The success of your startup depends a lot on your brand. According to Marketing-Schools.org, a brand represents a company’s market identity: who its members are, “what they do, what kind of quality they provide, their reputation for trustworthiness, and more.” Building a strong brand is an investment which pays off a lot in the end: your brand starts working for your financial benefit. Fierce competition and abundance of marketing information can confuse customers: they can be easily attracted, distracted and taken away by competitors. One of the most effective ways to secure the position of your business in the market is creating a good brand marketing strategy: a strong brand helps customers to filter out marketing information, directs them to your products or services and eventually establishes their loyalty. Brand marketing is not an easy task, however. Here are 5 tips which you might find useful for developing your startup’s brand.
1. Communicate clearly. Company X is a leading mobile app developer in country Y. This sentence is a marketing cliché: there are many companies which can easily fit in. The mobile app industry is developing so fast that every day can bring new ‘leaders’, who can become your direct competitors. So if you want to stand out in the market and have a reputation of a reliable company, you should choose words to promote your brand more carefully. If you, however, still consider yourself as a market leader, you should simply explain your achievements. Without a clear explanation, it is just an empty phrase. The same applies to other cases.
2. Analyse your customers’ needs. Despite so much emphasis on the customers-go-first idea, top-down brand marketing is still very popular. What is wrong with it? Customers have changed a lot: they are more aware of different opportunities and their own needs, more critical, demanding and independent decision-makers. Top-down marketers, however, seem to be ignorant of these changes. They still believe that they have some sort of authority to tell customers what to buy and do not see any business potential in treating them more like partners whose suggestions matter. Laura Schwab, Marketing Director at Land Rover, has predicted that in 2015 brand marketing will concentrate on customer experience: companies will be competing for providing the best experience for their customers. There is still a lot of time left to test the accuracy of her prediction but what is already clear is that customer choices are becoming more personalised and sophisticated. As a result, brand marketing campaigners will face more challenges.
3. Don’t be hyperactive online. Website / blog / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / YouTube / e-mail newsletters – these are only a few options of how you can increase your brand's visibility. It is not as easy as it seems at first sight. Being active online does not mean you need to start using everything at random. You should not share tweets with links to articles that are not directly connected to your startup’s activities nor post them on Facebook only to collect more likes – no random actions if you really want your brand to be associated with quality, reliability and professionalism. Each action you take online has to be meaningful: you need to know what you want to do, why and how it will affect your company’s reputation. You should also pay attention to the form: pick up as many communication formats and channels as you can manage well. In other words: you need a clear online communication strategy.
4. Tell stories. Storytelling is an integral part of brand marketing: a brand is promoted in the form of engaging stories about a company, its products, services or other activities. Brian Honigman, Content Marketing Consultant and CEO of Honigman Media, has also observed a new trend in brand storytelling: brand marketers have started “branding themselves as storytellers”. What does it mean in practice? For illustration, he refers to the case of OkCupid’s blog. Each post is a story on user dating experience: there are many insightful comments on dating trends illustrated with specific user data. This helps to retain interest in OkCupid’s service and build loyalty to its brand.
Why not to follow OkCupid’s example or try to develop your own storytelling technique? For example, you can encourage your customers to share their experience of using your product or service on social media or a blog. You can also regularly post some user data which might attract your customers’ interest and encourage them to comment. To get the attention of more demanding customers, once in a while you can also publish reports with more detailed user data and some comments. In short: continuous interaction with your audience can be essential for marketing your brand.
5. Use videos. Mark Evans, Marketing Director at Direct Line, claims that hyper-individualistic culture we live in has also affected brand marketing. He has observed that “people want to do business with people” not with impersonal distant companies. They need to see human faces behind a brand to connect with it better. In Evans’ opinion, one of the easiest ways to do so is short video production. If you deliver engaging and useful content, you increase chances of customer loyalty and interest in your brand.
There are a lot of high-quality startup promo videos. However, some of them can both quickly attract and lose attention. Why so? Let me try to explain it with this example: a startup has uploaded a short video in which all of the co-founders heavily promote their product. They present themselves as cool guys who try to convince that you need to get their product if you also want to be cool. This promo video has quite an attractive form but lacks effective content: Is being cool enough to engage customers for a long time? How can the startup compete with other startups which use exactly the same brand marketing idea? Finally: What unique value does it bring to customers? These are only a few questions to consider before filming.
Please share with us some other tips on startup brand marketing based on your personal experience.
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The author of the text is Birute Birgelyte, PR and Communications Trainee at Startup Commons. You are free to re-edit and repost this in your own blog or other use under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License terms by giving credit with a link to www.startupcommons.org and the original post.
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