The essential guide to crafting a brand strategy for startups

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Mole Middleton December 22nd, 2022
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The right brand strategy agency can help startups create an identity and reach their target audience. It is the foundation of a brand and can make or break its success. Crafting a brand strategy for startups requires careful planning and consideration of various elements, from brand positioning to marketing objectives.

This guide provides an overview of brand strategy for startups, from understanding the basics to developing an effective brand identity. It covers topics such as brand positioning, brand messaging, and brand identity. It also provides practical advice on developing brand strategies that will help startups stand out from the competition and effectively reach their target audience.

So, let’s get started and learn how to craft a brand strategy that works!

First off let's understand some core concepts of brand strategy for startups:

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What is a startup brand discovery?

Get under the hood. Discover who you are, why you exist and what makes you distinctive. Start by assessing your brand values, mission and vision. Ask yourself questions such as: What are our core strengths? Who is our ideal customer? What are our brand promises?

What is a startup brand audit?

Conduct a brand audit to evaluate your brand's existing standing. Take an in-depth look at brand metrics such as brand recognition, brand loyalty, brand interaction and brand awareness. Identify what works for your brand and what can be improved upon to create a more effective brand strategy.

What is a startup brand naming?

Brainstorm brand names that accurately reflect your brand identity and embody your brand's values and goals. Make sure they are memorable, unique, and easy to pronounce and recognise.

What is startup brand positioning?

Position your brand strategically in the marketplace. Analyse your competition and identify what sets your brand apart from them. Consider how you can use brand messaging and brand story to communicate the unique qualities of your brand to your target audience. Develop a brand positioning statement that clearly expresses your brand’s unique value proposition.

Brand discovery

What is startup brand architecture?

Organise your brand portfolio in a clear and structured way that allows for targeted communication. Consider brand hierarchies, brand categories, brand elements, and brand associations. Make sure that all brand components are cohesive and consistent so that your brand identity is easily recognisable by your target audience. By thinking about brand architecture early in the brand strategy process, you can ensure that your brand is communicated effectively across all mediums.

What is startup brand repositioning?

Revive how people envision your brand by refreshing its identity, values and brand promise. Repositioning can help boost brand recognition, increase customer loyalty and drive brand recognition. It can also create brand differentiation by making sure that your brand stands out from its competition. When repositioning, consider updating brand colours, logos and fonts. You can also retool brand messaging or brand story to better connect with your target audience.

What is startup rebranding?

If you’re looking to give your brand a makeover, rebranding is the way to go. Rebranding involves more than just updating brand visuals like logos and colour palettes. It’s about redefining your brand identity, revising brand messaging and story, and establishing brand loyalty with your target audience. Rebranding can help you stay relevant in a competitive market, and can also give your brand an edge by setting it apart from its competitors. Therefore, rebranding should be carefully considered and strategic in order to maximise brand visibility and recognition.

OK, now we're clear on what's involved in brand strategy, let's run through the brand strategy steps:

Identify the market

Step 1. Identify the market for your startup and define your target audience

Start by identifying the market for your brand. Ask yourself questions such as: Who is my target audience? What are their needs and wants? How can my brand meet those needs? Narrow down your target audience and create detailed customer personas that you can use to craft brand messaging and stories.

Questions to ask when defining your target audience:

  1. What are their ages and genders?
  2. What kind of interests or lifestyles do they have?
  3. Where do they live?
  4. What are their goals and values?
  5. What mediums do they use to access brand content?
  6. What are the brand-specific benefits they’re looking for?
  7. What kind of brand experiences do they expect?
  8. What are their brand preferences?
  9. What kind of brand relationships do they want to build?
  10. How can my brand best serve them?
Solidify your purpose and values

Step 2. Solidify your brand's purpose and values

It's important to have a clear idea of why your brand exists and what it stands for.

Establish brand values that will guide brand decisions and brand messaging. This will help ensure that your brand identity is consistent, authentic, and recognisable.

Questions to ask when creating your brand's purpose and values:

  1. What is the brand’s purpose?
  2. What values does it stand for?
  3. How will it differentiate from competitors?
  4. How will you communicate brand values?
  5. What stories and messages best encapsulate the purpose and values?
  6. How will brand identity evolve over time?
  7. How will you ensure brand consistency?
  8. What brand values will govern brand decisions?
  9. What brand persona do you want to communicate?
Create your brand promise

Step 3. Create your brand's 'promise'

Decide what your brand's promise is and how it can help solve customer needs. This brand promise should reflect your brand values and embody the unique qualities of your brand. Make sure that this promise is communicated clearly in brand messaging and brand story.

Questions you should ask when creating your brand promise:

  1. What does my brand offer that no other brand does?
  2. Does my brand promise match my brand identity?
  3. How does my brand make people's lives better?
  4. What do I want people to think of when they hear my brand name?
  5. How can I make my brand promise memorable?
  6. Is my brand message easily understood by my target audience?
  7. How can I make sure that customers remember my brand promise?
  8. How can I make sure that my brand promise is communicated across all brand touchpoints?
  9. What brand promise will our customers latch onto?
  10. How can this brand promise be communicated effectively?
Define your vision and mission

Step 4. Define your vision and mission

Define your brand's long-term vision and mission. This will provide direction for brand decisions and brand messaging, and also help you stay focused on your brand objectives. It should be woven into the essence of all your branding and messaging.

Questions you should ask when defining your vision and mission statements

  1. What is our mission statement?
  2. How will our brand make a difference?
  3. What are our brand's goals?
  4. How do we want to be perceived by customers?
  5. What is our brand's long-term vision?
  6. How can we stay focused and on track to achieve that vision?
  7. What is our brand’s long-term vision?
Audit your Competitors

Step 5. Audit your competitors

Understand your brand's competitive environment by analysing competitors' brand identities, brand messaging and brand stories. Use this insight to create brand differentiation and craft brand messaging that sets your brand apart from its competitors.

Questions you should ask when auditing your competitors

  1. Who are our brand's main competitors?
  2. What is the brand identity of each competitor?
  3. What are their brand messages and stories?
  4. How do they differentiate from each other?
  5. What brand elements do they use to stand out?
  6. How do they communicate with their target audience?
  7. What brand loyalty initiatives do they have in place?
  8. What brand strengths and weaknesses do they have?
  9. What brand strategies can we learn from them?
  10. What unique brand opportunities exist in the market?
Differentiate Yourself

Step 6. Differentiate yourself

Once you have gained an understanding of your brand's competitive landscape, figure out how you can differentiate and set yourself apart. Identify what makes your brand unique and emphasise those qualities in your brand messaging.

Questions you should ask when trying to differentiate your start-up brand:

  1. What brand message will my customers latch onto?
  2. What brand identity should I use to stand out from the competition?
  3. How can I create brand differentiation in my messaging and visuals?
  4. How can I ensure brand differentiation yet remain consistent?
  5. What brand experiences can I create to engage my target audience?
  6. Create brand messaging that resonates with your customers and sets you apart from the competition
  7. Utilise brand storytelling to build brand recognition and position yourself as an expert in your industry
  8. Develop brand visuals that are memorable and instantly recognisable
  9. Develop brand partnerships with key industry players
Choose a brand name

Step 7. Choose a brand name (with caution!)

Your brand name is one of the most important brand aspects. Before you choose a brand name, make sure that it accurately reflects your brand's identity and brand values. It should also be easy to remember and simple to pronounce. Be sure to check if the brand name is already in use, or if it's trademarked.

Questions you should ask when choosing a start-up brands name:

  1. Is the brand name easy to pronounce?
  2. Does the brand name sound unique?
  3. Does it reflect brand values and identity?
  4. Is the brand name catchy and memorable?
  5. Is the brand name brandable?
  6. Is the brand name available in your country?
  7. Does the brand name have any legal implications?
  8. Does it have a positive brand connotation?
  9. Is the brand name flexible enough to evolve with the brand?
  10. Is the brand name consistent across channels and platforms?

Is the name available as a domain, and social profiles? Check here:

Develop your brand tone of voice

Step 8. Develop your brand tone of voice

Your brand tone of voice should be consistent across brand messaging and branding elements. It needs to reflect the personality of your brand and convey brand values in an authentic and memorable way.

Questions you should ask when developing your start of brand's tone of voice:

  1. What brand values should be reflected in the brand's tone of voice?
  2. What brand personality do we want to convey?
  3. How do we want our brand to be perceived?
  4. What brand language should we use?
  5. What brand expressions should be used?
  6. What brand metaphors are appropriate?
  7. How can we make brand messages relatable and engaging?
  8. How can brand messaging be consistent across all channels?
  9. What brand personality should our brand have?
  10. How do we ensure brand messaging is consistent and authentic?
Develop Brand Messaging

Step 9. Develop brand messaging

Craft brand messaging that is consistent and aligns with your brand's purpose, values, mission, and promise. This should include a brand story, brand slogans, brand taglines, brand visuals and brand positioning.

Questions you should ask when developing brand messaging are:

  1. What brand slogans and taglines would be effective?
  2. What brand personality and brand values should we communicate?
  3. What brand story should we tell?
  4. How can brand visuals can support the brand messaging?
  5. What brand positioning should we use?
  6. How can brand messages be tailored to different channels and/or audiences?
  7. How can brand messaging be adapted over time to stay relevant?
  8. What brand touchpoints need to be considered when crafting brand messaging?
  9. How can brand messaging be integrated into different brand elements?

Need help with your brand strategy?

Get in touch to chat about your branding & identity requirements.

In conclusion

All the steps are integral in creating the foundational essence of the start of brands. You need clarity on all these, to properly inform the visual identity of your brand. Visual identity includes the creation of a logo, website design, brand colour palette, typography and other brand visuals.

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Mole has been working in the design industry for over 13 years, and in that time gained a wealth of experience creating powerful brands