I recently had the opportunity to speak with Fabian Geyrhalter, one of the top branding experts in the US, about his recent book: How to Launch a Brand. Fabian provided me fascinating insight into the process of building a brand. I asked Fabian if he could share some of his expertise with the readers of Best Business Books to Read, and he agreed to in the form of the Guest Post below.
How to Launch Your Startup as a Brand – Fabian Geyrhalter
Most entrepreneurs, even seasoned brand managers, launch first and then work on slowly transforming the new offering into a brand. A logical progression, I would agree. After all, how can you possibly launch as a brand if you don’t have any customers or marketing outreach and obviously, as you just launched a new brand you have no legacy or advocates?
The simple answer is: by design. Apply great and consistent design to your visual marketing communications from the get-go while ensuring your venture has a process in place to create and voice a story that consumers/clients can believe in:
1. Find Your Venture’s Soul
Consumers want more out of their brands than products and sales. They don’t trust brands without a soul, and trust is all you need as a new brand. Enable your customers to believe in what your company stands for.
This is not about your financial competitive advantage or the additional feature your product has over your rivals; it is about creating a reason to care, allowing you to form a deep relationship with your early brand adopters. People don’t care about you, until they know you care about them is an old saying that holds true when it comes to your brand.
Start to think outside the document that is your business plan. Take the time to create a brand foundation, a Brand Platform, which is a layered and interconnected web held together by a core of company values. Craft a story and internally formulate your brand attributes. Beyond the remarkable benefit a strong philosophy has for your intended market and your consistent brand voice and actions, it further boosts morale among stakeholders and employees. It engenders loyalty and commitment.
2. Launch By Design
On the one hand, design relates to the systematic process you have to adhere to when creating your brand identity pre-launch, but in addition, it truly is design that holds the key to the success of your new brand graphic design, brand identity design, and web design.
Your Name: Derive a meaningful name that is easy to pronounce, memorable and that must be available as a .com domain.
Your Identity Design: Create a lasting mark that resembles your values rather than something trendy that is destined to not remain timeless. Your logo is not the right place to opt for a hip design; it needs to be functional and true to your brand’s soul.
Your Brand Atmosphere Touch Points: Anything you put your company name on needs to be perfectly cohesive as one brand image: from tonality, colors, and photography to logo usage. This consistency will create memorability and establish stickiness for your brand.
Your Website: Think of your users and the top things they want to accomplish on your site, then craft a user Interface that creates efficient paths for them to follow, all while staying in line with your visual Brand Atmosphere language.
This persistent focus on design mixed with the early manifestation of your brand’s true soul will set your offering apart to look, feel, and sound like a brand at the time of launch, as opposed to something that might or might not have the power to eventually turn into a brand.