Boss Lady

How to create a brand identity for your new startup

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The first months of starting a new business are some of the most exciting. Your dream comes to life right before your eyes, and you have big hopes and upcoming plans for your company. However, it is also a time when you can lose the battle to develop a positive brand identity. To succeed, you need a plan from day one to build your name and image.

There are around 30.7 million small businesses in the United States alone. Standing out in a world filled with startups isn’t easy. Fortunately, you can take some steps to highlight who you are and make a name for yourself. Your identity is the heart and soul of your business. Make it the best it can be by following these six tips:

1. Choose descriptive words

Start by listing words that characterize your startup, such as energetic, reliable and friendly. Think about your brand as a personality. What do you want to highlight about it? Come up with three to five terms that showcase how you envision your brand and how you’d like others to see it.

Do some online searches for your industry. What is a question someone would have if they were searching for a business like yours? Pay attention to the “People Also Asked” phrases and keywords that appear over and over again. Can you incorporate these words into your business promotions and statements?

2. Design a logo

Your logo should be the focal point of your brand. Take the time to think through what signifies your organization. Most logos stick around for a company’s lifetime, only getting occasional updates to stay with the times.

Study competitor logos to make sure yours matches industry standards but is also unique. An excellent example of a logo that works well is FedEx. They use their name’s letters just as the U.S. Postal Service (UPS) does, but they add motion to the logo to suggest they are the fastest solution.

3. Choose a color palette

Come up with a color palette that represents your brand. Your logo may be the key to your palette, or you may choose the hues first and see that the logo matches. Use these core colors in all branding once you have them in place. If you create a sign for your store’s exterior, use your brand colors. If you add vinyl displays to your windows, they should feature the same hues.

4. Be authentic

The most crucial elements of building a name for your firm require understanding who you are and what you stand for. Why did you start your business? What are your core values? It’s difficult to be true to your standards if you don’t start with any, so write them out in the form of a mission statement.

An excellent example of a company with strong core values is Toms. They care about helping disadvantaged countries, so their motto has been that when they sell a pair of shoes, they also donate a pair. Their entire business model centers on their desire to help low-income individuals.

As your business grows and you gain media attention, you’ll have people come to you with opportunities to work with them. It’s sometimes tempting to jump on every chance. Having core values allows you to take advantage of only those situations that make the most sense for your business. Similarly, you can say no to those that go against who you are. A written record of your beliefs and policies creates an authentic image and shows you mean what you say.

5. Get out in your community

The best place to test your brand identity is in your local community. Always start close to home and then branch out a little at a time as you expand your market. Host an event and introduce your company to local influencers and other business owners. Get feedback on what they think of your business model, brand name, logo and designs.

Once you’ve perfected your messaging, reach out to local groups that match your interests as an organization. Offer to sponsor them in exchange for spreading your name and brand. For example, you might sponsor a little league team and place your brand name on the back of their uniform shirts.

Set up a small booth at local craft fairs and festivals. Speak to local non-profits. Broadcast information about who you are, what you stand for and what your message is. Local appearances are your chance to build a team of brand ambassadors who will help you market your company.

6. Perfect your touchpoints

Touchpoints are those points of contact between you and a new lead. Think about all the potential places you might come into contact with your target audience. Is your message consistent across all channels?

How are you developing a relationship between you and your customers at each touchpoint? Consider the interactions on your website and social media. Keep in mind how you’re communicating through phone calls and online and offline events.

Monitor online mentions of your brand

You’ll likely make missteps in your company’s early days, but these don’t have to affect your success. Monitor online mentions for complaints and address them immediately. Reach out publicly to the person complaining and take steps to resolve the situation so it doesn’t happen again.

People tend to forgive new companies for making honest mistakes. The way you handle the problem and attempt to make it right defines who you are as a brand and allows you to form a positive reputation.

About Lexie Lu

Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she's not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner

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