Here at Mimo Brands we've put together here top 5 branding tips for your start-up business. New and early stage businesses usually have an unwieldy quantity of issues on which to focus their limited time. Those activities that look like delivering the least prospect of early returns often get left till later. And later can easily turn into never.
In the case of branding, this can be an expensive decision. For global giants and start-ups alike, our brands are an essential part of helping our customers to choose us over our competitors. If you don’t crack this at the outset with your start-up business, you may never get a second chance.
These top 5 branding tips for your start-up should give you a good start.
1. Don’t mistake your logo for your brand.
The logo is simply a visual element of your brand. Think of it as the tip of the iceberg that you can see.
The main elements of your brand will lie beneath the waterline. It is much more important to understand and define who you are as a management team and why you exist as a start-up business beyond simply making money, what position you’re taking in the market, and what you promise your fellow workers and customers alike.
Most importantly for your start-up, you need to understand why the world is going to be a better place with your business in it (i.e. what problems are you solving).
2. Differentiate or die.
There are usually only 2 ways to make a success of your business: be cheaper or be different.
Even the most cursory understanding of supply chains reveals that, unless you possess a particularly smart business model, sustaining a lower cost base is mighty challenging if you want to make a profit.
Being different is easy to talk about but strangely difficult to deliver, rarely because of a shortage of ideas, but usually because human nature drags us back to behavioural norms as soon as there is a whiff of resistance. In short, we like the idea of being different somewhat more than the reality.
Furthermore, to be useful, your point of differentiation needs to be valued by your customers so much that they will pass on their usual choice in favour of your brand.
3. Have a point of view.
Today’s brand development is more akin to joining debates than it is to shouting your message from a soapbox.
The starting point is, unsurprisingly, your customers, about whom you should understand much. What are the pressures and interest in their lives? What makes them tick? What gets on their wicks? What helps them to decide which brands to choose in your sector?
Don’t guess. Find out and offer an opinion on how to improve their lives through what you do, how you do it, and why you’re doing it.
Once upon a time you could make up your brand’s heritage, and so long as you could tell a good story, you could convince an unknowing public that you were the brand of choice amongst the Tudors. Not any more. Social media has put an end to that.
4. Be open.
Like differentiation, genuine openness is easy to talk about but unintuitive to most people. This is because it requires letting go and trusting others unconditionally.
It is important because being a brand owner today doesn’t mean you own your brand. Your brand is like a small child growing up in the world – you can guide and direct, provide support and encouragement, but ultimately he/she/it will be a product of nurture and nature. And you’ll struggle to control the nature part. You have to place your trust in others.
At one end of the scale you have Ricardo Semler who built his business on such levels of trust that he let his employees decide how much they got paid and the number of days holiday they could take.
At the other end it involves engaging with your customers publicly (usually through social media), quickly and honestly.
5. If you are genuinely different and better than everyone else, and will continue to be, you can worry less about your brand.
I keep hearing how the Googles and Facebooks of this world never spent a dime on advertising, so why should a start-up?
The answer is threefold:
- Advertising isn’t branding, it is simply a communication channel. They have invested heavily in their brands since day 1.
- They had game changing business models that gave them distinct and sustainable advantages in their categories
- They’re advertising now.
If you need any help with your brand simply drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org