We will do branding for our startup from tomorrow
“What you are telling us about start up branding is aspirational. It is something we want to have, but …”, said two entrepreneurs who had set up a financial start up. This, they shared with me, after listening to the need for a methodical approach towards creating the right kind of perceptual associations for their company, activities and themselves as leaders.
But what made them stop themselves there and not take the conversation and journey forward? I wondered what lessons lay there in that dilemma?
On timing for beginning the branding process
What startups think: After we get our basic act together. Like getting the core team in place, a few numbers coming in and an element of continuity established in the business cycles.
What I think: Branding is a joint first step, which is aligned with the startup’s aspiration of delivering a solution that is unique and unlike any other. What makes the solution/product unlike any other and what associations can possibly be created for it, the company and founders is a concurrent process of thinking. Not a sequential one and ought to be done in tandem with the other foundational processes in a startup.
On the need for a specialist branding guy
What startups think: Let me do as much as I can in-house as my team and I know more about the product, solution or the offering. Once we get to a milestone we will call a specialist in.
What I think: Begin with a specialist on your roster. They make good sounding boards and come with an overview of what the market really needs. They may emerge as good moderators between your idea and its relevance in the marketplace. Kind of package it smartly right from day one. They could be expensive sometimes, but some of them may be ready to bootstrap if they share your passion.
On the aspect of knowing what needs to be communicated
What startups think: We know the idea. We know our audiences. We can communicate with them.
What I think: Oh yes you can. Certainly. But a communication expert can possibly tell you the complete sequence — in the nature of a full cycle approach towards creating the communication — from creation, dissemination and feedback to correction. Moreover a good communication expert can also tell you how to ensure recognition of your brand, comprehension of your offering, create the right kind of touch points which ensure you get oneness across all your communication windows. This would mean that the expert will be in a position to give you a framework with a clear plan on how each of the pieces are connected and their effective panning out in a pre-determined sequence. The gain: communication clarity with a roadmap and the important element of continuity added to it.
On branding being an expense
What startups think: It is an expense and it can be postponed. Rationalized, as we will do it when it is needed.
What I think: Firstly it is not an expense. It is an investment in creating the most appropriate and compelling associations about the offering, leadership and the entity as a combined unit. These are what will anchor the brand. Differentiate your idea from competition and generate high levels of stickiness for the solution, leadership and the company.
Frankly there is always a brand within. Intent, triggers and a commitment to think ahead and big are the starting points.
These are not in the morrows, but today. Not even in the coming Monday but possibly in the weekend before. Passionate branding guys — some of them have no weekends!