A strong product does not a successful startup make.
While having an outstanding product or solution will certainly improve your company’s chances of success, it will not guarantee it. Entrepreneurial lore is filled with examples of companies whose mediocre products outshined their more capable competitors. The primary reason behind this is said company’s ability to create an effective brand, despite whatever shortcomings the product may have. In a market saturated with so many similar solutions, the ability to effectively brand has become one of the most important factors in deterring the success or failure of many companies. We spoke to several startup CEO’s and asked what their most important branding strategies are, here’s what they had to say.
1. Fake It Till You Make It
“You have the perfect name for your company but don’t have the domain? No problem! Fake it till you make it.
A lot of the new big brands started on less then premium domains, and bought the premium domain once they had a proof that they were going to be a successful business and had the finances to buy them.
Uber started on UberCab.com; Buffer on BufferApp.com. Heck, even Facebook started at TheFacebook.com
And of course, nugget is still on getnugget.co – just faking it for a bit more 🙂
So don’t worry so much about the availability of the domain. The domain has become less relevant in this App and Search driven online world.”
Ovi Negrean, nugget
2. Map Out Brand Direction
“When it comes to developing a brand strategy, startup founders are faced with many challenges. The best way to develop a unique brand is to map out the direction of the brand and then focus on the end result from day one. This ensures a laser targeted focus along the way.”
Chris Bibey, BroSix
3. Unique Selling Point
“Get your brand recognized by associating it with its Unique Selling Point. Find that one thing your business does better than everyone else, and be sure to capitalize on that when, you get exposure. This makes your branding much more valuable, as potential customers don’t only know you exist, they also know WHY you exist.”
Alon Rajic, Business Loan Companies
4. Build, Expose, Personalize & Differentiate
“Build, expose, personalize and differentiate your brand. These are the 4 main pillars of ExactDrive’s brand strategy. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t happen overnight and your brand isn’t static for the lifetime of your company’s existence. You must continuously review and refresh your brand at the market and industry changes.”
Tim Nichols, ExactDrive
5. Brand Name
“Brand strategy begins with your brand name. Ideally, your brand name evokes the quality and content your start-up offers, and speaks to your core message. Once you have your core message, I recommend repeating it as often as possible and in as many places as possible. Always stay true to your core message.”
Rolf Ritter, People As A Service
“When brand building, organisations should focus on their key area of value with a view to creating content which demonstrates expertise. My advice is is to become the go-to resource whenever the problems your business solves are discussed. Be known for providing answers without selling. Expertise results in an exceptional brand.”
Robert Sturt, Network Union
7. Hold Off
“I wouldn’t suggest a startup founder even consider a brand strategy in their first 2 formation years. Instead, I suggest giving the best experience possible to the customers they DO land, and then asking why they bought…it’s always an eye-opener. The strategy has to embrace the customer market or industry and that’s hard to do when you’re struggling to find the right niche, or customer.”
Sam Zordich, RAI Stone Group
8. Turn Culture Into Brand
“Culture and brand go hand-in-hand. Think about the values you embrace in your company culture – perhaps transparency, collaboration, or focused on success. Then, think about embedding these values in your brand. Whether B2B or B2C, authenticity resonates with customers. If your culture is cutthroat and success-obsessed, while your brand conveys collaboration and purpose, customers will sense the hypocrisy. Your brand will implode.”
Sabrina Atienza, Qurious.io