How to tackle brand building as an early stage startup: advice from Jung von Matt branding experts
Here are the main points from our Everything About session with branding experts Florian Rock and Selina Holesinsky, experts from Jung von Matt Donau. As always, we love to share the takeaways from all of our online events to make sure our whole community has access to these invaluable resources whenever you need them.
Everything About is our online event series where we partner up with different experts to talk about topics that are relevant within the startup world and helpful for all founders.
Our session with Jung von Matt Donau on brand building was one of the most highly rated Everything About sessions that we have ever hosted. We are thrilled to share the main points with you and know you will find some useful insights.
Launch a brand not a product
Every startup begins with an idea which is developed into a prototype or MVP and then eventually launched into the market where it hopefully gathers customers or clients. A crucial part of a successful launch is having good company branding that helps attract buyers.
Branding = Attaching Emotion
When you create company branding you are actually developing a collection of perceptions and emotions that go beyond your product. Products fulfill a need, but the brand of the business that the product comes from is what you are providing on top of that. For example with Coca Cola, a Coke fulfills the need for caffeine or thirst but what a customer gets when they drink it is happiness. Or with a BMW, the car is fulfilling the need of transportation but what the customer gets is luxury driving.
Developing this emotional attachment is important because of the way the human brain works. We make over 10,000 decisions everyday, most of them unconsciously and based on emotions. When you develop a brand with emotion, consumers will choose your product based on the feelings that you are providing.
Create Emotions through Storytelling
Our whole society is based on storytelling because this is what justifies the things we all do. The story of a brand is what justifies consumers purchasing their products. A great example for this is the story of luxury that Apple uses to justify the price of all of their products. Stories are built on patterns and can be built using these five key elements:
- Theme: what makes your story fit into a category, for example love, crime, adventure. Try to find a theme that attracts your target group but has a different angle than your competitors.
- Conflict: this is what makes your story move forward. Find someone or something to fight against or disrupt.
- Belief: your beliefs are what give your story a point of view. This is what you or your company stands for, it is common to feel like you have an idea of what this is but don’t actually know it until you write it down in a concrete statement.
- Hero: this is the decisive reason that the conflict is overcome. People often think this has to be the product but it doesn’t! Be creative about who the hero is, maybe it’s your users, maybe it’s a societal ideal that you stand for.
- Battle Cry: speaks to your target group but also stands for the substance of all of your beliefs. In your story the battle cry is a clear sentence that provides a way to win the conflict you presented earlier.
Here is an example of how Airbnb tells their story through the five key elements:
- Theme: exploration, the whole story goes against the idea that it’s strange to share your room or flat because it is part of exploration.
- Conflict: you don’t want to be a tourist when you travel, you are a traveler and can experience what it is actually like to live in the places you are visiting through Airbnb.
- Belief: see the world through the eyes of a local.
- Hero: the community and the traveler who can explore the world and have different experiences through Airbnb.
- Battle cry: belong anywhere, these two words make people feel like they are travelers rather than tourists.
Why Branding is especially important for early stage startups
Having strong branding as a startup gives you a competitive advantage against other early stage startups, but also other large established brands. Creating a story with your branding is what makes you stand out when compared to similar products. Strong branding will also result in huge benefits through creating a force of attraction which is great for talent acquisition, investor relationships and media perception.
Developing a strong story and consistent distinctive brand early will also help with marketing in the future. After you have acquired all of the lowest hanging fruit through digital marketing and putting money behind posts and ads becomes too expensive you will hopefully be able to start relying on the pull effect of the brand you have developed within the Google and Facebook ecosystems.
It’s also important to note that as an early stage startup you have a company brand but also a personal brand. Your own personal brand as a founder or founding team can be a big asset when it comes to acquiring investment. Spinning the brand story with your personal story will convince investors to support you. It’s natural for a product to change overtime but investors want to know the person consistently standing behind it is someone they can trust.
3 Rules to remember
Selina and Florian gave three rules to always remember when doing any branding work that may seem obvious but are easy to forget about during the process:
- Be consistent: with your personal brand and company brand. Once you have figured out the right one, telling the same story over and over again will build trust and help you relate to your customers.
- Don’t be bland: it’s often difficult to tell which brand is actually behind a product, especially with a lot of big brands that are all turning to the same look and story. Avoid this by launching a strong brand instead of just your product.
- Dare to be extra: it can take a lot of courage to do something completely different or over the top but is a way to increase your business value. It might be uncomfortable at first but totally worth it when you nail it! Remember that your brand is not a label but a story that you get to define and constantly tell.
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