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7 Identity guidelines to kick-start a start-up.

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I would like to begin by quoting from my own experience. Prior to the debut of my first venture, I did not prioritise its branding at all and 15 days before D-day, I realised I had nothing on its brand identity.

Of course, we did a hurried job and came up with something but looking back, I may have wanted to it differently. But unfortunately, whatever I did, it stuck and it was too late to make any changes.

And that is exactly what I would like to emphasise on this week.

You have a great product that is all set to hit the stands. But that is not the only thing that is going to help you create an impact.

In a market full of great ideas (and not so great ones too), it is the branding which is a big part of why some startups kick off and some don’t.

As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos once said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” As the founder of your business, that makes it your job to make sure that these conversations are steered in the right direction.

Here are my top 7 tips on how you can create a great brand out of your business idea:

  1. Leave it to the experts

As the boss of your own venture, you probably have to be a jack of all trades. But this is one area where you should not think of a DIY method.

Invest in an in-house Brand Manager or Marketing Head. Or better yet, bring a 360-degree communication agency on board too – branding, social media, PR, the works. It will be worth it and will pay off in the larger scheme of things.

Of course, you and the rest of your team must still remain involved in the broader part of the process but hiring a professional will go a long way to lend strength in building your brand.

  1. Do your homework

Think who you would like to be visible to, who are the people who would be using your product and why; what is it that appeals to them and how will you leverage that to reach out to them.

Don’t just vaguely define your target audience as SEC A+ or categorise them merely as income groups and age groups. Delve deeper. Think of them as real people (which they are, of course) with real personalities and real lives. What are some of the other products they use, what are their interests and how do other brands reach them.

Then do your own research first hand and go and talk to them. Get introduced through family, friends and neighbours. Trust me, people love to share their opinions and dispel advise. What could be more flattering that a new, upcoming organisation wants to know more about what they think!

  1. Think of your brand as a person

If your brand were a person, who would it be? What is its story and how will it connect with your consumers on an emotional level?

The process of humanising a brand is a great strategy and team learning exercise.

Remember that brands are a lot like human beings – just like they come in to being, they can grow old and also die. There are those we love and those we don’t. Our preference and choice of brands say a lot about our own personalities.

If you can effectively work out your brand personality, it will be easier to reach out to your target audience.

  1. Now think – does your brand personality match with that of your target demographics?

This is the main reason why humanising your brand is so important. More often than not, I have noticed a complete mismatch in the personality of the brand and the audience being targeted.

For example, if you are hoping that middle-class homemakers in Tier II cities will buy your product, your brand personality cannot be that of a suave GQ Man, living the good life in the Big Apple.

Now there can be another perspective here, that opposites attract. But that is going to be true only if you want your product to be an aspirational one, not a utility-based one that warrants a degree of comfort.

  1. It’s beyond creatives and collateral

Do not limit your branding to just the brochures, your website and other tangibles. Extend it to your voice on industry forums, how you deal with the press, your interaction on social media and more.

Depict the brand’s personality in the way your team dresses for work, the aesthetics of your office and the publications that you advertise in.

Communication after all is always the full 360-degrees.

  1. But looks matter nevertheless

In a world where the consumer’s attention span has been reduced to less than a teaspoon, it is how you look that attracts your brand to them.

It is then the tangibles like your logo, visiting card and advertisements set the tone for what one can expect from your brand and set the mood for purchase.

  1. Choose where you are visible

Now that you have your brand personality in place, it is time to create a visual story of it. Leverage your channels of communication wisely – whether it is the share-ability factor of your social media posts, how engaging you are at industry forums and trade shows or what media you are choosing to advertise.

Every visual of your brand must tell the same story. Only then will you achieve singularity of communication and your brand’s personality will resonate with your target audience for a longer period of time.

In summation, I’m going to take the help of famed brand consultant, Alina Wheeler’s words, “Brand is the promise, the big idea, the expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, service or company. Branding is about making an emotional connection.”

And that pretty much sums it all up.

Kalyan Gali
Kalyan Gali
An enterprising professional and an astute strategist with an impressive track record of nearly 17 years in setting up tech start-ups globally, product & technology consulting, product design, process operations and implementing strategic interventions. An incredible professional journey of several challenges and opportunities, I commenced my career as a Software Engineer, UX/UI Design lead and then have worked in senior positions as a Sr. Director-Technology, VP-Product Development, Tech Innovation Manager and Media Head with renowned IT corporates. Presently, I am handling diverse assignments as an Independent Entrepreneur /Expert Strategist/ Consultant. Known best as a passionate leader and a Technology Evangelist, I have outstanding contributions in enhancing revenue streams by recommending tactical solutions, implementing best business practices, technology transfers, facilitating creative synergies and streamlining the operational framework. I have extensive experience in the areas of Product Management & Consulting, Business Development, P&L Management, Media & Communication Strategies, Research, and Content Management. Demonstrated excellence in Technical Administration, Masterminding Business Expansion plans, Optimising Resources and establishing the Systems & processes in place along with a high level of client satisfaction. Deft in analysing the business dynamics, visualising big picture, managing multiple stakeholders and providing leadership to the cross-functional teams. I am a people-oriented leader, strongly believing in maintaining long term mutually beneficial relationships by way of effective communication and collaborative efforts. Entrepreneurship is in my genes. My dad and mom have inspired me to do things differently and be a trend-setter. I have learned the skills of business handling, strategy and people management from my parents.

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