Brand Strategy for Startups
A startup brand is like a shark, if it stays still too long it dies. The startup business strategy of pivoting often actually works great for startup branding as well, as long as it's done right.
At Condensed we are always trying to push our clients brands forward and helping them re-invent themselves, with this said, there are some core components of your branding that should never change.
Naming Your Startup
In theory a startup's name should never change. When creating a new brand, many times naming is rushed or done by the founders. This is not necessarily a bad thing, some of the greatest startup names have come from the brains of the founders. Naming a company is an artform though, and when you name companies often you can get better at it, and even gain a sixth sense of what will and will not cause trademark disputes. We've helped re-name several startups, mostly because of trademark issues, so it's important to get this right from the beginning. The extra time and money it takes to do it correctly is very small in comparison to the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to rename a company after doing business for a while.
The Logo Mark
Whether it be a word mark, a brand icon or a combination of both, there needs to be this cornerstone of the visual identity; the rock that never changes! Look at the type based logo Coke or the symbol of the Nike swoosh. Can you imagine some top C-level execs at Coke sitting around a boardroom table discussing how to improve their wordmark? Or changing the curves on the Nike Swoosh? These logo marks are timeless and iconic.
Core Brand Values
If the logo mark is the cornerstone of the visuals, the core values are the cornerstone of the messaging.
Core values are like the soul of a brand. They should be well defined and understood or else a lot of other things that come later, like the tone of voice you choose to communicate, or the message you try to convey, won't make any sense or feel cohesive.
When to re-invent a brand
Literally everything else about the brand and the company can (and should) be in constant flux. Pivoting and evolving the company's messaging and visuals over time keeps the brand looking and feeling young and relevant. Just be sure to start with the correct foundation; without core values or a visual guide, things will quickly fall apart.
Knowing when to make these changes is what’s called ‘Brand Strategy’. We have been developing brands for over ten years, so we know what works and what doesn’t and we have gut feelings as to when it’s time to refresh branding.