The idea of branding your business can be overwhelming.
Branding includes the design of your website, your marketing materials, your company culture, your social media personas and so much more.
It’s a lot. But you can break it down into smaller steps, especially if you’re just getting started.
And there’s certainly value to investing in your brand. As a less-recognized business, especially, developing a strong brand can help build trust and raise brand awareness over time.
For a lot of smaller organizations, it helps to get started with just a handful of simple branding assets to guide your overall brand development.
These starting assets will also serve as a foundation to build your fully-fledged brand in the future.
So let’s take a look at 3 simple brand-building assets every startup needs.
Start with a brand guide
A brand guide is going to be fundamental when it comes to branding.
Not only does a brand guide help you determine the visual look and feel of your internal and external content, it outlines the company culture, the language you use, and how you ‘sound’ to your audience. What makes a brand guide so helpful and important is that anyone at the company can create content and ensure it’s always on brand. This way you ensure a cohesive brand experience at every touch point for your audience, employees and other stakeholders.
To create a brand guide, you just need the right tools and approach. Starting with a brand guide template, half your work is already done.
You’ll see the most important sections you need to customize. Like in this brand guide example below:
The main sections you need to account for are your logo and any logo variations you have, color palettes, and fonts to use.
This will help create branded content with ease. Videos, visuals, blog posts images, newsletters can all share design elements for a consistent brand experience.
Then you can add details like describing your brand voice for blog content, social media posts, external newsletters and more. Providing examples of how certain things would be stated, and the type of language to avoid, will be a huge help for any employees producing communications materials for internal and external audiences.
You can ensure that training modules, reference materials, client-facing documentation sound the same each time. This will always help to reinforce, not only the brand, but a sense of brand culture. Sure, it’s just a sliver of your overall company culture (how you correspond with stakeholders), but it can help your team understand what to model as representatives of the brand.
You can always update your brand guide as use cases and channels grow more complex, and more guidance and instruction is needed. For example, Spotify has a very complete and detailed brand guide that aims to be foolproof.
Create branded letterheads
Following your brand guide, you’re in the best position to create branded letterheads. This way any official company documents look, well, official!
This is super simple because corporate letterhead doesn’t require design savants to create something amazing. A border, logo placement, or watermark will all suffice.
In this letterhead, you’ll see the logo is easy to spot and there is a clear use of brand colors. There are two borders which help frame the text and add some life to it.
Company contact info is tastefully tied into the document, as well. Really, what a branded letterhead provides is a way to package your correspondence and set expectations. And packaging, when we think of any fancy trinket or gadget we buy, helps to reinforce our positive perception of that brand. It helps you stand out from other businesses who haven’t bothered to create any official letterheads, yet.
Company letterheads will be handy for a range of materials – employee acceptance letters, employee contracts, employee promotions, company announcements, and more.
You can also create a few variations of your letterheads, to distinguish between correspondence with staff and client-facing materials. Project proposals, progress reports and other client facing documents can use a modified version of your letterhead. Perhaps you’d want something less overt, or a layout that supports the way you share information with clients.
Just like a brand guide, you don’t need to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. Starting with an existing letterhead template, you’ll be set in minutes with just a changes.
Get startup apparel and knick-knacks
Finally, it’s gotten a lot more affordable to create company ‘swag’ and branded items like coffee mugs and water bottles. This is great because one – everyone likes free stuff they can use. Few folks would turn down a quality coffee mug or hoodie. Also, it’s a great way to present your brand when employees are speaking at or attending conferences. Even over video conferences or in webinars, having a company tee, or some neat company trinkets visible to viewers is handy.
When networking events are back to being in person, attending those events with some company commissioned gear is a great way to market your business, too.
You can create a custom t-shirt, custom mug, custom stuffed animal – anything really – online. With a lot of companies who provide these services, they drive the cost down when you make larger orders. If you have a simple, single-color icon (or at least a version like that) it usually gets even more affordable.
With company apparel, you can boost your perception of the brand and it’s fairly low cost. In a small way, it also has a positive impact on company culture.
Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. You want to make sure the apparel and other knick knacks you get are quality products.
A boxy t-shirt, a backpack that falls apart, a coffee mug with a brittle handle, will only leave the wrong impression and demoralize your team. High-quality products will signal to your team that you value them, but also encourage organic use of them in the future.
So if you’re hoping to develop your brand as a startup, give one of these approaches (or all of these approaches a try). Is there something you’ve tried that you’ve found to be super helpful? Share it in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.
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