You might think working on taglines, logos and other branded items is a waste of time — something you can worry about it later on. As a startup, you have limited time and resources. However, it’s essential to focus on branding from the first day you open your doors.
Branding your business allows you to control the way people see your company, to a certain extent, although much of it relies on emotional reaction. When it’s time for a customer to make a purchase, you want to be sure your brand comes to mind. You likely have a few favorites places to shop. Think about when you first heard of the business and what made you a loyal fan.
Some of the largest companies today began in someone’s apartment or garages, such as Microsoft and Apple. Though you might start small, the opportunity to grow into a global brand is there. About 256,000 new businesses started every year. While not all those companies will succeed, at least a few will — and it’s often due to branding, which sets their business apart.
As a new business, you have an opportunity to create the image you want. Think about who you are, your purpose for starting the company and where you want to be in five or 10 years.
Read on to learn 11 reasons why business branding should be a top priority for you.
1. Competing With Established Companies
Branding allows you to position yourself against your competition and show how you excel in certain areas. Utilize marketing strategies such as differentiation to highlight the unique value proposition (UVP) of your company and attract your exact target audience.
Stand out from other startups in your field by attacking branding as early as possible. Think about how you want others to see your company and make sure every element aligns with that vision. Your online presence, in-person attitude, and advertising all need to match your goals.
2. Boosting Your Marketing Efforts
Branding allows you to dig into a niche area and define who you are as a brand. Even though anyone can start a business, no one has the same background story you have. Share why you started your company and what you’re passionate about.
A strong marketing message that ties into a good brand makes you more memorable to buyers and can improve your search engine optimization (SEO). SEO branding allows you to attract the exact buyers you’d like to reach by putting a personality behind your company. It can also attract investors, which is vital in the early days of a startup when cash flow might be lacking.
3. Understanding Your Target Audience
One of the most important aspects of branding is knowing who your target audience is. Once you understand the people you want to reach, it’s much easier to market to them. Millennials, in particular, respond well to video marketing. Baby boomers prefer a personal touch and one-on-one relationships.
Poll your first customers and see what works and what needs adjusting. Looking at branding from day one gives you the advantage of tweaking things before your company grows or you establish a firm image.
4. Pinpointing Your Niche
Branding helps you find your niche as a business. It’s expensive to advertise, so making sure you reach the correct audience saves you time and money. You must think about how you want others to see you and ways of achieving your branding goals.
You may have some stops and starts at first, as you figure out who you are as a brand and which group of people respond best to your products or services. With time, you’ll figure out the narrow niche your business best serves and be able to hone in your marketing messages to that crowd.
5. Differentiating From Competitors
To figure out how best to make your brand stand apart, you have to know what others in the field are known for. Spend time looking at competitors’ websites. Figure out what they’re doing on social media. Sign up for their mailing lists and pay attention to the messages they send out.
Know the market and what is available so you can figure out what gaps need filling. Your goal isn’t to copy another company, but to figure out what makes you different and highlight it in your marketing. Part of your branding strategy should involve teaching customers about your niche and specialty areas.
6. Developing Customer Loyalty
One survey of 30,000 consumers in 35 different countries may reveal what keeps customers loyal. The study found that public expectations of companies are higher than at any time in the past. Customers want businesses to take up a cause, such as sustainability and stick with it. About 47% of consumers said they’d walk away from a brand whose values don’t align with their own.
When someone sees your logo, they should immediately think about the positive aspects of your business. Figure out what common cause you and your target audience care about and commit to embracing those issues. Be careful, though. If you take on something you’re not passionate about, consumers may feel betrayed.
7. Establishing Trust With Skeptical Customers
People want to know they can trust your brand to do what you say. The more transparent you are, the more consumers will come to have faith in you. Some even look to see how upfront you are with figures and information before buying from you.
A professional looking brand identity shows you’re a real company and not a scam operation or a disorganized mess. Make your contact info easily accessible and provide multiple ways to get in touch. Be clear about any exchange or return policies. Pay attention to how the overall design ties into branding efforts, such as company color palettes. Define where and when you can use your logo.
8. Boosting Employee Morale
Think back to the reasons you opened your startup. What is at the core of what you do? Perhaps you started a cloth diaper delivery and cleaning service because you were a single mom who struggled to get things done. You want to help other single moms like you. Write out your values, so you don’t forget them as time passes and you get bogged down by day-to-day operations. Branding allows you to show off your values as a business.
Employees who feel they are working for a specific cause may also become more engaged. Those who are passionate about the same things you are will be attracted to your company because of the culture.
9. Showing Off Your Personality
Branding gives you a chance to show off your personality. Is your startup formal and serious? Perhaps you’re full of fun and laughter. Whatever your nature, make sure it shines through in all your branding to ensure people can get to know you.
Wendy’s does an excellent job of showing off its dry humor on social media pages. On Twitter, the Wendy’s account constantly makes snarky comments that get people laughing. While it might not be for everyone, customers seem to love it.
When you’re first getting started, people may not fully understand who you are. Branding allows you to show them so they can share your message with others.
10. Setting Customer Expectations
Good branding shows users who you are, but great efforts engage those same people and get them involved in your business. Think about how you can get them to click on a call-to-action (CTA) button or share a message that tugs at the heartstrings. The more engaged users feel with your brand, the more likely they’ll remember it.
Folgers Coffee puts out commercials about home and family that bring a tear to the eye. They are emotional snapshots of moments most of us have lived through, and they engage consumers. You may even hear folks singing the jingle about the best part of waking up. It put out a powerful message with an emotional appeal that gets the job done.
11. Increasing Long-Term Business Value
Focusing on branding helps you become goal-oriented. To succeed, you have to know who you are, who your customers are and how you’ll present your startup to them. To do this, you’ll need to look at company goals and set achievable strategies for the future. Not only does branding help users understand who you are, but it also lets you define your purpose as a business.
If you build your brand name, you can eventually sell it. A company’s brand is a massive part of their overall value. Some companies sell simply for the use of their name.
Make Branding Your Business A Priority
One of the most powerful things a new business can do is create an image that sticks in people’s minds. A focus on business branding is the only way of achieving this, so spend time planning your strategy and coming up with specific goals to build the reputation you want among your target audience.
Editor’s Note: The article is part of the blog series Grow Your Business brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.