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Entrepreneur's guide to building a memorable startup brand

This guide is my contribution to the global startup community.

The goal: to change the overall early business’s mindset that branding is “always a long and expensive process that is available for big companies only”. It used to be, but it is no longer a truth. Moreover I wanted to remind startups that in the era of product overload, your success depends on how people will perceive you and what emotions will turn them into your customers.

That is why I created this step-by-step guide to building a Minimum Viable Brand for startups. It will help you to create product that people will love.

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Entrepreneur's guide to building a memorable startup brand

  2. 2. The goal of writing this guide was simple: to get more startups to focus on brand building instead of launching "just another product". Why? Most early-stage businesses are over-focused on creating product features and finding investors, and often forget that it is all about getting into people’s minds.
  3. 3. In the era of product overload, your success depends on how people will perceive you and what emotions will turn them into your customers. This guide will help you to create products that people will love.
  4. 4. Ready? Let the story begin!
  5. 5. Once upon a time there was a young entrepreneur who decided to turn a brilliant idea into a real product and start her own company.
  6. 6. ` She worked very hard and finally came up with a business plan and a minimum viable product concept.
  7. 7. Weeks passed the young entepreneur found a dream team and an angel investor
  8. 8. REC At last, the Big Day came. Launch!
  9. 9. A shiny new product, unlike anything else out there, is on the market and available for purchase.
  10. 10. But why don’t people buy it? Do they notice it at all?
  11. 11. You know that your idea serves the market’s needs. You talked to the target audience. You tailored your product to them. So what went wrong?
  12. 12. The answer is that you missed just one thing: “Whatever brilliant product you create, customers will not automatically love it”
  13. 13. The answer is that you missed just one thing: “Whatever brilliant product you create, customers will not automatically love it”
  14. 14. B e c a u s e o f t h e p r o d u c t n o i s e i n o u r m i n d s .
  15. 15. If you want to delight customers so that more people buy more things for more years at a higher price,
  16. 16. you need to build not just a product, but a brand.
  17. 17. Brand is... ... a product.
  18. 18. (Marty Neumeier, “Zag”) Brand is... ... a person’s gut feeling about a product or company.
  19. 19. Brand is... ... a space your company occupies in someone’s mind. In other words,
  20. 20. It is the reputation of your company.
  21. 21. If a good reputation is so important, why do startups skip the branding when creating the product?
  22. 22. 1) time; 2) money. Because branding campaigns take
  23. 23. 1) time; 2) money. While startups are short on
  24. 24. There is a solution for you:
  25. 25. Minimum Viable Product creating a
  26. 26. Minimum Viable Product
  27. 27. MVB is... ... the brand with a defined strategy and emotional message and with only the necessary visual assets, which allows you to fully express your vision and engage early adopters.
  28. 28. Define your strategy. Choose the right name. Uncover your brand personality. Create a list of touchpoints. Design brand assets. repeat as your company grows S T E P S O F C R E A T I N G M V B 1 2 3 4 5
  29. 29. D E F I N E Y O U R S T R A T E G Y Who are you?
  30. 30. 1. Who are you? 2. What do you do, and why? 3. What is your promise? 4. What is your ONLY-statement? 5. What is your story? 6. What is your future? 7. Who are your competitors? 8. Who loves/may love you, and why? Q U E S T I O N S T O D E F I N E Y O U R S T R A T E G Y
  31. 31. WHAT is your category? HOW are you different? WHO are your customers? WHERE are they located? WHY are you important to them? WHEN do they need you? WHAT: The ONLY HOW: that WHO: for WHERE: mostly in WHY: because they WHEN: in the era of . O N E S E N T E N C E S T R A T E G Y (Marty Neumeier, “Zag”)
  32. 32. Our brand is the ONLY that .
  33. 33. Unlike , our helps who want to by and . E L E V A T O R P I T C H (“Value Proposition Design”, Strategyzer)
  34. 34. C H O O S I N G T H E R I G H T N A M E What’s in a name?
  35. 35. 1. Create a different name than those of your competitors. 2. Make it brief (4 syllables or less). 3. Skip generic patterns - create new words instead. 4. Try to create a story (or fairytale) around the name. 5. Test-test-test on people (corridor testing): - is it easy for foreigners to spell? - is it easy to repeat after the first time? - do people have any associations? 6. Check if the domain name is available. If so, buy it today!
  36. 36. U N C O V E R I N G T H E B R A N D P E R S O N A L I T Y How do you look and feel?
  37. 37. Important: a designer should always guide you through this stage.
  38. 38. Are you expressing yourself? Are you modifying your customers? We are... / We want to be seen as... People buy our product because, they are... / they want to be... At first, decide: Then, describe your brand’s personality. or
  39. 39. modern young casual loud playful classic mature elegant quiet serious ... S L I D E R S T O D E S C R I B E B R A N D ’ S P E R S O N A L I T Y (and so on)
  40. 40. Sometimes it is easier to describe your brand as a person: “What if my brand was a person?” / “Who do my customers want to become?”
  41. 41. C R E A T I N G A L I S T O F B R A N D T O U C H P O I N T S How can they experience you?
  42. 42. ` Tagline BRAND MARK Symbol Wordmark Color Image/Photo Pattern Material VISUAL IDENTITY Typeface Layout TYPOGRAPHY Editorial style Interior Business papers Digital media Marketing materials Advertising Presentations Signage Vehicle identification Packaging Uniforms Exhibits Established companies have complex brand identity systems.
  43. 43. 1) cost a lot; 2) take time; 3) are risky (you may not need some elements) For startups, big branding campaigns are resource-wasting, because they
  44. 44. For startups, the best practice is to grow step-by-step: Core assets Identity 1.0 Identity 2.0 (name, logo, tagline, mood, voice, color palette) (key touchpoints) (complete as you grow)
  45. 45. Touchpoint is... ... every interaction point between a customer and the brand. These interactions influence the customer’s perception of your brand at the each stage of the customer’s journey - Awareness, Engagement, Purchase, Using and Sharing.
  46. 46. Aware Engage Buy Use Share (a person discovers that you exist and who are you) (he/she starts to believe in your values and realises that you are the best among others) (convinced customer purchases your product/service, online or offline) (from the moment when customer unpacks the product and later) (delighted customer starts telling people around about his/her experience with your brand) C U S T O M E R ’ S J O U R N E Y the positive reference attracts new customers customer comes back to buy again
  47. 47. Example: T O U C H P O I N T S F O R T H E M O B I L E A P P S T A R T U P Core assets: logo, tagline, colors, typography. Digital assets: the app itself, landing page, confirmation mail, social media, product presentation, meadia kit. Printed assets: business cards, letterhead, envelope.
  48. 48. Example: T O U C H P O I N T S F O R T H E I T S T A R T U P ( D E V I C E S ) Core assets: logo, tagline, colors, typography. Digital assets: website, confirmation mail, social media, product presentation, media kit. Printed assets: business cards, packaging, user manual, invoice, envelope.
  49. 49. Example: T O U C H P O I N T S F O R T H E E - C O M M E R C E O R R E T A I L S T A R T U P Core assets: logo, tagline, colors, typography, photography style. Digital assets: online store, confirmation mail, social media, product presentation, media kit. Printed assets: business cards, invoice, packaging, product labels, staff badges. + environment for the offline store.
  50. 50. Once you have all touchpoints listed, take your time and have a rest. The only thing needed from you is your constructive feedback in time.
  51. 51. A designer takes your strategy notes, brand workshop results and the list of touchpoints... Because it is time for design.
  52. 52. and makes your product stand out from competitors.
  53. 53. Later, after launching successfully and after testing your Minimum Viable Brand in real life, you will grow and add new touchpoints. Identity 2.0
  54. 54. Conclusion
  55. 55. Feel free to print templates from this guide and take them to the meeting with your designer.
  56. 56. If you want to make the best use of this guide, and build a brand that will hook people, remember three important rules:
  57. 57. Successful brand identity is never created in-house if you don’t have a designer in your team. Similar case: When your tooth hurts, you go to the dentist. Self-treatment doesn’t help here. Rule:
  58. 58. Know who does what. And respect these roles. Together with your team you define the strategy and create a name. While designer takes care about the visual side of your business. Rule:
  59. 59. Designer Your startup team Strategy and naming Visual design Branddf personality and list of touchpoints But there is a part of process, where collaboration is key.
  60. 60. Brand is not a logo. Design visual identity in a way, that if you delete your logo, people will still recognise you. As you will recognise brands on the following slides. Without logo and appropriate content. Rule:
  61. 61. This brand’s identity was build on the black and green colors and dark overlays on the big background images. Now, when people got addicted to this product and fall in love with its style, the founders decided to rebrand, going more dynamic and free in the identity.
  62. 62. WELL-KNOWN IN 250 CITIES, this brand position themselves as reliable, modern and elegant. They use electric blue and black colors, tech font and detailed graphics to make their customers feel the same.
  63. 63. THIS BRAND has been using their yellow frame as a main visual element for 105 years already.
  64. 64. Finally, Vibrant colors, a curvy sans-serif typeface, friendly icons and smiling faces and emojis everywhere. People, who use their product, explain this brand as “fun and playful”.
  65. 65. These brands got into customers’ minds and settle there for long. Because from the early beginning they have been following a different way of thinking:
  66. 66. We don’t build products.
  67. 67. We create perceptions and turn them into relationships.
  68. 68. I hope that you will also follow this mindset. And from the deep of my heart I wish your startup to find the way to the customers’ minds. And stay there forever.
  69. 69. After publishing this guide I started working on the Startup Branding Toolkit
  70. 70. that will equip you and your designer for the challenge of creating minimum viable brand. (Only down-to-earth practicalities)
  71. 71. Once the Startup Branding Toolkit is online, I will notify you, so you can start using its materials immediately. Just drop me a line on: iryna.nezhynska@gmail.com to be the first to know about its launch. (And of course, I’m happy to hear your feedback on this guide. It will help to make upcoming toolkit more useful.)
  72. 72. I’m a visual designer based in Warsaw. I create brand identities for digital products helping new companies express who they are. It is my daily job and my passion. It is the air I breathe. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons attribution, noncommercial, share alike licence. behance.net/eirena dribbble.com/eirena iryna.nezhynska@gmail.com