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  • October 20th, 2014

Start-up Branding: 6 questions you should ask yourself.

branding startup 6 questions  - Mary Van de WielFor start-up entrepreneurs looking to get their business up and running, imagine this scenario:

You’re agitated about many things but there is one thing in particular: It’s about your brand.

You can’t quite get your head around it.

Your  launch date is getting closer.

And you find all that jargon irritating ––jargon like brand loyalty or brand extensions.

Sound familiar?

OK In Full Disclosure: This is really about getting you to fall helplessly in love with your brand. It’s really that simple.
Here is a glossary of terms, prods, probes and 6 questions that will give you fresh new lens through which to re-imagine your thinking!

Question #1:  What is BRAND ESSENCE?
Or, All Good Brands have Heart

You are the vision master of your brand, without a doubt. At the heart of it, you are the beat and soul of your brand, and its driving spirit. The term brand essence refers to the core of your brand and what you & your business stand for: That’s your values.

Ask Yourself: Does your brand have heart and soul? Real people, you know, respond positively to heart and soul because it tells them you’re real too. It’s that simple.  Articulate your real spirit and the core essence of who you are, what you stand for, why it matters — and why anyone should give a damn. If you communicate with that kind of intention, it will resonate clearly with your audience. In fact, it’s going to attract new customers, for sure.

Question #2: What is BRAND RECOGNITION?
Or, All Good Brands like to Stand Out

Clarity is key here. Why? Being clear about your brand positions you in a different league. It sets you apart from the rest of the pack. What’s more, your world will perceive you through a clearer lens. (This is a critical factor in your new business launch or in landing the next job or the next big client.)

Ask Yourself: How much attention have you spent recently on giving your brand absolute clarity? Are you soaring ahead of your competition? (Clue: Brands prefer living out loud. They prefer sitting in the front seat. Not the back seat. You?)

Question #3: What is a BRAND AUDIT?
Or, All Good Brands Prefer an Excellent Report Card

As a Brand Auditor myself, I’m talking about a comprehensive, unbiased and systematic evaluation of your brand to assess its ‘pulse,’ vital signs and general overall health. This is about uncovering what your brand is really all about. The last trap you want to fall into is a Dead Brand Walking. Not a smart business strategy. PS If you get this bit right, it can be the most exhilarating aspect to bringing your brand to life.

Ask Yourself: So when’s the last time you took an unbiased look at your brand strategy, brand story and style of communication? (Are you aware of the invisible clues embedded in your brand? Believe me, there are many clues – whether you know it or not.) Because your brand is communicating to the world 24/7 via whatever marketing you are doing online, social media, blogging –– the lot.

Question #4: Who is the BRAND CHAMPION?
Or, All Good Brands Adore a Champion

If everyone is raving about you, it tells me you have an enthusiastic, loyal, dedicated and supportive fan base. By definition, that makes them your brand champions. Guess what? They’re your best advocates. They’re the ones spreading the word about you, your brilliance, your capabilities and everything you stand for. We all need engaged, committed and passionate brand champions. In fact, on today’s New Brand Landscape, it’s tough doing this alone: You need fans, a following, support, a tribe. You get the idea here, yes?

Ask Yourself:  How easy do you make it for your tribe of fans to spread the word about you? And, how can you best help your brand champions support you? (Just as importantly, how can you reciprocate and support their efforts? This is a key to your success. This is give and take vs I give/I take. See the difference?!)

Question #5: What are BRAND GUIDELINES?
Or, All Good Brands Need to Stay On Track

Absolutely, some rules are destined to be broken. Other rules, however, come in handy and do make the world go around. In a nutshell, Brand Guidelines are designed to keep your brand on track, inspired, aligned and motivated. But they have to work for you, and match your values, vision and sense of the future…

Ask Yourself: So what kinds of guidelines are in place across your brand? Remember, consistency is key. Take a look at everything: From your brand’s positioning, language, design, identity to your strategic guidelines, tone, behavior, attitude, even your brand voice, yes. (Do you know what’s the sound of your brand voice?)

Question #6: What is BRAND REVITALIZATION?
Or, All Good Brands Need a Bit of Shaking Up

You know all those healthy drinks that promise to revitalize you when you’re, say, hung over? Well, if your brand is starting to look pale or act listless or bland  (yes, it happens), you might want to think about a bit of brand revitalization. Try looking through a different filter. Take a fresh look at the kind of language you’re using. Rethink exactly what you want to be communicating. What matters to you – and why? What’s the emotional quotient behind your words? Remember, people do not want to be kept at arm’s length anymore. They want transparency, upfront and person. Willing to do that?

Ask Yourself:  What is your message actually telling your target audience? If eyes are glazing over, it’s time to inject a big healthy dose of energy to refresh your brand. How do you really perceive your brand? (This is not a simple question. It’s not a trick question, either. But perception stands for a lot so spend some time working on this one.)

If you’re having problems here, reach out and think about a Brand Audit. Email van@zingyourbrand.com

So are you finding yourself falling madly and helplessly in love with your brand yet?

Clue: This is really about emotional branding.If you’re a start-up entrepreneur, just remember your brand is just a feeling the world has around you and what you do. If you can get insert that in all your brand messaging on all the multi-channels out there, you’re going to be ahead of the rest of the pack. Seriously!

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