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The Most Critical Element for Any Startup or Product Launch: Branding

Written by Brad McElroy

For startups and new product launches, money seems like everything. Okay, sometimes it is, but according to Forbes, startups that receive a great deal of funding only account for a 14% success ratio. So, what could be the secret formula to a successful launch of your new company or industry-changing product? One word: branding. From how you package your product to how you package your services, branding will separate you from everyone else in a crowded market. If you have an idea that’s going to change the world or just a new product that you want to share with it, here are four easy and effective steps to branding.

1. Audience is Everything

So if money isn’t everything, what is? Audience.

From the price of your product and services to the visual language you use on your website, your audience should inform these decisions. And don’t be afraid to get specific with who you’re talking to. After all, if you’re not in lockstep with your customers, they’ll find someone else who is.

Take the time to research your audience and send surveys to gather more information. You’ll soon be able to create a clear picture of who you’re targeting and even create some customer personas that encompass your primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences. In these personas, include some basic information from demographics to desires and frustrations can help you get more specific and address actual pain points your customers have. If no one else in the market is satisfying these needs and wants, you just gained an extra customer.

To keep it brief, when you’re branding your startup or new product launch, you need to consider the how and the where.

How You Speak to Your Audience

Knowing who you’re targeting is going to decide how you speak to them, both in the actual language you use and the visual language. Talking to CEOs and management positions in the hopes that they purchase your proprietary accounting software is going to be different than if you’re marketing fitness tips to health-conscious millennials. Are you selling high-end luxury watches? Then your site’s content and design need to reflect a minimal, more elegant feel to match what your customers are looking for. In short, find your audience, and you’ll find your voice.

Where You Speak to Your Audience

It’s important to live where your customers are. If your users are active on social media, you better live there. From creating highly shareable social assets to leveraging your marketing campaign on digital channels, you need to make sure your audience is seeing the content you’re creating that you’re posting it everywhere. A consistent brand across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%.

On the flip side, if you see outdoor media like billboards and print ads being a huge driver for your market because traditional marketing is where your customers live, then that’s where you need to be. Let your customers dictate where you should speak to them, then do it. But keep in mind, it can take 5 to 7 impressions for people to remember your brand, so make sure wherever your ads are, it’s getting routine traffic. 

2. Be a Storyseller

You have to be an effective storyseller. Not just how you tell your story, but how you sell it to your audience. Be memorable. Be relatable. No matter how crazy your product or your idea, people love a good story. How you tell it will let them know if you’re right for them, and that will build a stronger initial connection before they even use your product.

Bring them into your brand’s experience, define the purpose of your company, and make it immediately relatable. After all, you don’t just want a brand buyer, you want a brand advocate.

By selling your story effectively, your customers can turn around and tell their friends, their family, their neighbor, or even that talkative Uber driver about your company. Besides, you need an About page on your website (and you definitely need a website), so this is the perfect chance to do just that.

But above all, make sure it’s refined and ties back into all of your branding elements. If you advertise your product as an elegantly simple, handcrafted waterfall coffee table, having a website with a bunch of loud buttons and flashing neon lights isn’t very simpatico.

3. Condense Your Brand

If you could focus your brand down into one sentence or one phrase, what would it be? Some of the best brands do this, and they do it extremely effectively. Entire marketing campaigns can be built around a slogan or a tagline, and the best ones can stand the test of time no matter how often you evolve. Now, you don’t have to create a slogan as good as Nike or McDonald’s or Verizon, but if you hit the motherload, it certainly won’t hurt.

Here are some slogans and taglines you’ve definitely heard before, including some you may want to use as inspiration for yourself. Quick reminder: slogans generally encompass your mission or what you stand for, while taglines can be a catchier quip that creates a strong, quick association of your brand in your customers’ minds.

  • Lyft: “Rides in Minutes”
  • Dollar Shave Club: “A Great Shave for a Few Bucks a Month” 
  • The North Face: “Never Stop Exploring”
  • Airbnb: “We believe in a world where people belong, anywhere.
  • FedEx: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

Tip: Search for slogans, brand promises, or value propositions that your competitors currently use. This will help you get a feel for what’s out there, and how to differentiate yourself from everyone else. Having a focused element like a slogan or tagline that succinctly encompasses your brand can be a touchstone and rallying point when your advertising ideas seem to be unraveling at the seams.

4. Visual Language Is Real

A picture is certainly worth at least a thousand words, so what will you use to show your startup or new product? From your logo and brand colors to even your fonts, how you show your brand is part of your brand. At a glance, these elements should quickly communicate the values and benefits of your startup to your audience. With a cohesive visual language, your marketing campaigns will have a common thread that customers can immediately identify as you. Now you just have to build out from there.

When it comes down to it, effective branding is everything. What customers feel when they use your product, grab your packaging, or visit your site should create an experience that they remember and want to share. And just as much as you value producing a consistent level of service or a high-quality product, you should be producing consistently branded content so that your brand’s unique experience is felt everywhere by your customers, no matter where they engage with your startup or new product.

Need help branding your startup? Got a new product launch and don’t know where to begin? Eighty Three Creative. We’re branding experts, and we have our own secret guide to help you brand yourself for good.

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