Emily Heyward: Brand Your Startup Before Day One

Emily Heyward: Brand Your Startup Before Day One

It’s never too early to begin branding your startup, according to marketing expert Emily Heyward. A well-defined concept helps your company stand out, creates fans, and turns employees into enthusiastic brand ambassadors. 

As the co-founder and chief branding officer of Red Antler, Heyward helped mattress innovator Casper upend the industry when buying a mattress from home seemed unthinkable, and helped Allbirds create a beloved shoe brand built on sustainability and curiosity. 

Heyward shared some of her secrets in her new book Obsessed: Building a Brand People Love from Day One, and recently joined LIFT Labs for a virtual discussion with Bec Heap, Senior Vice President of Video and Entertainment at Comcast. Heyward explained that proper branding can motivate consumers and cultivate devoted fan followings from the very first day of a new business.

Here are her top tips: 

Think about your brand from the beginning.

The startup landscape has gotten very competitive, and you’re probably not the only company attempting to solve a particular problem. That’s why you need to stand out. Think about your company’s brand before you even launch, she said.

Branding isn’t just a logo and colors

Heyward encourages founders to think deeper than a color scheme and mission statements. Answer the question: What is the idea that your business stands for at its core? That will help you express your brand identity through copywriting, imagery, tone of voice, customer service, and packaging. Your brand is ultimately how you make people feel.

Founders should be part of the brand story (but it’s not a necessity)

Some founders don’t want to be public figures, but they should consider sharing their founder stories because they’re powerful. If you personally relate to your audience, that is one of the most effective ways to connect with customers.

Brands can turn employees into ambassadors

While many company leaders think about the external side of branding, it’s crucial internally too. A strong brand leads to strong company values that are deeply embedded in how your company operates. If employees are not living and breathing the brand, it’s going to unravel over time, she said.

Your brand is an ongoing task

Building a successful brand takes time, effort, and investment. It’s not a one-time thing. Your brand is the driving force for how your business behaves over time – treat it as such!


To read more inspiring startup stories and to stay connected to Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs, 
sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter.