To an indifferent bystander, your brand is just another baby-loaf in the newborn nursery. As much as you love your own brainchild, facing fierce competition in the existing market takes so much more than passion to stay on the surface and build a solid reputation. It takes time, patience, and plenty of expertise to find a way to build an emotional connection from day one, and the only way to do that is to focus on a branding strategy.
Know Your Customers
For some brands who wish to stay local, it makes sense to only think about how they will appeal to the customer in their actual, physical location. You should, of course, have a strong online identity, as well, to stay connected to your audience and keep them in the loop with your promotions, events, and product news, but your target audience will most likely remain local.
However, have you considered expanding your wonderful raw cake selection to include vegan and organic treats that will attract tourists from all over the world? Or, even more importantly, does your brand have the potential to outgrow its domestic market and spread its wings on a global scale? In that case, you need to include this long-term idea into your branding plan starting from your research phase. Get to know your local as well as global audience to make a name for yourself.
Make Some Noise
Have you ever seen a Coca-Cola campaign that’s subtle and under-the-radar? Of course not because even the most established of names cannot afford to stay unheard in the sea of chatter. The same goes for everything you plan to do from the beginning – you need to make as much noise as possible in all the relevant media, social networks, and by utilizing word-of-mouth where applicable.
From announcing your company, your first product line, your first event, all the way to all the launch dates, you should get the word out often and make the most of your existing connections. You need to make your name the talk of the town for it to reverberate and raise awareness from the get-go.
Ensure Cross-Channel Consistency
One of the trickiest issues startups face in the early stages of their development is retaining their identity no matter where they present themselves. That is why companies such as this architecture firm from Hong Kong are gaining more traction, as their approach combines all aspects of branding into a unified strategy – from your online presence, to your office interior design.
It’s vital that your potential partners, first employees, and your customers get the same impression from the look and feel you create for your entire brand. Your colors, language, your office style, all the way to your office mugs and your branded notebooks and pens should send the same message and allow for an emotional foundation to emerge.
Learn From the Best In the Industry
Chances are, you’re not the first one in your field to come up with a solution to a particular problem. As innovative and original as your approach may be, you likely have predecessors who have already built a legacy on the same premise. Instead of just observing them as your competitors, why not learn from them?
After all, they have successfully reached the very top of the industry, and retained that position for a period of time, and they certainly apply best industry-relevant practices to boost their branding efforts. The outstanding “Good Goes Round” marketing campaign done by Cheerios is a clear example of brilliant branding simplicity that gathered sympathy, awareness, and has made a difference – more than a million donated meals of a difference, to be more precise.
Think Big, But Play It Small
Many an ambitious startup has the goal to overthrow the kings of the industry and take over the throne, but such massive aspirations need to be followed by actionable goals on a day-to-day basis. While you should always strive to be the best in the business, and draft your own mission and vision statements to reflect your dream, make sure you also create SMART milestones to achieve those goals.
Those little branding efforts, such as drafting a perfect press release, employing the right graphic designer, or posting another impressive blog post, are the very basis of your long-term success.
About the Author
Cooper Klein is an entrepreneur and a dad. He’s a regular contributor to several online magazines. You can find him on Twitter.