Bootstrapping a brand can be both exhilarating and terrifying. You’re out there in the entrepreneurship frontier wondering if the steps you’re taking are the right ones. In a society where perception makes a huge difference in profitability, your brand is just as important as your product. Don’t just take our word for it: 59% of customers say their decision of when a brand becomes a favorite of theirs occurs right after their first purchase or when services begin. Capturing those customers from the get-go is where branding comes into play, and startups are listening. 84% of B2B marketers say brand awareness is the key marketing goal for their business. These days, branding isn’t just about having a functional website, it’s about showcasing your values, your company, and your product with knockout content across the board. But where do you begin? The good news is chances are as a business entrepreneur, you’ve already started getting your ducks in a row. Here are a few steps you can take to successfully build a brand from scratch:
Identify your values. By discerning your values, you’re able to identify what makes your startup unique. Does your company have a mentorship program or host company picnics? Are your principles listed on your website and do they guide your decisions? Creating a brand is more about a definition of how your business behaves than anything else. Use your values to tell your story, and remember that your story and values go beyond first impressions. Your values should permeate your brand across everything you do – from your website and your social platforms to your business cards and your company culture. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words.
Identify your customers. Define your brand as a person, and determine who they are. Are they male or female? Do they dress a certain way or grocery shop at a certain market? What is their personality like? Exploring your brand as though it was a person helps you consider who your brand’s friends and family might be, and those friends and family are who your customers are. Trying to target everyone is an exercise in futility. Be specific and intentional with your demographics. Use data that you’ve collected from places like your social media channels and web analytics to guide your decisions about who your customer is and cater your branding accordingly.
Invest in great content. Unless you have someone in house with extensive knowledge in creative or content marketing, it’s time to outsource. Hire an agency that specializes in content. Doing so will allow you to do what you do best (aka run your company) and will allow the agency to do what they do best (aka tell your story). It goes without saying that you should remain involved in the process. This will help your team with buy-in and will help the agency better brand your business. Plus, it will create a more authentic voice for your brand. If you can’t afford an agency, look into freelancers and contractors. There are over 53 million freelancers in the U.S. Take advantage of them! Whatever you decide, you want to clearly and consistently communicate what you represent, and an expert can ensure you’re doing so.
Invest in great tools (or use the free ones to your benefit). There are tons of tools out there for startup businesses to use to bootstrap branding. Use Canva for creating attention grabbing social media graphics, cover photos, infographics, and more. Canva is free to use which makes it even more appealing. If you need to resize or edit photos, give PicMonkey a try. The tool doesn’t require anything to use, not even a login. When it comes to free stock images for business, try Stocksnap.io or Kaboompics. Google Analytics is another tool that we can’t get enough of. You’ll be able to see if your target demographics are on point with your web visitors, where your web traffic is coming from, and where you should focus your advertising dollars. Don’t forget to invest in a fantastic bookkeeping tool, too. You know how we feel about Quickbooks and Xero, but most accounting software can be branded to include your logos and color schemes (remember consistency is key even in invoicing!).
When it comes to identifying your brand, it’s important to consider everything from your customers to your values, but remember, you’re not alone. At the end of the day, building a brand from scratch is something every entrepreneur has to face. Equipped with the right knowledge and the right tools, you’ll handle it like the professional you are.