Branding—if done right—can do wonders for any business, irrespective of the industry or niche. People don’t buy products, they buy brands. They value brand and they feel connected with the brand. Brands like Apple and Levi’s are two of the biggest examples of branding done well.

Many business owners feel like branding is overwhelming, time-consuming and eats up a lot of money. Well, this doesn’t have to be true. In this article, I am going to give you a complete branding checklist. Just get it done, one thing at a time.

What Is Branding?

Without making it complicated, I would say that anything which distinguishes your business from others/competitors is a part of branding. For example, the company “Xerox” started with photocopying, but eventually moved to printing and many other solutions. However, the image and brand is so much related to photocopying that the name “Xerox” has become a synonym of photocopying. It’s very common to see people asking to “Xerox it” instead of “photocopying it”. The same thing is true of Coke, Kleenex, and Google—all brands that are so successful they’ve become synonymous with the product or service they offer.

Alright, enough about branding, let’s dig into the meat.

Startup Branding Checklist

1. Who is your Customer?

This is a very important part of every branding exercise you will do. Creating a “customer persona” helps you understand your target audience, which helps you make better marketing decisions.

For example, if you are an online store selling premium wedding shoes for men, your audience will be:

  • Men aged 25-35
  • Based in US. (If that’s your target location)
  • Are working, either has a job or self-employed
  • Medium or high-income group. (One who can afford premium shoes)

This exercise not only helps determine how branding will take place, it also helps in building targeted marketing strategies.

2. Business Name

If you have not decided the business name yet, it’s time to choose one to reflect and represent your brand. There are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure that domain name and social media handles are available for the business. Google (Notice how “Google” is an accepted verb now for “Conduct a search online”) the name to see if there is any other brand using the same or similar names.
  2. Make sure there is/was no business with a related or same name.
  3. Your business name should not be too long and should be easy to pronounce and spell. Don’t ever get a name which is spelled and pronounced in some different or unique way.
  4. Try searching for business names using tools like Panabee or Shopify for name ideas.

3. The Logo

Once you are done with choosing a business name and narrowing down your targeted customer persona, you need a logo to represent your brand. Though big brands pay huge sums for logo designs, (Accenture paid $100 million USD for its logo rebranding), being a small business owner, you can start with creating your own logo. There are tools available that enable you to create logos for free. You can use Canva’s free logo design tool to create some great logos.


4. The Social Media Presence

Aside from establishing your business and helping to drive sales, social media is very important to manage brand and reputation online.

  • Keep the design and photos aligned with your logo and business name
  • Reply to every message on Twitter or Facebook. Make sure to be active and engaged with your audience
  • Don’t always keep posting about you and your products. Keep it light and fun
  • Make sure to register all social media profiles. It’s your choice whether you want to use them or not, but make sure to have an account at all places possible

5. Local presence is worth it!

So, there was this startup I used to work with, which had around 150,000 users worldwide! Despite having such huge coverage, they were and are still struggling with hiring. They can’t seem to get the right talent they are looking for! Why? Because no one knows about them locally!

Guys, if you are in big cities and hubs this may not be a big deal, but if you have a business in a small city or more rural area, it gets very important to ensure your presence locally. This not only helps in improved sales, but also helps hiring and operations.

Developing a brand might sound overwhelming and to an extent, it is. It is a crucial element of a successful business and deserves careful attention. The above-mentioned points are good to start, but branding doesn’t end there. The opportunities are endless and it all depends on the type of business you are in.

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