Effective branding is one of the most powerful ways to enable product differentiation for your startup. Not only will it make the consumer notice you, it can also allow you to charge a premium over competitors, build customer loyalty, drive sales and accelerate product differentiation in the market. The question is how to create a brand?
Creating a brand
Creating a brand is about more than just a catchy name – it is about creating a whole identity for your business and the products or services it sells. Part of creating an identity is creating a set of values that your products or services stand for. Are you aiming at stay at home mums, or children, or office workers? Luxury or cut price? More than this though, a successful brand should grow to embody certain characteristics – that the products (and by extension the business) are, for example, ethical (e.g. The Body Shop), or reliable (e.g. Volvo), or fun (e.g. Ben and Jerrys), or are at the cutting edge of design (e.g. Apple), or stylish (e.g. Ralph Lauren). A successful brand will be able to transmit all these messages to a potential customer almost without them even being aware of it.
The name comes first –it can either be descriptive (classically brilliant brand names include Mothercare, Toys R Us and Burger King), or you can choose a name which means nothing initially but which can be embellished with meaning as your business develops (great examples of this include Starbucks, McDonald’s and Domino’s). A great deal of value can be embedded in a good brand name and this shouldn’t be underestimated.
Next you need an eye-catching logo to be used alongside the brand – indeed in some cases instead of the brand. Successful logos include the Nike ‘swoosh’, the London Underground symbol and Mcdonald’s golden arches. You know when brand identity is working when consumers can recognize your brand from the logo only- they just know it.
Next you need to create a strong identity for your business which runs through everything you do. To do this you need to firmly establish what your company stands for. Do you want to be seen as a funky cutting-edge high fashion business, for example, or would you rather to be seen as solid, dependable and reliable? What is the core idea of the company and the message you want to project? You can come up with the most amazing name and logo but if you have no vision or proposition for the company then it’s just not going to work.
Branding isn’t a one-off event- your brand needs to be continually protected. You can do this in three ways:
1. Take out trademarks to safeguard your brand name, logo and tag line. You can also use trademarks to protect phrases and groups of words that you use as part of your brand. You can apply for trademarks online via the Intellectual Property Office website www.ipo.gov.uk.
2. Protect designs associated with your business by registering them under UK Design Protection, again through the Intellectual Property Office.
3. Make sure you continually monitor your brand identity to ensure that it remains relevant. Remember that brands can be tweaked and refreshed along the way.