Concept stage branding & marketing is an important aspect of creating a new startup. It’s never too early to begin considering the branding and marketing …
Startups in the concept stage should focus on ideation, product or service validation, customer needs, the competitive environment and beginning the funding process. As they begin to establish their companies, entrepreneurs will find they need to register and file with the appropriate state and federal governments. However, some don’t consider the importance of initial branding & marketing as part of this process. Following are seven items entrepreneurs should address as they conduct their research on the opportunity before them.
Naming the Startup
Without a name, your startup cannot develop an identity. This is one of the most important initial branding & marketing efforts of a company. This process is also one of the most difficult endeavors of branding. Generally, most entrepreneurs will choose a word or phrase that distinctively represents their company or its product or services.
This does not necessarily imply entrepreneurs should choose a word or phrase that literally spells out what the company does. Plenty of accomplished businesses similar to Duolingo or Snapchat have names that explain what they do. However, many other successful brands such as Google, Uber, or Starbucks have names that are not related to their products/services. Their unique names quickly became associated with their product/service because it successfully met their target customers’ needs. In essence, a startup’s name should be interesting and attractive to consumers but also represent the values of the startup and be appealing to their target market.
Build a Website
The first step in building a website is the process of obtaining website URLs, which should occur simultaneously with the naming of the company. This is especially important for internet based businesses. Each website has an associated URL. A URL is an acronym for Universal Resource Locator which is a protocol for delineating addresses on the internet. Availability of appropriate URLs are critical to SEO and SEM efforts to drive traffic.
Tip: Put some consideration into whether your website should end in .com /.co / .net /.org etc. Although it can seem like a small detail, this element can represent the purpose of a company. For instance, websites that end in .net or .org will imply to a user that this company is a non-profit or educational site. Choose your website URL wisely.
This is an acronym for “search engine optimization” which should be considered beginning with the development of the website.” SEO includes processes and methods used to increase site rankings on search engines like Google and Bing to maximize user traffic to the site. This is evaluated by the frequency that search results return the site on an internet search engine. SEM (search engine marketing) is a type of online marketing designed to drive traffic to a specific website to optimize its ranking. Often this includes, but is not limited to, paying for the site to appear in search engine results.
These terms refer to a company’s website, its accessibility, and their strategy to drive third party traffic to it. Effectively utilizing SEO and SEM can drastically improve a company’s exposure to its target market; thereby accumulating valuable information about their consumers. Thanks to the innovation of technology, there is also a low cost method to drive website traffic: social media.
Social media consists of various online communities that share information, communicate ideas and personal messages, and engage with others. Users can share blog articles, photos, life events, video, and more with other users. This form of social sharing strengthens relationships and networking among colleagues, friends, and family. At this moment in time, the most important social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora and Twitter.
As social media has grown, it has drastically changed how businesses can gain exposure and interact with their consumers. By strategically setting up a foundation to connect and respond to consumers, startups can increase their credibility and improve consumers’ confidence in their brand. It is important for concept stage companies to consider a social media strategy as they develop and make sure appropriate handles and usernames are available.
A name is only half of a brand’s identity. A logo is the symbol that represent a company or its products or services. It may also be a motto or identifying statement related to a company. Effective logos cause consumers to think of the business that is being represented immediately. Famous logos recognized around the world include Mickey Mouse from Disney, the “Golden Arches,” a.k.a the giant M from McDonalds, and the apple from Apple. Think of the phrase “an image is worth a thousand words.” Use that to begin designing a logo that will faithfully represent your startup.
Tip: Great logos should be versatile. They should not only look good in their original color, but should be able to be converted to black, white, grey, or any other color. This gives brands flexibility when advertising and marketing.
Once the logos have been created, the startup will need to protect them from use by third parties. This is accomplished through the use of Trademark and Servicemark registrations. A Trademark is an identifying word, phrase, design or symbol that permits third parties to distinguish and differentiate the goods of differing parties. A Servicemark is an identifying word, phrase, design or symbol that permits third parties to distinguish and differentiate the sources of differing parties’ services.
Market Channels (a.k.a. distribution channels) are the resources and processes necessary to facilitate the transfer of ownership of goods and/or services from the point of production to the point of acquisition. Thoroughly understanding the opportunity’s market channels will enable efforts to market the products or services in the future.
Concept stage branding & marketing is an important aspect of establishing the face of a new startup. It’s never too early to begin considering the branding and marketing of the concept stage startup opportunity.