Don't let business stress take the joy out of launching a brand

Startup founders are under a lot of pressure at the moment. According to research performed this summer, 82% of founders referred to working long hours as an inevitable aspect of entrepreneurship. Moreover, 70% report prioritising their work over their own wellbeing.

The stress of launching a brand for a startup can quickly become overwhelming. As a result, we’ve seen the true power of branding and its long-term impact increasingly overlooked. It’s often being cast aside in favour of tasks that appear to offer more immediate value to new businesses. However, building a strong brand from the start can help founders find joy, focus and success.

Clarity comes first

For many founders, the task of branding is seen as an unnecessary layer of stress to add to their jobs, not to mention an additional cost – which is especially true during periods of economic austerity.

Instead of being recognised as something that will improve their chances of success, branding is now perceived as a luxury. Something that comes further down the line, once everything else ticks off the list – which never truly happens. This frame of mind can be a fundamental error for a startup.

Establishing a brand at the very start of the journey can, in fact, create a smoother pathway for the more challenging processes that will come next, such as tougher fundraising and bringing products to a volatile market. The reason is simple: a strong brand is much more than a logo or slogan. A strong brand creates an emotional response that customers and investors feel when they interact with it. It creates connections and defines the position that the company occupies in the market and in minds.

As a result, building a strong brand can offer just as much of an advantage as an innovative product feature. When customers or investors compare it with competitors, having a strong brand can make all the difference.

North Star thinking

Founders should recognise early on in their journeys that the value of branding goes well beyond the end result, such as brand guidelines, a fancy pitch deck, or slick document templates. The process of branding itself can help founders better understand their own ideas. The same goes for the business model, USP and market fit.

What's more, when raising investment, startups invite outsiders to assess their value in new ways. Ensuring that the company has a robust brand (or at least an idea of how they want their brand to be perceived) is a crucial step in preparing it for that scrutiny.

As an example, we recently worked with a German agri-tech company that had developed an exciting new product. It was a group of scientists who wanted to scale regenerative agriculture to ensure food security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Like many founders, creating a brand was not something they had done before, and while the business was incredibly innovative and offered something truly unique for the market, they struggled to communicate this in a succinct way. Positioning themselves in a crowded market and knowing where to focus their efforts for business development was becoming increasingly challenging and frustrating.

But going through the branding process forced them to critically analyse their business from an external perspective and get to the essence of their product, while also honing in on their exact target market. It helped them articulate their product and mission for an array of audiences - from customers to investors.

Priming yourself for success

Starting a new business is challenging, especially when the market isn’t always primed for success. But building a strong brand early on can facilitate growth in ways far beyond what most founders expect.

Nailing a strong brand vision sets the scene for the business and can enhance future decision-making. Founders will not only better understand their own ideas, but their audience too, meaning they can pull the right levers when it comes to communicating with a multitude of stakeholders. 

It’s understandable that the initial time and financial investment can make it seem daunting and stressful. However, getting branding right at an early stage can save time, money, and most importantly, headspace – helping founders align and focus on other business priorities with clarity.