Brand strategy for startups – why it’s imperative to have a clear idea of who you are, where you’re heading and how you intend to get there.

No matter what business you’re in, it is highly advisable to have a clear vision in place for your new brand before you present yourselves to the world. After all, it is important to set off on the right foot. A clear and strong brand framework will support your business in more ways than you will probably realise.

For starters, it should help you to attract the right sort of customers more efficiently from the moment you launch as well as landing investment, should you ever need it. More than this though, it will help you as business owners make decisions quickly and effectively. On the flip side, however, if you fail to outline a clear brand strategy you could easily end up chasing tactical opportunities just to stay afloat or, at worst, act in a schizophrenic manner that will confuse your customers.

Clarity and consistency of direction is key.

The good news is that you’ve taken the exciting leap to start up a business so you shouldn’t be short of entrepreneurial spirit. Believe it or not, this entrepreneurial drive and the fact that your business is agile and nimble could well end up being your strategic super-power. When you are setting out, execution speed is everything. There’s more good news in that you will certainly be able to move much quicker than large clunky organisations with layers upon layers of management. In many instances, being able to pivot quickly could be your go to market strategy and at the very least offer a clear competitive advantage.

Simply put, ignoring strategy at the outset can be a recipe for disaster. Brands are like people, we all need values and purpose to get the most from our lives and to stop us from drifting aimlessly. Building a clear brand platform and keeping it front of mind is key to setting a course for success for your new brand.

To help you think about brand strategy, here are a handful of hopefully simple to understand points to consider when thinking about your own brand platform.

Values are the core beliefs and principles that guide our actions. Values are imperative and in many senses are the organisation’s foundations or DNA – they are what you as brand believe in. They should also remain constant. It sometimes helps to think about brand values as human-oriented principles that inform decisions – both simple and complex ones. Values shape the character and integrity of your brand and the people working for it. In the brilliant book about Innocent Smoothies, A Book About Innocent, here’s their helpful take on values: “Values provide a simple set of guidelines and rules to play by; a few non-negotiable principles that govern your behaviour, shape the culture and capture the DNA of the business.”

Purpose is a moral framework that clarifies why your business exists beyond making money. Brand purpose is the guiding light for an organisation’s strategic decision-making beyond the financial imperative of making money. For instance, if you find yourselves being asked to talk on an industry topic at an event or with a journalist, your brand purpose will be referred to as it’s a smart summary of everything you are about and more importantly why you are doing it. UK-born business leadership guru Simon Sinek is the author of Start With Why and he summarises purpose in these terms: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”.

Positioning is about owning a unique and differentiated position in the mind of the target consumer. Popularised in Al Ries and Jack Trout’s bestselling book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, the thinking behind positioning is to create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that they associate something specific and desirable with your brand that is distinct from rest of the market. Ries and Trout define positioning as “an organised system for finding a window in the mind. It is based on the concept that communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances.”

Vision is a clear picture you create of what the future looks like. Building from your values, positioning and purpose, a brand vision should articulate what change you see in the world based on your brand’s role within it. Your brand vision should crystallise your purpose as well as bring it to life. Don’t be afraid to be brave and aim high; it should be a stretch but should also challenge and inspire. People that work with you and buy from you want to be a part of something bigger – so make sure your brand has a clear vision that you think will make as many people as possible want to be part of your community.

Strategy is how you get there and how you intend to make this vision a reality. Your business strategy should ideally be succinct, definitive and directional. Essentially it is an outline of the key actions that will deliver the vision. It really is that simple, but an effective strategy can help your brand transcend the limitations of the marketplace.

Remember, when all of the above comes together you have the opening chapter of your very own brand story. So why not make your first chapter as powerful as possible by creating a brand platform that wows? As humans, we are hard-wired to transmit and receive stories, and have been doing so for thousands of years. Never under-estimate the power of stories to move us to action. With a bit of luck, your story will soon be told far and wide – while the holy grail is that it will be written into sport culture history.

If you haven’t already it’s a good idea to get your brand story straight.

Contact us now to discuss this in more detail

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