TOP 6 Startup Branding Mistakes

Startup Branding Mistakes

Each startup always has an idea at its core. This idea can be extremely useful and innovative. But unfortunately, according to statistics, about 90% of startups fail to realize and deliver their core idea to their targeted consumers. 

Obviously, such a large percentage of failures is caused by various factors, including a lack of interested investors, unsuccessful operational work and incorrect adjustment of the processes, and so on. However, a poor development of the company’s brand identity is one of the most important reasons why young companies fail in conveying their main idea to their target audience.

And thus, we present you with 6 most common startup branding mistakes that should be taken into account and prevented at the stage of developing a startup branding strategy if you want your startup to survive and even prosper.

#1 Mistake – Choosing an unengaging name

77% of consumers make purchases based on a brand name. We don’t really call Kleenex tissue, just like most people don’t say tablet – they say iPad. A great brand name will become synonymous with the product or the service.

The main thing that should be resembling your brand for the consumer is not the color of your business cards or the intricate logo design, but the name itself. This is why you have to put your maximum effort into creating it.

The first quality that a brand name ought to possess is brevity. Short, catchy and easily pronounced word(s) is what people are most likely to remember. It should also sound equally awesome in different languages because at any moment your small startup can grow into a huge corporation, and then, it will be too late to change the name. Such examples as Google and Xerox prove that concise names are not only easier to hear by consumers but can also become part of the language. Thus, people say “google” when they are going to search for information in a browser, and all photocopy machines are called xerox.

Gradually we are moving to the second quality of successful naming – which is internationality. You must make sure that the word you want to use as the name doesn’t have inappropriate meaning in other languages. There are many similar examples such as the popular Mitsubishi Pajero SUV, which was named after a leopard, but then it turned out that in the Spanish language this word has a completely different meaning, so vulgar that in Spanish-speaking countries the car was renamed into Montero.
The third and final quality of well-chosen naming is associativity. This is not necessary, but for a young company, which is just starting its long way on a road to greatness, it will be at hand if their name reflects their activity or product. A good example is the Swiss brand of watches SWATCH, the name of which resembles both the company and the product it produces.

#2 Mistake – Trying to please everyone

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. 
~ Bill Cosby

If your main goal is to create a brand that absolutely everyone will like, forget it. Each person has their own tastes and preferences, and in pursuit of quantity your brand may lose its “thing” and individuality. No matter what niche you’re competing in, if you take your stand and promote your values ​​and views, you will certainly find your audience. 

Branding positioning example: Pepsi VS Coca-Cola

A good example would be the confrontation between Coca Cola and Pepsi. At their core, the products are quite similar to each other. The difference is that one company focuses on family values, home holiday and comfort, while the other focuses on sports, youth and active lifestyle. At the same time, both brands have a large number of consumers and fans.
First of all, at the stage of developing a brand strategy, it is worthwhile to take the time to determine your target audience and the buyer persona. A way of doing this as efficiently as possible is described in-depth in this article.

#3 Mistake – Neglecting your Personality

This mistake is most often made by startups from the crypto world. Due to the lack of time and funding, young companies look at their successful competitors in the niche and copy their style. And as a result, we get a huge number of similar corporate identities that do not stand out fundamentally.

Startups derivative design example based in crypto industry

It should be understood that mimicking the style of a successful company will not give you the same results. A unique corporate startup brand identity that conveys your character and personality will bring much more value to you.

#4 Mistake – Excessive focus on fashion and trends

Undoubtedly, trends in design play a crucial role, as every year new colors, shapes and trends come into fashion. But during the development of corporate identity and startup branding, it is worth looking ahead relying only a little on today’s trends, and not blindly copying them. Since a good identity is not developed only for a year, two or even 5 years, and all this time it should remain fresh and relevant.

BBC logotype evolution

One of the best examples for this particular thread is the BBC Corporation. Their last redesign took place in 1997 and today, even after more than 20 years the logo continues to be modern and doesn’t need to be substantially changed. Taking this into account, when developing your own style, it is crucial to analyze the trends of recent years, and on their basis, to plan a vector for further development of the design, coming up with an identity that is slightly ahead of time. Thus, you will maintain your brands’ relevance and recognition, as frequent updates and redesigns significantly reduce the latter.

#5 Mistake – Lack of a full picture

After developing a relevant and modern corporate identity, the next mistake that may arise is a negligent attitude to the process of its implementation. Identity is the facade of the brand, and you need to ensure that it is correctly adhered to in all channels of communication with the consumers.

The first important details are properly designed social networks and a website, as they serve as the main tools in communication with the customers. In order for corporate identity to be an advantage and not a crutch, you would have to develop a guideline with rules for its usage. Besides the fact that such a document will help you in properly using your startup brand identity, it should also be passed on to any contractors with whom you work. This will prevent your brand from being displayed incorrectly. This issue remains quite relevant, since not everywhere there are professional designers who can work correctly with brand identity.

Startup brand identity example

#6 Mistake – Dividing personal and brand character

The final thing you should pay attention to is the brand’s character. Each company has a creator and an ideological inspirer with its own values and worldview. And an extremely important step in creating a startup branding strategy is the implementation of these very views into the foundation of the brand. Sincerity and trustworthiness depend on this quality, as people can either believe in your communication with them or recognize falsehood and pretense. It’s worth focusing your attention on this at the earliest stages of development and shaping the entire future brand strategy based on its character.

A prime example of this is Apple. Steve Jobs has long been the face and ideological inspirer of the company, that is why it is completely built on his views, such as progressiveness, an orientation for the future, great attention to small details and to the overall appearance. For example, Jobs meticulously approached the issue of fonts and the beauty of the user interface as a whole, while other companies did not care about this and were mostly focused on the technical capabilities of computers. This man was ahead of the curve, as he understood that UX (user experience) plays a crucial role in the selection of a product by a user. Owing to his thinking, the company managed to achieve such success and make a revolution in the world of technology.

Sincerity is something that can give your brand unlimited trust on the part of both ordinary consumers and investors.

Final Words

The creation of a worthy, long-term brand depends on many factors and nuances, which as a result should converge into an integral design and remain relevant for many years. And in the process of brand development and creating a startup branding strategy, one shouldn’t be afraid to experiment and make mistakes. But at the planning and development stage, each omission can become fatal, therefore it is better to pay attention to fundamentals and avoid the most common startup branding mistakes. 

Alternatively, you can transfer the construction of the brand foundation to professionals. The RGray team, a startup branding agency, will be happy to help you with this.

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