4 Keys To Successfully Brand Your Startup
Hai Truong

As any successful startup founder can tell you, branding your company the right way is paramount. Without a distinct voice and aesthetic, or one that is too dull or flimsy, even if you have a phenomenal offering, your business will ultimately fade into oblivion. And while branding as a whole may sound like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. We’re here to break down the top four tips to keep in mind when going through the branding process.

1.) Authenticity Comes From Knowing Yourself

Though Dollar Shave Club can trace their beginnings back to when they launched out of a garage, it is no fluke that they were acquired by Unilever after becoming one of the biggest disruptors in their industry. From the intentionally self-aware advertisements to their meticulously designed product and subscription programs, this company knows who they are, whom they speak to, and how they want their customers to experience their product. Learn from Dollar Shave Club's example and ask yourself why your business exists, what your motivation is, and how your startup is a game changer for your customers.

2.) Be Open to Feedback and Do Your Research

Though shows like Mad Men can make it seem like brands are born out of creative agencies and sudden revelations, the truth is that you and your team live your brand and your customers experience the output of that effort. Before you think about designing logos and creating slogans, have conversations with your customers about their experience interacting with your product, with your company, and see what is important to them. Also, ask them how they would describe your company to a friend or family member. Feedback from your customers may not completely shape the brand in all aspects, but knowing their values and how that aligns with your own can inform how you present yourself and how you relate to them. AirBnB understood the value of customer input when they provided users access to their newly revamped logo in 2015.

3.) Your Team Is Also Your Brand

When you think of the early days of Google, you may be thinking about employees playing ultimate frisbee on the grass, riding a longboard across their campus, or enjoying the wide array of guest musicians that came and played for them at company meetings. The decision to provide these perks to their employees was a conscious decision to make sure they had everything they needed to be happy and work hard. While it has been a long time since Google could be considered a startup, this treatment of their employees early on cultivated a loyal following and form of informal brand ambassadorship that came across as authentic and genuine. Since their customers saw them treat employees well and encourage a sense of fun, innovation, and openness, this gave the company a personality and identity that has helped them grow into the technology giant they are today.

4.) Storytelling is Not Self-Promotion

While it is important to communicate to your target market on a regular basis to engage and learn more about them, don't fall into the trap of creating self-promotional content that serves only to promote your company. Native advertising and other forms of outreach can be helpful, but as a company, you want to share stories that build a personality and voice that rings true to your values. Rather than create fluff content that is a thinly veiled advertisement, explore how your product or service makes a difference in the lives of the people who use it. If you are at a loss on what stories to tell, think about what is on the mind of your customer as it relates to your offering. For companies like Red Bull, you don’t question their intention when they share a story about action sports or music events because it all feeds back into the same lifestyle and sense of energy and excitement they have been cultivating for years.