommunication within the market, or fail to engage your target demographic. A brand is the promise that you make your customers, and you need to make sure that it’s a good one.
In our blog, we’ll talk more about branding, specifically for start-ups. We’ll talk about why a name, a logo, and a brand story matter (amongst other things), and share our thoughts on how to communicate all this to your target demographic. Brands are the channels through which people approach your product; they play cupid so your customer and your product fall in love and stay together for ever.
Don’t make cupid boring.
Don’t forget to make cupid at all.
Stay tuned for our next post on naming your start up and why that affects your brand! Shakespeare’s Juliet might have been okay with roses smelling sweet regardless of their names, but we know that that isn’t the case. Read our post, What’s in a Name, to find out why!