Building a business from the ground-up is hard. Finding clients, networking, creating a website, social media pages, the list goes on. In short, a start-up enterprise has a lot on its plate. And one thing that’s often overlooked in the initial phases of building a business is, surprisingly, the branding.

Sometimes it’s due to time restraints, sometimes budget restrictions. Whatever the case, new businesses occasionally forget to cultivate their brand at the early stages of development. The problem here is that, without a solid brand, the foundation of a company’s image is unstable.

The brand is what clients and competitors see. It’s the first impression. And for a new business (without a long history or loyal customer-base) branding is especially important. It’s part of what makes people see a new brand as trustworthy and legitimate.

And with it being such an integral part of the business-building process, we thought we’d share 4 branding tips for start-up businesses looking at how to create a stellar brand image.

1 – Ask the audience

Simple, effective, and almost too obvious to mention. Simply talking to your target demographic can be priceless. It’s ground level market research. By asking your prospective customers what they like, and what they want to see in a brand, you can begin to form an idea of what will work for your start-up.

Maybe test out some preliminary logos and brand identities, then ask for feedback. Conversing with your audience can be such an excellent (and cheap) way to iron out any aesthetic creases in the early stages. And ultimately, with your audience’s input, you’ll be able to create a brand that’s truly crowd-pleasing.

Also, by engaging them in this way, your customers will come to see your brand as personable and intimate, which may increase their trust in it.

2 – Scope out the competition

Another excellent way to solidify your brand identity is to see what the competition is up to. Of course, you’re not out to copy anyone. But it can be very beneficial to see how other brands in the industry are looking.

What you’ll probably find is a handful of design trends that crop up over and over again. It might be certain colours or shapes, or a particular kind of font. Gathering this information means you can then decide which popular brand characteristics (if any) you’d like to adopt, and which you’d like to drop. Essentially it gives you the perspective to choose whether to blend in with the competition or stand out from them.

Pairing competitor research with customer feedback can really help give you an idea of how your brand should look and feel.

3 – Get outside opinions

A common hurdle for many start-up businesses is budget. And a tried-and-true method for saving money is doing things yourself. But the problem with DIY design is that sometimes it can be too personal. For example, you might choose to shade your logo blue because that’s your favourite colour, even though in reality blue doesn’t actually suit your brand.

Seeking third-party opinions can be an excellent way for a start-up to avoid these pitfalls. Ideally you’ll want a professional’s help and, though it may cost, paying for a small amount of consulting time could save you money in the long run.

A professional designer can help you by providing objective, unsentimental, opinions about your brand design. They can show you what bits are working, and what bits aren’t.

4 – Think about the big picture

When it comes to start-up branding, it’s always important to think about longevity. Of course technology moves on and tastes change, and inevitably every business has to rebrand itself at some point. The challenge is to delay that process for as long as possible. Not through stubbornness, but through a genuine lack of necessity.

The way to achieve this, of course, is to try creating a brand that’s as close to timeless as possible.  Obviously “timelessness” is a lofty goal, even for multinational marketing agencies. But by keeping it in the back of your mind, you’ll stand a better chance of transcending temporary fads and trends, which may help extend your brand’s lifespan.

This, of course, will also save you money. It may require slightly more of an initial investment, but it will save you from constantly revisiting your brand and paying for touch-ups. Plus, not having to constantly tweak and change your brand will bring peace of mind, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.

Do it once, do it right

In the end, it’s all about doing what’s within your capacity. Sometimes the budget just doesn’t allow for too much specialist help. But for any new start-up it’s well worth investing whatever you can in creating your brand. And if you go to the right people, and get the job done properly, then it may be a long time before you ever have to look at rebranding.

And if you’d like to discuss start-up branding with us in more detail, why not send us an email, or get in touch for a free consultation.