How to Build a Brand for Your Startup

Color swatches used for branding.

A great product or service is only one of the ingredients in the recipe for a successful startup. If a company has any hope of standing apart from the competition, it is essential for it to build a unique and recognizable brand. 

Building a brand, though, isn't always a straightforward process. If you want to develop a brand that will present your company and its products/services to customers in the most appealing way possible, you are going to need to put in a lot of thought and strategy. To help you get started, let's take a look at a step-by-step guide to startup branding. 

Recommended: Read our in-depth guide to startup marketing

What Is Startup Branding?

What do you imagine when you think of companies such as Amazon, Target, Apple, or any other company in existence? While their products and services might come to mind, most of what you are probably picturing is the company's branding. 

Startup branding is what makes a startup unique in the eyes of a customer, and it colors any customer-facing material that the company produces — from its logo to its marketing materials to its product packaging and everything in-between. 

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How to Create a Brand for Your Startup

1. Know Your Startup's Mission and Target Market

In the end, your company's branding is designed for a single primary purpose: attracting customers. With this being the case, it is essential to keep your target customers in mind throughout every step of the brand creation process. What style of messaging will your customers find most appealing? What type of designs are most likely to capture their attention? What are ways that can differentiate your branding from the other companies that your target customers have available to choose from? 

These are all the types of questions you should ask and answer as you go about building your brand, which is why defining your target market is a vital first step in the brand creation process. 

Along with designing your brand with your target market in mind, though, it is also important to build your brand around your company's mission. Given the fact that today's customers are more conscientious about their purchasing decisions than at any point in the past, customers should be able to look at your brand and understand what it is doing to make the world a better place.

2. Find Your Colors

Almost every company has a color scheme that it employs across the designs and materials that it produces, and for good reason. Having a standard color scheme in place provides another opportunity to make your brand more recognizable and distinguishable from its competition.

Along with choosing a color scheme that is unique and aesthetically pleasing, though, it's also important to consider the psychological impact of the colors that you use. Color theory is a study that examines how people subconsciously perceive different colors, and it's something that is certainly worth keeping in mind as you go about choosing the colors for your brand. 

The color green, for example, tends to elicit ideas of healthiness and nature, which is why it is used by so many agriculture and pharmaceutical brands. Blue, meanwhile, is associated with tranquility and intelligence and is commonly employed by technology and financial brands.

3. Design a Logo

Once you've chosen a color scheme for your brand, the next step is to incorporate those colors into a logo design. When designing a logo for your brand, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. 

For one, it's important to consider how your logo will look in different sizes and mediums. A design that looks great as a thumbnail on a computer screen, for instance, might not look as good on a large sign or billboard. Likewise, a logo that looks great against the black background of your own website might look entirely different when displayed on the white background of social media sites and other third-party websites. 

Along with ensuring that your logo's design is visually appealing in various sizes and mediums, it is also vitally important to consider your logo's messaging. What impression do you want to make on the customers viewing your logo? What are some important messages about your brand that can be conveyed by its logo design? Considering questions such as these along with your target market will help you design a logo that is itself a powerful branding and marketing tool. 

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4. Create a Website With Branding in Mind

Every website has a unique flavor to its design, and the design of your startup's website should reflect its branding. This includes visual branding elements such as your color scheme, logo, and other design choices such as fonts and format, but you will also want to be sure to incorporate your brand's messaging as well in the written content on your website. 

While it's certainly important to write website content with SEO and conversions in mind, it's also important to ensure that your site's content aligns with the brand you are trying to create. Your website is one part of your company's online presence that you actually have full control over, so it's important to design it wisely. 

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5. Don't Forget About Social Media

Engaging with customers is one of the most important parts of building a brand, and there's no better place to do so than social media platforms. With 3.6 billion people in the world currently using social media, you can guarantee that you will find your customers there no matter what your target market happens to be. 

From responding to direct messages to creating public posts, every interaction on social media is an opportunity to build your brand image. This makes it important to keep your social media messaging consistent across content and platforms and ensure that everything you publish reflects the style, tone, and messaging of your brand.

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How Much Does Startup Branding Cost?

Like many things, the cost of building a brand ultimately depends on how much you decide to spend. 

If you decide to do everything yourself, designing your own logo, building your own website, and so on, you might be able to create a brand without spending much at all. On the other hand, you may decide to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building your brand, hiring firms to perform market research, employing top design teams for your logo and website, bringing on a social media manager to run your social profiles, and plenty more. 

With that said, it is still helpful to look at the average cost of some items on a brand-building checklist. According to 99Designs, a good logo design should cost between $300 and $1300. The average cost of web design services is a little more difficult to pin down given the differences in complexity from one project to another. For basic web design services, though, $500-$2,000 would be a good estimate of what you should expect to pay. 

Assuming that you perform your own market research, run your own social media profiles, and create your own content, these will be the only expenses you have to pay to create a brand for your startup.