Launching a new business can be as exhilarating as it can be bewildering. If you’re an entrepreneur on the precipice of kicking your beloved idea out of the nest to see if it can fly, you’re also likely to be juggling a million details with little staff support to help you keep the balls from dropping. With this much on your plate, it’s understandable how you may have missed one of the most important parts of planning and preparing for your startup launch: branding.
Whether you’re leading a startup, small business, or new nonprofit, you must prioritize branding in order to succeed. The scary truth that all entrepreneurs must contend with is that 9 out of 10 startups will ultimately fail. And while that is an overwhelming statistic to digest, the good news is that the reasons for failure are actually easily remedied.
The Real Reason Why Most Startups Fail
Startups don’t fail because the idea was bad or there wasn’t enough money in the bank. More than half of startups fail to launch due to problems with marketing or product-market fit. Thankfully, these risks are easily mitigated with good branding; yet many startups do not prioritize branding as a “must-do” in the early stages of development. On the surface it may seem like a no-brainer—just do the branding and change the outcome—yet branding is still not something that is always prioritized by startups. Here’s why.
Remember all the detail juggling and potential for ball-dropping we mentioned above? Throwing another detail into that already overloaded mix could cause the entire project to experience delays—or worse—screech to a halt. Urgency surrounding other matters often drives many entrepreneurs to table branding for phase two (or even three) of launch. But this is likely why so many startups fail.
When you’re launching a startup everything is urgent but this is not the time to cut corners. Branding is a mission critical component of launching a new business that cannot be delayed. Investing time in your branding on the front end will strengthen your brand and set you up for success.
Here are five reasons why branding is important for startups:
1. Branding establishes your identity.
If your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room, good visual branding should be what they think about you when someone mentions your brand name. In our visually- saturated marketplace, it’s not enough to simply market a great product or service. As consumers take their purchasing cues from social media and pop-culture influencers, the visual representation of your brand carries even more weight than ever before.
Unless your new business is a creative firm, we strongly advise you to hire a professional designer to create your visual identity. The logo, colors, and fonts you use now will be the first impression you make on a new audience and how they will remember you as they continue forming opinions about your brand. In this example, we designed a logo for TheoLingo, an education startup that helps English as a second language students master fluency. The icon of the globe within a chat bubble communicates that this product serves a global audience and the color palette compliments the messaging of “English Made Easy.”
2. Branding creates awareness about your new idea.
Storytelling is an essential element of a strong brand. Using the hero’s journey model, your brand message should make your customer the hero who wins the day because of your product or service. This is a great opportunity for startups with fresh ideas to grab their audience’s attention and draw them into the story you’re creating. As you’re communicating, always focus on the benefits you offer your customers, rather than tout features of your product. Keeping the customer at the center of the story will lay a strong foundation for your new brand.
We designed a logo for the cosmetology startup bloom’d, a mobile app that connects users with mobile salon services such as makeup, hair, and men’s grooming services at any time, day or night. This brand does a fantastic job of showcasing the benefits of using their product in a friendly and approachable way. When working with bloom’d to design their visual branding, we wanted the look and feel to convey the same message of accessibility and convenience that’s consistent throughout their messaging. The final product we created for bloom’d is fresh, inviting, and appealing to a demographic in need of on-demand beauty services. Bloom’d is now recognized as a top app by wedding site theknot.com.
3. Branding conveys how you are different from the competition.
A visually appealing brand will help your target audience develop a favorable impression of your brand. You want them to recognize your product or service when they’re searching for solutions to their problems, but you also want to make sure to show them how your idea is different from the competition’s. Show your audience the value and competitive advantage you offer that others don’t.
Visual branding can also help you make emotional connections with your audience. Using imagery and color palettes, your branding can convey a mood, feeling, or lifestyle that your audience wants to emulate. A professional designer will have the expertise to advise you on which colors and fonts will best represent the overall message of your brand. For example, this logo we designed for Ambulance Sales makes great use of a relevant and visually appealing color palette.
4. Branding builds credibility which leads to longevity.
A professionally-designed visual brand underscores the credibility of your start-up. When you’re new to the market, and don’t yet have a reputation, you are basically asking your customer to take a chance on you. When you’re trying to build that kind of confidence and trust between your company and a new audience, it’s crucial to incorporate professionally-designed visual elements. If the logo and collaterals are subpar or come across rushed, you may unintentionally be communicating a negative message to the new audience you’re working so hard to cultivate. On the other hand, when your audience sees your commitment and dedication to your visual brand, this will subconsciously send the message that they can trust your commitment and dedication to them.
5. Branding fosters loyalty and trust between you and your customers.
Branding is about promises kept. You want your customers to feel confidence and trust when they see your logo. That consistency and dependability reinforces in your customer’s mind that you will always come through for them. Once trust is established, and you demonstrate that you will keep the promises your brand is making, your customer will grow in confidence and become loyal.
There are two elements to this loyalty. One is that customers will trust that when they interact with your product or service they will have a consistently positive experience. The other element is simply habitual. Many customers who have positive experiences with your brand will continue returning to your business out of habit. You become a known entity that they can depend on to deliver quality products or services.
Don’t Let Your Startup Become Another Statistic
Building a strong brand isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. This isn’t something to put off until you have more time, more staff, or money to invest in it. Because the market is so competitive, and because consumers have access to seemingly limitless options and information about products and services, and constantly evolving trends, it’s essential to make a great first impression right out of the box.
So what’s a busy entrepreneur to do?
This is our number one branding advice for startups. You may be thinking, “of course that’s your advice—you’re a digital marketing and design agency.” But let our experience working with new businesses and nonprofits inform how you prioritize branding. When designing a logo for your start-up, there are many considerations to keep in mind. Trusting an expert to guide you through decisions relative to logomark versus logotype, serif or sans serif fonts, and color palettes will take a load off your plate and give you peace of mind that your branding will be done right.
We’ve seen great ideas soar with the right branding in place. A strong visual representation of your idea will do more to establish your brand in the marketplace than you can do on your own. But it’s important to remember that branding doesn’t end when your logo is complete. With the visual elements in place, the real work begins, delivering on promises and creating superior customer experiences.
If you’re ready to get started, schedule a meeting with us and we would love to help you create a visual identity that truly reflects the brand you’re building for your startup.
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