How to Do Startup Branding for Gaining Competitive Edge
Branding is an essential part of your identity. Think of your brand as your startup's face for the world to see.
Whether people see your startup as energetic and approachable or professional and trustworthy would depend entirely on how you choose to brand yourself.
Branding plays a crucial role in identifying if a customer would be willing to conduct business with you.
If you're a startup, it's highly likely that you little or no idea on how to brand your business. But fear not. Brands are everywhere around you.
If they have made a memorable impression on you, your brand has the potential to be significant for your audience.
Following are seven ways how your startup can brand itself to gain a competitive edge over your competitors:
1 – Know your target audience.
Before starting any business, you'll need to know what you're selling and to whom you are selling.
So many startups fail because they don't know who their audience.
These businesses tried to sell to everyone and ended up selling their product to no one and eventually went out of business.
The best way to find out whether your target audience would like your product or not is to conduct a survey.
With the help of your inquiry, you'd be able to decide if your offering is viable not.
Another way to get into the minds of your audience is to conduct focus groups.
Focus groups allow you to interact with a tiny sample of your target audience.
Their live feedback will give you a far more precise understanding of their needs and what kind of brand image they would accept whole-heartedly.
2 – Build multiple buyer personas
Before we start building a buyer persona, we'll need to what a buyer persona is.
A buyer's persona is a fictional representation of one of your customers.
For a buyer persona to help understand your customer, you'll need to be extremely specific when you start building one.
Why are buyer's personas necessary? It's because they identify your customers. Knowing whom you're selling to is half the job done.
Let’s say that you run a car dealership. Most people in their late fifties and early sixties buy cars from you.
Some teens in your area tend to buy their first cars from you, as well. Let's start with these two customers.
An excellent name for the elderly customer's persona would be “Elder Larry.” Think about “Elder Larry” for a while.
Ask yourself questions. Where does he live? Where does he work? Some essential items would be; What car did he drive before he came to you? What's his average salary? Ask yourself and answer any question that you possibly can.
Let’s bring our buyer’s persona to life.
“Elder Larry” is going to retire soon. He wants a car that is easy to maintain and gets the job done. He doesn't have the stamina or energy to deal with car woes. His body doesn't have the athleticism of his teenage days. He doesn't even want his car to be too fancy.
Since he's going to retire soon, he wants to spend as much time as he can at his office or place of work.
He's only free on Saturdays and Sundays. “Elder Larry” has some savings, but he wants to save them for a rainy day.
From all this information we can make a few educated guesses about what “Elder Larry” wants.
One way to get “Elder Larry” out of the house and to your car dealership would be to advertise a car sale on the weekends.
The cars at the dealership should be reliable and would have a reasonable price tag (maybe even a discount if you can afford it).
After seeing this car sale in his area, tailored explicitly for an “Elder Larry,” there would be no way that he'd miss out on it.
“Elder Larry” would sincerely appreciate your sale, maybe he'll even tell his friends about your car dealership and how wonderful it is for people like him.
You have acquired a satisfied customer who has a very positive image of your brand.
Now try thinking about a buyer's persona for the teen customer.
Using as much information as you can result in an accurate buyer's persona that'll give you a new perspective on how to appeal to your audience.
Hubspot offers a free tool that’ll help you in making a buyer’s persona even if you haven't made one before. You can find it here: https://www.hubspot.com/make-my-persona
3 – Choose an angle that works for you.
If you don't appeal to your target audience on your first try, it's all right. Maybe you need to approach the task at hand from a different angle.
Let's say that your startup walks dogs for people who don't have the time to walk their dogs.
If you approach them and say that you have different price ranges that make you super affordable, you won't necessarily appeal to them much.
Their topmost priority is to save time. Money isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
Try starting with how you'll be able to walk their dogs and save two hours of their day.
Similarly, if you have live chat app then talk about benefits over traditional support providing option.
They'll be much more open to hearing more about your startup, and you'll have a customer.
Here are some ways on how you can find different angles to appeal to your customers:
- Find out what your target audience wants to hear. If you tell them what they want to hear, you'll have a much better chance of winning their hearts and souls.
- Dealing with your competition. No one wants to hear a sales pitch that they've listened to countless times before. Find something different that'll appeal to your audience.
4 – Keep an eye on the competition.
It would help if you didn't shy away from the competition. Embrace the game and strive harder to produce better results than your competition.
Try to learn as much as you can from your competitors and about your competitors.
Understand how your opponents position themselves in front of your mutual target audience.
How do they market themselves? Observes and note every minute detail about them.
If they have been in business before you, they must have made some mistakes. Try not to make those mistakes.
If your competition is about to launch a new product, find out what they're selling, what they're selling, and what's unique about it.
Gather as much intel as you can. That way, you'll have time to plan and counter them.
5 – Identify and market your USP (Unique Selling Point).
Every business has a unique selling point.
A unique selling point differentiates you from your competitor.
Maybe your leather goods company only uses leather that is sourced responsibly from local tanneries in your area.
Your USP should focus on an area that none of your competitors is working on.
Your USP won't appeal to everyone, but it should appeal to your target audience.
If your USP resonates with your intended audience at some deep level, your chances for a conversion (your goals like making a sale) will increase significantly.
Follow these steps to identify your USP:
- What does your audience want? It can be anything. Ranging from a better product to better user experience or maybe a product that doesn't exist yet. Find out what they want.
- Are your competitors giving your audience what they want? You've found out that your audience wants a cookie that doesn't have gluten is dairy-free and doesn't have any chocolate. If something like that is already available in the market, find something else.
- Can you fulfil your audience's needs? You've identified a need that none of your competitors can satisfy. Try to focus on this need and achieve it. You've got yourself a USP now.
- Stay relevant. If your audience starts to care less about your USP, you have two choices. Either show them why your USP is still pertinent or start finding a new USP.
People love stories. Your audience will love them too. Let them know why you are who you are.
Share your journey with them or, better yet, invite them to join you on your journey.
Take inspiration from those around you, but be yourself. No one likes a copycat, especially if you’re in the business world. You can get sued for it.
Try to avoid it at all costs. You want your brand to put a smile on people’s faces (unless you want to scare them). Make them smile with your story.
Your story might seem ordinary to you, but to your audience, it may be something they've never heard before.
Your account might not be the case most of the time, but it won't do you any harm if you share your story with your audience.
Your audience might resonate with you so much that it just might give you a competitive edge over your opponents.
Social media has become a necessity in our digital lives. People want to know what your business is doing. Your audience wants to interact with you at a time of their convenience.
If they're going to inquire about a product that you're offering, they want to find you available on their most used social media platforms.
It's fast and convenient for them. If they don't see you online, they won't have their queries answered, which will leave a negative impression of your brand on them.
Not having a social media presence negatively impacts your brand.
Start small then try to post meaningful and engaging content that your audience will appreciate.
To stay competitive online, your business will need to embrace social media and never let it go.
If your business posts once or twice a month, your audience will start to forget about you.
If this trend continues, your business will become a has-been in no time. You don't want your business to become a has-been.
It's nearly impossible to recover from a position like that, some companies have managed to make a comeback but don't count on it.
Try to avoid the avoidable. Focus on maintaining a substantial social media presence.
Your audience will thank you for it and even remember you because of it. Maybe you'll attract a new audience because of your social media efforts.
In the end, branding does play a crucial role in your startup's overall image.
Without proper branding, your startup won't be able to have the impact that you desire. With these tips in mind, start branding your business.
Competition is fierce, and if you want a competitive edge, you'll need to pay due attention to your brand. Happy Branding!
Author Bio: Hamzah Adil is a content marketer and blogger at Swift Chat. He has been associated with different brands in the past. His experience is mostly in writing for business blogs as he loves addressing small business problems. He mostly works for small businesses as they offer more flexibility and independence in work. In his free time, he loves playing with his pets.