There are a lot of obstacles that you’re going to have to face as you tackle those first few years in your startup company.The phrase “throw them in the water and see if they can swim” just doesn’t seem to cut it. After all, it’s not enough to simply keep your head above the surface when you start your new company; you need to thrive or you will fail.
One of the most important paths to this all important success is a recognizable marketing strategy. Your brand will likely be the first encounter most people have with the products or services that you have to offer them, and as such, it’s something you should consider very carefully. But what about the people on this side of the door? How can you use your brand to increase employee productivity and efficiency? Here are three ways to successfully brand your startup, and unite your workforce at the same time.
1. Have a plan
Don’t just slap a sign on an employee and have them go dance on the street corner for six hours; come up with something that really reflects the image that you want to project. Do you think that humor would be best suited to reach your target market, or would it be better to present a serious, no-nonsense public face to highlight your professionalism and attention to detail? Don’t try to go every direction at once, or people will associate your brand with inconsistency and contradiction.
Decide how you’re going to be advertising your brand. Will you use celebrity endorsements or buy ad space in a magazine? Will you concentrate on web marketing or will you utilize more traditional media? Do you have a recognizable and memorable company name/logo/tagline? Get your employees involved in the creative processes, and ask for their input on current or past implementations. This will not only provide you with a larger base from which to draw useful ideas, but it will also give your employees a sense of brand ownership that will inspire loyalty.
2. Don’t hold back
Once you’ve figured out exactly what it is that you want your brand to communicate, then dive right in. Display your logo proudly and confidently. Let your customers know exactly what you can do for them, and inform them in no uncertain terms that your company is the best choice for the job. Get your name out there by giving your employees various freebies like pens, stationery, T-shirts, etc. all featuring your company’s name/logo, and have them give these out to their friends and relatives. A pen may not seem like much, until you really need one. If your pen is the one that saves the day, your name will be remembered. Your employees can also help by sharing special offers and news through their own social media connections. Getting employees involved in advertising is a fun way for them to show pride in their work and to take credit for their accomplishments.
3. Be approachable
Your brand is more than a catchy jingle or a pun-filled tagline; its every interaction your company has with a prospective customer. That means that your employees and even your own self are all important parts of that brand, even when you don’t want to be. So if you’re going to be representing your brand anyway, why not do it well? Unify your workforce through intercompany brand promotion. Create personalized office products such as name tags, clothing, and lanyards. If your own people don’t know what your brand stands for, your customers never will, so don’t hold back.
Also, have a company blog and keep it updated and engaging. Respond to all comments and requests, be they from customers or employees, quickly and, if possible, personally. Be open with your workforce regarding your company’s goals, and let them know how important their contributions are to those goals. Your best assets should always be your own people, because if they don’t trust your brand, who else is going to? Whatever the case, when you are representing your brand, either publicly or privately, make sure that you hold yourself to the same standard that you hold your brand; you may be a sarcastic jokester in real life, but when you’re representing your company, you and your employees may need to censor yourselves.
It’s not easy to build a company from the ground up, but like so many fathers are so fond of saying, “many hands make light work.” If you can successfully unite your people under the banner of a strong company brand, you’ll find that everything goes much more smoothly. And before long you could be swimming in financial success, which is one form of drowning that most people would be ok with.