Marketing Strategy
The Ultimate Guide to Brand Building for Startups

The Ultimate Guide to Brand Building for Startups

October 12, 2020
5 min read

Making the decision to create your own startup is both exciting and daunting. You are about to bring your passions to life and make a living doing something you love. More importantly, you get to share that passion with customers by providing them with exceptional products or services that they will love.

But, to get customers on board, you need to build a brand that is going to create interest and instill loyalty in your startup. You must maximize your brand storytelling by ensuring consistent character and feel in everything you produce.

Quick Takeaways:

  • You are your brand. Use your story to determine the core values of your company, and this will be the foundation upon which you build your brand.
  • Make it memorable. Find your niche. Look for a way to distinguish yourself from your competition and connect with your customers.
  • Keep it consistent. Create a brand guideline that will influence everything you produce so your brand will always be clear and recognizable.

Why Is Brand Building Important for Startups?

Building a brand for your startup is about creating something that conveys a sense of who your business is and what you do. It communicates more than just the types of products and services you provide. Your brand needs to meet some kind of deeper need for your clients or offer them a strong set of values to connect with.

Everything about your brand, from the name and logo to social media content, will serve as a reflection of the character and heart of your business. If done well, brand building will easily and effectively give your target audience a sense of what your business is about.

5 Brand Building Steps for Startups: The Ultimate Guide

As a small-business owner, you likely cannot afford to pay a big professional agency upward of $30,000 to build a brand strategy for you.

That’s actually not a bad thing. Sure, you may not feel like you have the know-how to create fabulous slogans and captivating images. But you have something better: yourself.

You are the heart of your startup. Your passions and ideas got you here. And if you can tap into those and build on them, you can construct a brand that will speak to your target audience on a personal level.

By following these steps to brand building for startups, you will be able to construct a strong and personal brand without the expenses of an agency.

1. Start with Your Story

Remember: you are the heart of this startup. This is your dream, your passion.

Your story as an individual is intrinsically linked to the story of your startup. Begin building your brand by figuring out your story. Who are you, what have you done, and how did you get here? What happened in your life that led you to the decision to start this business? Why does this mean so much to you?

As you figure out your own story, the story of your startup will also begin to emerge. Storytelling is a longstanding tradition in every culture. People love to hear stories because it captures the essence of other people, places, and events in a relatable and recognizable way.

Stories can also trigger an emotional response. Plus, they are 22x more likely to be remembered than straight facts.This is one reason why we love to kick off our weekly thought leadership content with clients by interviewing them and writing up their story in a compelling way.

2. Find Your Values and Mission

Once you have your story, the next step is to look for key ideas or words within the narrative that encapsulate what inspired your startup. Write down any words that come to mind relating to your business, and find a few that best represent what your business is about. These will be the pillars that support the rest of your brand.


This is also a good time to define the mission of your business. Make it clear and concise. Think beyond the products and/or services you sell to explain what you hope to achieve for your customers.

The values and mission of your startup should tap into a feeling or evoke an emotion in your audience. Look for values that likely align with those of your customers. Get them excited, make them feel understood.

3. Find What Makes Your Brand Unique

Before going too far, take some time to compare your brand with others. Look at what similar businesses are doing and try to think of ways to do it differently. How can you make your logo unique? What angle could you use for your brand that no one else has thought of? How can you differentiate your voice and your brand from everyone else’s? This is an important brand building step for startups.

4. Make Your Brand Clear and Memorable

Using your values as a guide, you now need to create a unique verbal and visual identity for your business. Your brand identity includes:

  • A memorable name: Pick a name that is not too long or difficult to spell, one that gives your audience an idea of what your business is all about.
  • A distinct tone of voice: Your brand will need a lot of written content for things like a website, advertisements, blogs, social media posts, and emails. Using your value words, determine the best tone of voice for the kind of feeling your startup should convey. Do you want your brand to feel fun? Nostalgic? Professional?
  • A simple, recognizable logo: Your logo will be an easy identifier of your brand. Make it something distinct that is simple enough to remember (and maybe even draw from memory) and communicates something about what your startup does or what it values.
  • A defined look: The design of your brand materials should reflect your values and evoke the same feelings as your voice. A great way to decide on the look for your brand is to build a mood board using images that relate to your services and key value words. This will give you an idea of the vibe you want to have and even the kinds of colors and fonts you might want to use.

5. Use a Style Guide for Consistency

To make your startup brand identifiable, you need it to be consistent. Everything that you do, from website design to marketing strategy, should be informed by who your target audience is and what your values are.

Compile a brand guideline that will influence all of this output. It should include instructions for font types and uses, color palettes, image choices, and brand voice. These will serve as a reference whenever you are making any new materials or contracting out any work, and you can trust that the finished product will fit your established brand.

Build Your Startup Brand Customer Base with Targeted Content

Once you have established your brand, you will need to do some work to draw in new customers. Conscientious content creation will take you a long way. Optimize your content for your target audience by creating a social media presence on the platforms they frequent. You should also create informative blogs or website content that address their pain points and the keywords they are searching for.

Built your startup brand and looking to attract and engage your customers? Schedule a free consultation to learn about our Weekly Blog Writing  Services that make quality content seamless.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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