Branding Exercises for Your Startup

Even though it may seem that branding is a privilege of powerful industry giants, startups depend on public perception and recognition even more, as  59% of the customers prefer to purchase from brands familiar to them. 

That makes branding an essential and crucial part of your marketing strategy and the only way to make your startup stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive market. 

Why Do Startups Need Branding?

Branding helps you communicate your message to your target audience in a way that is unique and appealing, and that sets you apart from your competitors who are trying to attract that same audience.

Here are some of the most important reasons why branding is important to startups:

  • It provides your startup with a unique brand identity, an authentic look and feel of your business. The way your brand identity is designed tells your customers the story of your business and sets the tone for its interaction with the audience. If your brand identity is strong, it will instantly communicate who you are, what your startup is about and what your unique value proposition is. 
  • Boost your visibility. Branding will make it easier for your target customers to differentiate you and recognize you from all the others, thus improving your odds for success.
  • Attracting the right kind of customers. Strong brand identity will successfully address the right prospects, and if they’re satisfied with your offer, you can turn them into loyal customers.
  • Strong and consistent branding will help you establish a better position in the market, as you will be considered trustworthy and credible, and instill trust in your customers.
  • An important part of branding is related to values your business stands for, so it will help you form meaningful relationships with the customers that share the same values.

Unless you’re a professional in marketing and branding yourself, consider outsourcing expert tasks to skilled design and branding agencies, that can make your branding ideas come to life.

A branding agency like Red&Gray can help you brainstorm the ideas of your stakeholders in a workshop so that you are certain all the main bases are well-thought-of and professionally covered.

A Few Exercises for Your Team to Try Out

However, there are some fun and insightful exercises you can try out with your team members, that will bring you a few steps closer to the definition of your brand, and help you understand its purpose and value better.

Here are a few ideas for your startups’ efficient brand-storming.

Who’s Your Customer?

Choose pictures of many different types of people, and print them out. Persons you select should be of different age, gender, coming from various socio-demographic backgrounds and be engaged in various activities. Choose whatever you think may be related to your business.

Spread them out over a table, and have each team member choose the one photo that they think could be your target customer. 

Have your team members describe your target customer by answering the questions: Who are they? Where do they live? Where do they work? How do they spend their time? Let them explain the customer in as many details as they can, covering their needs, interests, hobbies, and challenges.

Now, let them try to connect the customer with your product, and see how it would fit them and improve their lives. What would attract this customer to your product?

During the discussion that will follow, you will learn a lot about your possibilities to differentiate your startup from the other players in your niche and how to form a meaningful connection with your target audience.

Who Should Be Your Celebrity Spokesperson?

To learn more about your own brand personality and the way it communicates with the audience, have each of your team members choose three celebrities who would be ideal spokespersons for your brand.

They can have whoever they like – politicians, actors, business people, musicians, even fictional characters, as long as they think they would be the ones who would ideally represent the brand.

Discuss your choices together with you so that you can get a better insight into what exact differentiators could be important to your target audience.

Sticky Qualities

If you want to define how your brand looks, speaks, and feels, try to determine its core attributes.

You begin by giving each one of your team members sticky papers and pencils and ask them to write down attributes or short phrases that are related to your brand. You should all think about the ways your start-ups differ from your competitors and try to use less generic traits. Let them say it out loud before sticking it to a table so that they can give ideas to others.

You can limit the time for the activity to 10 minutes, or finish the session after two minutes of silence. After a break, go for another round.

After you’ve finished writing down the attributes, decide as a group in favor of or against each one of them, and classify them in Yes or No groups – those that can or can’t describe your brand. 

There will probably be many disagreements, but they can be beneficial, as you will be able to clarify some of the most challenging points together.

When you’ve finished classifying the stickers,  focus on the Yes attributes only. Try to organize them by grouping attributes that you find similar. 

Even though you won’t be quite aware of what you’re doing at first, you’re most likely to organize them in groups that are related to your brand’s personality, visual traits, and tone, as well as your startups’ vision and mission.

What We’re Not

However, it’s not only important to determine what your brand is, but it’s also crucial to make it more specific.

You can use every attribute or short-expression used to describe your brand and then specify it further. For example, your brand can be direct in its communication, but not aggressive. It can be emotional, but not corny, or simple but not plain.

Your brand will be more coherent and clear if you include such differentiators in your brand guidelines too and explain to your team and prospects what your brand is not.

Brand Comparisons

One of the ways to understand how your startup differs from your competitors is by a simple exercise of analogy.

Begin with choosing an industry (tech companies, clothing, restaurants, cosmetics, etc.). Each one of your team members should identify a brand in that industry that is similar to your brand, and another one that is similar to your key competitor.

Try to agree as a group on those comparisons, and determine what characteristics are the ones that will make your startup stand out from the crowd.

As branding can, in fact, make or break your successes on the market, make sure to give it all the resources it deserves.

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