You have 10 seconds. If you can’t decide whether or not to stick a knife in it in 10 seconds, you won’t last long here. That’s what many VC’s say, and one of the first things I tell entrepreneurs who think a brand is something they can get after they raise the 1st round of investment.
First Impressions Matter
In an industry where decisions are made in a matter of seconds, you only get one shot to catch the attention of your target or you’re dead in the water. If your brand doesn’t convey the proper message, tone, and feel to get someone to take notice, then you won’t even get the opportunity to do that pitch you’ve been practicing in front of the mirror for 2 months.
It’s not only the fact that VC investors are an impatient lot. They simply reflect how consumers, clients, users all behave across almost every business vertical. In today’s attention economy, you not only have to get to the point quickly, you have to convey relevance to your customers’ lives, give them a reason to believe and convince them you have what they need.
Your brand is how you are being judged
A strong brand is not just a catchy pitch for an investor. It also establishes an unconscious vote of trust that you take yourself seriously, and therefore, they should also take you seriously. In today’s startup world, where everybody is building the next Uber of this, AirBnb of that, investors have narrowed their decision-making process into two main
criteria: investing in the right people and/or investing in the right way of thinking. The brand covers both. It conveys how founders think, how they execute, and how they see their product becoming a business. A strong brand exudes confidence, and more importantly says you know your customers and how to reach them. As one VC investor says, it’s what separates the winners from the losers.
Brands drive growth
AirBnb was just a platform that let people post their flats online to make an extra buck while on vacation. With human-centric insights, it has become the accepted way to experience cities in a more authentic and memorable manner.
Before they were the world’s largest taxi company without owning any vehicles, Uber was just a luxury taxi app – an infinitesimally niche market. If they had positioned their brand to limit itself just to these 1% commuters, Uber wouldn’t be worth the $50B they’re valued at today. They wouldn’t have rolled out additional service offerings like Uber Eats and Uber Rush
Express Branding for Startups
Most startups aren’t adequately funded to undergo a full branding process. Furthermore, a brand is something that gets built over time. However, brand thinking is an absolute prerequisite for future success and provides the foundations for communicating your unique position and offering — and goes a long way to getting you where you want to go.
A structured 2-week strategic sprint can provide founders with a strong basis for messaging, naming, a refinement of the value proposition, audience segmentation and understanding the real competitive landscape in which your startup is operating.
While you can’t predict the future because your business may pivot, building a framework to convey your unique offering will help bring ideas into reality and convince prospective investors that you’re in it to win it.