Every business starts somewhere, and for a startup, that somewhere is in the concept. You get an idea for a great product, and then you build around it. Every aspect of your startup goes back to the kernel of the original idea, because that’s how building works.
How to Build Your Startup Brand from Scratch
Everything needs a foundation.
If your ideas are the foundation and structure, your branding makes up the finishing touches that turn a construction site into a busy, thriving building. And just like the entirety of your company itself, your branding has to start somewhere.
Launching a new company can be an iffy prospect. Just take a look at the lists of do’s and don’ts, the myriads of suggestions on how to structure and launch, concerns about backing and solvency, and the emphasis on startup resiliency and growth. There’s a plethora of warning information out there about how difficult it can be to start a company that actually lasts past the first few years — and the uncertain economic times that we live in are not making things any easier.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that 20% of startups fail within the first two years, and the numbers go up to 65% within the first decade of operation. Investopedia cites lack of market research, lack of marketing, and poor internet presence as among the main reasons why startups crash so quickly.
All three of those things, however, can be addressed within a good brand strategy.
Other problems that plague startups, as well, can be met and answered by excellent branding. In part, a whole-cloth approach to branding can address the issues of:
- Garnering attention before startup launch
- Drawing in new customers
- Building customer loyalty
- Motivating customers to emotionally invest
- Reaching new audiences
- Crafting the best customer service experience
- Communicating with the audience
- Establishing as an expert in the field
- Boosting traffic and search ranking
Every issue on the list is a problem that startups face — even in the best of times — but these things will definitely be faced today.
If you’re an entrepreneur launching your startup, you likely know that branding is a necessity. The real question is, how do you put your branding strategy together from the very beginning?
Here are some simple but absolutely vital steps to take. Use it to build your startup brand from the ground up.
Do Your Research
You’re an entrepreneur. You know that starting a new business requires extensive market research. You need to know the demand for your potential product or service, who your competition is, and what strategy best suits your approach.
Your branding follows the same path. Before you make decisions on brand logo, colors and fonts, research the competition. The last thing you want is to blend in with the crowd; make sure your startup stands out, avoid any design elements that resemble your competition too closely.
Graphic design trends, such as logo designs, can be valuable indicators of what will and won’t work for your branded visuals. But trends come and go — logos are forever (except in the case of a rebrand, of course). Let trends inform but not decide your ultimate design decisions.
Your target audience, as well, should play a part in how you brand. Elements such as the psychology of color and font present valuable insight into how your choices are likely to be perceived and reacted to by your target audience.
Researching your market and competition is a worthwhile endeavor because it starts to shape your brand even before making any branding decisions, giving your startup brand an ideal launching pad.
Brand from the Inside Out
Market research tells you a lot about what not to do. Once you’re ready to start making branding decisions, it’s a whole different ball game. It goes from being about saying, “No, that’s too much like everyone else,” to saying, “Yes, perfect, I want that.”
But there’s still a gap between, “I want my branding to look like this,” and, “This choice is on-brand.” It’s important to allow your visual branding design to be something of an organic process — your branding should not only fit your company but also showcase its values.
a. Brand for visual impact
Highlighting the importance of this fact is the statistic that 86% of consumers cite authenticity to decide whether they both support and form an attachment to any given brand. The visual choices you make for your branding should harmonize with your brand’s personality, which is why it’s important to brand from the inside out.
Customers want brands to be honest about themselves — more than 80% of consumers require brands to be trustworthy before they will do business with them. It’s much easier to engage with a brand when you trust them; even if some of your potential customers don’t agree with every aspect of your brand, the fact that your branding is upfront and represents those values truthfully goes a long way to building respect in your viewers.
b. Brand for engagement
Don’t try to leap into external branding decisions without first having a clear idea of who and what you are, what your brand is about, what identifies it in a crowd, and where it’s going.
Know what values you’re promoting and how they align with the values of your customers. Branding with authenticity and according to true values is a big part of not only getting the attention of your target audience, but building their emotional engagement and, ultimately, their loyalty.
It’s almost comical that seemingly small decisions about color palettes, fonts, graphic styles, and even use of space can have such a big impact on how a brand is received.
But your visual branding isn’t a matter of a decision here and there; it’s about the brandscape, what you see when you look at all of it as a whole. The brandscape is what sends the message that appeals to your target audience.
Depending on the type of startup you’re launching, you may have different branding needs.
- Email marketing
- Business cards
- Promotional products
- Digital marketing materials
- Print marketing
- Product packaging
There’s also the question of where you should apply your branding efforts.
In the digital world we live in — especially after the extra push to online services that came about in 2020 — it’s imperative to build a healthy, active online presence. No startup can survive and thrive without taking advantage of all available opportunities to make contact with the target demographic.
Startups should have:
- A company website
- Social media accounts on platforms that target the chosen audience, such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
- Multiple points of contact with potential customers, including social media, “Contact Us” forms on the website, and email leads for newsletters and special offers.
With this variety of online opportunities, it can be overwhelming to ensure that your branding is consistent across all platforms and across all points of customer contact.
What this means is that you watch what your branding looks like, but also watch the tone and vocabulary within content, marketing, and individual engagement. You will be consistent in the values, personality, messaging, images — everything needs to remain harmonious across your site.
How important is this to your startup? Some statistics indicate that consistency across platforms can increase company revenue by more than 30%. For a small startup, a margin like that can make all the difference.
Always Be Branding
Much of what we’ve addressed thus far connects to the decisions you make for visual branding — and visual branding is what most of us think of when we consider branding in general.
Visuals heavily influence not only the first impression — it takes only 0.05 seconds to form a first impression — but also whether we’re inclined to continue to look at, read, or watch something. What we see has the weightiest impact on what we do.
But branding is more than just visuals. Ultimately, branding encompasses every point of contact between you, the entrepreneur, and your potential customer or audience. Customer service queries, complaints, and commendation all fall into the branding purview. It allows you to expand your brand beyond what the customer sees into how they feel about how they were treated.
Branding for customers
Connecting with your audience via your website, over social media, through emails, or in-person is a vital element of good branding.
And this aspect, like the other elements listed here, should begin at the very start of your launch — if not even earlier. Treat your customers well from the very beginning, and you’ll encourage their emotional engagement and loyalty to grow. Satisfied customers are some of the most influential factors in the success and growth of a startup; if you make your first audience feel that they were valued as a part of the process, they’re more likely to stay with you all the way through.
Regardless of how many times you need to rebrand as your startup continues to evolve, good interactions with your customers are a constant in excellent branding.
If you really want to build a fantastic brand from the ground up, that’s the perfect place to start. Start with the people you want to build your company around — your customers.
Establish Authority With Perfect Content Marketing
“Perfect” is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but usually either in an ironic way or accompanied by a head shake, as in, “Nobody’s perfect.”
It’s true. Nobody’s perfect. But that doesn’t mean that you can give up on creating content that is perfect for building your brand from day one.
Some entrepreneurs believe that branding and quality content are subsequent steps in the creation of a strong startup. “I’ll focus on the look of the brand first,” they say, “and then fill in the gaps with content afterward.”
But there’s too much competition in the world of startup businesses to leave anything up to chance. You may plan to eventually give your new customers good content and slowly build yourself up as an authority later on — but if you can get your brand off on the right foot, why wait?
And even more than that, can you afford to wait?
a. Quality content and consumers
Content is a huge part of the first impression that your potential audience forms about you, second only in importance to the initial reaction to your present visuals. As consumers, we want to pursue buyer relationships with brands that we trust; startups are inherently iffy, as we tend to rely either on what we see from the brand itself or on what we hear from other customers.
Your startup may have generated some buzz prior to launch, but the prime source for helping potential consumers take the plunge is you — you and your content. If your content is valuable, educational, and worth an investment of time, your audience will attach those same descriptors to your brand as a whole.
b. Content and impact on ROI
Not only that, but in a world where ROI is scarce, and startups have to seek serious funding to make it through the first year, content marketing is a key player in pushing brands onwards to success.
Content marketing has significantly boosted marketing leads for 74% of companies surveyed by Curata. Content marketing has been shown to result in five times as many sales leads, while also costing less. So it’s a boost for your conversions, and a helping hand for your budget at the same time.
Quality content and strategic content marketing provide multiple opportunities to connect with and educate your audience, forging a closer relationship and influencing their decision to engage with and invest in your startup. Content also gives you more chances to build your brand, interact with others, and show — rather than tell — the world what your startup is all about.
For all these reasons and more, a smart step in building your startup brand is creating valuable, authoritative content for immediate use upon launch, or even before as you start to build buzz.
c. SEO focused content
There’s more generic content out there on the internet than there are fish in the sea, which is why an important factor in content creation is compiling perfect content — perfect for your brand, perfect for your audience, and perfect to introduce them to each other.
Naturally, this requires thorough knowledge of SEO keywords and frequently asked questions for your niche, as well as insight into what needs your target audience has that you can fill with carefully crafted content.
Remember, too, that excellent content is a gift that keeps on giving — if it’s relevant now, there’s a good chance that it will be relevant in the future. You will have the ability to regularly update, spin, repurpose, and repost your perfect content to continue building your brand and strengthening your position.
From Startup Dream to Startup Reality — Making the Launch
It’s easy to dream of creating a successful startup. Most of us have had entrepreneurial dreams at one time or another, whether we followed through on them or not. Often, the idea isn’t the difficult part. It’s the actions required to bring that idea to the public and let it shine.
Branding your startup is a fundamental part of the process. Without excellent branding — including targeted marketing, unique visuals, fantastic customer service, etc., your startup would have virtually no chance of success, forget your ideas making out of your dreams.
It may seem overwhelming to contemplate the long, long list of to-dos required to launch a startup. Remember that famed startup founders like Jack Dorsey, Steve Jobs, Katrina Lake, and Anne Wojcicki struggled too. Each and every one of them and more had to go through some variation of this process.
Creating and founding a startup requires strength, bravery, belief — and branding.
Launching a new company isn’t easy, and ensuring success for your startup isn’t exactly a cakewalk, either. By applying good branding principles, your startup can get off on the right foot. From good content curation to user interaction, attractive branding, etc., let’s hope, your company hits the ground running.
Image Credit: andrea piacquadio; pexels; thank you!
Low-Cost Business Ideas for 2022
Successfully running your business in 2022 is not easy due to the new norms of people’s lives. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the consumption of goods and services. If opening an offline store or restaurant just a few years ago was a profitable idea, now their owners can incur heavy losses.
Since most startups in 2022 are going online, you need to think about starting your business on the Internet. If you decide to become an entrepreneur and have the opportunity to invest, but there is no modern idea, you can take advantage of the options that someone is already successfully developing.
What Business is Popular in 2022
Thanks to the Internet, anyone can become a business owner. A startup on online platforms is an excellent idea for those who like flexible working hours and complete control over their income. This option of earning money is more resistant to crises and outbreaks of pandemics.
According to Statista, in 2021, online shopping exceeded $4.2 trillion globally, and social media has become the backbone of many businesses looking to build brand awareness.
Before preparing to launch for a startup, consider the following factors:
- Expertise. An entrepreneur needs to learn new skills and knowledge about a niche for any successful startup.
- Investments.If you don’t have enough money to invest a significant amount in a project immediately, think about how to raise capital for your business (investors, crowdfunding, business angels, grants, etc.).
- Scaling. To attract new customers and profit, the company needs to grow and develop constantly. Consider a long-term scaling plan and remember the hassles that can happen while you work.
- Personal interests. Consider whether you will still be passionate about the business in the long run.
The cost of starting a business decreases every year, which is especially important for an online business; to start, it is enough to have a computer with an Internet connection. The most challenging part when developing ideas is the problem of choice. To be successful, you need to deal with products in strong demand. A business should be run by a person who enjoys doing it.
Dropshipping is one of the profitable business ideas if you want to make money remotely online. Unlike a regular online store, you don’t need products to run an e-commerce site specializing in dropshipping. Conforming with Torchbankz, the dropshipping industry is expected to reach a market valuation of $557.9 billion before 2025.
This business is considered very affordable because to work, you only need to launch your website and access the directories of wholesale suppliers such as AliDropship or SaleHoo.
All you have to do is partner with wholesalers and manufacturers to sell their products under your brand name. The buyer purchases on your website, informs the supplier company about it and sends the order to the client. The dropshipping scheme for an online store is straightforward:
- The seller selects products from the supplier’s catalog and uploads them to the trading platform (online store, landing page, marketplace).
- Adds a markup to the supplier’s price.
- Promotes products and finds a client.
- When a client places an order, the seller communicates this information to the supplier.
- The supplier packs the product and sends it to the customer.
To quickly become a leader in this industry, you need to stand out from the competition. Instead of a thousand different products, you can narrow your niche and specialize exclusively in one category: clothes for children, home decorations, or more.
Food Delivery to Offices
Food delivery is not a new but trendy business idea. Fundera says that the online food delivery industry has generated more than $26.5 billion in 2021. While large companies set high prices for dishes, newcomers have a chance to gain customer loyalty at affordable prices.
Since there are a lot of office workers and not everyone can afford to go to a cafe for lunch, you will quickly gain a loyal audience and strengthen your position in the market.
An aspiring entrepreneur does not need a lot of investment. You can cook the food right at home and use your car to deliver orders. An important thing to invest in is a website or an application to tell about your services and present all the menus.
To minimize your costs, before launching a full-fledged software, you can use an MVP, with which you will test the main functions of the app and attract the first customers. Thus, potential buyers can see the available dishes and order them online without calls. They can choose a specific time for which you need to deliver food and even leave a particular comment on the order.
Also, your customers will pay for services using the app, saving you from cash. By allowing feedback on the service in the software, the delivery owner also receives feedback from the person and builds a loyal audience. Your own application will help you tell the world about yourself and take a leading position among those who do not use digital technologies yet.
Opening your own online store is the most obvious idea for an online business. The following online stores can be called relevant in 2022:
- children’s goods;
- ecological and natural versions of everyday products;
- sporting goods;
- clothing and footwear;
- home textiles;
- boxes with surprises.
This startup idea is not as simple as it seems at first glance, but it will not require significant investments at the initial stage with a competent approach.
First, you need to decide on your niche. Purchase several copies of each item to understand what will be more in demand and what is better to remove from the catalog altogether.
Next, you need to study your target audience. For example, selling home furnishings to teenagers is useless. The older generation is unlikely to be interested in fashionable gadgets, and residents of the city will not appreciate goods for the garden. The main characteristics of potential buyers are gender, age, place of residence, and financial situation.
The critical step is the selection of suppliers. To avoid getting caught by scammers, try to find out more information about them and look at the goods live.
Implement enterprise resource planning software to customize and automate the process straight away. ERP will integrate and manage finance, order supply chains, user operations, reporting, manufacturing, and human resources. With this software, you and your employees will be able to plan deliveries and improve the quality of customer service. The use of digital technologies in business will help increase productivity and store all data in secure cloud storage.
Why Digitize Your Business in 2022
Without developing a digital transformation strategy, no modern business in 2022 can exist in the long term. Due to the pandemic, everyone observes a rapid acceleration of trends that previously gained popularity very slowly. Such resources allow you to save money, increase profits, and attract new customers.
The required minimum for any company now is a website and accounts in social networks. Brands looking to take one step closer to their customers can also develop a mobile app/chatbot and use other promotion channels.
A more thorough digital transformation involves working with clients and deep business processes: production, personnel management, and internal communications. To implement such a transformation, you need to carry out serious work, which can be based on Big data analysis, cloud and mobile services, and agile development.
Before embedding digital technology in your business, think about what exactly you and your customers need. You should not chase trends and use that software that cannot help optimize processes and establish communication with customers.
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thank you!
5 Ways To Grow Your Business With Technology
“I’d like my business to remain stagnant.” No entrepreneur, owner, or CEO ever uttered those words. You can be sure none ever will, either. That’s because corporate growth is always an overarching goal for any organization. Growing your business comes with its challenges, of course, like figuring out which steps will make it easiest for you to scale and expand.
One thing’s clear: You need to develop a clear-cut growth strategy. And technology needs to play a huge part in that strategy. After all, we’re living in a primarily technological world. If you’re not making the most of the tech at your fingertips, you regularly miss opportunities to strengthen your brand’s position.
Where can you start? Below are a handful of ways that you can leverage technology to grow your business’s footprint. Try these recommendations, whether you’re a micro startup or a mid-size corporation headed toward a Fortune 500 future.
1. Automate repetitive manual processes.
Is it worth automating all the mindless to-dos in your business in order to grow? Yes, especially if you do the numbers.
McKinsey research studied the ordinary tasks of several occupations. They concluded that around 33% of the tasks of six out of 10 jobs could be automated. For example, let’s say your company is modestly sized at 50 workers. If your staffers work a traditional 40-hour week, 30 of them are frittering away 13 hours. In other words, you’re losing nearly 400 hours weekly to pay employees to handle repetitive duties.
To be sure, not all tasks can be automated. However, you owe it to yourself to find ones that can. For example, is your finance department team processing payroll or inputting invoices by hand? Then, invest in software to remove the tedium—and reduce the chance of human error.
Check out your sales and services processes next. Do your salespeople or support agents have to cut and paste information? Are they forced to switch between two or more programs that don’t communicate? Look for ways to integrate those systems to free up everyone’s valuable time so they can concentrate on growth-based responsibilities.
2. Strive to make customer first impressions stickier with tech tools
Tons of articles highlight the importance of growing your business by retaining customers. It’s true that retention tends to be less expensive than acquisition. Nevertheless, you can’t hold onto your customers until you get them in the door. So put a premium on delivering impeccable first impressions that urge people to stick around.
The right type of technology can assist you in wowing your best leads via an unforgettable customer experience. Take first-time logins, for instance. Okta reports that asking a visitor to set up an account turns off 37% of prospects. So what can you do to overcome this friction point? First, you can rely on social logins to streamline the process. From the customer’s viewpoint, being able to login via already-existing Facebook, Google, or credentials is effortless. From your company’s viewpoint, you can begin marketing to yet another buyer or potential buyer.
A strong CRM can be equally beneficial to moving leads into and down your sales funnel. Once you’ve captured prospects’ data through a social sign-in, personalize future communications like emails, texts, and DMs. Only two years ago, McKinsey found that 80% of retail buyers valued the personal touch. So whether you’re in retail or not, strive for individualization to keep new buyers coming back.
3. Bring a virtual assistant to your team.
You may not have the funds to hire live customer service representatives 24/7. That’s okay. Chatbots can give your organization the ability to offer visitors self-service, even during non-business hours. And they can do it for a fraction of what you’d pay a live agent.
Not sure you’re ready to put your faith in a chatbot? A New York Times article explains that today’s AI-fueled chatbots are only getting smarter. They’re also gaining widespread acceptance, with chatbot growth poised to hit around 15% in 2022. One Gartner executive even predicts that a genuinely conversational AI chatbot program is just around the corner.
Already, some chatbots are inching toward humanlike responses. A University of Florida experiment found that about a third of people could not tell a chatbot from a real person. Consequently, there’s little harm in exploring the wide world of chatbots for your company. Your chatbot doesn’t have to be perfect to be appreciated by customers with questions who want fast answers.
4. Investigate tech solutions to tap into your data.
Tremendous amounts of data flow into your company. Yet it would be impossible for you and your team to make sense of it all. Does that mean you have to give up on finding a way to unearth your data’s insights? Not at all. You just need a tech-based data mining solution.
You have plenty of choices regarding software that can analyze data and find trends. First, though, determine where your data exists. Is it in your CRM? Or a legacy piece of software? Once you know where to find your data, you can search for highly-rated data mining systems.
Be aware that some data mining programs have been developed with specific industries in mind. These can include healthcare, finance, e-commerce, or manufacturing. It never hurts to see if something’s already been created for your sector.
5. Invest in a branded mobile app.
Mobile app use continues to rise. By 2025, one Forbes writer notes that the app market will approach $1 trillion. So why, then, doesn’t your brand have an app of its own?
This is the question a lot of business leaders are asking themselves. Offering customers the chance to interact with your company through an app makes sense. Not only does it give them an immediate connection to your organization, but it simplifies the purchasing process. At the same time, it helps buyers feel that they’re getting special treatment as you deploy push notifications and exclusive offers.
How can you make the most of your app once it’s been developed? First, make sure your customers know it exists. Lots of brands have apps that get very few downloads. The issue isn’t necessarily the app itself. It’s that they don’t know the app is available. Therefore, be diligent and consistent about talking up your app to drive higher usage and conversions.
You’re not alone if you feel that growing your business isn’t happening as fast as you like. Most leaders wish that they could get to the next plateau faster. One method to add a little speed to the process is to lean into the technologies you’re not using yet. Then, with the right combination of tech tools, you should begin to see a positive difference in your numbers.
Image Credit: Artem Podrez; Pexels; Thank you!
The Developer’s Guide to Mobile Authentication
Mobile app developers must ensure that the mobile app is effortless while keeping internal information protected and secure. Complex or repeated authentications can be frustrating for your mobile app users.
This article discusses various means of simple and secure mobile authentication, ensuring frictionless UI and UX of mobile authentication screens and data security.
What is Mobile Authentication?
Mobile authentication is a security method to verify a user’s identity through mobile devices and mobile apps. It caters to one or more authentication methods to provide secure access to any particular app, resource, or service.
Let’s look at the various mobile authentication methods developers can utilize depending on their business use case.
Mobile Authentication Methods
Email-Password and Username-Password are common types of password-based authentication. While utilizing these methods, developers should consider setting secure and robust password policies in their authentication mechanism, such as:
- Mandatory use of symbols and numbers
- Restricting the use of common passwords
- Blocking the use of profile information in passwords
These measures ensure better quality passwords and prevent user accounts from brute force and dictionary password attacks.
Limitation: Passwords are hard to remember, and typing in passwords on a small mobile screen degrades the user experience. Hence, developers must use authentication that does not compromise the security postures yet provide an appropriate user experience.
Patterns and Digit-based Authentication
The user must set a pattern or a digit-based PIN (typically 4 or 6 digits). Developers can utilize this as an authentication factor for their mobile application, as this authentication method is faster and more comfortable than entering passwords on a mobile screen.
Limitation: Both patterns and 4 or 6 digits PINs are limited. Also, users tend to use simple patterns and PINs like L or S patterns and 1234, 987654, date of birth as their password.
Users use an OTP received via SMS or email to authenticate themself. Thus, users do not have to remember a password, pattern, or PIN to access their account. At the same time, developers don’t have to implement password-based security mechanisms.
Biometric authentication uses unique biological traits of users for mobile authentication. Some common examples of biometric authentication are fingerprint scanning, face unlocks, retina scans, and vocal cadence.
Developers can implement pre-coded libraries and modules to enable authentication through mobile components like the finger scanner, camera (for facial recognition), and microphone (for voice-based identification).
It acts as a single sign-on authentication mechanism. Developers can implement this in mobile apps to use users’ login tokens from other social networking sites to allow access to the app.
Also, with social login, developers don’t need to worry about storing passwords securely and managing the password recovery option. It helps the user sign in to the mobile app without creating a separate account from within the app, hence increasing the user experience (UX).
User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) in Mobile Authentication
Login and registration screens are a gateway to your mobile applications; if they are a hassle, the user might not bother using the application. Thus, developers should pay a lot of attention to these screens regarding user experience and usage.
Here are some quick tips for mobile authentication screens:
- Simple Registration Process: Lengthy registration forms are a big no-no. Brainstorm essential information for creating an account via mobile application and only include those fields.
- External or Social Login: Allow users to log in via external or social accounts. This way, users don’t have to remember another password or credentials for your app.
- Facilitate Resetting: Include forget password on the login screen for good visibility and reach if the app provides password-based login. Also, setting the new password should be seamless and fast.
- Keep Users Logged In: Not logging out users on app close is helpful in a good experience. However, this depends on the type of app you offer. Developers should include MFA for better security if the app stores sensitive information or skip the stay logged-in feature altogether.
- Meaningful Error Messages: Errors and how they are handled directly impact user experience. Thus, developers should keep error messages meaningful and clearly state what went wrong and how to fix it.
Tip: Customize the mobile app keyboard for the type of input field. For example – display a numeric keyboard when asking for a PIN and include @ button when asking for an email address.
Considering the above points would result in a great and secure user experience for your mobile app users. However, if you feel executing these guidelines would take ample time, be informed that CIAM solutions are available in the market to handle all these requirements for you.