No matter how cool your product is, your startup won’t take flight unless you’ve got an awesome brand too
Be on brand or go home. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you ought to remember that unless you have a stellar brand it doesn’t matter how great your service is, how fantastic the founding team is or how much your investors make it rain. In fact, if your brand isn’t on fleek you may even struggle to get any of those three. “A strategic approach to brand definition and development helps to secure investors, acquire customers and attract talent,” said Anthony Dale, senior consultant and new business partner at Moving Brands, the creative company, when speaking to Elite Business.
Moreover, establishing a brand isn’t a one-time fix but something entrepreneurs should return to as their startups scale. “As they grow and face new investment rounds, startups that haven’t built a strong and differentiated brand may quickly outgrow both their strategy and visual identity and will need to return to the drawing board,” said Dale.
Unfortunately, three mistakes can keep founders from creating a great business brand.
(1) Having a weak founding story
Entrepreneurs are no strangers to changing the world for the better. Whether that’s through using artificial intelligence to improve healthcare or fighting fake news, their vision usually comes complete with a passion for change. However, some founders are terrible at demonstrating their vision and excitement. “Often the business story is presented as a timeline of events,” said Dale. “When done well this has its place but it’s no substitute for a potent, first-person articulation of your vision. This showcases the founder’s passion for the business and can emotionally connect customers, investors and employees.” In other words, don’t be afraid to show people why you care so much about something that you launched a startup to make it a reality.
(2) Be doomed with a short term vision
While speed and efficiency are paramount when getting a startup off the launch pad, founders shouldn’t give in to the temptation of establishing logos and branding that’s only good for the time being. Instead, they ought to keep a keen eye towards the future. “While working short term is understandable, it’s counterproductive,” said Dale. “The symbols you choose and the messages you send will define the place you occupy in the minds of investors and customers and build much needed recognition. Instead, set a long-term vision and build the brand to support it.” The key to remember is that whatever voice or branding you go for must be optimised to resonate with customers as your business scales.
(3) Following the herd
Whenever you read about a new venture you’ll sooner or later come across a paragraph describing how the company is buzzing with an almost electric startup culture. While many people would love to feel creative and hammer out code next to co-workers playing ping-pong, using it in your branding can end up being counteractive to your goals. “Naturally, startups are fun places to work and are young at heart,” explained Dale. “But the typical, approachable san serif typeface, bright colours and overly familiar tone of voice can’t always best embody what a company actually does and, most importantly, needs to communicate. A well-crafted and unique brand identity is crucial as it builds credibility, while also telling multiple audiences that you’re serious about what you’re doing and care to impress them.”
Even though every company is unique and will face their individual branding challenges, avoiding the three mistakes above should make a founder’s journey much smoother.