The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Category: Brand Strategy For Startups
You should never start a business unless you are deliberately planning for others in the industry to be dismayed, surprised, outraged or alarmed by what you are doing.
“Start-up” has become a synonym for starting-out. It implies not just being at the beginning, but needing to catch up to someone more established in order to prove oneself.
Launching an upstart on the other hand is all about putting a business in play that really challenges what everyone else has accepted as the rules.
That’s because a start-up focuses on getting a product or an idea to market, whereas an upstart focuses on an “enemy” (be it an attitude or a standardized approach) and looks to a product or service to change that.
Without a business model trained on defying and disrupting the status quo, you are destined to be another player trying to get a footing in another overplayed market. A feature, no matter how beneficial, is not a disruption. If all that stands between you and your competitors is a product improvement, a customer service change, a change in your distribution plan or a new pricing model, you can bank on it being copied, commoditized or counter-attacked at the first sign of sustained success. Then what?
The equation is stark. Rock the boat, and keep rocking the boat – or risk ending up in the same boat as everyone else.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Mark Di Somma, Brand Consultant
Sponsored by: The Brand Strategy Workshop For StartupsRead More
When startups and emerging companies are at a point in their evolution when a strategic approach to brand development becomes a critical business imperative, often times the whole process will begin and end with a shiny new logo and website. It’s understandable that CEOs and their marketing teams will place much importance on the visual components of brand development. As important as these elements are to defining and expressing the brand, they’re not the foundation of what defines a successful brand strategy and development initiative.
If you’re at the beginning stages of thinking about your brand’s development in a sophisticated manner, and you’d like your efforts to be perceived as more than the emperor’s new clothes, allow me to offer seven ideas on how you can insure your brand development initiatives will set the tone for your bigger, better future.
Brand strategy is a top down process.
Executive “buy-in” to a branding program is nowhere near enough — executive management must lead the entire branding initiative. This is not only true for startup brands, but established global brands as well. Brand building is about the quality of your presence in the marketplace. Without the whole effort being led by the top executives, the process will die in the organization and in the marketplace. Rarely are such endeavors delegated to lower level managers who would have full authority to make critical business driven decisions. It’s also not a democratic process. If you have a steering committee structure with lots of opinions to cater to, chances are the whole effort will get watered down, take twice as long to complete, and be half as effective.
Brand development begins with a clear definition of purpose.
Every company is in business to make a profit. Brand building is about defining the purpose the brand exists beyond moneymaking. An enduring brand stands for something more important and transcends product development and the transactional nature of sales and marketing. Why your brand matters to people is reflected in the stated purpose the brand exists in the first place.Read More
Unlike their big brand counterparts, CEOs of startups and emerging companies often times don’t really know what to expect from the process of defining their brand value to their stakeholders and customers. For many, the undertaking may seem more like entering into a deep, dark forest – a big leap of faith risking valuable capital to boot.
Many ask themselves, “what if we get this wrong?”
With so much risk facing small growing brands, and no forgiveness in the marketplace if they don’t get it right, I’m convinced many entrepreneur executives have that thought cross their mind. Unlike PR, promotions and advertising, brand strategy begins as an introspective process. Defining brand value for small companies and their brands is mostly intuitive and it takes guts.
Recently, having just completed the process of changing their name and creating a new identity, a CEO of a growing B2B company, confessed to me, “ You know, at the beginning of this whole process, we didn’t have a clue where this would lead us, or have any confidence what we were contemplating was even the right thing to do. Changing our business name was a big deal — we only had one shot to get it right!
The currency of our modern social age is attention. CEOs of startups and emerging companies don’t have the financial luxury of buying attention, they have to earn it. Like your money, your customer’s attention is limited too.
The whole process of defining your unique value to customers in ways customers care about may seem rather mystical, abstract and difficult to quantify. Big brands and the companies that own them, can hedge their bets through reliance on expensive research and market data. Small brands have to rely more on guts and intuition, and a deep empathy for their customers rather than deep pockets for advertising.Read More
CEOs of startups and emerging companies are always looking for useful advice and ideas on brand building and how the management of their early stage brand can help them move from where they are now to some elevated place they want to be. Many early stage business leaders know what they want, and the direction they’d like to go, yet the “how to do it” part remains elusive.
Accomplishment has no silver bullets. Getting things done and making things happen isn’t magic, it’s real work–actually it’s great work! I’m sure you’ll agree nothing is more satisfying and fulfilling than turning possibilities into achievement. The questions I get asked most often from early-stage business leaders are “how do we make it happen?” and “where do we start?”
What they really want to know is “how can I start at the top and work up from there?” Few are willing to start something at the bottom. Everybody wants a shortcut to the top.
Don’t get me wrong, if you find a shortcut–a faster, better, cheaper way to accomplishing your business goals, by all means go for it. There are many shortcuts to be found on the road to your success. The important thing one must understand about shortcuts is they are only made available to you AFTER you start at the bottom.Read More
A startup business faces many difficult challenges getting off the ground. For many early stage CEO’s assessing their priorities, product development and the seed money to grow are their primary concerns. Few if any are thinking much about the critical importance of brand building.
For startup CEOs, brand building needs to be as important to early business success as product development and raising money. You can have the most innovative, groundbreaking product ever conceived, but if you can’t create a strong foundation for communicating that value to investors and the marketplace, chances are the business venture won’t go far.
You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Everyone has heard that statement before. But for startup brands the statement holds even more significance. Whatever startup brands are doing, chances are they’re doing it for the first time. The first presentation to an investor, customer or important employee must be simple, clear and compelling — there are no second chances.
Developing a strong brand is critical to the early success of startups and emerging companies.
A workshop designed to build an advantage
Over the course of this one-day workshop you’ll build a strategic foundation for marketing success in your early stage business through focus in four critical areas:Read More