As brand consultants for early-stage startups, we understand the importance of developing a solid brand strategy. A strong brand can help your startup stand out in a crowded market, attract customers, and build trust and loyalty.
Brand Strategy Research and Analysis
When you craft a unique brand for your startup, the order of operations is essential: Research informs strategy, which then feeds the tactical execution. Don’t rush your brand development, and take a step back.
The first step in developing a brand strategy is research and analysis. This includes understanding your company, discovering your target market, analyzing the competition, and finding your unique position in the market.
Understanding Your Startup Company
Before developing your brand strategy, you need to understand your company and its people. What attributes can your company authentically stand for and own?
You start by interviewing the founders and other vital stakeholders in the company. These open-ended questions should help you discover your company’s vision, values, and story. You can also validate these findings with an employee survey.
Understanding your company will help you create a brand that aligns with your company’s purpose and values.
Discovering Your Target Market
Once you understand your company, the next step is to discover your target market. This includes researching your customer demographics, behavior, and needs. Understanding your target market will help you create a brand that resonates with your target audience.
What is it that your ideal customers increasingly want? Talk to your existing customers, users, or prospects. This step is crucial for finding product-market fit and should never be skipped.
Analyzing Your Startup’s Competition
Another critical step in the research and analysis phase is analyzing the competition. This includes researching your competitor brands and alternatives your ideal customers use to solve their problems. Ignoring your competition is why roughly 20% of startups fail–they got out-competed.
What is it that you can do better or differently from the competitors? How is your solution different from the alternatives?
Nailing Your Startup Brand Strategy
After the research phase, it’s time to make decisions. Strategy is mostly deciding what not to do. Here’s how you make sense of your data.
Finding Your Unique Position
Finding your unique position will help you create a brand that stands out in the market. Use all of the gathered evidence and data and use the three Cs tests:
- Company: Is it something you can authentically stand for and own?
- Customer: Is it something your ideal customers increasingly want?
- Competition: Is it something you can do better or differently than the alternatives?
It can become part of the brand positioning only if an attribute matches all three 3Cs.
Summarizing Your Startup Brand Strategy
As a last step, you need to put your findings into a format easily understood by your team and collaborators. We recommend a Brand DNA (4-5 words) and a Brand Positioning Statement (3-4 complete sentences with context).
Nobody will look at lengthy and convoluted presentations. It’s crucial that the positioning is presented as simply as possible.
Your Brand DNA should be consistent across all touchpoints, including your website, packaging, and marketing materials.
Next Steps for Building a Strong Startup Brand
Developing a brand strategy for your startup is essential in scaling your business. The first step is research and analysis, which includes understanding your company, discovering your target market, analyzing the competition, and finding your unique position in the market.
Once you have gathered evidence and data, you must make decisions and create a Brand DNA and a Brand Positioning Statement. Make sure to present your strategy as simply and clearly as possible and keep it consistent across all touchpoints.
After strategy comes tactics. You can now use your Brand DNA and Positioning Statement for all kinds of execution:
- Naming Your Startup for Success
- Crafting a Cohesive Brand Identity
- Defining your Brand Tone and Voice
- Starting a Brand Marketing Campaign