Five Brand Building Tips for Startups


I work with all sizes of business. Brand principles apply to them all. But start-ups are in a unique position when it comes to branding.

In this post we look at some key tips to help a startup as they seek to enter a marketplace and set out to change the world. It was originally written for the first branding journal of the Middle East and Africa, Brand Berries.


Credit: Annie Spratt Souce: Unsplash

The unique position of a startup

Startups have no constraints. They are not bound by past conventions. They are breaking into markets and so their audiences do not carry pre-conceived ideas about them. They also have no baggage when it comes to staffing and no problems with internal politics.

However, they usually have little (or no) paying customers to use as a soundboard and are typically still shaping their purpose as well as their product offerings. They have to worry about investment. About creating value and building a solid customer base - and they have to do it with little cash flow.

All of this can get messy. But having a grasp of a brand-building framework can save time and create a strong direction for a new brand. Getting a grip on the discipline of branding is not only helpful to do early in a business's life - I would say - it is essential. Especially if you want to attract loyal customers and talented new staff to join your enterprise.

Why should startups focus on brand strategy?

Firstly - let's get some phrases defined. Your brand is not your logo. It is not a font and some colours. It is so much more.

Your "brand" is the meaning that people attach to you and your offer. It exists in their heads. In their hearts and minds. You do not own it. They do.

“Branding” is the attempt to manage that meaning. To thoughtfully consider the meaning you want people to attach to your business and to which you will hold yourself to account. Branding is strategic. It affects all aspects of your business - from your leadership and business behaviours, through to customer experience.

So before you jump into creating a name or designing a logo. Stop. Take a breath. Consider the below 5 tips for branding on a strategic level before diving into the tactical expression of the new brand.