Your company brand may be a mere seed in the beginning, but the day you open your doors for business, you've got at least two brands, 1) your start-up business brand, and 2) your personal brand, both equally as important.
Let's start with your personal brand. Will a serious vendor give you the time of day, when you are a small potato with little volume? Will your associates write angel-funding checks without a proven concept? Can you recruit great staff with no office and no benefit plan? Probably not -- unless you’re personal brand is rock solid.
Make your personal brand a daily project of continuous improvement before you dive into the start-up business pool. Become an expert. Whether these are academic credentials or life achievements, have your story down, both in written form and be able to quickly articulate it in conversion. Package yourself, look like a successful trusted leader.
Fundamentally, your brand identity is the visual interpretation of your cause, business, or products. It is the way in which we recognize and distinguish one company from another. A brand identity typically consists of one or more of the following elements:
- a logotype (the typographic treatment of the business name)
- a logo (a graphic symbol or icon)
- a tagline (a short description, slogan or musical jingle)
- a color palette (one or more colors used highlight your identity).
Streamline your logotype. Is it hard to read? Is your typeface dated? Or maybe it's just non-descript and nothing special. A valuable logo deserves a refreshed color palette that pops. Does it scream the groovy seventies and you're a technology company? Or does it say plain Jane when really; your boutique sells the funkiest stuff in town?
If you don't have a tagline or musical jingle, create one. If you do, incorporate it into your brand identity. A creative tagline or slogan is another element of your identity to help the consumer connect with your brand. It may be a descriptive statement about the company's services (like FedEx's - Absolutely, positively overnight) or a call to action (like Apple's – Think different or Nike's – Just do it). Either way, it should be brief, memorable, and should speak to the essential mission statement of your organization.
Use it or lose it. Everywhere and anywhere you can. From the doormat, to the screensaver on the office computers, the logo and its elements should be used in a consistent manner, reflecting and reinforcing the brand identity.
Remember, your brand identity is the sum of all you do. It’s what the market thinks, feels and expects. It’s your purpose, competitive advantages, personality and promise. This is why brand planning and protection are so important in young companies. Unless you have a crystal ball, there are a lot of unknowns about the future of your start-up.
So, what is a sustainable brand identity? A sustainable brand identity includes ALL of the above “brand identity” elements plus a concept and design that is:
- unique and distinguishable;
- efficient and effective in communication of key messages and personality stories
- used in a consistent manner throughout all visual marketplace touch-points
The product or service identity should be stylistically and functionally adaptable so it grows with you and your business. The sustainable brand is one that flourishes over time, across product lines and diverse multimedia platforms.
A sustainable brand identity is vital because it can help businesses and non-profits to make an immediate connection with consumers and retain brand loyality building a marketplace relationship even in tough economic times.This is often defined as customer relationship management (CRM).
In this age of technology and communication, we have a virtually unlimited selection of choices. There's little time to make a big first impression. A sustainable identity will communicate more efficiently and effectively your message. As a result, your brand identity will endure enabling your startup to achieve rich rewards.
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