A few weeks ago, we teamed up with General Assembly to bring a branding workshop to the Village. Far too often, entrepreneurs will worry about branding when they get their company off the ground but Melissa Brookman was here to tell us that is the first mistake. Branding is the customer perception behind the products and images that a company is putting into the world and we are here to tell you why that is so vital. Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, says that “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” and we think that is key to the success of a startup.
So onto the good stuff, why is branding important for startups? Good branding is what sets you apart from your competitors, it’s what makes people remember your name and your company. Investors are investing in founders, not just companies so the “why” behind what you do is crucial to establishing your reputation.
Where do you start? Remind yourself of the purpose or mission of your company. That is a great place to build the foundation of a strong brand.
Key components of a strong brand is a clear why, a clear brand strategy, a clear visual brand identity, and a clear marketing strategy. Don’t have your mission statement figured out? Start with your why. Why does your company exist? Does your company solve a problem? Why do you get out of bed every morning? Why should anyone care? Once you have your “why” figured out, build a strong set of core values to guide your brand and your company.
Powerful brand stories help people open up to you, they create trust and establish lasting relationships. “The future of branding is marketing with people, not at them” – John Morgan, Brand Against the Machine. Just think about the fact that the people you are most likely to follow on Instagram, retweet or purchase from, are people you want to be friends with.
Next up, crafting your value proposition. Your value proposition needs to be in the middle of the venndiagram of what you offer, what the market offers and what your customer needs. You need to make sure your brand is clear & consistent so that your target market can latch on to what you are selling. People have to see something 8-10 times before they connect the dots with a clear, simple & consistent brand, without it people will take far longer to recognize your brand.
Let’s talk taglines. When you think of quality, memorable, consistent brands, there is usually a catchy tagline associated with it, right? McDonalds, Nike, Kay Jewelers…all of them have something that you hear and instantly think of them. Good taglines have four qualities in common, they are memorable, they include a key benefit, they differentiate the brand, and they evoke positive feelings about the brand. Start with your mission statement and shorten it to two or three words that catch attention and make people want more.
Branding and marketing are key components to a company’s success. Without the balance of these two, who would even know your company exists? There is a difference between the two and it boils down to objective. Branding is the push while marketing is the pull. Branding says, “this is who we are and why we exist”, Marketing is, “this is what we offer and why you should do business with us”.
There is so much more to learn about branding for startups and we are so grateful for the opportunity to team up with General Assembly and Melissa Brookman to bring this workshop to the Village to get us started on the journey to create better brands.