Your brand is an essential part of your startup identity—the face and the personality of your businesses that you want the others to see and recognize you by. It’s also a surefire way to make your startup stand out from all the others and become the preferred choice of your target audience.

Here are the five most important steps you need to take in order to brand your startup to gain a competitive advantage.

Know Your Target Audience
The key to creating a product or a service that will be appealing to a certain audience or market lies in knowing who exactly you are creating it for and who will benefit from the product or service. If you try to sell to everyone out there, you’ll end up selling to no one, thereby limiting your chances for success in the early days of running your business. The same stands for your startup branding – instead of making it your goal for your brand to become noticeable to every random person, make sure to be easily recognized, remembered and liked by your target audience, that is the one you’ve precisely defined.

Research your target audience to get a better understanding of who they are and what kind of brand they would be loyal to wholeheartedly. Make sure you use every chance you have to converse with your prospects so that you can get their genuine impressions and feedback. Also, be aware that your target audience is not coherent in the sense that all your potential customers have the same needs and interests. Any audience consists of subgroups that differ by some relevant traits such as their age, location, education or income level.

If you want to communicate your branded messages better and tailor them to the needs of your customers, consider creating buyer personas, to represent each one of your customer groups. This will be important when crafting a brand message that will appeal to each of the groups.

Understand the Value Your Bring
Apart from knowing your target audience, and creating semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, you need to be aware of your unique value proposition (UVP) before crafting your branding campaign. A UVP is a clear statement of the benefits you offer, how you solve your customers’ pain points and address their needs. It’s basically what differentiates you from your competitors. Some examples of the differentiators that play a crucial role in the success of your branding efforts are:

  • The superiority of your product
  • A unique business model
  • A technological advantage
  • A sales method; and
  • Having superb talent or prime location, etc.

You can combine the differentiators to establish an even better position on the market and for even better results, as long as the differentiators are important to your clients and provable.

Supercharge Your Marketing Efforts
Starting from your brand identity – your logo, name, colors, fonts and all other visual elements you use to make your startup stand out from the crowd to the tone of your brands’ voice and your brands’ personality – it all comes down to producing top-notch content designed and tailored to fit the needs and desires of your target groups.

As most people use the internet and social media nowadays, going digital with your startup is a must. For starters, you’ll need a regularly updated and search engine-optimized website, blog, and accounts on social media channels that are relevant to your industry and preferred by your prospects and customers. However, don’t rely on digital campaigns only, as there are other marketing channels your potential audience can find even more credible. For example, stats show that 82% of consumers trust ads in magazines and newspapers the most when they’re deciding on a purchase.

Whether you’re using social media, a flyer or a branded banner to deliver the message to your audience, make sure your branding efforts are consistent across all the channels that you use. A brand style guide, covering all important topics such as your core brand identity (vision, mission, and values), verbal guidelines (tagline, value proposition, voice, tone) and visual guidelines (logos, fonts, typography, colors) can help you obtain such consistency. The point is to make your startup as memorable as possible.

Delight Your Customers
One of the top reasons why customers become loyal to the brand is the excellent customer service they can always count on. Make your customer service one of your key differentiators and wow your customers by ensuring each touchpoint between your startup and them is worthwhile and unforgettable. This means you have to respond to all your prospects’ requests in a timely manner, provide them with adequate support and exceed their expectations by going the extra mile.

Keep Track of Your Competitors
Consumers always compare your brand to your key competitors. In order to beat them, you have to learn both from their mistakes and their wins. Fortunately, you can use various social listening tools to keep track of all the mentions of your brand online, as well as the mentions of your competitors. Also, pay attention to all their marketing efforts online – visit their websites, read reviews about them, watch their paid ads, and consume the content they publish. Use all data you gather this way to get a clear insight into their best practices and use them to move your brand forward.

It will take some time to establish a brand for your startup, but if you integrate these steps into your branding strategy, you’ll gain a competitive advantage and see your business flourish.

Michael Deane has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.