Brand Guide for Startups

Creating a brand guide for start-ups

Creating a brand guide as a start-up can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be – it’s all just a matter of answering the right questions and organising those thoughts in a workable structure that will help you to create a strong brand and direction from the very beginning. Starting out as you mean to continue will save a lot of time, money, effort and heartache further down the line.

The 2 main questions you should answer to determine your brand guide:

What are your core beliefs?

Being a start-up actually means you have the advantage to follow what you truly believe in. You are not restricted by hierarchies and red tape as well-established, large brands can be – you have the ability and flexibility to being innovative, bold, daring and passionate in following your core beliefs.

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. – Malcolm Forbes, Publisher

Be realistic. Be authentic. Be who you are and resist the urge to brand yourself in the mirror-image of someone or something else. Being honest about your beliefs from the very beginning and sticking to those beliefs will ultimately position your business as a unique, individual, authentic organisation which is reliable, trustworthy and believable.

What’s the motivation behind the business?

And don’t say money.

If you make meaning you will probably make money; but if you set out to make money you will probably not make meaning and you will not make money. – Guy Kawasaki.

So why are you really pouring your heart and soul into this start-up? As a business, paying the bills and being profitable is a given so dig deeper… Is your motivation to help other people? To make the world a more beautiful place? To make a daily task more convenient for people? To inspire? The answer to this question is the most crucial as it will determine the best brand positioning for your business.

And the bonus questions

What are you doing?

Consider your competition. This question isn’t because you should copy what they are doing but so that you are aware of what you are up against – the good and the bad so you can learn from their mistakes, take tips from what works – and then create a brand that supports your point of difference.

Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.– Warren Buffett, Investor

How are you doing it?

You have to understand the environment you are now a part of regardless of whether you are in it to shake things up, corner a whole new market or just offer an alternative. You need to have the basics in order – what you believe in, why you are doing what you’re doing, and where you plan to sit in the marketplace. Your brand guide needs to support these aims in order to achieve your branding objectives.

Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful. – Sir Richard Branson, CEO Virgin

If you need help to determine the answer to these fundamental questions in order to development your brand guide contact your local brand agency Liquid Creativity.


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