No, you're not going to remodel the kitchen in your startup. This is an analogy. You see, when you renovate your house to increase its value, there are two areas most recommended: the kitchen and the bathroom. Doing this adds the greatest increase to a home's value.
Is it out of the question to think that design could be the equivalent to increasing a startup? Not unlikely. I was at a pitch competition last month and all of the judges made comments on the design of the winning team's slides. How well they flowed, the ease of reading information, and the personality they added. There were other participants that had ideas just as good as theirs, but good design made them win.
Furthermore, in comparison to other things startups might do to increase their value, design isn't that expensive. A solo freelancer can make a run-down, scrappy startup look like it is worth millions for under $30,000. If it results in the recoup of millions in fundraising, that sounds like a drop in the bucket.
Here's the thing: if you're looking to tremendously increase the value of your startup, you might want to consider design as a starting point.
As the glue-sticks, scissors, and magazine cut-outs were thrown about, my friend Hayley called my name.
"Zach, I found your word."
She held up a magazine page to show me the word REBEL in all caps and in black and white nonetheless.
Now, here is what's flattering: that is my word, and I've been using it since I started working for myself in late 2017. It's a small thing, but that fact that I did not have to claim that as my word and instead had someone else claim it for me means that I've become synonymous with it.
Why does this matter?
Building a brand is about making people feel a certain way about your business. If you're lucky, you can get the same emotional response from different people that interact with your company. So when someone says the exact word I want them to feel about me, it shows that I'm on the right track.
If I had tried owning all the words, there's no way Hayley would've made that comment yesterday. But because I've invested and gone all in on the word REBEL, she made the connection instantly.
Find your word.
When training for an athletic event, we subject ourselves to pain in hopes of getting better. We strain our muscles to the point that cells begin to breakdown. Another way of thinking about this, is that a they die. However a new, stronger cell or group of cells takes its place.
Without the initial expiration of the first cell, the new ones can't exist.
The same goes for your brand. If you are going to change the way people feel about you, or at the very least continue to build and improve upon it, you must say goodbye to the parts that have grown weary.
Some examples of what this would look like:
Cutting services or offerings that don't align with your positioning.
Changing your name to better reflect your brand's character.
Refining the culture of your company to foster the brand.
Creating a unique identity that is totally different from the previous one.
Letting go of toxic people who don't align with your values.
Having the courage to throw it all away in the hopes of creating something greater.