The Two Most Powerful Ps of Startup Marketing You Might Be Forgetting

by Robert Wallace

“Within every brand is a product, but not every product is a brand.”

This iconic quote by David Ogilvy, one of the founding fathers of marketing and advertising, still reigns true and is perhaps even more relevant in today’s era of commoditized technology companies.

The trouble is, most startups believe the product is the brand. With this backwards approach, they may enter the market with a shiny new product that competes on every level of the “four Ps” — product, price, place and promotion — but they end up relegating the two most crucial Ps to an afterthought.

The two Ps I’m referring to are position and purpose. These make up your brand and the story your customers connect to. And that connection is key. These also become your company’s guiding star.

Your position and purpose, or in other words your story, need to be developed alongside the product — it’s the differentiator in a highly competitive, saturated marketplace.

Today’s consumer does business with a company in part because they like the product or service, but mainly because they can get behind what that company is about. They are buying an experience, not a product. Storytelling, through purpose and position, allows you to get into the heart of your customer.

Your Brand is More Than a Logo

Sure, the logo and color scheme are key components, but they are only one piece of the your brand puzzle.

A few years ago, Bloomberg published a list of the Top 100 most loved companies, based on research conducted by APCO Worldwide. And, surprise…what earned these companies ‘most loved’ was that they built “a strong, enduring emotional attachment with customers.”

Turns out it’s that feeling that compels us to do business with a company and spawns brand loyalty. Let’s take a modern day example. We all know TOMS is more than just a shoe and sunglass manufacturer. They’re purpose is to provide some of the basic necessities — shoes and eyeglasses — to children in need. This commitment to social good is what created a global mass of TOMS fanatics. These loyalists want to be a part of positive change and purchasing a pair of shoes provides them that experience.

Every element of TOMS branding tells the story of this commitment to social good and invites consumers to be a part it. From their minimal packaging, to the note imprinted on the inside sole of the shoe, to the heart-warming stories featured on the website — they create a feel-good experience at every customer touch point.

Chapter One: Start with Purpose

“What’s my purpose?” It’s question we’ve all faced at one point or another. And as important as it us for us to find our personal purpose, it’s as equally important for your company. A brand’s purpose is a definitive statement about the difference it is trying to make in the world.

Why does your company exist?

Don’t be afraid to aim high on this. Be bold. How do you purport to change the world? This is larger than the company vision statement, but be careful, it shouldn’t be abstract or unattainable.

One way to determine your purpose and your story is with this exercise:

Every day at [your company] we _________(what do you do everyday when you come to work?) because we believe ________. What this means to you is__________(what this means or provides to your customer, investors, etc.).

Get your team involved here. Bringing multiple perspectives to the table will help you identify how your employees, sales and marketing team, investors, or designers perceive your company.

The next step is defining and articulating your winning position. Read the full blog post here.

To learn more about Storyteller, please visit:

Robert Wallace is a Partner and Executive Vice President at Tallwave, an innovation services firm that provides design, user validation, product development, branding, marketing, and customer acquisition services that help build products users love — and get them to market, fast.