In the ever-evolving tech startup world, having a brilliant product or innovative solution isn’t enough. To set your organization up for true success, you need to start with a well-crafted Go-to-Market (GTM) plan that ensures your product reaches the right audience and resonates with them enough for them to actually buy in.

Obviously, GTM plans are very involved. You need to think of everything from your distribution channels to your advertising campaigns. Amid all the moving parts, many companies forget to give enough attention to their actual brand.

That’s a big mistake.

Huge, actually.

So, where exactly does branding fit into a startup’s GTM plan? Let’s get into it…

1. Conduct Market Research

Effective market research is an absolutely key precursor to developing any sort of branding for your GTM plan. Analyze your target market, segment it, and understand their pain points, needs, and preferences. (You need to know your audience intimately — you can’t just be acquaintances… they need to feel like family!) Gather data on your competitors and assess the market’s current trends and opportunities. Then use all of this information and data to cement your product-market fit and develop audience personas, so that you know exactly who you’re speaking to, what they need to hear, and how to position your brand to make it clear you have what they want.

There are tons of ways to conduct this research — all of which are highly valuable to informing your brand decisions:

  • Analyze existing market research studies
  • Conduct product testing and focus groups
  • A/B test different advertising and marketing campaigns
  • Collect customer surveys

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2. Define Your Brand

Your brand is more than just a logo and a color scheme (although those are important too). It’s the essence of your organization, representing your values, mission, and unique selling proposition (USP). If your brand was a person, what would they be like? Are they loud and disruptive, or sleek and discreet?

Holding brand workshops with your org’s stakeholders will help ensure a cohesive, recognizable identity. Check out these resources:

Beyond the MVP: Why Your Startup Needs A Minimum Viable Brand

Generic Brand Values & 3 Ideas For What To Say Instead

Building A Brand That Matters: 8 Strategies for Impact-Driven Startups

3. Master Your Messaging & Storytelling

Once you have a strong sense of who your brand is, now it’s time to get clear on what you have to say — and how you say it. Create a compelling narrative that is authentic to your brand, stands out from the competition, and engages your target audience.

Start here: Defining Your Brand Voice: A Guide For Early-Stage Startups

4. Infuse Your Branding At Every Touchpoint

The customer experience is a key component of your GTM brand strategy. Ensure that every touchpoint, from your website and app to customer support, reflects your brand’s personality, voice, and overall ethos. A positive customer experience can turn one-time buyers into loyal advocates for your brand for a lifetime.

Before you go to market, try stress-testing your brand by asking stakeholders the following questions:

  1. How do your core values serve your customers?
  2. After visiting your website, what are three words your customers would use to describe your organization?
  3. What about our brand makes us unique from our competition? (Aka, how will our customers be able to tell the difference between us and our competitors?)

If the answers come back similar (and you’re happy with the answers) — great! If the responses are unclear and inconsistent, consider revisiting your brand identity and messaging before going forward:

5. Monitor, Adjust, Repeat

A successful GTM plan is not set in stone — and your brand is meant to evolve. Regularly monitor your performance against your goals and KPIs, use analytics to measure the impact of your brand strategy, and be ready to pivot based on your findings. Remaining flexible helps ensure your brand doesn’t just survive GTM — but thrives well into the lifespan of your company.

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About the Author: Jenny Farias

Meet Jenny — the founder and brand-alchemist-at-large here at BxH. She's an award-winning marketer and speaker dedicated to helping founders turn their unicorn dreams into reality. When she's not crushing it at work, you can find her jet-setting across the globe, supporting fellow female founders (hello, gWen!), or hitting up Charlotte's vibrant entrepreneurial scene with her boyfriend, Ben (#BenTheGem). Wherever she goes, Jenny brings her infectious energy and can-do attitude to the table — preferably alongside a spicy margarita.

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