Branding start-ups: The most important decision you make

As a start-up, you have limited resources and intense pressures to launch your product before your initial funding runs out. And you love your product; it’s natural to assume everyone else will love it too, just as soon as they find out about it. Surely they’ll realize we have the best features! That would be a mistake.

Branding begins with the relationship between the company and the customer. You can’t brand your product for yourself and ignore your customer. The brand experience will suffer. If you launch your product based on your own assumptions, you may fail to connect with the target market, fine-tuning around the wrong issues or too late to make a difference. If the product or service is flawed, a beautiful logo or great packaging won’t fix the problem.

Instead, you must start with the brand experience that you deliver to your customer. You must have a very clear idea of what makes your brand special and how you will build a strong connection between your company and your customers. This is often the biggest bet and the most important decision a start-up can make. Begin with your story and design your product experience around it. Once you have solidified the brand experience, only then should you scale up to brand awareness. The logos, tone, packaging and marketing strategy should all reflect and contribute towards the brand experience.

Build your new brand from the bottom up

Global brand strategy

Spend some serious time understanding what makes your brand different and clarifying your vision. Be smart about where you focus energy. Concentrate on delighting your “high-expectation customers,” the most discerning customers who enjoy your product or service for its greatest benefit.1 Exceed their expectations and you’ll meet everyone else’s. Keep that feedback loop open and strong; your customers are strong partners.

As you build your brand experience, ensure that you give your customers the tools to help you and speak for you. Turn them into advocates and ambassadors. By delivering on your brand promise through your brand experience, you will make it easier to spread awareness through your initial customers. As you develop a brand identity, make sure to build a system that works across platforms, media and various aspects of your company. And allocate the resources to do your brand justice, focusing on those arenas that will have the greatest impact on your brand experience.

As you consider your brand strategy going forward, how will you position your start-up to build the strongest brand experience?

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