Choosing branding elements that define your business to your audience and distinguish you from competitors can be challenging for startups.
Your brand style is what customers use to identify you and your products—it is one of the most visible aspects of a company—which is why it needs to be planned out carefully.
It is best to use process diagramming to plan out your branding elements, how they will communicate your brand, and how you will implement your brand across various materials.
What are the essential elements of a brand? Here are the top five that all startups need to create.
Your brand logo is the most visible part of your company—it is trademarked to represent your company and hence, is one of the most essential branding elements.
The logo is tied into your brand name, but also with the products you sell—it doesn’t need to be a replica of your name, but it should evoke the essence of your brand.
Of course, some brand names lend themselves to literal translations in logo form—Apple and Target have logos that leave nothing to the imagination.
Google and Coca Cola have created logos out of their names—albeit with stylized fonts that are instantly recognizable.
On the other hand, if you look at the logos for Starbucks or Twitter, you won’t immediately be able to distinguish their brand name—these brands have chosen the interpretative route.
When designing your logo, ensure that it resonates either with your name or services—otherwise, creating an attractive logo that doesn’t tell your story will defeat the purpose of the exercise.
Once you design your logo, you need to incorporate it into your marketing efforts and administrative materials, like letterheads and reports.
Letterheads are particularly impactful for demonstrating branding elements like your logo and personality—and they put an official stamp on any documentation.
For startups, it may seem like creating a letterhead is an easy task—slap your logo into one corner of a letter, and you’re done.
While that does the job, it doesn’t accomplish the function of a letterhead—to look more official but also give the startup room to showcase its personality.
Look at this corporate letterhead—note how the company has added a border and used multiple brand colors.
When creating a letterhead, consider the following tips to get this branding element right:
Follow the above points to design a letterhead that accurately reflects your company’s values.
A company name and logo may come easier to entrepreneurs than a tagline or slogan—yet, it is a branding element that is almost as memorable as a brand name.
Slogans and taglines are used interchangeably, although a slogan is more about the company’s mission, whereas a tagline is short and quippy.
Whether you create a slogan or a tagline, remember that it has to be reflective of your brand, such as Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’, or Pringle’s ‘Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop’.
Once you settle on a tagline, you can use it for marketing purposes like social media hashtags, advertising campaigns, and event posters.
Visuals may seem like branding elements that are brought in when a startup is creating its content marketing strategy, but they should be part of the earliest business planning processes.
Your brand visuals showcase your company’s values and ethos—which is why you need to decide how you will present yourself early on.
For some companies, behind-the-scenes photos are the best way to showcase their culture, as Asana does.
Other brands may feel that illustrations or graphics depict the ethos of the brand better.
You need to decide which works best for your business. Analyze competitors in your industry to determine the kind of visuals they are using and how you can stand apart from them.
The tone of voice a startup adopts is an important branding element—and a powerful marketing tool.
While not an easily discernible aspect of branding, the tone of a company’s messages can impact the way it is perceived by the audience.
Brand tone needs to be defined before company communications are shared—and this doesn’t just mean externally, but internally to employees, as well.
The brand voice chart below can help startups define what they want to imbue into their messaging.
Among the many branding elements that startups need to consider when building their companies, we have shared five of the most important:
By following the guidelines for these elements, startups can begin to present themselves to their audience in ways that reflect their ethos and personality.