Why startups should not ignore branding

1Startups and their founders tend to get busy with the idea that makes them, them. And rightly so. However, there is one other thing that needs to be managed and nurtured carefully, enthusiastically and engagingly. It is your branding. Branding introduces your idea to the world with a name and a personality. It is crucial therefore, that the right personality and trait of your start-up is identified and projected in your branding exercise.

Startups being obsessed with their money-making idea is fine, but that does not mean branding should be put on a second footing. None of the big brands we see around us came about because the company was obsessed about selling its product. Branding is a process that all companies should pursue diligently because getting your brand to occupy mind-space is as crucial as selling your product.

So, what is branding? Is it your logo? Is it your logo plus tag line? Truth is, branding is beyond all this. It is how you communicate with your customers and your investors. It is what you are telling them. It is your tone, graphics, content, display boards, social media posts… Branding is synching all the brand elements that will influence customer response to your brand.
Entrepreneurs and startups often feel that branding is too abstract and more often than not, question its impact on sales. Branding builds authenticity and credibility for the brand and helps get a one up on competition. Branding also helps connect your product to your audience emotionally. A product that is sold without an emotional promise is less likely to be remembered. A well-researched brand positioning will help you develop a killer identity for your brand. It is necessary that entrepreneurs understand that brand positioning and branding will drive every aspect of your interaction with your customer – be it sales, after-sales, loyalty, customer service, etc.

Product obsession that startups are born with should never undermine the importance of branding. Strategically put together stories and experiences sell products faster and better than the brilliance of the product alone.
Surviving competition
An average consumer comes face to face with multiple brands and products on a day-to-day basis. To etch your brand into their memory will take more than just the product experience. To grab their attention in the first place, you will need a brand positioning that is spectacularly different and in line with your brand promise. Companies that pursue branding right from inception earns a place for itself among its competitors.
The longevity promise
The other reason why startups should put their efforts into branding is because, a well-branded company bears a sign of longevity for its customers. This helps the start-up earn customer’s trust at an early stage itself. A carefully planned branding and communication exercise indicates that you are enough for your brand and intend to make it recognizable and reliable in the long run.
Branding also helps internal coherence and alignment of the company’s future offerings to the brand image of the company. The core of the brand will drive the future of the company. Take Apple for instance. Apple stands for clean, sophisticated and innovative products. Irrespective of what the company builds, Apple products will continue to subscribe to this brand idea. It is this brand idea that millions are buying into, product after product.

Branding helps sell more than just your product idea and win you something more than just revenues. With time, the brand will stand to hold 50% of the value of the company. Now what’s the true differentiator in the market? Your product or your brand?

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