Building Your Brand from the Start…Up

So, you’re starting a company. You have a new product, solution or service. But, what about the brand? You’ve seen the advantages of building a strong brand; for example, Coca-Cola® with a nearly $84 billion revenue or Nike® who’s inspired generations of athletes. But, how do you get there? Where do you begin when you’re just one person with one idea and laptop?

Last month, I had the honor of presenting to a group of entrepreneurs and startups at TechSquare Labs in Midtown Atlanta on this very topic. Following are The Five Cs I developed for building your new company’s brand.

Step 1: Create

First, you need to create your brand. This is much more than your logo and website. Creating your brand is about building your unique story. Your brand story should be succinct and include what you do, how you do it better than anyone else, and what makes you special.

Step 2: Character

You need to also give your brand character. In this step, think of character as a verb in which you take the investigative action to discover your brand’s personality and authenticity. In doing so, you should strive to create a brand that evokes feeling…and, specifically the feelings you want customers to have about your brand. Think of AXE®, the men’s body care line, it evokes the feeling of manliness and desirability in its millennial male customers. Or, Apple® who gives its customers a feeling of tech-savvy sophistication.

But, it’s also important to remember as a startup or entrepreneur, YOU are your brand! It’s essential that you master four key areas including speaking, presenting, conveying and persuading. It’s not just the look and feel of your brand; but, it’s also the words you choose and the balance you have between both poise and passion.

Step 3: Connect

At this point, you’re likely exuding your brand from every pore. You’re ready for everyone to experience your product, solution or service and love it just as much as you do! But, it’s important to resist this urge to be an “everyman.” Instead, start small by identifying your initial target audience and finding the group that will be most responsive to what your brand has to offer. Research is wise and very necessary at this stage of your brand’s development. You’ll want to find out who may be interested and how they might respond to your brand so that you can better strategize to engage with them to gain early adopters and grow your brand presence.

Step 4: Cultivate

So, you have a brand message and your building on it; but, here’s where you need to make it stick! Cultivate relationships with your early customers in order to build the bond and inspire them to further discover and share your brand story with others. Because 48% of consumers say that the most critical time to gain their loyalty is when they make their first purchase or begin service, you’ll want to leverage your ability as a startup to be fast, flexible and bold. Seek to create moments for your customers to emotionally connect with your brand.

Step 5: Care

In this final step, you’ll aim to build long-term relationships with your customers. Up to this point, your customers have invested in you; but, now it’s up to you to build that trust so they’ll continue to invest again and again. To do this, it’s vital that you consistently deliver on your promises and stay true to your brand’s character and purpose. You’ll also want to take the pulse of your brand by reviewing your customers’ perceptions and actions. Are they happy? Are they coming back for repeat business? How often are they engaging with your brand? By regularly checking your numbers and often gathering the qualitative insights directly from your customers, you’ll be better able to determine value as well as set an effective strategy.

So, there you have it…The Five Cs to building your brand! But, the work doesn’t stop there. As long as you have a brand and company, you are continuously building and nurturing your relationships – connecting, cultivating and caring. The brands with the greatest authenticity, personability and quality usually build the strongest followings and emotional connections with their customers. So, know who you are as a brand, be who you are and your customers will love you for it!

InFlection Point Communications, LLC is a full-service, communications consulting company that specializes in brand building, reputation management and strategic communications planning. For more information, visit www.inflectionpointcomms.com and follow us here on LinkedIn.

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