1. Be consistent.
Regardless of what your startup is about, it needs to be consistent for people to recognize it as a brand rather than a product. Especially in the earlier stages of a brand, people's trust is only established once they are confident that they understand what your brand does well and what it stands for.
Not sure what I mean about consistency? Think about Starbucks. When we go there, we've come to expect great service and personalization. When you think of film director Michael Bay, you'd probably think of big-budget movies with lots of explosions and special effects.
This is consistency. This is about branding.
2. Be authentic.
No one likes to be misled. Remember that products become brands when people start to trust what will occur when they interact with your brand. While a small lie may seem necessary, it can have major consequences for a brand if ever exposed.
Being yourself should help your message resonate with people. Radio host Howard Stern is an example of authenticity. Lots of people don't agree with what he says or his sense of humor, but he sticks to his guns and produces his show the way he wants to. Because of that, he has droves of loyal listeners.
3. Focus on a niche.
It can be smarter to focus on winning over smaller demographics one at a time rather than trying to appeal to everyone all the time. Focus on building products for different niche groups in order to unite all those groups into one single brand.
Car manufacturers do this by designing cars that appeal to different segments of their clients. While certain elements like reliability, performance or design features remain brand-centric, their approach is niche in exposing new clients to their brands.
4. Be relatable.
People often connect with brands and other people who evoke an emotional response from them. Controversial movies are talked about a lot because they evoke our emotions. Brands are no different. Make sure you are relating to people's emotional values such as sharing in their problems or showing empathy.
Think of brands like Nike, which relates to its customers' understanding that winning is difficult through its slogan "Just Do It."
5. Be extraordinary.
Products don't become brands for nothing, just like people don't become known for being simply ordinary.
While ordinary is safe, recognition and high praise are given to those who step out of the traditional in favor of the unconventional. While trying to be extraordinary, make sure you don't stray too far to the left and lose sight of being authentic.