May 21, 2013

Branding 101 for Start-Ups

Branding 101 for Start-Ups

All you solo entrepreneurs out there: how much thought have you given to branding? None, you say? Well, put down those big ideas, business plans, tax forms, annual gross receipt estimates and census bureau demographic estimation documents and START READING THIS RIGHT NOW. I’ve created four successful startups based on this philosophy.

You have no idea how important your brand is to the future of your company; if your core competencies, business philosophy, world view and whimsy can’t be encapsulated in a single, eye pleasing badge and clever marketing copy, you might as well kiss your life’s dream goodbye.

Well, perhaps we exaggerate slightly (but only slightly). Nevertheless, attention must be paid to your image. How your business (and, by extension, you) will be perceived by the public could make all the difference in terms of either achieving wild, runaway success or living in a lean-to near an overpass and burning your business cards for precious warmth.

Create Your Individual Badge

Every great brand has an instantly identifiable symbol. Once you’ve thought of your own crisp, clean identifier, you’ll be on your way. Try not to fret too much about creating the ultimate logo at this early stage; there’ll be plenty of time to adjust later as your brand grows and evolves.

For the time being, think about what you want to convey to your customer base and how you can finesse your own personal details in order to create a unique particular crest. There has to be something about you that is atypical. You possess a feature that individuates you from your competition. You have an easily recognizable specialness that instantly conjures feelings of warmth and trust within the hearts of all that behold you… don’t you? Oh. Well… use a picture of a dog, then.

Embrace Social Media…

…before it becomes thoroughly obsolete and everyone has become obsessed with social holograms.

Whether we understand it or not, Facebook and Twitter campaigns are necessary. It seems like a shocking waste of time, but people actually visit corporate Facebook pages, become “fans,” and post comments on their boards. Seriously.

It might not be particularly innovative to use social media for marketing purposes in this day and age, but it’s nonetheless expected, and your campaign must fit nicely within its parameters. Make yourself tweetable. Think of catchy posts and constantly update your company Facebook page. Encourage others to “like” you. Beg people to “retweet” and “share.” Regress completely to junior high school level, hit puberty a second time and accuse your mother of trying to run your life in a high, nasal whine.

Don’t Mix and Match Your Badges

Keep your badge consistent. If you started off with a temporary logo just to make your letterhead and webpage look semi-professional, make sure you make all of the necessary modifications after you’ve settled on your new image. Leaving remnants of your old, less sophisticated look will only confuse your public and leave you open to vicious yet hilarious mockery.

Make it Fun!

…unless your dream is to open a chain of funeral parlors, in which case, make it extremely grave (tee-hee).

Of course, the fun factor is only applicable if your services call for a lighthearted attitude, and if you are personally capable of lightheartedness. If not a single molecule of humor lurks within you, please don’t try to fake it; there’s nothing creepier than a grim, unfunny person attempting levity in a desperate manner.

So, what have we learned today? We’ve learned that branding is an important part of any entrepreneurial endeavor, no matter how small or solo. We’ve learned that using dogs for marketing purposes may be a cheap ploy, but it’s damned effective. We’ve learned that people have stopped using social media for social purposes and are now using it to troll company Facebook pages and demand deep customer discounts in misspelled wall posts. Most importantly, we’ve learned that self-awareness is critically important, and if you’re not funny, don’t even try. Look at us; can’t you just smell our desperation?


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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