Before you start reading this article about Branding for startups, here are some interesting statistics about the importance of branding:
- 80% of people think color plays a vital role in Brand recognition
- 86% of people said Trust drives them to buy a product or service
- Netflix Spends $1.7 Billion on branding in 2018
- Coca Cola spends an average of $3.96 Billion whereas Pepsi spends an average of $2.4 Billion on branding per year (Investopedia)
- Amazon Spent around $10.1 Billion on branding in 2018 (Business Insider)
Branding helps people Identify a brand(product or service). It is a communication between the company and customers, a true representation of who you are as a business & how you want to be perceived. A product can leave an impression but branding is a process that reshapes this impression.
Thousands of startups and new businesses are trying to make a name in the market, increase brand recognition, trust and sales ultimately and most of them ignore the importance of a strong brand. Having a strong brand has become more critical than ever before. Any business, large or small, service or product, B2b or B2c, effective branding strategy will always give an edge to your brand in this competitive world. Marketers are finding it easy to market a brand and differentiate from competitors with strong branding. Innovation in designs/product/service can easily be achieved through branding. Perceiving brand by customers involves branding upto some extent such as high priced, low priced, low/high quality product.
94% of the world’s population recognizes the Coca-Cola logo (The Coca-Cola Company)
Startups & Branding:
Entrepreneurs and startups are always occupied with products, tweaks, finding an audience, and making a final product before someone else does. But a stage will be coming during early startup life where a startup will have to work on their branding and brand strategies. But intense competition has made it necessary for startups to do branding before everything else. Branding is not only for products but it is designed to attract and impress investors as well.
What Branding can do for a startup is:
Branding Creates Trust
Branding Motivates employees
Branding increases brand recognition
Branding increases sales & awareness through digital branding
Branding can help in innovation and introduction of new features
Branding helps in investment:
Lack of investment and proper planning results in one out of three startups failing in their first 2 years of existence. Studying and making a product for the market is important for success but with proper research, finding an audience, conveying your brand message, brand mission, effective communication, and making an impression through visually appealing design is imperative for a new brand and startup. Making a perception and brand positioning can be controlled through marketing upto some extent but it can be more effectively controlled if proper research and branding strategies are applied consistently from the very beginning.
Making a failed attempt without a brand mission and then working on branding, strategies, improving communication, brand personality and improving brand positioning in customers mind will absorb lots of time, energy and funds
Making initial relationships and communication with both customers and investors is critical for early success as more and more firms are struggling to get funded. To maintain this communication and impression, branding is playing a vital role in this digital age than ever before. Startups during the early stage make big mistakes by ignoring branding and thus fail to make an impression in the market. Entrepreneurs try to focus on the product and less on the look, feel and presentation of their brand which is negatively perceived by investors. Product drive sales but the force and perception behind making a purchase decision is more likely to be affected by branding (design, logo, overall packaging, color palette)
Presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23% (Forbes)
The top 4 qualities people use to describe why they are loyal to a brand are cost, quality, experience, and consistency (facebook)
Here comes Pixtrum:
Unlike other branding agencies, we at Pixtrum, a digital agency that has served some great companies, we divide our branding process into 4 parts
Brand ensures you are here to Stay:
With proper visual identity, branding and brand personality applied to every aspect and stage of a brand, people tend to put more trust in such products and ideas. Brand helps people realize that they are here to stay and no scam or fraud can be expected from them. About 70-80% of people ignore informal or rough products with a difficult name to read, a logo with nothing to look for, a design that does not convert but made in MS word and last but not the least, a brand with no social media or digital presence. Proper branding strategy with a specific personality is the reason people will trust brand
Branding is what people say about you when you're not in the room (Jeff Bezos)
Branding starts from a Logo:
Logo is not a brand but a foundation & first part of every brand. Logo combined with website, print materials, marketing designs, packaging communicates a brand. So it is important to start from a logo and then build everything after a foundation is set.
Branding helps in recognition and logo is the first and most important part in brand recognition from a customer perspective. Digital agencies tend to focus more on simple but powerful logo design as it help a startup or brand get recognition in their first encounter with potential customers
Branding starts from creating a brand strategy i.e. what, where, when, how and to whom you want to communicate and deliver your brand message and image. Advertisements, distribution channels, social media posts, employee dressing or simply put, everything communicated visually and verbally from brand is brand strategy.
Brand equity and branding is directly related to each other. Uniform branding across all mediums and following it consistently creates a strong brand equity i.e. worth of the brand. The higher the brand equity, the easier it will be for new companies and startups to charge more and vice versa. A major example here can be Coca Cola & McDonalds; the way they have created their brand equity through consistent branding across digital, print and through their distribution channel.
Powerful Logo is the Key:
10 seconds are enough for people to form an opinion about a logo (Crowdspring)
The face of every company is Logo. It’s the first and most important element during a brand’s first interaction with customers. It can retain, build trust and position itself in a more innovative way in customers minds.
Logo can be textual, iconic, emblem based depending on how a startup wants to position itself in the market and against its competitors.
Textual Logo: These are the logos that are based on fonts/text but with something innovative which can be a mark or symbol incorporated within the text to bring more innovation & creativity to a textual logo.
Best examples: Canon, Coca Cola, Amazon.com, Google, Sony & FedEx
Icon Based Logo designs: These include logo designs in which text is complemented with a separate icon.
Best examples: Target, Nike, Apple, Gucci, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Beats
Emblem Logo: An emblem logo is more like a badge, seal or crest where font is inside a symbol
Best Examples: UPS, Harley Davidson, Burger King, BMW, Ford.
Brands have spent more than $200 Million on logo design (Business insider)
Define your brand:
Defining your brand is more like a journey of discovering your brand. It can help you to know more about your startup or idea and how you want to communicate your message to your customers.
It may involve questions like
Your company mission
Benefits of your idea
Special feature/sauce your brand or product/service can offer
What qualities you want them to associate or think about your product
33% of consumers have a brand in mind when they go shopping
Once a brand is defined, here comes the point to integrate everything by creating elements and statements related to communication with customers.
It takes an average of 10 seconds for consumers to form an opinion about a company
Start with a brand style guide:
It includes brand color palette, do’s, dont’s, font, overall design pattern, presentation guide. It can also help if someone in the future works on your brand so they will have these guidelines i.e. how to start and keep consistency in your brand designs such as social media posters, sub logos, banners, ads, print designs.
Choosing the right color can improve brand recognition by upto 80%
Stationery designs: It may include things like business card, letterhead, poster design, flyer/brochures, stickers and other printable stuffs which should complement both logo and style guide
Digital Designs: This is a newly added part in branding but these are now the most frequent and watchable designs because of the usage of social media. Digital designs may include App icons, social media banners, profile images, ad designs, email designs, newsletters, instagram story designs etc. New age agencies like Pixtrum are focusing on digital media designs such as facebook feed, instagram feed, stories, ad designs, email designs, newsletters as these are frequently used, seen and can easily increase awareness and trust value if done professionally.
Digital Branding & Marketing
77% of B2B marketers reported branding as a critical factor for their growth
Globe is becoming a single destination with information at everyone’s fingertips through digital & social media. The impact of strong social media presence and digital marketing was not this much critical before for brands and startups. Social media & digital marketing gave birth to digital branding because of the immense demand, usage of the internet and digital mediums around the globe.
Digital branding is the use of branding and every aspect involved in it on digital mediums such as website, twitter, apps
8 basic elements of Digital Branding:
- Brand Message
- Social Media
- Online advertising
- Content Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
Digital Branding is all about building up a brand identity and communication of value to customers through the use of digital media. It can be seen and experienced from a brand social media posts, video, ad design, emails & website. Without the application of digital assets on digital mediums, it is impossible for a startup or brand to stay alive, grow or be seen by the masses.
Digital Marketing & Digital branding are interrelated. The stronger the digital brand strategy, the more and easier it is for digital marketing to attract and convince the target audience or increase conversions. Digital mediums include social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), search engines (Google, Yahoo), mobile apps and anything that is related to the internet. A brand has to utilize digital marketing and use ads on platforms such as facebook, instagram or SEO on search engines to be seen more prominently by potential customers for value
5-7 Brand impressions are necessary for a customer to remember a brand
Benefits of Digital branding:
One of the main benefits of utilizing digital branding in digital marketing for a brand or startup is the vast number of mediums available to grow and spread your brand message. With more than ¾ of Americans using a particular social media platform, startups can easily find a way through digital marketing to introduce their offering and increase conversions. And adding digital branding practices to your message or design can even help more in building trust and making a unique brand positioning in customers minds.
59% of consumers buy new products from trusted brands
77% of B2B marketers say branding is crucial for growth (Circe Research)
Startups with unique ideas are utilizing digital marketing in a number of creative ways to increase customer awareness and build brand trust. With such importance, responsibility for branding has increased to a great extent. Whether it is a Social media post, a story post on facebook or instagram, or giveaway campaign, an email design or a youtube video, utilizing proper branding elements is critical for brand recognition and trust building. A brand has to follow its style guide in today’s digital world to make a consistent impact on consumers’ minds whenever they see your product or website or advertisement.
Building such trust and impact makes digital branding more like a long term marketing strategy. The stronger the strategy, the more effective communication there will be between company and customers.
Social Media & Brands
70% of the total US population have social network accounts
With almost 3.8 Billion people using social media sites, it is imperative for every small business and startup to make their social media presence before even launch. Since the last decade, social media has changed the way brands use branding to interact with customers. There used to be no direct communication of brands, employers and target audience. But with twitter, facebook and instagram “tagging” features, one can express their views about a specific brand more openly and honestly (even Trump is not safe from/in social media). This revolution has increased branding and its importance by many folds. Logo usage, color variation, elements, visibility ratio; almost everything is followed strictly on a daily basis before a new post is posted or tweet is tweeted. Brands are focusing on branded content to increase their revenue and sales. Marketers are pushing brands to work and spend time on branded content for social media as it helps them to decrease their cost per click (CPC) & increase awareness & average order value (AOV)
Presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%.
According to research, people trust a brand more if their employees are on social media.
Social media before Product Launch:
Brands are changing their priorities. Make interactions, start socializing and proper communication with the target audience before product launch. It can help a brand to gather feedback and learn about target audience interests and views which can help you in a successful launch by making big and minor changes to your brand accordingly. Using social media by startups and brands for customer interaction can be revolutionary to make early stage success.
Social media During Product Launch:
Once launched, a brand may use social media paid marketing services to push users to either increase awareness, make a purchase or generate leads. Brands can increase organic traffic during the product launch phase through referral programs, contests, giveaways and some newly added features such as Facebook live, which let brands interact with the audience in a live video session.
Ecommerce giants like amazon, ebay, etsy, alibaba and many other companies are using social media ads effectively to increase their sales because of the higher number of users active on social media all the time.
38% of moms prefer to purchase products and services from brands other women “Like” on Facebook
More than 80 million small businesses are using Facebook every monthHootsuite
Branding & Sale
80% of consumers say “authenticity” is the reason they start following a brand.
The stronger a branding and brand strategy is, the more it will be easier for startups and new brands to create a good impression among customers, make trust, differentiate from competitors and convince potential customers to buy or use the product or service. It creates authenticity, familiarity, a bond that is harder to break. A good example here can be Nike, Apple & Walmart. Everyone identifies their logo and brand even from far distance. People may not buy from a nearby store but from their stores because of the brand value it has created for its customers.
Based on the statistic shared above, people like to buy, use & share experiences about brands more because of the authenticity and value it creates.
Sales for a brand can be increased through a number of ways such as digital marketing, email marketing and outdoor marketing. But a brand should follow branding elements whenever there is a communication with the customer as it will ultimately help in brand recognition and recall. Brand recall and recognition is getting important day by day because more brands are launching every new day and customers are more exposed to ads in daily life and thus branding should come in first when a new startup or brand comes to life.
Websites for Startups
38% of users avoid businesses with unattractive websites
With more internet coverage & usage, more people are digitally connected through websites and apps. A brand without a website is not considered authentic and trustable. Businesses with websites and proper branding applied to every page are considered trustworthy & reliable.
Website is the first place where your target audience will visit to find out about your brand and products.
Customers are becoming mature by having information on their fingertips through search engines like Google so therefore a startup must incorporate not only branding elements but also follow modern guidelines, web design & User experience for easy navigation. Websites are becoming popular with every passing day for brands as after social media, a website is the main platform for a user to interact with a brand or service or make a purchase. Applying similar branding guidelines & upto date design, content, uniform colors, and elements to a website can play a vital role in building trust & attracting new customers towards your brand.
Responsive Websites: Mobile friendly websites are making a great impact as more mobile users are accessing information through a mobile phone. A startup having a mobile friendly website will be critical to business success in the coming decade.
Out of 3.81 billion social media users, 98.68% access websites/apps through a mobile device, whereas only 1.32% access platforms via desktop
62% of companies that designed their website for mobile platforms witnessed an increase in their sales
Search engines like mobile friendly and highly optimized websites, with content and design in sequence. Such optimized websites can easily rank on google which ultimately helps you in getting more organic traffic and an audience searching for a similar product, idea or service.
A website has to have:
Logo and branding elements: A startup making a website must follow their brand guidelines, i.e. text, font, size, spacing, colors, logo.
Relevancy: Content uploaded to the website must represent your startup and brand in a more effective way. You will have 5-10 seconds to make an impression or they may leave your website if they don’t find information or products they are looking for. Startups usually hire content writers to attract and retain website visitors through appealing content.
47% of website visitors check out company’s products and services page first before looking at any other sections of the site
Personality A website must have a personality that can be seen through colors, arrangement of content, images and overall look and feel. A design agency may have a bit creative and colorful personality whereas a finance company may use more black and darkish blue colors to convey a serious tone
Updated design: A brand or startup should follow modern design elements, animations and responsive elements to stay competitive and retain users whenever they visit a website.
Once your page loads, users form an opinion in .05 seconds
Modern User interface: A user interface (UI) is the visual elements of a website which is everything a user sees on your website. It involves arrangement of header, slider, content, colors, videos, posts, buttons, products, add to cart (ATC), checkout page (CI)
73% of companies are investing in design to differentiate their brands
Innovative User experience: A user experience (UX) is the invisible element that a user doesn’t see but they can experience or feel whenever they scroll and move around on your website. It is basically an arrangement of everything in a website (elements, CTAs, content, blocks, banners, images, videos) so a visitor is not lost when he switches to a different page or buys a product. UX has to be designed in a more simpler way so users are not confused or face issues while moving from one to another or purchasing a product.
Upto date & Precise content: All information must be updated and relevant whether it’s a blog, business or brand. It helps users gain trust, and know more about your brand or product which may help them in making a purchase.
Engaging Content: Engaging content is important to grab visitors attention when they visit a brand website. A user may have dozens of other things to do on the internet and he may have come just to get some information about your product or brand, so a website or product page can be made attractive through User reviews, unboxing videos, Usage videos, and beautiful images with gifs may add more taste to everything.
Craft with a business background in mind: A website must appeal to the target audience accordingly. A fintech/property startup may have a more professional website with content places in sequence whereas kids dress eCommerce stores may have lots of funky patterns, colors, balloons and toys in different sections to appeal to their target audience.
Contact Form: A brand website should make contact details and forms easier to access and more visible for users. In many businesses like hosting or in our case, a creative agency that deals in product development and design departments, users don’t make a purchase, book a service or appointment directly. They may have questions related to timing, scope, structure, features and prices. So a startup should make their contact details visible and make it accessible for all users.
Visible Call to Action Buttons: Make visible & clear call to action (CTA’s) buttons on different sections so users can switch to different pages easily.
The content is unattractive in its layout or imagery—35% switch devices; 38% stop engaging
Website Speed: Last but not the least, website speed matters a lot with traffic and users increasing every day. Ecommerce brands are relying more on website speed & page load speed when it comes to conversion rate. According to Amazon, if a website is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second delay could potentially cost them around $2.5 million in sales every year. Users usually don’t go to a website if it is broken or loads slow.
P.S. This issue is seriously taken here at Pixtrum. The websites we have worked on loads in less than 2 seconds (Guaranteed)
47% of people expects a web page to load within 2 seconds or less
39% of people will stop engaging with websites if images won’t load or take too long to load
79% of web shoppers who have trouble with a website performance say they won’t return to the specific site againKissMetrics
According to Amazon, if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year (Amazon)
Benefits of having a website:
Inform your target audience the way you want to. Add content, videos, reviews and everything you cannot post elsewhere such as on blogs, pinterest or facebook, twitter, instagram
Appear everywhere from search engines to social media sites and portray yourself as a more professional brand
Keep In touch: Having a website helps a business to keep in touch with your customers, clients, vendors and everyone involved in a business day to day routine
SEO (Search Engine Optimization): A blog section in your website can help your brand to attract more visitors and keep them updated about your brand or new offerings in a more personalized way. A blog receives 97% more links to their website than the one without blog posts. A separate blog page within a website can help a brand increase traffic and improve conversions organically through proper SEO and utilization of modern tactics.
Personalized Customer Support: By having your very own website, a business can offer customer support the way they want to. It is more important for early stage startups and brands who want to communicate and get feedback in a bit more centralized manner for the product development and marketing phase. New age people like to write/chat more compare to phone conversations, so it may be helpful for brands to deploy modern tools and plugins in their website such as facebook and whatsapp messenger for interaction with customers.
91% of people want to rather buy from an authentic brand and not from the one with a weak or confused brand.
Content Marketing & Brands
Content marketing is a strategic way of marketing in which a brand creates value through content by attracting, acquiring and engaging a target audience.
Content marketing is all about creating interesting, valuable & relevant content (images/videos/blogs) by pushing target audience to take a specific action (brand awareness or purchase)
Creating interactive videos, series, memes, infographics, interviews, blog articles, and images to increase engagement between a brand and audience has reshaped how marketers and brand experts strategize their growth and sales.
With 53% of businesses relying now on content marketing and including it as part of their brand strategy can show how effective this type of marketing can be.
TikTok is reviving and playing a vital role in helping brands create & interact with their target audience.
Videos, reviews, unboxings on Youtube has helped lots of brands to easily market and reach their target audience without spending much on expensive mediums such as digital ads & print/magazine ads.
Components of Content Marketing:
Content marketing includes almost every type of marketing but some of worth mentioning things that comes under content marketing are:
- Blog Posts
- Case studies
Using content marketing & synergizing it with brand guidelines to make consistency in marketing can help brands increase brand recognition to a greater extent.
Content Marketing creates 3x more leads than paid search advertising (Content Marketing Institute, 2017)
92% of marketers said that their company views content as a business asset (Content Marketing Institute)
64% of consumers decide whether to buy a product or a service after seeing a branded social video
54% of consumers would like to see more video content from brands they support (HubSpot)
In the 21st century, Trust and maintaining relationships with customers is critical to every startup’s success. Branding for startups plays a vital role in building such relationships through design, content and strategy. According to research, around 86% of customers buy a product or service based on its authenticity. The authenticity of a brand has to be built in order to convert and increase brand awareness and sales ultimately. This authenticity can be built through consistent branding, appealing communication and proper presentation of product or service based on the brand guideline.
Millions are trying to make a name in the market and thus having a strong brand strategy has become more important than before. Marketers are finding it easy to market a brand and differentiate from competitors through unique branding and brand strategy.
In branding for startups, making a unique brand strategy and Brand recognition is playing a vital role nowadays in sales especially for items placed against each other on shelves. Over 80% of people think colors help them recognize a brand and this again is showing how deep branding can help in brand recognition
Important Branding terms every brand & startup should know:
A brand can be a combination of intangible and tangible features of a brand to create value and impress the target audience. A brand is a perception that people have about a company or product. This perception can come from anywhere such as Word of mouth, logo, colors, advertisements, referrals. It is intangible but one of the most important factors for a brand or startup to focus on in any business.
Brand assets are the elements associated with your branding and brand such as Logo, icon, tagline, font.
It is the value a brand carries. The more positive associations & impact your brand can make, the higher its equity will be.
It is the image a company or brand makes in consumer minds to differentiate itself from the competitors.
A brand positioning will always consist of 3 things:
Target Audience: To whom the brand is for and who will use it (Parents, teenagers, girls, college boys etc)
Benefit: What people can expect from the company and how this brand can benefit the target audience (e.g. money, incentive, promotion, Saving time, boost energy etc)
Differentiator: It is a differentiating point of your brand i.e. why your target audience should choose or prefer your brand than others in the same industry (e.g. taste, technology, features, design, stuff etc)
An image created in the customer’s mind after using a product or utilizing your offering is brand experience.
There are 2 types of brand experiences: Controllable and uncontrollable brand experience
Controllable: This is a type of brand experience that can be controlled by a business e.g. experience on a website, through advertisements, through self physical store and shelving.
Uncontrollable: This is a type of brand experience that cannot be controlled by a brand e.g. Media, social media, independent reviews, blogs, video reviews.
It is the set of colors your brand or business will use wherever your business is represented. Nike uses black whereas google uses 4 colors to represent themselves.
It is a mark that represents your brand. It can be textual or iconic or a mixture of text & icon. Companies use different type of logos to attract and position themselves in customers mind
A person, or face of the company employed to represent the brand or business to the outer world. This person could be anyone i.e. employee, CEO, Influencer or a celebrity.
A brand extension is when a brand launches another product or service in a similar or another category but under the same brand. It happens when a brand tries to introduce new designs, technology, features or make a new product from it.
A specific value proposition offered by a brand to its audience is called a Brand Message. Brand message is widely used by brands and new businesses to inform potential and existing customers about their products. Brand message is a special sauce that helps a brand to differentiate and position creatively from other brands in the same category.
It is a strategy used by brands to inform customers, create value for their product and achieve objectives set by the company. The clearer the strategy, the more easier it will be for brands to increase brand equity
It is actually partnering with another brand that may greatly complement some features or elements your brand is famous for. The best example here can be If a snack making company partners with a Soft drink brand.
These are the elements used by a brand in marketing and communication. It may involve designs, templates, case studies, brochures etc
It is revising and changing either subtle or major elements in the branding. It is done usually to update a brand according to modern aesthetics or to fit it to the changing dynamics of users to communicate effectively. It may involve changing just colors, or icons, or even complete brand names.
The best example here can be how Microsoft changed its logo from just textual to more iconic. As a mark was needed desperately to represent the company on different platforms and spaces (apps)
It is a writing/content which represents the company, their logo and their offerings in 3-5 words.
The best example is Nike: Just Do it