Branding Basics For Startups – Defining Your Brand Identity

Whether you realize it or not, an impression is created every time your business interacts with the public. Your social media posts. Your customer service. Your products and services, and how your deliver those. Over time, the sum of these impressions becomes your identity.

As a business owner, you can shape these interactions to your advantage.

Unfortunately, many business owners focus mainly on extrinsic things like logos. That is pretty much like putting the proverbial cart before the horse. While a great logo enhances your identity and makes your brand easier to recognize, a successful brand is more than just a logo.

The sole focus on logos is as a result of the notion that a business with a great logo automatically becomes a brand. But nothing could be further from the truth. That is like saying the swoosh logo is what makes Nike, Nike. Or the apple logo is what makes iPhones so popular.

Any entity that has set up shop to provide products or services for profit, is a business. A brand, on the other hand, is the sum of your customer’s experience with your product and company. 

To be successful, a brand needs to align customer experience with its ideal brand identity. To achieve that goal, whether you're a large corporation with a huge budget or a startup on a shoestring budget, you'll need to focus on these four things:

Your Audience. Who is your product or service targeted at? What kind of person is your ideal client? It is important to be clear about this because your product and message need to be presented in a manner that appeals to them.

The value of your brand ultimately lies with your audience. If you have a solid understanding of your audience and what their preferences are, then you’re home dry.

Your Mission What is your product or service about? What do you stand for? What problem will you solve for your customers? Is your product or service candy, vitamin or painkiller? Omer Khan of ConversionAid makes the distinction between the three in this article

Which are you?  Image: conversionAid

Which are you?  Image: conversionAid

Your Brand Personality. Is your brand serious? Playful? Irreverent? Classy and elegant? If your brand were a person, what kind of person would it be? Your brand personality helps to shape and reinforce perception in the minds of your target audience. For instance, if your product or service targets technology enthusiasts, then your brand personality should be appealing to that category.

Your Emotional appeal According to Aristotle, we persuade and influence people via these three means: Authority, Logic, and Emotion. Because humans are wired to respond instinctively to emotional stimuli, it follows that emotion is the most powerful of the three. How do you want your audience to feel about your brand? What will you do to help them make those emotional associations?

Building a successful brand, is an ongoing relationship that requires time, effort and consistency, but the outcome is always well worth it.