Starting a Business

5 Strategic Moves Startups Can Make to Build a Brand That Sticks

The strategic decisions that'll put your company ahead of the curve years from now need to be made beginning day one.
5 Strategic Moves Startups Can Make to Build a Brand That Sticks
Image credit: Kelvin Murray | Getty Images
Guest Writer
CEO of XYZ
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There’s a lot of competition out there -- for everyone, in every industry. Unless your company is fortunate enough to create its own industry, or to become so ubiquitous that its name becomes a verb (i.e. “google it”), you’re going to encounter some stiff resistance from other companies that do similar things to you. So how do you stand out and ensure that your brand is top of mind, all the time?

Every business faces this very daunting prospect when starting up. Everyone wants a piece of the pie and many times, the most successful entrepreneurs are merely judged on how much meaning they can give to a brand that does not even exist yet. Put differently, creating a startup brand is necessarily an exercise in building from the ground up.

Related: 5 Tips for Building a Strong Brand Identity

There are, however, advantages to this starting-from-scratch perspective, too. The need to innovate can play well into your company’s strengths. It can make you hungrier and more driven than your competitors. Hopefully, it also means that you start looking at other industries outside of your own to give meaning to your brand and to redefine how the game can be played.

With creative and aggressive marketing, industries have been shaped and reshaped, time and time again. Here are five ways to take your business from the square one to the top of mind!

1. Know all of your potential audiences.

When defining your brand, make sure you choose both your brand name and potential slogans very carefully. Does your brand translate? Does it work in other markets? Is it specific to a single audience only, or do you have truly global reach?

If you build your brand from scratch, first find your target audience and keep addressing them and them only. Again, and again, and again!

2. Don’t limit yourself to just one region.

English as a language and the Roman alphabet are among of the most common forms of communication in the world. But there are many places in the world where English is not widely spoken or where your brand name could carry an entirely different meaning. Be especially careful when addressing non-English speakers, as you want to be able to serve them. Create your marketing in a way that you can address international audiences, more so if you are an online business.

Defining your brand as an international one from the outset can mean rapid growth, especially for virtual products.

3. Don’t be afraid to challenge the top dog.

If you are striving to be the best in your industry, you will soon meet all other players and eventually the industry leader. Being rigorous and confident about your marketing approach will help you convince some customers to try your product. But it will also cause your competitors to put you on their watch list -- and that’s not always easy to handle as a startup.

Related: 3 Tricks to Marketing Unsexy Products: Tips from Industry leaders in SAAS

Don’t be afraid to make the push and attempt to overtake the market leader. If a leader is scared of you and allows comparisons between your brand and theirs, your brand can only benefit from being compared to the best.

4. Play to your advantages.

What do you do better than the rest? Do you give better value? Are you more versatile? Are you helping customers more than your competition to become big brands themselves? If you are able to run an extremely efficient operation, you have the option to pass on those efficiency gains directly to your clients as cost-savings. Entrepreneurs, innovators, and pioneers will be thankful if you can help them save a few dollars when they're starting. You might win a customer for life!

Find whatever it is that makes your brand stand out and stick to it. When you start out your company, don’t only look at who your customers are today, but look at who might be the next big thing in one year, or in five, or ten!

5. Give it away, give it away, give it away now.

Run creative marketing campaigns. Build strong partnerships. Find other people who could use your help and give it to them. Mostly, just make your brand available to those who want it. Don’t give everything away for free, but you should always be on the lookout for new and exciting ways to run promotions that stand out to your target audience.

Have a tight budget? Find someone in a related field and come up with a co-marketing deal. Your partners’ success will become tied to your brand. Branding isn’t about a single opportunity to establish yourself; it takes time to create lasting correlations.

Related: 3 Ways Co-Marketing Can Help Your Small Business Grow

My ultimate message for you to take away from this? That this list is incomplete. These are just some of the steps and measures we took to build .xyz from nothing to one of the most popular new domain endings in the world. Take these steps into consideration, and hopefully you will build an empire of your own.

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