Seven Tips to Build and Maintain a Successful Startup Brand

July 4, 2014

8:00 pm

Best friends: reliable, intuitive individuals with personalities that click perfectly. The same feelings often apply to favorite brands because the genius innovators behind them get into consumers’ heads, figure out what they really need and offer a clear, easy-to-use solution to the problem at hand. Thanks to this strategy, consumers trust solid brands and are eager to purchase, recommend to others and continue buying from the same company when new products and services are introduced. Obvious example: Apple.A brand is a promise.

So how does this apply to startups? In every way! At Aveya Creative, DC’s only boutique branding agency dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs, we stick to this guiding concept for success: when it comes to branding, remember to keep it simple and sincere.

1) First things first … No matter how innovative, the concept must be useful in order to start building a brand around it. Even the most beautiful logo in the world is not worth the investment of time, effort and money if it’s for a useless product or service for which target markets have no need. Being a useful brand relies on correct targeting; it may take several pivots to settle on the optimal target audience where users have the most pressing need for your solution. It can be a painstaking process, but remember: patience is a virtue. Legendary branding goes well beyond visual identity. The concept driving the brand must provide a solution to a pain point or fill a gap in the target market, and offer a memorable experience to go along with it.

2) A brand is a special promise; it conveys the passion of its creator and represents the value to connect with consumers emotionally. Think of Johnson & Johnson baby products; parents trust this brand above many competitors because of the clear promise it offers to take care of their precious baby’s skin.

3) The brand must be simple to understand: any consumer, at least within the target audience, should be able to comprehend within seconds what the brand does and how its proposed solution is worth their time and money vis a vis the problem it solves. For example, Google is instantly synonymous with searching; when a someone needs to search for something, they “Google it.”

4) The product or service offered by the brand must be simple to use: the term “user-friendly” applies to more than just websites. If consumers cannot use something easily they’ll stop purchasing it and – even worse – spread negative feedback that will keep the brand from gaining new customers. A limited number of features leads to a captivated audience. It is important to resist the temptation to bombard consumers with attributes. Focus!

5) Sincere communication is key; successful brands say what they do and do what they say. A brand makes promises to consumers; those promises must be kept or that brand will disappear. Basically, make sure the solution functions, is reliable, actually solves the problem it says it will, and that the branding aligns with these deliverable promises.

6) Sincere dedication means the brand will stick around for generations. Customer service is imperative – preferably in the form of real people answering phones, chats and emails, not bots. Representatives of the brand at every level (especially the customer facing employees!) should be empowered to improve a customer’s situation on the spot without making them wait for a manager or get looped back into a dead-end conversation with that dreaded automated voice. Redbox is great at this: for any issue with a DVD rental, you can call their toll-free number and speak to a real person who gives a code for a free rental in seconds to make up for the inconvenience. Done and done.

7) Last but not least … Entrepreneurship is about passion. Startup brands, even more than corporate brands, have the chance to shine thanks to the enthusiasm of their creators and early adopters. The unique selling points of a startup brand must be in the forefront across internal and external communications to educate employees and consumers on why the product or service is so great and spread the love.

Strong branding is the foundation that supports all marketing activities and is key for the success of products and services across a variety of industries. Thankfully, social media and the proliferation of online platforms have made it a lot easier for consumers to connect with one another – that is, to share positive and negative word of mouth. Be sure to implement the tips above to ensure positive feedback all around for a successful top-of-mind brand.Go on creating

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Mariya Bouraima, avid world traveler and proud mompreneur, launched Aveya Creative in 2012 — the first branding and marketing agency in the nation’s capital dedicated to entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The grand mission? To transform innovative ideas into extraordinary brands. Core services at Aveya Creative are brand strategy, logos and taglines, pitch coaching and design; optimized copywriting, ad creative, press releases and social media management are also part of the mix. Mariya has led the growing team with endless enthusiasm to develop branding and marketing for entrepreneurs in diverse industries across the United States, including prominent tech startups at incubators such as 1776 in Washington DC and Y Combinator in San Francisco. Mariya loves to get involved in the startup community through writing for Tech.Co, Medium, LinkedIn Pulse and WeWork Creator magazine. She speaks annually at Modev UX conferences, teaches at General Assembly and Startup Institute and moderates panels at Next Tech and Ladies America events. She is a mentor at Lean Startup Machine, Conscious Venture Lab, Bethesda Green incubator and KickDC accelerator. She also hosts BrandNew roundtable discussions and serves as judge at the GW New Venture Competition at her alma mater, The George Washington University. Before Aveya, Mariya worked in account management at Ogilvy while completing her Masters in Brand Management in Paris, France; managed social media at the State Department; ran the Institute for Sustainability at GWU in DC from day one including branding, events and communications; was in sales and marketing for The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis hotels. She's always loved freelancing on the side: French translation of marketing campaigns for companies like Airbnb, P&G, Danone and several government clients including DOS and DOJ. Her 10+ years of experience are diverse as they are full of energy for branding and marketing -- always on the pulse of innovation and positive impact.

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