How can a startup build brand awareness when it’s barely off the ground? Many startups start with a dream and a prayer—and sometimes not even that. Most owners pour every cent into developing their dream into reality. The “if you build it, they will come” mentality, though, may work in Hollywood, but in the business world, one has to market one’s product to survive. Marketing begins with brand awareness. Here are some tips to help startups build brand awareness from the very start.
Start with the Dream
The dream that furnished the seed for the startup can also spark ideas for the company’s brand identity. Don’t just focus on what the product does, focus on what it does for potential customers. Show them the story behind the product—as marketing pro Payman Taei points out—and how the product can benefit them. In that story, a startup can find those unique points that can set their brand apart from the crowd.
Identify Your Target Customer
To tell potential customers what the product can do for them, a startup company needs to first identify to whom they’re pitching their idea. Since various demographics have diverse needs, try to narrow down the group of people or businesses most likely to buy the product. That way, the chosen brand identity and marketing efforts to promote it will better catch the eye of potential customers.
Brainstorm Brand Identity
After a startup has identified its own story and that of its potential customers, it’s time to jot down some ideas. Look at established brands—their logos, their slogans, their ads and other communications—to jumpstart creativity. Come up with a vision that encapsulates the company, its customers, and its dreams for the future.
Promote the Company’s Brand
Once a startup has settled on an idea for its brand identity, it’s time to start promoting it. If the company has anyone on its staff who can write or create eye-catching designs, get them on board to bring the idea to life. If the company doesn’t have any such staff, it should hire professionals who can. Depending on a startup’s budget, it can hire an agency or a contract worker to come up with a logo, a slogan, and some introductory content.
- Brand the Company Website: As soon as the startup has its logo, slogan, and some content, it needs to add these to its website. Make the logo and slogan prominent, and the content useful to the company’s target customers. Start a blog to provide helpful articles to readers. If its budget allows, the company should create a mailing list and provide email subscriptions to the blog so potential customers know when a new post comes out. This also provides the company with contact information for potential customers—gold to a startup.
- Go for Broke on Social Media: Since social media is, for the most part, free to use, a startup can promote its brand on social media as much as it likes. Exercise caution, though. Make most of the content useful—not self-promotional. In addition, if the company’s budget allows, a startup can create Facebook ads to extend the reach to even more potential customers. Be sure to fine-tune the demographics on the target audience selection process so the ads reach more of the people in the target market.
- Brand All Promotional Material: Depending on the company, a startup can invest a small amount of money in offline promotional material. Business cards, pens, promotional wear, and labels all should bear the company logo and reflect the essence of the brand. Use fonts, colors and designs that match the brand’s culture. For example, a law office needs all-business fonts and subtle color on its promotional material to reflect the seriousness of its mission. A company who provides clowns for birthday parties, on the other hand, should go with playful fonts, primary colors, and eye-grabbing designs to emphasize the fun nature of the business.
With these ideas, even the newest of startups can create a brand identity that will forever etch itself in its potential customers’ minds.