The Branding Checklist for Startups

Let’s take a moment to consider one of the most successful startups in the world.


When it comes to branding, companies tend to get hung up on the deliverables – a name and a logo – but Google is a great example of keeping it simple.

Instead of focusing on those outward aspects of branding, they focused on their internal company culture and moving forward on their products first. They’ve made their brand a top priority from the very beginning.

And now? They’re a huge company – the ultimate startup.

Don’t get me wrong. The outward aspects of branding are important. Very important. The outward aspects of your brand determine how you will be perceived by the world.

But before you focus on those external components, follow in Google’s footsteps and ask yourself “What does my brand represent and who am I connecting with?”

When Should You Think About Branding During A Startup?

When business owners re-brand, or brand their businesses for the first time, they tend to think about physical things like a logo, tagline, and color schemes.

But great branding goes several layers deeper than that.

In the initial stages of your business, you should be thinking about the core values of your company. Look through the eyes of your customers and determine who you are to them and what value your business is really providing.

The Internal Checklist – Questions to Answer:

These aren’t questions we can answer for you. Take time to consider each of these points and start building the core of your brand:

  • Why does your business exist? What made you start it?
  • What kind of person is your business serving? What need is it fulfilling?
  • What’s your business model? How are you going to make your money?
  • What does the brand stand for? Tie this in with your “why” as a brand – what’s your driving motivator? (For example, do you want to cut through the fluff typically associated with your industry? Do you want to provide a calming experience in an industry that’s usually high-stress, etc.)
  • What words do you want people to associate with your brand?
  • What’s your promise? Your unique value proposition? The thing that makes you different from your competitors?

The External Checklist:

Only after you have the above questions answered should you start to consider branding deliverables. If you’re very clear on your business’s purpose, this part will be much easier because you know what feeling and experience you’re trying to convey.

Typical branding deliverables include:

  • Name
  • Logo
  • Website design
  • Color schemes
  • The language and messaging used on your website and in marketing materials

All of these brand deliverables should be in line with your company’s core values – the results of the questions asked in the internal branding checklist. And if one of the external deliverables isn’t in line with your brand? Well… back to the drawing board.

Is Branding Really Worth All This Work?


If you don’t have your brand distilled properly, you’re going to lack direction, purpose, and depth. Your brand is the thread that runs through everything you do and every decision you make. When you’re considering adding a new feature or how to market your business, you should always be thinking about that core thread.

It’s critical to have a guiding compass, especially in the often-stormy early stages of a startup.

Remember the startups we mentioned earlier. They all have that common thread, and they’ve stayed with it. Google dedicates the time and resources to come up with their doodles that celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and important events. The doodles make them no money, but do contribute to continuously building their brand.

Think about what you can do in your business that will have the same effect.


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