Brand essentials for start-ups

What is the most important branding advice for start-up new ventures?
The first essential for any start-up is to create your brand from the outset. Sounds obvious but many businesses choose to focus on selling their product or service and worry about the branding later. By addressing the brand issue from the outset it forces you to ask some awkward questions, like: ‘what does my brand stand for?’, ‘what is distinctive, memorable and different about my brand versus all the other suppliers in my marketplace?’, ‘how am I going to create positive perceptions amongst the prospects I want to reach?’.
In other words to get the thinking right in the first place which then allows you to consistently deliver your branding. That is the next essential: consistency. We live in a world of never ending marketing campaigns so it is easy to be mis-led into believing that we have to keep reinventing ourselves. The reality is the opposite – the strongest brands are the ones that are consistent because we like to understand what is on offer and if the message keeps changing it is just plain confusing. We know what brands like Apple or  Innocent Smoothies stand for even when the products they supply change.
The third essential is not to confuse your logo with having a brand. A logo is simply one element of your brand. In fact, even your brand identity (logo, colour palette, fonts, visual look)) is not your whole brand. Brands are also made up of positioning, character and messaging, or in corporate-speak your ‘brand strategy’. But you don’t have to be a large business to have a strategy. You need to see what others are doing and make sure that you are not just offering more of the same. You need to build a personality for your business that sets you apart and lets people know what your style and approach is about. You need to define the one key message that you want to communicate (along with a small number of supporting messages) and say it as often and as loudly as you can. 
Brand nerds like us can get excited about a great deal more brand detail than this, but if you are able to address the essentials above then you will go a long way to supporting the success of your new venture. And a fair wind, plenty of luck and lots of effort will also help. Best of luck on your journey. 
Alun Williams | Jan-17