When you start a new business venture or startup, it’s tempting to get caught up in the whirlwind of excited energy and great ideas. You’ve got a brilliant product or a service, and you just want to get it out there as fast as possible. All you need is a name and logo, and you can go, go, go…!
Take a breath. Remember, it’s not all about the product: you must first establish a brand that thoroughly tells the story and set expectations for your company to live up to. That’s where existential branding comes in. It is critical to define what you want existentially to start a new business off on the right foot. Here are a few tips:
- Start with your identity, not your name and logo.It’s impossible to start with your name and logo if you don’t know who you are and what you want. Think of it this way: What do you want your company to be when it “grows up?” Sure, your name and logo are an active part of branding yourself. But what’s on paper (the name itself) is different from what’s real (what customers know or expect about your brand). Establish your identity if you want people to recognize or respect your brand.
- Assemble a great team.It’s possible to know who you are and what you want, but not have any creative ideas about how to present your brand through your name, logo, and marketing. For this part of your identity, you need good teams in place. A good research team can help you determine what a possible name or logo could be, based on data such as available URLs or trendy colors. A good creative team can help you create a memorable name and logo that exudes your identity. A good marketing team will help you take your whole identity and present it to the people effectively.
- Know your value.Even if you don’t know who you are or what you want, you should at least know what you’re selling. Start by determining your company’s value. What products or services do you offer? What sets you apart from your competition? Maybe you’re known for making incredibly high-quality products, even if it takes time for each product to be finished. Then your value lies in your product quality. Or maybe your ability to respond quickly to customers, hear their needs, and act on them is your most valuable trait. In any case, know what it is you do better than anybody, and then do it better than anybody.
- Follow through.You’re only what you say you are if you actually follow through. Don’t just establish the brand expectation for your company to live up to – enforce it. From your staff to your message and the way you market yourself, to your customers, you need (and want!) a consistent, foundational story that confirms itself at every point. That way, your customer will know you to be what you say you are. Don’t rush this! Take your time to carefully define, create, and execute a culture around your product or brand. Do this effectively by building your promise, implementing it, and iterating and reiterating it based on customer feedback.
This process doesn’t happen just once before you launch your product. Your brand needs to be continuously revisited over time to keep your image fresh and up-to-date. But to brand yourself effectively from the beginning, make sure you establish a solid foundation first.