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Startup branding and PR

Creating a brand and pushing it to the public are vital to any startup looking to gain a foothold in the marketplace. While these activities are broadly the same as branding and public relations for any other type of business, there are a number of considerations specific to startups which we will cover here.

How does startup branding differ to normal business branding?

The main difference for a startup versus an existing business is that there is generally no existing business identity. The branding project will therefore define much of the culture and perception of the business, often for years to come. A brand is effectively the story you use to introduce your business to new people, and startups are often in a unique position to tell a compelling story as their goals are typically loftier than that of a sole trading business or more traditional company. As startups usually seek to be disruptive, they have more opportunities to create meaningful news which can assist in their public relations and translate into free advertising.

What questions will help you create and grow a startup brand?

The questions a startup founder should ask are the same as those any business owners should ask when they are branding:

  • Who are my main audience and what do they like? What role am I offering to play in their lives?
  • How do we want to be seen and how can we represent ourselves and act in accordance with that perception?
  • What does my business do? Can I represent this with visual elements?
  • How am I different to the competition? How can I communicate this in the smallest number of words?
  • Do I have a distinctive name which is appropriate for my business?
  • What aesthetic is most appropriate for my business, audience and price point?
  • What unique words or phrases could I associate with my brand?
  • Does any part of my business currently undermine the perceptions I am trying to create?

But there is one question for startups specifically that goes beyond the normal branding scope:

  • What does my business stand for?

Is it innovation? Is it social justice? Environmentalism? The nature of startups is that they are ambitious. They desire to create social change in a big way, and they exist to do more than just create a profit. So startups must go beyond the usual scope of branding projects and ask themselves what they stand for and how they can represent that in their brand and their communications.

Why is public relations so important for startups?

PR is possibly the most important marketing avenue for startups, as it offers a low cost means to reach a wide audience. As startups are typically running lean and aiming for massive success, they have a unique capacity to take advantage of public relations in a big way. News organisations are constantly on the search for new stories and startups provide a source of hope, of change and of inspiration to others - startup founders themselves often utilise their own personal stories to leverage their new business into a better position, detailing the path they travelled to arrive at their startup idea.

What sort of activities fall under startup public relations?

  • Organising publicity events
  • Organising speaking events
  • Creating and distributing press releases
  • Sending out newsletters
  • Making blog posts
  • Making social media posts
  • Creating press kits