Building a Brand That Resonates: The Ultimate Guide for Tech Startups


As we forge ahead into the 21st century, the startup ecosystem, particularly in the realm of technology, continues to evolve at a breakneck pace. A robust visual identity, replete with a memorable logo, harmonious color palette, and the perfect typographic elements, is undoubtedly the bedrock of any fledgling enterprise. Yet, in the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of tech startups, these foundational visual elements are but a mere starting point in the journey to crafting a holistic and impactful brand identity.

At Suits & Sandals, we pride ourselves on our ability to help businesses create brand identities that resonate with their target audience. Our experience has shown us that–when it comes to branding–tech startups tend to concentrate their efforts on creating a visual identity while inadvertently overlooking other crucial facets of their brand. In this article, we'll delve deep into the indispensable elements that every tech startup must consider in order to construct a well-rounded and effective brand identity.

Understanding Your Audience: Creating Audience Personas and Customer Journeys

Delving deep into the heart of your target demographic is the cornerstone of any effective brand strategy. It's not enough to have a general understanding of your audience; you must create detailed audience personas and map out customer journeys to truly grasp their needs, motivations, and pain points.

Audience personas are fictional characters that represent different segments of your target market. They should be based on market research and data, and they should include demographic information, behavioral patterns, and psychographic details such as values, interests, and lifestyle. For instance, a health tech startup might have personas for hospital administrators, doctors, and patients, each with their own unique characteristics and needs.

Here’s an example audience persona:

Dr. Emily Roberts, Oncologist

Demographic Information

Age: 38

Location: San Francisco, California

Job Title: Oncologist at a major hospital

Education: MD from Stanford University

Income: $250,000+

Behavioral Patterns

  • Reads medical journals and industry publications regularly
  • Attends medical conferences and workshops
  • Actively participates in online medical communities
  • Uses social media, particularly LinkedIn, to connect with colleagues and stay informed about industry news

Values and Interests

  • Passionate about patient care and improving patient outcomes
  • Interested in new technologies and innovations in oncology
  • Values continuing education and staying updated on the latest research and treatment options
  • Enjoys spending time with family, hiking, and traveling

Pain Points

  • Struggles to find time to research and stay updated on the latest health tech innovations
  • Often feels overwhelmed by the amount of information available and the rapid pace of technological advancements in oncology
  • Frustrated by the lack of user-friendly health tech solutions that can be easily integrated into her practice


  • Provide the best possible care to her patients
  • Stay updated on the latest research and treatment options in oncology
  • Find user-friendly health tech solutions that can improve patient outcomes and streamline her workflow

Once you have your personas in place, the next step is to map out customer journeys. A customer journey is a visual representation of the various touchpoints and interactions a customer has with your brand, from initial awareness to post-purchase follow-up. It helps you understand the path your customers take and the experiences they have at each stage of their journey.

Here’s a very simple example of a customer journey, based on our sample audience persona:

  1. Discovers a new health tech startup through a LinkedIn post
  2. Visits the startup's website to learn more about their product offerings
  3. Downloads a whitepaper or case study from the website
  4. Attends a webinar hosted by the startup
  5. Connects with a sales representative for a product demo
  6. Purchases the product and integrates it into her practice

Crafting detailed audience personas and customer journeys enables you to tailor your messaging and offerings to better meet the needs of your target audience. It ensures that your brand resonates with them, ultimately leading to stronger customer relationships and increased brand loyalty.

Communicating Value to Investors: Crafting a Brand Narrative and Messaging for the Investor Audience

When it comes to securing funding, it's crucial to speak the language of investors. This means taking the time to craft a brand narrative and messaging that resonates with them. Your brand narrative should clearly communicate the problem your product or service solves, how it solves it, and why it's better than the competition.

In addition to a compelling narrative, it's also important to create highly visual investor communications materials like pitch decks and other investor-focused brand collateral. Investors are often busy and may not have the time to read through lengthy documents. In addition, when you’re in a particularly competitive field, it can be especially important to stand out against other businesses vying for investor attention. Visuals can help communicate complex information in an easily digestible format, making it easier for investors to understand the value of your offering. The better investors understand what your company does, the better your chances are of winning them over–and having a visually compelling presentation has a knock-on effect of making your brand more memorable in the process.

Here are some ways you can use visuals to get an edge in your pitch

  • Include data visualizations that showcase market trends and the potential for growth
  • Use infographics to illustrate the problem your offering solves (and how you solve it) to demonstrate product-market fit
  • Add charts and graphs that highlight your financial projections 

The key is to make your materials both informative and visually appealing, ensuring that they leave a lasting impression on potential investors.

Creating Comprehensive Brand Guidelines

You’d be surprised how many businesses with 100+ employees and millions of dollars in funding have no brand guidelines. I know I am, every time I come across another example. It seems like many companies take the position that, as long as you have a brand identity, it’s not particularly important to document how that brand identity is used. Maybe it’s because of time and resources, or maybe it’s just viewed as low-priority. In either case, not having brand guidelines only does one thing: leave a brand up to interpretation. This is not a good thing.

Brand guidelines serve as a roadmap for how a brand should be presented across various channels and touchpoints. 

They ensure consistency, which is key to building a strong and recognizable brand. This consistency is crucial not only in visual identity but also in messaging and tone, creating a cohesive brand experience for your audience. So if you only have a style guide that includes a few examples of your logo in different lock-ups or colorways, your font selections, and a color palette, you’re missing out on some of the most critical elements of a good brand guideline.

Brand guidelines are essential for maintaining consistency across all marketing and communication efforts

They help to create a unified brand image and message that resonates with your audience. This consistency builds trust and makes your brand more memorable. Furthermore, brand guidelines streamline the process of creating marketing materials, as they provide a clear set of rules and standards to follow.

Brand guidelines are particularly important for companies with multiple teams or departments working on marketing and communications

They ensure everyone is on the same page and presenting the brand in a consistent manner. This is also crucial when working with external vendors, such as design agencies or freelancers, as it provides them with a clear understanding of your brand and how it should be represented.

The Components of a Good Brand Guideline

Here are some things your guideline shouldn’t go without:

Visual Identity

This includes your logo, color palette, typography, and imagery. Your brand guidelines should specify how your logo should be used, including size, placement, and any variations of the logo. It should also outline your brand's color palette, specifying the exact color codes to be used. Typography guidelines will include the fonts to be used for different types of content, as well as any specific styling rules. Finally, your brand guidelines should outline the style of imagery that can be used in marketing materials.

Messaging and Tone

Your brand guidelines should also include information on your brand's messaging and tone. This includes your brand's mission, values, and key messaging points. It should specify the tone of voice to be used in different types of communications, from social media posts to email marketing campaigns.

  • Brand Messaging Framework: Start by creating a brand messaging framework that outlines the key messages that the brand wants to communicate to its target audience.
    This should include:
    - Value Proposition: Clearly articulate what makes the brand unique and why customers should choose it over competitors.
    - Brand Promise: Define what the brand commits to delivering to its customers.
    - Key Messages: Identify the most important messages that the brand wants to communicate to its audience.
    - Taglines and Slogans: Create memorable taglines or slogans that encapsulate the brand's essence.
  • Tone of Voice Guidelines: Define the brand's tone of voice, which is how the brand communicates with its audience, both in written and spoken communication.
    This should include:
    - Description of Tone: Describe the brand's tone of voice using adjectives such as friendly, professional, sophisticated, or casual.
    - Examples: Provide examples of the brand's tone of voice in action, such as sample copy from marketing materials, social media posts, or customer service interactions.
    - Dos and Don'ts: Outline the dos and don'ts of the brand's tone of voice to ensure consistency across all communications.
  • Content Style Guide: Develop a content style guide that outlines the brand's writing style and formatting preferences.
    This should include:
    - Writing Style: Define the brand's preferred writing style, such as whether it uses formal or informal language, first-person or third-person perspective, etc.
    - Formatting: Outline the brand's formatting preferences, such as how headings and subheadings are styled, how bullet points are used, etc.
    - Grammar and Punctuation: Specify any grammar and punctuation rules that the brand follows.

Brand Personality

This section will define your brand's personality, including any specific personality traits or characteristics that should be emphasized in your marketing materials. Some examples of things you might include in this section:

  1. Character Traits: These are the human characteristics that best describe your brand. They could be traits such as friendly, professional, sophisticated, innovative, adventurous, or quirky. A good exercise is to pick three to five traits that you feel best represent your brand.
  2. Values and Beliefs: These are the core principles that guide your brand's actions and decision-making process. They should be deeply ingrained in your brand and resonate with your target audience's values and beliefs.
  3. Story and History: This includes your brand's origin story and any significant milestones or achievements. A compelling story can create a deeper emotional connection with your audience.
  4. Brand Archetype: This is a way to categorize your brand based on universal archetypes that represent fundamental human desires and motivations. Examples of brand archetypes include The Hero, The Rebel, The Explorer, The Lover, etc. Identifying your brand's archetype can help you create a more compelling and relatable brand personality.

Usage Guidelines

These guidelines will specify how your brand's assets can be used. This includes rules for how your logo can be used, any restrictions on the use of your brand's name or imagery, and any other specific usage rules. Usage guidelines are highly dependent on your brand and what makes it unique. It’s less important what these rules are and more important to know that, if there are rules, they should be clearly communicated so that any person–whether an employee of your company, a freelancer, or brand partner–can understand and follow them.

Brand Applications

Your brand guidelines should also include examples of how your brand should be applied across various touchpoints, from social media profiles to business cards to website design.

Not all applications are applicable (lol) to all brands. Here’s how you should go about it:

  • Logo Application:
    - Show how the logo should be used on different backgrounds (light, dark, colored, etc.).
    - Provide examples of incorrect logo usage.
    - Explain the minimum size of the logo and the clear space required around it.
  • Color Application:
    - Show examples of how the brand colors should be used in design layouts, including primary and secondary colors.
    - Provide examples of unacceptable color combinations or usage.
  • Typography Application:
    - Provide examples of how the brand's typography should be used in headings, subheadings, body text, and captions.
    - Show the font hierarchy and how different fonts and sizes should be used together.
  • Photography and Imagery:
    - Explain the style and mood of the photography and imagery that should be used in brand communications.
    - Provide examples of acceptable and unacceptable imagery.
  • Iconography and Graphic Elements:
    - Show how icons and graphic elements should be used in relation to other brand elements.
    - Provide examples of acceptable and unacceptable iconography.
  • Stationery and Collateral:
    - Showcase how the brand elements should be applied to business cards, letterheads, envelopes, and other stationery items.
    - Show examples of branded collateral like brochures, flyers, and banners.
  • Digital Applications:
    - Explain how the brand should be represented in digital formats such as websites, social media, email signatures, and online advertisements.
    - Show examples of acceptable and unacceptable digital applications.
  • Product and Packaging:
    - Show how the brand elements should be applied to product packaging and labels.
    - Provide examples of branded products.
  • Signage and Environmental Graphics:
    - Provide guidelines for how the brand should be represented in physical spaces such as office interiors, storefronts, and event booths.
    - Show examples of signage and environmental graphics that adhere to the brand guidelines.

If you’d like to see some examples of how we’ve helped other tech startups create strategically impactful audience personas, visual identities with comprehensive brand guidelines, and valuable brand collateral like pitch decks, get in touch!

And if you’d like to see why why a dynamic website is a crucial component of any B2B business’ digital marketing strategy, check out this blog post: Why B2B Web Design Should Go Beyond Being a Digital Brochure: Fueling Product Marketing Through Dynamic Experiences.