Brands are often described as the DNA of a business and, because DNA is complex, it’s a good description.

However, creating a brand from scratch need not be complex.  It can be quick and easy with a simple structured approach. 

First off, every brand needs a strategy; this may feel like an optional extra, but if you think of brand strategy as the control mechanism for optimising your resources and brand experience, it makes good business sense – and below are the basics to get you started.  

Startup Branding Strategy in 3 Simple Steps

Customers: what purpose will your brand serve in their eyes? Picture your likely customers and decide how your brand can make their life, or a moment in their life, better or different or less stressful or less painful than anything else on the market. 

Brand Positioning: knowing your target customers will help define your ideal market positioning versus competitors; market leader or market follower, high end or budget brand, low volume/high service or high volume/minimal touch.    

Brand Values: 3-5 words are best. Think of these words as your style; they should add personality and describe how you behave as a brand.

A short sentence which includes all your values will capture the essence of your brand at its best; make your values aspirational, stretching but achievable. 

Internal brand: your brand has a role both internally and externally. Think about how it can bring purpose to you and your employees’ time at work. Your brand should be the glue that combines external brand persona with internal reality, business goals and growth plans.  

Sense check: circle back to your business goals and ensure your brand strategy adds value to your business plan; at all times it’s useful to have a highly visible short brand statement to hand which anchors your brand purpose through the ‘who/what/why’ of your brand –   

  • Who are we?
  • What do we do?
  • Why are we different and better than anything else on the market?

Think of your brand strategy as the mechanism for growing competitive edge, credibility, reviews, repeat business and market share. To expand on this, there are 4 key elements that your strategy should direct and control:

Brand design for start-ups

The brand foundations are in place – now for the exciting part!  Bringing your brand to life with design which is the big leap forward to owning a position in the market and differentiating your services from competitors.   

Think brand values when you start your brand design; use the values as the key points of reference for projecting life, personality and your own unique style on to the new business.  

Less is often more in creative activity; the priority is to achieve visual standout and get your market positioning understood as soon as possible with 5 key brand design elements:

  • Logo & fonts
  • Colours
  • Imagery
  • Tone of voice
  • Brand Guidelines 

Logo and Fonts

Go with a simple, cost-effective, word only logo or go for words and a logo mark; both can work well.  There are hundreds of fonts out there – traditional or contemporary and many more variations.  Many are free of charge.  


Colours project an aura such as energy, calm, youth, vintage, value for money, elitism and so on; gradually build a colour palette around your brand values. Use tints and shades or introduce contrasting bold colours to add variety and appeal.  


Select images that enhance your brand personality and business ethos; there are plenty of free images around but paying for better quality photos (royalty free) can be a cost-effective way to accelerate stand-out and brand recognition.

Likewise, design of additional brand assets such as patterns can add a unique dimension.  

Tone of Voice

Brand stories and all wording must sit well with your choice of colour palette and images; tone can be informal, chatty, quirky, fun – or more traditional, technical or corporate. 

It’s helpful at this stage to write a few phrases or sentences to capture your brand tone; include a slogan/strapline if you are ready.  

Brand Guidelines

Your brand is only as good as the way it is portrayed and experienced at every touchpoint – digitally or in the real world. Brand consistency is your greatest asset if you want to ensure a good return on your investment and brand guidelines are the key to consistency.

These can be as simple as a couple of style sheets on use of logo, colours, fonts & words – or they can be very detailed. More insights on brand logos here.

Align your marketing and branding strategy 

In our experience, startups prioritise product and pricing as part of their business plan but your brand will need great marketing as well to put it on the map; hence aligning marketing strategy with your brand plan is important. 

For start-up marketing, look at 3 areas:

  • Messaging
  • Channels
  • Design

Messaging: use your brand story, values and business objectives to develop key marketing messages; segment your target customers by value to help refine messages according to your objective for each segment, be it awareness, understanding, engagement, conversion or repeat purchase.    

Channels: the choice of channels can be overwhelming, from a website, social media and ads to organic search, events, email, print and much more.

Don’t spread thinly across all channels; decide which delivers the best reach at the best cost for a specific message. Track results and keep tailoring messages to improve ROI.     

Marketing designs: the design of marketing materials and communications is as critical as the messaging and the channels; it’s the overall power of consistent design, both visual and wording, that creates the impact and delivers the results that build great brands.  

Brand activation 

To manage time and resources effectively at the beginning, there are two or three key start-up brand priorities: website, social media and collateral.  

Website essentials for start-ups: it’s all about engagement – grabbing attention within 5 seconds, drawing users in with bold design and simple wording, keeping them engaged with easy to access detail such as a short video on the home page. More about website branding 

Social media essentials for start-ups: it’s all about targeting – do some quick research on who is using which platforms, create a simple calendar of activity, post regularly and consistently – and engage with responses.  More about social media branding 

Collateral for start-ups: driving sales and revenue are always a priority; important collateral at the beginning includes digital sales presentations, sales flyers, pricing and product brochures and business cards.

See one of our recent start-up case studies below:

Tom Gosling Branding

Tom Gosling Branding Case Study

Brand audits – essential or nice to have? 

Brand audits are essential if you want to remain competitive, so they are a good investment.  

Most start-ups review their business goals, sales, costs, profit, employee performance, infrastructure and product development regularly so including a brand check as an integral part of that process makes sense.

Brand audit checks can include positioning, market review, competitor checks, internal brand delivery, brand experience, guest satisfaction, growth in awareness, engagement, conversion and endorsements.  

A regular check every 6 months or 12 months is recommended.  You can do this internally or bring in brand specialists to help.  Read more about simple brand audits.

We would love to help with your start up branding.  Please contact us at or or check out our Start-up Packages here.

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