The term “branding” is as popular among the startup community as the term “entrepreneur” these days, and for good reason. However, to reap the benefits of having a streamlined, catchy, and successful branding scheme, it’s important to know exactly what “branding” is.

What is Branding?

As is the case with many aspects of marketing, branding requires a perfect marriage of analysis and creativity. Though many definitions exist on this mighty internet, one of the most concise is “the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company.”

The latter half sometimes becomes a difficult pill to swallow, but many companies have found success by accident, after realizing the product or service they offered was more popular among a demographic they may not have intentionally marketed to.

Thus, determining the “who” (a.k.a. a target audience) as far as where to aim your marketing is just as important as the “what” which is the actual style, message, and delivery of the message to potential consumers.

The Nike Swoosh is a prime example of an uber-successful branding scheme. Given, the company has had decades to build the brand, but when an everyday American sees a Nike Swoosh, they think “sports” immediately, and that is successful branding to a T.

One thing that startups in 2021 have that Nike did not, is an extremely cheap avenue for marketing that lies in social media and other online outlets. Here are four tips on how to build a successful branding scheme and get it off the ground.

Big Data is Your Friend

Everyone has a vision for their brand, but the odds of that vision being exactly what you need to be successful are quite low. Utilizing services like Google Analytics to see spending trends in your target audience can help you build a message that will offer them something that data has proven they are more likely to buy.

Competition breeds innovation, and when it comes to analytics, your competition is very much your friend. Research your competition’s customer habits, and use that knowledge to determine where your competition may be missing, and fill the niche accordingly.

There is plenty of legwork involved in this, but web analytic services are very inexpensive and are a necessity for ensuring your vision is going to have a receptive audience. This competitor research can also help you determine branding strategies, as you’ll get a good taste of what works and what doesn’t base on your competitor analysis.

Ultimately, sharing what works and innovating solutions for what doesn’t relative to that competition should be a key determinant of how your brand will look.

Take Your Time

Your brand launch shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in your circle. Don’t even set a launch date until you have taken all the necessary steps to determine your audience, and even then set it months down the road to give yourself ample time to the hype (and secretly tweak) your product or service.

There is an art in determining your timeline, as well, but giving yourself time to smooth out issues before a launch can save a lot of headaches and apologies compared to launching too early.

Congruence and Abundance

Once you have chosen a message, logo, and style for your branded materials, make sure they are sending the same message across all of your outlets.

In 2021, it’s an inexpensive option to keep all of your marketing online, but whether it be a website, a social media post, or an email to potential customers, messaging and branding need to be the same so your brand gets ingrained in those potential customers’ heads.

Build a media plan strategy and utilize every outlet your budget will allow, and be sure that everything looks the same and sends the same message to your target audience no matter where they may be consuming that message.

Don’t Be Shy

There is no blanket solution for creating a good brand, as it depends almost wholly on who you determine your target audience will be. With that, unless you’re in an industry that is very, very conservative, have some fun creating your brand. Be colorful, be bold, and be different.

The “different” aspect should be easy to determine with the aforementioned competition research, and the other two are up to you. These bold messages and loud color schemes should be the same across all of your marketing arenas (congruence and abundance).

Use Data Again

After you do ample research, create a unique and bold brand, and ultimately launch that brand, conduct a similar study as you did on your competition with your own brand utilizing analytic software. You can see what worked and what didn’t, and quickly make changes related to where your brand is performing the best or even if it’s performing at all.

Don’t expect to hit a proverbial home run on your initial launch, but rest easy knowing that there are countless resources to help you determine exactly when and where your brand will perform the best.