Five Essential Phases of Branding a Startup

A brand is defined as the complete experience that your prospects and customers have with your business. It is the unique personality of your business. It is the promise you make to your audience, and the one that you keep. 

 

But how do you build a really good brand? Glad you asked. Branding your startup is a journey, but it’s simple when you break it down. Your startup’s brand can be defined by just five key assets.

Phase 1: Logo 

  1. Should be scalable 
    1. Vector art is always best. This means that the logo can be scaled to any size, from a keychain to a billboard, without loss of quality.
  2. In most cases, should have solid colors
    1. When it comes to printing your logo on physical items, simple is better. Using solid colors will save time and money in the print process.
  3. Should be adaptable
    1. It should be easy to change the size, layout, and color scheme of your logo if necessary. We always give our clients many versions of their logo: Primary logo, Secondary logo (horizontal if the Primary is stacked, or vice versa), a Wordmark, and a standalone Icon. This way, there’s a logo version for every situation.
  4. Should be unique 
    1. There are a lot of brands out there. Your logo needs to stand out so that it’s not forgotten, or confused with a competitor.
  5. Should communicate what you do
    1. When people see your logo, they should get some idea of what you do so that they’re not caught off guard when they learn more about your business.

 

Phase 2: Color Palette

Colors are powerful. They create a mood, set a tone, and inspire thought when people interact with your brand. A good color palette is a major factor in communicating your brand’s personality. A bright, vivid palette can tell your audience that you’re a creative, fun-loving brand. A muted palette with a dash of highlighted color can be perfect for more corporate brands – serious, but still able to attract attention. And a deep, rich color palette with gold accents can communicate elegance and luxury.

 

No matter what kind of startup you have, a potential customer should be able to take a look at your color palette and have an idea of what to expect from your brand.

Phase 3: Typography 

In the same way that color communicates a personality, your brand’s typography can communicate a certain tone. Choosing a font may seem trivial, but it makes a difference in how people react to your written materials. Good brand typography should be:

  1. Easy to read
    1. Many fonts look cool, but that doesn’t mean that they’re good for every situation. A complicated, artistic font is going to be hard to read when scaled down. People interact with brands on all kinds of screens – from smart watches to big-screen TV – so you need typography that is easy to read at any size.
  2. Versatile
    1. A great font will come in different weights and styles – bold, italic, thin, etc. It’s also a good idea to choose a font that is web-friendly so that you can keep your typography consistent in print and online.
  3. In line with the tone of voice your brand has adopted.
    1. This one can be tricky, but think of it this way: if you want to communicate to the CEO of a large software company, you’re not going to choose Comic Sans. On the other hand, if you’re targeting the owners of toy companies, you shouldn’t use Times New Roman. The typography should fit the personality of your business and its audience.

Phase 4: Visual Brand Extensions 

In addition to a logo and color palette, there are other elements of your brand that should be consistent if you’re going to build recognition. Shapes, patterns, and icon styles should remain the same across all your materials. If your logo has sharp corners, the buttons and other shapes on your website should have sharp corners too. If the buttons on the homepage of your site are circular and bright red, then all the buttons on your site should look the same. 

 

Iconography is important too. The icons you use should mesh with your brand look, and they should match. We see it all the time – a website with bold, chunky icons on one page, and small, dainty icons in a different color on the next page. This can be confusing for a potential customer. Consistency will make your site easier to navigate and understand. 

Phase 5: Brand Tone 

Your brand’s tone is a huge factor in the way that your message is received by your audience. Once you’ve developed your buyer personas (link to How to Create a Complete Brand Identity for a Startup), you’ll have a good idea of how to approach your audience. The tone of voice that you use should reflect not only your personality, but the personalities of the people you want to reach. 

 

For example, writing for corporate readers requires a straightforward, well-spoken tone of voice to be taken seriously. But if you’re communicating to an audience in a creative industry, a more relaxed, fun-loving tone of voice would probably connect better. When writing for your brand, just imagine you’re sitting across the table from your prospective customer and think about the impression you’d want to make on them.

 

Your tone, like your visual identity, should be consistent. Here are some key components of your marketing strategy where you’ll need to get your brand tone just right:

  • Elevator pitch
  • Positioning statement 
  • Vision & mission statements 
  • Tagline and slogan 
  • Press releases 
  • Social media communication 
  • Blog posts + articles 
  • Communication style – email, phone, face to face 

 

And there you have it! Once you’ve established these five components for your new brand, you’re ready to share it with the world and watch your business grow. Just remember the golden rule of good branding: Consistency is key!