Startup branding 101: the psychology of colour, font & more

For many startups, it’s often too late when they realise that the product/service they are building cannot wave its magic with just a good logo and some marketing efforts. For a truly great product/service offering, you need an equally great branding strategy. 

Explained in just a few words, branding is what gives your product the look and feel that makes people identify with it and select it over the competitors’ products in the long run. More specifically, your brand is the set of emotions and perceptions which you communicate to your users through your values, voice and visuals. It’s like building a relationship; to last a long time, your communication has to be sincere and consistent on one hand, and instill the feeling of excitement and ruggedness, on the other. 

Why is startup branding so important?

Thriving forwards with limited resources, many startup founders fail to realise that early branding is often crucial for staying in business longer. Instead of defining and implementing a solid brand identity system, imitating the others comes as an easier solution. Totally incorrect. To show your target audience that you are here to stay, you should focus on your company’s branding from the very beginning. In other words, you should launch a brand, not a product. 

Branding is particularly important for startups for various reasons. 

First of all, the pandemic has greatly impacted the venture capital landscape making it more difficult for startups, especially those at the seed-stage, to close rounds. The market, which is now predominated by new sectors, is slowly recovering but investors are still wary of how they spend their money. Secondly, the ever-increasing number of startups in all sectors made it extremely hard to succeed as a newcomer in the market. 

Here you’ll also find the fact that with the change of our lifestyles due to the pandemic, the role of marketing is changing and hence, creating interactive digital content, engaging the audience and building strong emotional connections have become among the top priorities. 

And, this is where branding comes in.

The psychology of creating a unique brand identity

There is an intense psychological component instilled in the process of building a strong brand. To entice your customers to keep coming back to you, they have to mentally connect and relate to your brand’s identity. 

Here are 5 things startups should consider in the process of building a successful brand.

Compose brand philosophy

To connect with your audience and leave a long-lasting impression, what could be more valuable than clearly defining the baselines – the ‘what and why’ behind your story. Presenting your ideology and principles through clearly defined mission statement, vision, code of ethics and values is something that every startup should do. Since startuppers don’t lack the passion to create something of value and put the customers and the environment first, this might not be a very hard task for you. However, maintaining a consistent approach requires strong leadership and that is something you should consider too when creating your branding strategy. 

Give your startup a voice 

Your startup voice is the unique style or personality that you are communicating with the audience. It’s like when people talk to each other. They can be kind, silly, quirky or sarcastic and that’s what makes them more or less interesting to talk to. Now, it is your brand that is talking. For that reason, it is important to define your language and style so that you can easily show what your personality is. One of the most helpful techniques is to create a list of personal traits that you would like your brand to have. Use honest, funny, loyal, empathetic, kind, powerful, for example. Then choose three which you believe will best describe the vibe that you want to create with your business. Take into consideration that different platforms may require different registers but the message itself ought to keep up the brand’s beliefs consistently. 

Tell a compelling brand story

It is not surprising why storytelling has gained such popularity, especially among startups. The human brain responds to the descriptive power of stories in deeply affecting ways, and hence soaking up the story helps the readers feel the experience and relate to the subject of the story. The art of storytelling lies in the successful unfolding of your story through continuous narratives that align with your brand philosophy. In that regard, you don’t need to have an extraordinary story behind your brand or a large team and resources; all you need is honesty and good intentions. If you can craft a compelling brand story with what you have, your audience will most likely develop empathy for you, will care about you and will trust you. 

The psychology of color and font

When you work on the design of your brand identity, there are numerous approaches where you can apply the science of psychology. One significant approach is the application of emotion-inducing colour. Choosing your brand’s colour is not as simple as discussing what looks pretty. Psychologically, certain colours have the power to elicit certain emotions, whether the consumer is aware or not. Hence, choosing the colour for your brand should be closely aligned with the message you want to convey and the feelings you want to evoke.

While many people are familiar with the concept of colour psychology, what you may not know, is that the same goes for the font. When you choose your typography make sure to have the font psychology in mind because different types of fonts trigger different emotions. Serif fonts, for example, portray a more traditional and respectable sense, while sans serif fonts feel more modern and friendly. 

Create unified imagery and graphic elements

To help communicate your brand effectively to your audiences, all visual elements need to work together to create a cohesive and unified visual appearance. The use of images and graphic elements such as icons, color blocks, shapes, chart styles should complement the tone of the other brand elements and add up in conveying your message. In order to make the right choice you have to know your target audience well and opt for the elements that they will resonate with. While some brands find the use of photographs as more appealing, many startups opt for illustrations as a predominant type of imagery in their branding strategy. In this connection, it is important to pay attention to all details, from the type of visuals and amount of white space versus content to the size of images and where the elements are placed. Creating standardised templates for your social media posts or other promotional materials is always a good idea, although you should leave room for flexibility.

Feeling inspired? Check out these 10 steps to your startup’s first influencer marketing campaign.