Branding a product based startup is often a challenge for chief marketing officers (CMOs)
Branding a product for a startup or small business takes time and planning.
Why do we choose big brands over their cheaper alternatives? The answer is simple – because we trust them. And, believe it or not, most customers think this way. Almost 60% of customers would rather buy from a company they’re familiar with, according to Nielson.
However, building a recognizable brand through company branding is difficult for small, product-based businesses. You’re competing with the major industry players that have unlimited budgets and hire the most renowned marketing professionals.
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You must understand your target audience, their personas to align and fit your products and services. Once that’s completed you can build a strong brand and get top of mind awareness through market research content marketing, SEO, email marketing, and social media.
The startup CMO must recruit the best marketing team possible with all the marketing functions needed.
To stand out in such a competitive landscape, you need to have a solid branding strategy to back you up.
1. Understand your Target Customers
You cannot expect your product to make everyone happy. Before you even think about starting a business, you need to know what customer groups you will focus on.
Do a thorough analysis of your customers, collect their demographics data, buying behaviors, lifestyle, and problems they face. Know their age, gender, average income, education level, and location.
Get to know them better – try to understand what motivates them, who influences them, what brands they choose, and what their main problems and fears are.
Your goal is to create solid buyer personas that will guide your branding strategy and help you segment your target customers. This is the only way to put yourself in front of the right people and get them to visit your store and, ultimately, become your leads.
2. Know Your Competitors When Branding a Product
By conducting a thorough market analysis, you will identify your major competitors and analyze their branding and marketing efforts. This is an amazing opportunity for you to see what kind of content works for your target customers, and see what mistakes brands in your niche make.
Still, just because something works for your competitors doesn’t mean it will work for you, too. That is why you should never copy-paste another brand’s marketing strategy. Instead, focus on building a unique and recognizable brand people will remember and come back to.
3. Establish an Authentic Mission Statement
A brand mission statement is a reason your business exists – something that inspires you. It tells your customers what makes your products unique and what value your brand delivers.
Let’s look at Nike. Their mission is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Through a wide range of initiatives, Nike brings the sport to the ordinary people and encourages them to be their best selves.
They’re committed to fighting against global problems such as climate change or inequality. Most importantly, they’re focused on providing customers with premium-quality products, while respecting their workers.
Another great example is TOMS that “Stands for Tomorrow.” They build their brand on the foundations of humanity and social responsibility. For example, they give free shoes to people in need, invest in building systems for delivering safe water, support marginalized groups of people, and fight against gun violence.
4. Craft your Visual Brand Identity
What is the first thing that crosses your mind when I say Starbucks? It’s their logo.
When I say McDonald’s, you will first remember their yellow arches, right?
We’re visual beings and we memorize images faster than text.
Therefore you need to focus on the visual aspects of your brand. Here some of the essential elements listed below.
Your logo appears everywhere, from the infographics you publish on your website to your product packaging. It will soon become your brand’s ID and the visual representation of everything it stands for.
Colors are the major reason 85% of your customers make a purchase. Every color evokes a certain emotion in a customer. For example, yellow stands for happiness, orange is associated with playfulness, while blue is synonymous with stability. Choose colors that reflect your brand’s traits and values.
Typography and fonts
Fonts also reveal your brand’s identity and therefore they need to be in harmony with other visual elements. Just like with the choice of logos and colors, you should choose professional fonts easy to read and remember. Complex fonts may seem attractive, but, if a user cannot read the text, what’s the point?
5. Implementing your visual image online and offline
Product-based businesses need to focus on creating a consistent brand presence both online and offline.
For starters, consider hiring a professional graphic designer to help you build a cohesive and authentic visual identity for your brand. In collaboration with them, you should create strict brand style guidelines that would determine the use of your logo, color palettes, fonts, photography, iconography, and so on.
Let’s look at Juicy Beauty. As an organic cosmetics company, they’ve chosen clean backgrounds with green buttons and photos of nature that symbolize health, nature, and purity.
That’s the message they’re sending through all marketing channels they use. If you look at their online and offline materials, you notice that their visual elements remain the same.
So, no matter if it’s shop labels, disposable coffee cups, boxes, or your business cards, visual elements need to be used. And, with the rise of personalized label printing services, creating on-brand print materials is now made easier.
For example, Avery lets small businesses create personalized Avery Labels. You can upload your logo and images, choose from a wide range of design options, and select materials, colors and shapes of your labels.
6. Define your Brand Voice
Your brand voice is how you communicate with your audiences.
Your brand voice depends on a multitude of factors, including your industry, target customers, and corporate mission. You need to choose brand messaging that makes sense for your brand and that resonates with your audiences.
Do you want your brand to sound conversational, natural, and friendly? Maybe you want to position yourself as a trustworthy source through professional, technical, and authoritative messaging.
Choosing the right brand voice gives you an opportunity to build emotional relationships with your customers. That is why you need to use your tone of voice consistently across multiple channels, be they your website, social networks, blog, direct mail, or billboards.
Apple is a perfect example of how choosing the right language can contribute to your overall brand image. Just like their products, their brand messages are simple and, yet, powerful and confident.
For example, they say that their iPad is “Like a computer. Unlike any computer.” In just two simple sentences, they marketed their product as an industry leader. No matter if you’re on their website, watching their ad on TV, or reading their print ad, that’s the first impression you’ll gain.
7. Have a Thorough Marketing Strategy
Now you’ve determined your main brand values and chosen how you will market them to your audiences, you could start building your website. Will you use your website to promote your offline store?
Maybe you want to provide omnichannel customer experiences by setting up an online store and using multi-channel sales tools to sell your products on social networks.
When building a website, there are a few things to keep in mind. Consider hiring professionals that will design your website based on your brand identity.
You also need to pay attention to the UX aspects of your website, such as page load speed, SSL certificates, intuitive and spam-free interfaces, and mobile-responsiveness. Choose your domain name strategically. If it’s possible, use your brand name as your domain name to make your website easily findable on Google.
Once your site is up, what other channels will you use to get yourself noticed? One of the most effective ways to position yourself as an authoritative resource is to start blogging.
By sharing valuable and helpful posts, you will encourage users to share them online and, in this way, grow your online exposure. Sure, you will need to set up a detailed editorial calendar of what you want to publish and when and even write a few blog posts in advance to maintain consistency.
Have a social media strategy that determines what kind of content you will promote on each account. For example, you could use Instagram to create influencer campaigns, share gorgeous photos of your products and UGC, while Facebook is perfect for promoting your website content and building online communities.
You should also have a lead generation strategy. Will you combine SEO with PPC for greater visibility online? What kinds of lead magnets will you create? Will you use customer referral programs?
Don’t forget about offline marketing, as it may help your new brand. For example, you could use direct mail or temporary pop-up shops to promote your products and reach wider audiences.
Sure, when launching a company, do so with a splash. Have a solid PR plan and share the news about your product-based business on your website, social networks, and email newsletters. You should also host massive social media contests, provide great discounts, and share promotional items to increase brand awareness.
Test Everything You Do When Branding a Product
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all branding strategy that works for everyone. Based on your goals, audiences, and industry experiment with different marketing tactics and test how they impact your brand awareness and conversions. Don’t forget to listen to your customers, as their unbiased feedback is the best indicator of your performance.
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Your marketing ROI is critical. For you and your company
Measurement matters now more than ever. Use this marketing scorecard toolkit to bring structure and meaning to your numbers.
Wrap up On Branding a Product-Based Business
Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail, B2C or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a significant edge in competitive markets. However, what does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?
Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, whom you want to be, and whom people perceive you to be.
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