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Branding: a guide to brand design for startups. By Fiona Sands, Designtastic

For a startup, branding is one of the most crucial aspects in constructing a cohesive identity. That’s why, here at Designtastic, we help businesses tell their story through branding, in Aberdeen and beyond.

Your brand is what communicates your company’s offerings, values, and personality. Without solid branding, you’re going to have a far harder time attracting new customers, and a near impossible time making them stick. It’s crucial to invest significant time and effort into developing a brand that actually tells your story, and will resonate with your target audience.

But, just like with every other aspect of starting a business, it can be hard to know where to begin. In today’s blog, we’ll be breaking down all you need to know about brand design for startups, including the importance of aspirational branding, branding as a valuable asset, and the key components of branding.

Why is aspirational branding so important for startups?

When you’re in the process of developing your brand identity, bear in mind that your branding should not only be a reflection of your company as it is right now, but also what the company is aspiring to be. Branding is a long term investment. Think beyond your current offerings and short term goals, and try to design a visual identity that has room to evolve and grow alongside your company. You’ll be creating a foundation for future growth, and when that future comes, you’ll be very glad you did.

Branding: your most valuable investment

When most people hear the word ‘branding’, they think of logos, slogans, and colour schemes. But while those are some of the key components, it’s important to remember that branding can also be one of the most valuable assets on your company’s balance sheet. That’s only true, though, if you’re developing and managing your branding in the right way.

It’s one of the most crucial long term investments for a startup, because, when done right, branding as an asset will appreciate over time. Customers are usually willing to pay more for a product or service if it’s tied to a brand they have a connection and a history with. As early as possible, you should be investing in the development of a recognisable, consistent brand. That’s what’s going to separate your business from competitors, boost customer loyalty, and increase revenue growth.

Branding: the elements of a strong brand identity

For years, we’ve offered assistance with branding in Aberdeen & beyond. With that experience in mind, the following are what we would deem the key components of a strong brand identity…

Logo: Should you be putting some serious thought into your logo? Sure. But it’s important to keep in mind that it exists more to identify your brand than to explain or sell it. Even a subpar logo can be a strong foundation for stellar branding. Just bear in mind that, much like a signature can’t convey everything you need to know about an individual, a logo can’t possibly convey everything about your brand.

Colour scheme: A well-chosen colour scheme can make you stand out from your competitors, even in the most crowded market. The ultimate goal, naturally, would be for your customers to associate certain colour combinations with your specific brand.

Typography: This is just another component of a memorable visual identity. Your typography should fit with the tone of your brand, and convey its personality.

Imagery: This is one of the most surefire ways to evoke emotions in your target audience, and create a lasting connection.

Messaging: The final, and one of the most crucial aspects of startup branding, is your messaging. This will shape how your brand is perceived by potential customers, and may be the difference between a conversion and a missed opportunity.

Branding terms you should know

There are a range of branding terms you should familiarise yourself with. You’ll need to be caught up on the jargon when it comes to explaining certain choices to stakeholders.

At first glance, some of these terms might seem interchangeable; ‘brand loyalty’ and ‘brand equity’, for example. But knowing the difference is crucial.

Brand awareness
Brand awareness is your audience’s familiarity with your brand and, in turn, the products and services that you offer. If a consumer is familiar with your brand, they’re typically more likely to buy from it than a brand they’ve never heard of. For some large companies, the ones that are effectively household names, brand awareness can be all that’s needed to make a sale.

Brand loyalty
If a customer has a positive experience with your product or service, there’s a good chance they’ll buy from you again. If they continue to have positive experiences, they could become a lifelong customer. Over time, that revenue stacks up. Attracting new customers is one thing, but keeping those customers is just as vital.

Brand equity
Brand loyalty and brand equity may be directly related, but they’re not interchangeable. Brand loyalty revolves around the buying behaviour of your customers, but brand equity is the perceived strength of your brand overall that’s driven by positive or negative customer experience. The best way to differentiate them is to remember that brand loyalty can lead to brand equity, but even if it does, it’s still just one facet of brand equity. The strength of your brand can be affected by numerous factors, some of which are only tangentially related to the buying habits of your customers.

Brand relevance
Brand relevance is the extent to which your products or services meet a customer’s wants and needs. If you want your brand to be relevant to consumers, you need to understand your target audience. And remember: the wants and needs of your audience may not stay the same forever. Staying relevant in today’s day and age means keeping your finger on the pulse.

Brand strategy
Your brand strategy is the framework for how your brand presents itself to consumers. It will include specific short term and long term goals; not just what you’re doing with the brand, but also why you’re doing it. A sound brand strategy is crucial to generating consistent conversions, and dominating your market.

Brand positioning
Brand positioning is the process in which you position your brand in the minds of your target audience. It’s the strategy that sets your brand apart from your competitors. You want consumers to carve out a space in their minds for your brand, but they won’t offer up that space if they don’t deem your brand valuable, and favourable.

The importance of visual storytelling

One of the most important concepts in branding is that of visual storytelling. The incorporation of visual elements will help to bring the story of your brand to life. Whether it’s images, videos, infographics, or dynamic backgrounds on your website, visual elements are one of the fastest ways your branding can have a genuine impact. The written word may be key to branding, but it’s the visuals that are more likely to stick in the heads of your consumers.

Conclusion: a guide to brand design for startups

Creating a strong brand identity is crucial for the success of any startup. By prioritising aspirational branding from the start, you can assemble a memorable identity that resonates with your target audience, encourages customer loyalty, and in turn drives brand equity.

Your brand is your most valuable investment. By understanding the key concepts and components that go into brand design, you can create an identity with genuine staying power.

Need a hand with your branding and design? We’re a creative company with an extensive range of services for marketing your business. Arrange a 1 to 1 consultation to find out how we can tell your brand’s story in ways that connect with your audience.