Thanks to big data provided by many of the largest companies in the world, it is a known fact that people buy brands – not products. Who you are means more to your customers than the product you sell. Because of this, it is absolutely vital for startups to focus their efforts on brand building from day one.
If you think about some of the biggest brands in the world today – Starbucks, Apple, and even Google – you might find yourself wondering why people are drawn to these products. For the most part, it is the power of the brand that drives people to buy or use products and services offered by these companies. They are reputable, they have a name solidified by quality, and they are highly visible. Each one of these brands has millions upon millions of loyal ambassadors spreading the word. Your goal should be to achieve the same status as quickly as possible.
All too often, startup owners confuse brand building for marketing. This means they are likely to skip it, thinking it is not a cost-effective tool for such a small business. This is a terrible mistake. Marketing is the act of telling your audience what you have to offer. Branding, on the other hand, is the act of helping your audience understand what you have to offer, even before they have had the opportunity to experience your company’s products or services.
To put this into perspective, consider meeting someone for the very first time. You might tell this person, “I am an excellent lawyer.” This may even be the truth; you could be the best lawyer in the world. However, had you employed the right branding techniques, this individual may have said to you, “I hear you are the best lawyer in the world.” This person knows who you are and what you do before you say anything – and that is exactly why branding is different from marketing. Marketing is a tactic, but branding is a strategy.
A brand is more than just a logo. It is a word or phrase that describes how consumers in general feel about you. Even more accurately, it describes what people say about you, even when you are not around. A brand elicits emotion from consumers. Branding occurs when someone hears your company’s name mentioned, and immediately associates your company name with a positive or negative emotion. Startups need to focus on their brand building efforts from the start so they can work on building positive emotions within their target audience.
As the owner of a startup, one of your primary goals should be identifying the very foundation of your brand. Who are you? Why should people buy from you instead of your competitors? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can build a successful brand from the ground up and gain millions of your own brand ambassadors along the way.