Today I want to talk about a very important issue most startups forget about or don’t prioritise initially. It is all about startup branding. It may appear as if all companies have a well-established brand image, but for first time entrepreneurs, you will not believe how many people overlook their branding and the visual messages they convey towards their users. To succeed, you have to get your startup branding right.
Before you Start Selling Your Product, You Have to Sell Your Brand Through Your Brand Image
You KNOW you have a great product, you KNOW it will change the world. Your friends, your family, your social circle believe in you. But that’s definitely not sufficient if you want to succeed in the startup world. The world hasn’t heard about you (just yet), and you need to not only attract them, but also keep them interested.
And your brand image isn’t only about your logo. For instance, you can check Starbucks brand image to see that branding goes much further than a logo. You have to think about your brand in its entirety. If you ask a group of entrepreneurs what the first thing people will see on their startup’s web page, most will come up with answers such as “the logo”, “the landing mat”, or “the slider”. Well, all answers are partially correct; but incomplete.
What most small business owners forget is that users, prospective customers, in fact all traffic that leads to your website will see you as a whole; people who look up your website will immediately notice whether you present yourself as an entity with a consistent brand image or not. Humans process information in a highly visual way, so regardless of it being conscious or subconscious, your clients or customers will have a positive image about you if you make the extra effort.
First Impressions Matter… A Lot
Regardless of what you do, no matter how big or small your business is, you have to leave a great impression. Imagine two car repair shops, one next to another. In fact, let’s pretend that they both get along well, but are business rivals. Now let’s assume that both do the same job, and repair the cars equally well. In fact, they have the same number of staff, and have the same capabilities and power tools. But the thing is, both have been around for about a year, and you haven’t been to their shops, until one day, you noticed that your trunk door wouldn’t close properly, and you want it to get fixed before going on a road trip for a friend’s wedding.
When approaching the two shops, you notice that the first shop’s sign is a bit wonky and the edge is falling off given that it wasn’t fixed properly due to a loose screw, the entrance is a bit messy and there is a garbage can lying around. It’s a bit dark and uninviting. The owner waves in a friendly way, and the staff all look nice. You look at the second shop, and they have a brightly lit, huge sign, with a well-organised entrance. The owner looks equally nice, and what’s more, he’s got uniforms that are exactly the same colour of the sign made for his entire staff, himself included. They even have matching hats with the logo on top.
Perhaps he invested a few hundred dollars more for the looks, but I would be going to the second one, because they look more professional and have taken a few steps more to attract customers. That’s what brand image is all about, and this is applicable to the Internet.
“But All This Branding Sounds Too Difficult… and Expensive!”
Initially, it might appear as “time consuming”, “too much work”, or “expensive”, but doing this is not difficult if you have the right mindset and tools to work with. In fact, not working on your brand image will cause damage to your business. Even the smallest investment (time or money) you put into your brand image will bring you great social and business reputation.
Here are some of the pretexts some small business owners, startups, entrepreneurs and brand new companies come up with when told that they need to tweak, or improve their brand image in order to look well established, well operated, carefully and meticulously created.
“I don’t have the digital skills to make my Twitter/Facebook/Website/Instagram header look perfect.”
“For the moment, I am unable to hire a graphic designer to improve the way my logo looks like.” “I already invested a lot of time and money to get everything done, I can’t change this, it is what it is. I have to work with what I have”
Let me tell you an amazing secret… It doesn’t have to be difficult, and it definitely won’t cost you a fortune. With a few simple fixes, you can easily create an all around good impression and present your best side to the outside world.
Here’s What You Should Be Doing To Achieve Perfect Startup Branding
Make sure you have the same font across the entire website
This is a no-brainer, but it is unbelievable how many people skip this step. You might be indecisive between two fonts; if that is the case – use one and only one for titles and one for texts. Don’t go around experimenting with 10 different fonts that look different within one page.
Use the same logo across all social media platforms
You might have a logo that is optimised for squares, and one for horizontal banners, in fact, many brands do that. But use one logo across all platforms; you are a brand new startup and are just gaining visibility. People don’t memorise details that well and can get confused. You must assume they will only recognise one of the two logos.
Make sure all your images fit your posts, banners, profile pictures and more. You don’t want a stretchy, or claustrophobic look to your brand. If you don’t optimise the sizes, chances are you will appear like a slacker who never even bothered to spend a few minutes resizing their images.
Image sizes matter for Twitter and Facebook cover photos, as well as social media posts (make sure you look up the sizes on Google) their sizes get updated on a regular basis. Make sure that your profile picture and your logo fit the designated squares correctly.
Have a great colour palette
Don’t just haphazardly assign colours everywhere. Make sure that you convey the right message through non-written means such as visual communication as well. To see how you can generate and design great colour palettes, click here.
Watermark your posts with your beautiful logo
Created an inspirational quote-based social media post? Kudos to you! Now before casting it out into the vast ocean of tweets or facebook posts, make sure that you put your signature below it. For, in the Internet, this prevents from being stolen from you. And what’s more important, if anyone loves it and happens to share it, you will gain brand visibility. Put your logo (preferably with a transparent background under a png format) in a subtle, yet visible way, so that it sparks interest, wonder and curiosity amongst people who see it.
[This post by Jonathan Aufray first appeared on GrowthHackers and has been reproduced with permission.]