As fall begins to set in, it becomes clear that 2015 is on its way out and a new year is ready to begin. That means that, as a brand, it’s time to gear up for what’s ahead, to focus forward and to begin taking steps today that lead to results tomorrow.
While this might seem like a given for your business, something you do year after year, one aspect of preparing to reach a new audience or to better serve your existing audience that’s consistently overlooked is branding. Far too often, brands rely on the same logo and website that they’ve been using for years, calling their branding efforts “complete.”
Unfortunately, in the next year, this won’t be enough.
Startups are killing it in the branding arena by taking simple steps that require little effort and lead to big results, blowing long-standing companies and corporations out of the water.
If you’re ready to change your existing approach to branding, the best place to start is with the startups that are making it happen from day one. Below are four simple branding trends from successful startups to get you moving in the right direction.
You can depend on your website to tell your story with a simple “About” page. Or, you can go further by creating an ongoing story that includes customer experiences and the real “why” behind what you do and where you’re hoping to go.
Brand storytelling is the combination of the information you share with target audience members, along with what they believe about you from what they’ve read from online reviews and other sources. Stories are what humans are taught to understand. Therefore, they do far more for branding than standard websites packed with information overload.
One startup using storytelling to the max is Harry’s, a company selling razors and shaving products. By using actionable storytelling tactics — sharing why the founder started the company, releasing limited edition products and sharing customer stories — the brand has started to compete with Gillette and other shaving giants for a $2.4 billion market share.
Minimalist Product Packaging and Design
It used to be true that intricate designs and packaging that stood out were critical. They enhanced products and were important in the eyes of most brands.
Soon, that trend began to change. Instead, brands with minimalist designs began to stand out and to become known for their packaging alone — think Apple or Tiffany & Co. Soon, by integrating clean packaging designs and colors into websites and advertising, a brand begins to form that’s not based on words at all. Instead, it’s based on imagery.
Brands can follow the big retailers, or startups like Lovely Candy Company, who used Phase1’s simple package designs to spark a brand that is now recognized on a national level. Forget about complicated designs and markups. When branding a product, keep it simple, think about your overall brand image and pull it all together. Going into the next year, minimalist design is key.
For some time, big retail was the way to go. Larger stores could offer more competitive prices, so customers frequently chose to go that route.
Today, small business is a central focus for many consumers. Larger brands — like Walmart — have caught on to this trend and have begun to “act” small by promoting local products and local business connections.
Customers want to feel connected to the brands they interact with. They want to feel as though they’re giving back and supporting something other than “big brand America.” Jet, an online retailer set to become a competitor of Amazon, is harnessing this power by retailing big name products with a local flare. Acting small, even if you’re not, is a branding trend to get on board with today.
Getting in the Conversation
Conversations are connectors. If you don’t believe this, hop on any social media platform and take a look around. Now, more than ever before, consumers are looking for connections with each other and with the brands that they interact and do business with.
This means that getting in the conversations is critical. Look for product mentions, hashtags that relate to your brand and questions that you can answer and jump in. Encourage customer comments and interact publically when possible.
The more involved you appear, the more solid your branding will become. Seamless, an online delivery service for restaurants in specific locales, is one brand to watch. Their customer service through social channels is nearly flawless. Because of this, the startup has grown into a household name in the past year.
To make the most of branding, follow the simple strategies of successful startups and be willing to make a change starting today.
Image by StartupStockPhotos