How To Build a Brand for Your Startup

The thought of building a brand for a new startup can be daunting for those who think they are not especially creative. But truthfully – this is the fun part! The key to building a recognizable brand is: message consistency and knowing your customer. The following 3 questions form the base for building a brand and establishing a message.

What feelings or emotions do my customers have?

Your company is solving a problem for a particular customer segment and this segment has emotions that may be more prevalent than others. Colours that reflect certain emotions are a great way to relate to your customers through your brand. For example, red is often identified with anger, embarrassment and love. Blue relates to shyness, sadness and calmness. And so on. Begin by making a note of what you think may be your customers’ predominant emotions and then find colors that are relevant. A helpful tool to find colors is

How do I want them to feel after using my solution? How do I pick a font? 

After customers use your solution do they feel more confident, happier or excited? All of these emotions could be used to find the type of font for your branding. For example, if your customer feels strong you could choose a bold font. Ultimately you want to choose a font that will truly connect and resonate with your customers.

  • Serif – a font that is classic, often used to show trust, tradition and age
  • Sans-serif – a font “without” the flourish of serif fonts. More modern, clean, and more minimalistic
  • Slab serif – a font that is characterized by thick, block-like lines. Used to convey a bold, confident message
  • Script – a font that is are elegant and unique, similar to handwriting
  • Impact – a font that is used for headlines, designed for greatest impact
  • Decorative – a type off font that is unique and styled

What 3 adjectives would I like my customers to use after using my solution?

Thinking about adjectives you would like customers to use after using your solution is an important part of choosing the elements of your logo. Depending on the name of your solution and your elevator pitch you could use these adjectives to add to your design or to make it more unique. Remember don’t make your logo too busy because this could cause confusion when you use it in different places such as social media, letterhead, online ads, print ads and simply on the pages of your site. Keep it simple.

You will use the answers to these 3 questions to guide you through creating your brand. It is important for you to know that there is no right or wrong when it comes to branding and you shouldn’t overthink it too much. You want to be good enough today because it is better to get out the door today than it is to wait. Things change and new competition enters the market. So the faster you get out, the better chance you will have to build something great.

Wise Words:  Customer emotions are at the heart of both Customer Discovery and the generation of a Customer Persona.  In Phase 2 of 100 Steps 2 Startup, we conduct 20 hours of face 2 face (or on zoom), including how to independently find early adopters to interview.  These early adopters, and the emotions they share form the foundation of your Customer Persona (Step 16).  A Customer Persona is a one page snapshot of Ernie Early Adopter, and the anchor on which you build your community’s first members.

Good luck!

Onwards & Upwards.

Sean Wise headshot

About the Author

Dr. Sean Wise

Dr. Sean Wise is a best-selling author, venture capitalist, award-winning entrepreneurship professor and serial entrepreneur. He spent two decades in the venture capital industry, specializing in supporting high-growth ventures at the seed stage. Dr. Wise was named Mentor of the Year by Startup Canada in 2014. He has written six books and hundreds of articles on entrepreneurship, with work appearing on or in Forbes, CNBC, CNN Financial, The New York Times, Fox News. and the Globe and Mail.

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