In Part 1, we began to outline why your startup needs to be thought of as a brand from the very beginning . Your company is like a person — it has a name, a style, a way of communicating, a face (or faces as in your team), friends and family in partners and professional relationships.

In Part 2 we’re going to walk through an exercise that will help you understand your users, and how that should affect how you build your startup's brand.

The first step is to start thinking about and building your user personas. User Testing defines customer personas as the following:

A customer persona (also known as a buyer persona) is a semi-fictional archetype that represents the key traits of a large segment of your audience, based on the data you’ve collected from user research and web analytics. It gives you insight into what your prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh potential options that address the problem they want to solve.

It is also important to note that for this exercise we are going to be talking about “users” as well as “customers”. Customers are companies or people paying you for your product or services. Users are everyone else is interacting directly with your brand. This can be individuals consuming content or interacting with your social media accounts, or businesses that could be potential partners and collaborators.

We’ll dive deeper into building user personas in the future but for this exercise, you’ll want to try to understand the following:

  1. Demographics — These are more quantitative or binary like age, race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, income, education, and employment
  2. Psychographic Profile — These are personal characteristics like personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles
  3. Professional Characteristics — These are qualitative characteristics such as motivators, willingness to learn, communication channels, etc.
  4. Goals — These are both the individual and company-specific goals related to the individual or company interacting with your brand.
  5. Challenges — These are the challenges in the way of your users’ ability to reach their goals.

If interested in seeing some examples you can see different types of personas here:

  1. Venngage’s 20+ User Persona Examples, Templates and, Tips For Targeted Decision-Makin
  2. L&T’s 10 Examples of Detailed Content Marketing Personas
  3. Alexa Blog’s 10 Buyer Persona Examples to Help You Create Your Own

Purchase Behavior

After building your personas there are two more steps in order to get a full picture of your customers and users. The first is pretty easy if you have customers — you’ll want to understand their purchase behavior. Study.com defines purchase behavior as “Consumer buying behavior is ”the sum total of a consumer’s attitudes, preferences, intentions, and decisions regarding the consumer’s behavior in the marketplace when purchasing a product or service.” Some questions to ask yourself to determine purchase behavior are the following:

  1. What is the average frequency of purchase in this segment?
  2. How long do service relationships last?
  3. What is the decision process that a customer follows?
  4. Who influences the decision to buy the product?
  5. How important is our customer’s user in influencing our customer’s decision to buy from us?
  6. How is the purchase decision made?
  7. Why does the customer buy?
  8. When does the customer buy?

While these aren’t the only questions you should be asking, nailing these down will be a huge step in determining how your customers interact with your brand throughout the buying process.

Brand Drivers

Understanding your brand drivers can help you further develop the correct messaging for your users, understand and influence their decision-making process, and own your brand perception in the marketplace.

Brand drivers should be aligned with your mission statement as well as the feeling you want your users to have when they interact with your brand. If one of your users were to describe your brand, what would they say? When trying to figure out how your brand drivers are affecting your brand and its perception, try answering the following questions in detail:

  1. When someone decides to work with you, what factors do they consider?
  2. What are the key attributes and values that paying customers look from businesses like yours?
  3. What are the key needs and expectations of your customers?
  4. How is your business delivering on the needs of your current customers?
  5. How do your current client engagements affect your brand?
  6. Which information sources do your users look at during their decision making processes?
  7. What do you think customers think of your brand?
  8. What do you think are the most important reasons a customer chooses to buy from your business?
  9. What are the reasons a user does NOT choose to buy from your business?
  10. On a scale of 1 to 10 rate how strong you think your brand is amongst your customers. 1 is weak and 10 is strong.

Answering these questions is a great way to start building your brand as a startup. Your user personas, purchase behavior, and brand drivers will end up being invaluable in scaling your company.

In the next installment, we’ll go into measuring brand awareness and some actions you can take to get more insights. We’ll also continue the exercises by diving into your business proposition and gauging market trends.

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