In today’s world, it is more important than ever for startups to build their brand from day one. Thanks to the internet, social media and the always-on lifestyle that mobile technology has brought us, customers have never been as empowered. In addition to demanding great value for the products and services that they buy, today’s customers want to know better who they buy from, who they engage with, what they like or dislike and whether they do or don’t adhere to the same values they have.
In a way, when we say this is the age of customers; we also mean this is the age of brands. As customers end up engaging with companies, they don’t just buy products or services, but, during the process, they engage with brands. And brands, today more than ever, are in touch with customers throughout the day and through an unlimited number of touchpoints.
As a founder of a startup, you need to make sure that your brand stands for honesty, inspiration, and social good from day one. In today’s world, those values are universal and customers expect any brand to be true to them. Having said that, your startup is a business at the end, and your brand must:
- Be built around a customer need: Figure out what is it that the customers really want, what is it that they are missing, or what is it that other products are failing to deliver. Your brand should help customers realize that they want to do business with you and create ties to the products or services you sell.
- Be the pillar of your company: This is of utmost importance. Your brand should be aspirational and should define your company’s future. When customers engage with your brand, buy a product or live an experience, they should be touched by your brand at every single point of their experience. And this applies to your employees as well. Every single employee should be one with your brand.
The importance of the brand goes even further to impact your startup valuation and business financial health:
- A strong brand will allow you to secure a higher profit margin. You will be allowed to ask for a premium and customers would pay for that premium without hesitation.
- A strong brand will give you better return on investment on every marketing dollar spent.
- A strong brand will open partnership and association doors; it will even create brand ambassadors for you; giving you more reach, more revenue opportunities, more sales channels and all with more value.
Having said that, does this mean you need to hire a brand agency from day one? Well, if your startup is well funded from day one, then yes, why not. That would be a wise investment. However, most of the time, startups aren’t well funded from day one, so it becomes difficult to hire a brand agency to help you build your brand. Which I don’t see as a problem, because a strong brand is (or definitely should be) part of your vision. You already know what you want to do in your startup, hence you already know what your brand should stand for and how it should behave, look and feel. It is just a matter of you, the founder, taking a bit of time to put your thoughts in order and writing down a couple of guiding points for your brand.
You hold your startup’s brand DNA within you. Just make it happen.