When developing brand identity for a startup, one of the most important considerations is how the brand will help differentiate the business from its competitors. There is often a great temptation to differentiate and position the brand based solely on the USP of the startup's initial product or service offering. So for example, if the business' main product is a new type of biscuit containing a specially developed malt extract that aids digestion, the business owner might want to highlight the improved digestion benefit in the brand's vision statement - 'we dream of better digestion for all!' or something similar. This is not a good idea.
If you position your brand purely in terms of your product's USP then if/when a competitor moves in to imitate that product (or comes up with something better), you'll no longer have a USP, and you'll be forced to reposition your brand on the competitor's terms. However, if you have a unique position that includes more intangible customer benefits, and isn't tied to your current product range, then you'll have the confidence and flexibility to respond to unforeseen forces on your terms, in a way that feels natural and honest to your brand identity.
This is one of the functions of a well developed brand identity - it acts as a safety net against future changes in the market. Refraining from focusing on specific, tangible benefits that are tied to where your business stands today will give the brand considerably more long-term value.
This doesn't mean that your brand positioning needs to be based on vague, ephemeral 'fluff'. It means that you need to develop a USP for your brand that is separate and more universally applicable than the USP of your product. In the biscuit example given above, you might want to position the brand in terms of 'fostering health and happiness through great taste' (this is a little generic, but you get the idea). This would be a future-flexible approach that is meaningful and true to the underlying objectives of the business. In 50 years time this business might be making yoghurt instead of biscuits, and the health benefits may be completely different, but the positioning and USP of the brand will still hold true.
Products, businesses and markets change, but if your identity is developed based on your unique values and aspirations, rather than specific product benefits, your brand should stand the test of time.
If you need help developing your brand, differentiating your business or defining your goals, I'd like to invite you to consider working with Brandsworth - contact us for a free consultation.