It’s not easy being a startup founder. As you enter the industry, you are competing with businesses that have a greater reputation, more resources, and are already firmly established in the region. As a startup, it will be difficult to stand out without a strong brand identity. Whether you are just launching a startup or already are in the early stages of running your business, branding is an important component of your success. Making a strong start will help you keep up with the competition and leave your mark on the industry. This is your ultimate branding checklist for entrepreneurs of startups.
Our corporate branding checklist includes:
- The company name
- Brand voice
- Brand colors
Let’s dive into each one separately.
Let’s start from the very beginning if you still haven’t finalized the naming process of your startup yet. Believe it or not, your company name is a huge branding decision because it’s what audiences will know the business by. Here are a few considerations for naming your startup:
Think about the language — Will you name your business and all associated slogans and taglines be in English or a language that resonates with your local audience? Will you incorporate both? This is certainly something to consider when opening not only a business in regions where English isn’t the primary language but anywhere. You need to determine whether your target audience will be locals or beyond that.
Make it unique — You don’t want your startup to blend in with anything else out there which is why you need to steer clear of unmemorable business names. Brainstorm for as much as you need until the genius name comes to mind.
But not too unique — The opposite problem many run into is making the business name too abstract that people either don’t remember it, can’t pronounce it, or can’t resonate with it. If you really believe in the creative name you’ve thought of then go for it, but be aware of the possible drawbacks.
Be wary of limitations — If you want to include a location in your business name, keep in mind that it may limit you in the future if you want to branch out internationally or rebranding will be required.
Digi-Tip: Your company name stays with your business forever, so choose wisely. It may be necessary to rebrand other branding elements over time, but it is not advised to change the name.
The way you present your startup is directly related to your brand identity. You can tell a lot about that by your tone of voice – whether it’s professional or informal, and everything in between. Your brand voice expands to all aspects of your business from your website content to social media marketing strategy. Sometimes, the brand voice is dictated by the industry. For example, if you are opening a law or medicine-related startup, then a professional tone is more preferred. A beauty and lifestyle startup is preferred to have a friendly and informal brand voice to not appear cold and distant. In the current world, audiences are generally leaning towards more authentic, friendly, and transparent brands which are certainly something to keep in mind nonetheless. Aim for creating a dialogue with your consumers and not a monologue.
The logo is a crucial component on the branding checklist, but contrary to common belief, it isn’t the most important one. A lot of startups make the mistake of spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on a well-designed logo and don’t allocate enough attention or resources to other branding elements. That doesn’t mean that you should go for free logo templates and cheap options as those are accessible to thousands of other businesses as well, not helping you stand out in any way. Executing timeless and eye-catching branding for your startup is difficult to do on a budget, but opt to work with a graphic designer who will give you a few unique logo options and revisions based on your company vision and mission.
Arguably one of the most important decisions on the company branding checklist is the color palette. Certainly, there are more businesses than there are colors and even color combinations, but you need to pick out a primary color and a few accent tones that best tie in with the other elements of your brand and stick to it. The color palette you choose will have a lot to say about the mood and aesthetic of your brand. For example, if you want a calm or refreshing aesthetic then colors like mint green and white are optimal. Want something eye-catching? Go for a bright red or orange.
Fonts play a huge role in tying all of your branding efforts together. They will be used anywhere from your startup’s website to social media, email newsletters, banners, posters — essentially everywhere. You can’t use the first font type that comes to mind when designing those elements or else the brand identity won’t be cohesive. It’s best to initially decide on a couple of typefaces that work well together with a designer during the initial phases of creating your brand. Avoid the fancy and unintelligible fonts and look for clean, yet unique typography.
Visualize & Adapt
An excellent branding exercise for startups is creating a mood board. This helps you lay out all of the branding elements discussed above in one place to see if they all work cohesively with one another. You get to see the colors, font types, slogans, logos, and imagery in one place. It’s essentially a snapshot of your entire business. Keep what works and change what feels out of place until it all looks perfect together.
Create a Brand Book
At the very end, set it all in stone by piecing everything together to get a comprehensive brand book. This document contains all of the brand marketing guidelines, including the company logo on various backgrounds, colors, font types, and much more. Having this material available will allow any member of your team involved in brand-related tasks to maintain the consistency of your brand guidelines. It can be passed down from designer to designer or marketer to marketer like a unique handbook for your business.