Essential Branding Tips for Startups Global Expansion - Lessons from 250+ Brand Launches - Naučno-tehnološki park Beograd

Essential Branding Tips for Startups Global Expansion – Lessons from 250+ Brand Launches

Recently, STP Belgrade hosted Tomas Petrek, CEO and Co-owner of the international branding studio GoBigname, which helps startups, SMEs, and multinational companies grow their brands in foreign markets. In the presentation he delivered to the representatives of the Serbian startup ecosystem, he showed the fundamentals they have distilled from over 250 brand launches in 12 years of GoBigname’s expertise. He summarized the key takeaways in this blog post.

When competing against hundreds of similar startups for clients, customers, or investors’ attention, it becomes increasingly important to build your brand to be distinctive among your competition.

However, the reality often appears to be the opposite.

Majority of Brands are not Distinctive

A new report by Ipsos and JKR reveals the importance of brand distinctiveness in marketing today. The report tested five key brand assets – logos, slogans, mascots, color, and product – with over 26,000 global respondents, awarding each asset a standard of distinctiveness.

The result? 85% of brands are not distinctive. They are simply throwing their marketing money out the window and supporting their competition’s growth.

In the startup world, we often see the situation as on the screenshot below, with 20 different startups competing for the same customer or investor money. They all look almost identical.

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The crucial lesson here is that if your brand codes are similar to your competition’s, your marketing budget isn’t working effectively. This is because your target group can’t easily connect your communication to your brand, which means you’re supporting your competition with your money.

Framework to Fix the Problem

So, how can you avoid falling into the trap of being one of the 85% of brands that are not distinctive?

We’ve developed a simple-to-follow GoBigname Framework:


I will demonstrate the power of our framework through our recent case study.

One of our clients, startup YUNO, part of the Migros Group Switzerland, realized before expanding to other markets how similar its current brand identity looked to its competition. 

We analysed their Brand Street – the brand codes of their competition within Switzerland and surrounding countries where expansion was planned. Based on the in-depth analysis, we concluded that the current brand colors, logo, and typography were not distinctive on their Brand Street.

Based on these inputs, we changed the brand’s primary color to Yellow, as this was one of the least used colors in the segment.

The second step was to create their Brand Lighthouse—a distinctive brand asset that helps customers recognize the brand in under two seconds in the current era of attention crisis. We had an amazing idea to create a distinctive shape system.

Yuno’s calendar shape is not just a design element; it’s a powerful brand asset. It seamlessly connects offline and online communication, embodying Yuno’s core mission of flexible tech ownership. Imagine renting tech equipment with the same ease as marking your holidays on a calendar. That’s the level of simplicity and accessibility that Yuno offers, and it is now coded in the minds of its customers, thanks to this iconic brand emblem.

Recent studies show that consistent brand codes can impact startup revenue growth. One of the main goals in our collaboration with YUNO was to build an easy-to-use system of templates for social media and ads that kept the brand codes as consistent as possible.

Bonus Tips

Essential steps to save you money in the long run when building your brand:

  1. Conduct in-depth trademark research for your brand name and register it as fast as possible within the EU + your other expansion markets to prevent legal issues as your business expands.
  2. Check your domain availability and secure the relevant local and .com domains as early as you can, because their price will undoubtedly increase over time (sometimes up to 500,000 EUR).
  3. Review your brand name for potential cultural pitfalls and language issues in foreign markets to prevent expensive reputation problems and potential rebranding in the future.

For more brand evolution tips to increase your chances of international expansion and stop losing money in your brand’s growth, follow GoBigname on Instagram where you can learn more about case studies where they helped startups become global players including the rebranding of Slido with more than 45 million users acquired by Cisco, building the brand for Exponea acquired by Bloomreach now valued over $2.2 billion, rebranding Berlin Brands Group valued over $1,2 billion or the brand we created from scratch Rezztek –  which became officially licensed product by NHL in 2023.

Contact Tomas directly for consultations, brand audits, brand evolutions, or new brand creation projects Tomas@GoBigname.Com

Author: Tomas Petrek, CEO&Co-owner GoBigname, Forbes 30 under 30