How to Yank Your Startup Out of an Identity Crisis

Make your brand stand out by looking within.

manager woman leading brainstorming meeting

There are so many startups popping up on the scene these days that it is getting harder to keep track of who’s who, but the most memorable businesses have two important things in common: solid branding and a strong brand identity. Your branding should be clever yet simple, intelligent yet appealing to the masses. If you really want to get an edge over your competitors, your brand is paramount.

What does branding include?

When we talk about branding, we’re not just talking about the name of your company emblazoned on a t-shirt or a pen. Your brand is who you are as a business. Every action your company takes should reflect the values of your brand. 

  • Branding is figuring out what type of customers you want and then speaking directly to them. 
  • Branding is a permanent strategy that informs your day-to-day marketing campaigns.
  • Branding is keeping things consistent across platforms and paying close attention to detail so that everything you do aligns perfectly with your brand identity.

It all sounds pretty straightforward, right? Well, if it were all that effortless, we probably would not see so many large-scale branding disasters. Remember when Kendall Jenner single-handedly ended police brutality with just a can of Pepsi or when Burger King tried to introduce the Pride Whopper? Talk about being tone-deaf! 

Of course, with brands like Pepsi or Burger King, some bad publicity isn’t enough to take them down for good. However, it does hurt sales, and for smaller companies, branding fails like these could be a death sentence. 

How can I establish my brand identity?

To avoid a branding disaster, you will need to figure out the core of your brand identity and stick to it as much as possible. Ask yourself what your brand believes in. Make sure that your website, blog posts, and social media messages all agree with the concept and that your investments and partnerships reflect what you want your customers to see.

182 founders interviewed so far. Get interviewed in 10 minutes, via a simple form, for free.

When brands get personal, people really respond. Hire a team from diverse backgrounds, then spotlight its members and what they bring to the table. Hop on Twitter trends from your company’s account and retweet your followers’ posts. Make sure you have a great story on your website that tugs at heartstrings and allows people to form a connection with your brand.

Don’t only focus on your logo. It’s all fine and dandy to want a memorable design (and you should definitely not be skimping in the design department), but your copy, tagline, and slogan are also incredibly important. Everything you write should go hand in hand with your vision and mission for the company without being too verbose. Think of taglines such as “Taste the Rainbow,” “A Diamond Is Forever,” and “I’m Lovin’ It” or slogans such as “Snap, Crackle, Pop” and “Where Dreams Come True”. Most people in the United States can identify the corporations behind those words without a second thought because these taglines and slogans are memorable, catchy, and simple. (For a quick primer on the subtle differences between taglines and slogans, click here.)

Make sure you’ve carved out your market niche. Your brand might not be for everyone, and that’s okay! Figure out who your main customers are, then cater to them as much as possible. What do they like? What do they shy away from? This is where your market research skills will really come in handy. Make a sketch of your ideal consumer, including their generation, political beliefs, and typical lifestyle habits. Find out what grabs their attention, then grab it firmly by making them feel that the brand experience is tailored specifically to them.

Above all else, never forget that consistency is key. If you’re silent in times of social upheaval, your customers will remember that. If you claim to be a green enterprise but you only use plastic packaging or partner with a brand that is unfriendly to the environment, your customers will remember that, too. As long as you determine who you are and abide by your identity, you will hopefully be outracing your competitors in no time.

woman holding a virtual cart hologram

How Can You Make Your eCommerce Business Stand Out from the Crowd?

woman drawing startup concepts on a large white canvas

Why Your Startup Is Necessary