Brand Building Basics 101
The Ultimate Guide For Startup Founders
Take a look at your business card. You should have a brief description of your company, what you do and when you are available. With just this little information on your business card, people can already identify with who you are and what you do.
Now think about that for a second: You don’t have to tell them everything about your product in order for them to be interested in it. In fact, that would be impossible! People don’t care about the features of your product (unless it has to do with their own personal interests). They care about the benefits of your product or service.
For example, the first question I usually ask someone during an interview is “What is it that you do again?” If they say: “We develop mobile apps for iOS and Android platforms,” then they probably won’t get my business because I wouldn’t know where else to find an app developer who could develop my app specifically for iOS or Android.
But if they say something like: “We develop mobile apps that help businesses increase their lead generation by 400% within 6 months through smart targeting and smart landing pages!” Then I know exactly what kind of product they are selling and what kind of benefits it can bring to my business.
The key here is to tell people what you do, not how you do it! When you explain your idea in plain English, people understand it and can relate to it. You don’t have to go into technical jargon or talk about your product’s features or technological processes.
So, how do you go about building your brand?
Step 1: Identify who your target market is.
Take the time to really figure out who your customer is because this will help refine your message and define who you want to reach out and connect with. If you already have a clear idea of who you are trying to reach, then go on to the next step. If not, try writing down a list of people that could potentially be interested in what you are selling. Then look at their demographics like age group, education level, location and income level.
How big of an audience would these demographics represent? Are there enough people there with similar interests and needs that would make them a good target market for your product? Do they have any common characteristics that would allow them to relate better with your message? Once you have figured out who your target market is, you are ready for the next step!
Step 2: Define your company’s voice.
Now that you have identified who your target market is, it is time to define the “voice” of your company. Voice is how you communicate what you do to your target audience. This includes the words and phrases you use and how they should be used, as well as how you speak and write in general. For example, if your business is a startup then it wouldn’t make sense to use an official or authoritative tone of voice. It would be better to go with a casual tone of voice or even a fun tone depending on what works best for you and your brand.
Step 3: Discover the values that resonate with your target market.
Values are ideas that resonate well with people and help strengthen communication between two parties. Values could be anything like quality, expertise, customer service, creativity etc., but these are just some examples that can help give you ideas on what values can resonate with people in general (or even just with your target market!) To find out which values would help make the most impact for your business and brand, try asking this question: “What do I want my business to be known for?”
If you have a lot of different values that you want your brand to represent, then you can narrow it down to a few important values and write them in an easy-to-read statement or manifesto. This statement should be something that is unique to your brand, and something that resonates with people.
For example: if you are a tech startup company and your main value is innovation, then you could write this statement in your manifesto: “Our main target is to push the limits of what is possible with new technology and software development while still delivering our products with quality and integrity.”
Step 4: Implement the ideas from steps 1, 2 & 3 into your branding strategy.
Now that you have defined who your target market is, the voice of your company, and the values that resonate with people (including your target market), it is time to use these ideas together in order to create a branding strategy for your business! A branding strategy helps communicate who you are as a company or entity and what sets you apart from others in the industry. It should also reflect how you wish for people to perceive your business.
First, start with your target market. What are the things that they like or dislike? For example, if they like things to be done efficiently then you could mention that in your branding strategy as one of the values of your company. If they like things to be affordable, then you could mention that as well.
Next, write down a list of words or phrases that would help describe the voice of your company and how you communicate with people. For example, if you decide to go with a fun and casual tone for your brand then you could write down words and phrases like “fun”, “cool”, “exciting” etc.
Lastly, write down what values resonate best with people (including your target market). If this is something that is important for your business then it should be included in the branding strategy as well!
Step 5: Create a logo for yourself.
This should be very easy if you figured out the other steps already! Now all you have to do is use your target market, the voice of the company and values from step 4. Take these ideas and apply them to creating a logo for yourself! You can use a logo design tool online for free to create a professional logo for yourself. If you have no idea where to start or if you don’t feel like using a logo design tool, then check out this blog post that I wrote on how you can make a professional-looking logo in less than 10 minutes.
Step 6: Create a website for yourself.
Now that you have your logo, take the time to create a website or blog for yourself as well! Use your target market, the voice of the company and values from step 4 and apply them to creating your website. You can use most of the free blogging platforms like WordPress to set up a website or blog for yourself. If you are unable to create one on your own, then there are plenty of affordable and professional web design services available online such as Valicom Media!
Step 7: Start networking!
Once you have created your branding strategy and website or blog for yourself, it is time to start networking with people! Go out there and connect with other businesses that share the same target market as yours! Don’t be afraid of approaching them either. Just remember that they are people just like you and they will respond to you in a friendly manner.
If you are afraid to approach people, then start with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Those sites are great for building relationships on a personal level and can help you grow your network easily!
Step 8: Get your brand out there!
When it comes to getting your brand out there, you have to be creative. The key here is not to get stuck in one specific way but rather to try different things and find out what works for you the best. For example, if you want to get more leads from your website or blog then you could create content that is specifically catered towards generating leads. If you want more traffic coming to your website or blog then try creating things that would make people talk about it. If you want more customers from existing businesses then go and ask them if they would need any help with their branding strategy or marketing campaigns.
If nothing else works for you, then just keep building relationships with other businesses (including their customers!) until something sticks! Just don’t let yourself get stuck in one thing for too long because it will make growing hard for you! Remember, keep it simple and do the little things that work for you and your business!
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces, and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.