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Branding for Startups: Is It Really Important?

A typical startup has a lot on its hands at all times, so branding can feel like an unnecessary burden. The importance of branding for startups, though, can not be overstated.

Life at a startup is usually hectic: crazy hours, lots of energy and ideas flowing, last minute changes happening all the time. There is a lot to think about: the product, the target, the time to market. But what about the brand?

Branding for startups can feel like a luxury, something that will be addressed once the business is up and running.

The mistake here is in decoupling business success from brand success. Here is why you should put branding on top of your to-do list.

branding for startups pitch deck presentation investor business angels

Photo by Teemu Paananen on Unsplash

A good startup brand will stick with investors

We are all humans. Even investors.

We judge with our reason, but we also use heuristics: shortcuts that help us understand instinctively whether who/what’s in front of us is good, reliable, interesting, exciting. We are not really aware of that, but that’s how we make a lot of decisions. Even though we won’t admit it.

Investors will look at your business case – that’s for sure – but they will also “feel” your brand. Is it professional? Does it feel unique? Is it something they will remember the day after?

Having at least the essential elements of your brand before knocking at an investor’s door will be of great help in this life-or-death situation.

Branding for startups, in other words, can be a survival tactic.

A distinctive startup brand will help the business grow faster

Startups rightly put a lot of brain power into designing a better, innovative product or service.

Winning by innovation, though, is a very narrow path and only few companies actually manage to do it and to defend that uniqueness for long.

For most companies, success is a blend of a good, mildly innovative product or service (not an entirely unique one) and a great brand.

Unless you had an out-of-this-world idea, chances are you are entering a market where other startups are trying to do the same, with minimal differences that won’t ultimately decide who comes out on top.

Branding for startups makes all the difference here: it can favor early adoption (which is critical for many startups) and help cut a larger slice of the market pie in the decisive phase of the gold rush.

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Branding for startups is an investment in the future

Startups are young and new, but they don’t stay like that forever. In the end, they become regular companies with regular problems.

Their breakthrough idea gets copied and even challenged, the advantage that derived from novelty is now gone. This is when many startups wish they had built a proper brand.

Think about it as a savings account.

A strong brand, as we know, is an insurance against fluctuations, a shield against incoming competitors, a driver of business success in the long term. In other words, having set up a brand early on will make everything easier down the road.

When startups become regular companies, they wish they had built a proper brand.

But then, of course, it takes time to build a brand. That’s why branding for startups should be an early decision and not an afterthought.

Is branding for startups any different from regular branding?

Branding is branding, but one also needs to be realistic.

While established companies can pour time and resources into a branding (or rebranding) process, startups are often time and money-strapped, rushing to hit the market before their competitors do.

Branding for startups should take this into account: the agency or studio should help the startup focus on the essential brand elements, with an agile mindset.

Rather than spending months creating a thick brand bible, try and develop the brand while the business grows.

Andrea Sublimio Strategist

Andrea Ciulu
Copywriter & Strategist

A creative and analytical thinker, with strong roots in advertising, Andrea crafts concepts, branding and communication strategies that make a difference.


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