mobile App marketing

How to Develop a Brand Strategy for Startups?

A functional product with disruptive features and excellent brand-building strategies are the two core ingredients of a successful startup. Want to figure out the latter part? Here is an article to reinforce your understanding.

brand strategy for startups

No startup is successful without an effective marketing strategy. In today’s day and age, one can have an excellent product but if it isn’t backed by an equally effective marketing strategy, the product wouldn’t reach its full potential. In fact, over time, it might simply fade away. 

Adding to it, framing a brand marketing strategy for startups is one of the most important bits in the paradigm of marketing. Having a brand image that is compelling and exuberates the value propositions of the product is the way to capture the market. Currently, numerous brands try to sustain their brand image and take multiple actions to take it a level higher.

With this article, we aim to provide a basic understanding of how to develop brand-building strategies for startups. Want to learn more…read ahead!

What is a Brand Strategy for Startups?

A brand strategy for startups is a long-term strategic approach in terms of marketing that creates brand awareness and preference. The idea behind building a brand strategy is to make sure that the brand identity, brand voice, product offering, story, and vision resonate with the target audience. 

A compelling brand strategy is capable of driving new customer acquisition and creating an unbiased preference for the brand. It is simply set up to create an association of the brand with the customers.

For example: 

  • Apple’s brand strategy makes it an unequivocally premium smartphone brand
  • Perception around Skecher shoes is better-running capability and style
  • Rolls-Royce displays its product as regal & classy and suitable for important people
  • Amazon's brand perception is about an unending list of products and great delivery timing

A successful brand strategy development ties the product identity with a value proposition based on which a customer can trust the brand. To further consolidate, an effective brand marketing strategy promotes trust and dependability of product quality between the brand and the customer.

What are the 4 Branding Strategies?

From mobile apps to consumer goods, as the brand identity changes with the core proposition of the product, the strategy surrounding it also changes. No one shoe size fits all, quite similarly, there is no best startup branding strategy that fits all.

To further clear up the idea, below are 4 important branding strategies:

1. Corporate Branding

The intent behind this type of branding is to make the brand name popular. For example, Google, Sony, BMW, Coca-Cola, etc. With this type of branding for startups, the goal is to associate trust with the brand name. To further simplify, for instance, if an application is developed by Google, then most likely it will be of great value.

2. Product Branding

Product branding refers to marketing the product such that it replaces the actual name of the product. Quite confusing, let me explain. Several brands have replaced the actual product name in general lingo. For example:

  • Jacuzzi is often used to refer to bathtubs
  • Kleenex is used for referring tissues
  • Bubble wrap trademark is used for pliable transparent plastic material
  • Chapstick is used for lip balm
  • Ping-pong is used for table tennis

3. Online & Offline Branding

Both online and offline branding are opposites of each other. Online branding for startups is more on the digital front and inbound. It utilizes blogs, social media presence, and google ads to create an online brand. An effective way of pulling online branding is by hiring amongst the best digital marketing companies. With offline branding, the startup would require huge public banners, catalogs, television ads, brand ambassadors, etc. It is more outbound in nature. Multiple new startups prefer to create a mix of the two depending on their product offering.

4. Co-Branding

Co-branding is when two companies come together to brand products together. For example:

  • GoPro and Red Bull
  • Kanye and Adidas
  • Starbucks and Spotify
  • Apple and Mastercard
  • Taco Bell & Doritos

Bonus Strategies

In order to learn “How to draft the perfect business plan?” and incorporate a clearer brand image, here are some bonus strategies:

1. Geographical Branding

For startups that are related to touring and traveling, this kind of branding for startups can be utilized. It focuses on creating a brand marketing plan that centers around the image of a geographical location. 

2. Service Branding

Every brand marketing plan pays attention to its audience and creates product features in coherence with that. However, service branding aims to take this strategy a notch higher. With service type of branding, the customers are always expecting something “extra”. Some examples are mentioned below:

  • Kitkat offers “No Wifi Zone”
  • Charmin provides a “Sit or Squat” app for locating clean toilets
  • Lufthansa Airlines offers “Doctor-on-board”
  • Nutricia has a “Baby Care Lounge” on Holland Boulevard

3. “No Brand” Branding

Also known as “Minimalist Branding”, this type of branding allows the product and its quality to speak for itself. Several brands have taken up this strategy such as Brandless, No Name, Muji, etc.

How does building a Brand Strategy differ for a Startup from a Business?

To differentiate between the branding strategies between a startup and a business, it is important to understand the difference between them.

Some of the key differences are mentioned below:

By assessing the difference between the two, it is easier to figure out that startups require more innovative and contemporary ways. On the other hand, established businesses don’t usually require a brand strategy development. It is because they have already made a name in the market. Also, for consistency, they can stick to their regular marketing practices to sustain their presence.

How to Create a Brand Strategy for Startups? 

Creating a brand strategy from scratch isn’t easy. It takes loads of meticulous planning to come up with a brand strategy for startups that resonates with the product identity and the customer value perception.

brand building strategies

To achieve that position, there are a series of steps any startup can follow. These are:

1. Identify Audience

It is the first and the most important step. Figuring out the right audience for the product is half the battle won. Consider this, one cannot create a music company for deaf people or an expensive perfume for the lower strata. It becomes important for a company to determine the demographic of the plausible customer.

To understand the target market of the audience, below are the following questions one can ask:

  • Who will benefit the most from my product?
  • What can be the age bracket of the target audience?
  • What is the geolocation of the audience?
  • What are my customers' tastes and preferences?
  • What is the occupation of my target audience?

Having questions such as these will help determine the right audience for the brand. It will also help further in communicating brand propositions to the audience. Learning more and more about the target audience always keeps a company at advantage for tailoring a brand strategy that effectively works. Another great way of doing this is by conducting surveys with the help of a research company.

2. Brand Positioning

Develop a position for the brand. In the majority of cases, it is not always possible to cater to the entire spectrum of high to lower strata of people. Whether the brand would offer high-end Veblen goods or low-end Giffen goods or something in the middle is essential. It helps in establishing a complementary branding strategy that would drive the most volume of customers.

3. Unique Business Name

Everyone can have their theory for coming up with the brand name. However, the brand name should always align with the sensibilities of the core audience and the product. For products that don't cater to the world’s 2% population (the rich executive class), having a brand name that is easy to remember and catchy for the tongue is the way. However, for people who buy luxury products, it can be something that stands out and is unique to the market.

4. Storytelling

A great brand story is often the first hook that captivates the audience. Come up with a story that resonates with the core problems of the target audience. Once a story is laid out in place, it is time to sell. It works wonders to take this approach because everyone likes to hear stories. Also, a story that relates to someone creates an impression on them and makes it easy to remember.

5. Colors of the Brand

creating a brand strategy

No brand strategy is complete without a color palette that displays the brand’s core proposition. To understand more about it, one can learn about color theory. There is a reason why McDonald’s uses yellow and red, Amazon uses black and orange, and google uses blue, yellow, red, and green. Every color target a particular emotion and feeling. The colors chosen for the brand must resonate with qualities similar to the brand's offering.

6. Logo

There can be many ways a brand logo can be represented such as an emblem, a mascot, letter marks, combination marks, icons, and wordmarks. However, the logo should represent the brand. Logos are often the first thing a customer notices about a brand.

7. Brand Integration

Depending upon the startup and its proposition, the brand can be integrated into every place. From merchandise to online ads, and banners in public places, there are various ways of doing it. However, the most important aspect of this point is for the core employees to align with the brand sensibilities. Once that is taken care of each of the departments exudes similar values that transcend borders and reach the end customer.

Things to Keep in Mind!

Although, the strategies mentioned above are enough to start a branding strategy for a startup. However, there are some additional tips on branding that any startup founder should consider during the campaign run:

  • Authenticity: To create a loyal customer base, it is important to stay authentic with the core proposition. Often to grab the attention of the customer, startups turn towards overpromising. On the contrary, some startups stick to under promising. Both of these factors can damage the brand. Grabbing the attention of the customer and disappointing them can be the worst for a brand. Consider every customer that approaches your startup has a voice which means word of mouth. Adding to it, staying authentic with the brand’s core values and features is always the way to go.
  • Avoid Complexity: Instead of overcomplicating business decisions and overthinking things such as color, logo, slogan, etc. Try to stay logical and evaluate everything from a logical perspective. If anything makes sense, try that out. If anything doesn’t, learn from the same and implement an updated strategy.
  • Stay Active, Not Reactive: Every startup is the baby of its founders. However, there are times when one should gauge their expectations from a product. For the creator, everything will be special. On the other hand, the perception of the end customer can differ from that. Take every failure as feedback and try to come up with a better and more watertight strategy.

Wrapping Up

No startup can run without effective brand building strategies. To sustain longer in the market, building a brand strategy is an inexplicable ordeal that one needs to cater to. With this article, we have tried to consolidate the most important brand strategies one can implement, however, every startup has to deal with unforeseen challenges. 

A brand strategy created should speak for the product. Every facet of it should reflect the ideologies and the vision created to serve customers better. If the strategy ticks all the boxes and has been created with an earnest attitude to deliver, most likely it is bound to stick.

Aparna <span>Growth Strategist</span>
Written By
Aparna Growth Strategist

Aparna is a growth specialist with handsful knowledge in business development. She values marketing as key a driver for sales, keeping up with the latest in the Mobile App industry. Her getting things done attitude makes her a magnet for the trickiest of tasks. In free times, which are few and far between, you can catch up with her at a game of Fussball.

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