Most startups think they have to wait until they have a lot of money to build a brand. Truth is, you don't have a choice. The brand is how people feel about your company and whether you have a lot of money or not, they will still have an emotional opinion of your startup. So, it's better to be aware of how branding helps startups at varying stages.
Ensures your startup is unified toward one goal. In mind, in actions, and in voice.
Ensures you aren’t pegged as a copycat and that you know how you're different from your competitors.
Ensures you talk to somebodyinstead of trying to reach everybody.
Ensures your startup appears trustworthy to investors and customers. You can't get that from Fiverr.
Ensures you get emotional buy-in to your startup and get more investment. This means more 0's in those investor checks and greater connection with customers.
Streamlined Marketing and Design
Ensures you don’t reinvent the wheel when creating content about your startup. You can then focus on expanding to new markets and creating great content.
Ensures those marketing efforts are trusted and get a higher return that grows with time. As opposed to relying on discounts and cutting margins to increase sales.
Ensures you coherently and cohesively expand your team. Specifically, it ensures you hire people whose values align with the company and augment the brand rather than detract from it.
Ensures you can leverage brand equity to command a higher exit price. There is a reason Apple is worth trillions and Samsung is not (hint: it's the brand).
Ensures their isn’t a massive overhaul of the company post-exit.
Ensures you left your mark and made an impact beyond financial gain.
Branding exists at every stage of a startup's life. The question is, will it help you or hurt you?
Be sure to read pillars one and two before diving into this article:
The problem with most companies, especially startups and small businesses is that they cast wide nets. They can't say certain things because it will offend people, and they have to appeal to everyone that walks through their doors regardless of how anomalous. It's in this fallacy of trying to please everyone that rebels gain the upper hand. Rebels are honest, so they know that even if they wanted to, they cannot help out everyone. It's physically impossible. Diving deeper, rebels have the confidence to stand firm and say, "I know that I cannot help everyone, but that's ok because I can help someone."
This gives rebels the opportunity to narrow their focus on a specific group of people with a specific problem. Everything else is a distraction to the mission at hand. You see, to rebels, it is better to have 100 true fans who cannot live without their services, than to have 10,000 fair weather fans that will leave them at the drop of a hat. Focusing on a specific group of people creates a virtuous cycle of respect and care for both the business and the people it seeks to serve. One that can only be achieved by having the courage to say, "this is not for everyone, but it is for someone who believes and needs this."
Rebels are honest.
Rebels are confident.
Rebels are focused.
In Genesis, the first sin recorded outside of the Garden of Eden is the murder of Abel by his brother Cain. Whether you believe the story to be historically accurate or not, there is a provocative truth to it. Cain had become extremely bitter and resentful of his brother, as Abel's offering to God was accepted and Cain's was rejected (due to his lack of reverence and thoughtfulness in the offering). These emotions boil to unrest as Cain wields a rock to bash in his brother's skull. He rids the world of his competition so that his own subpar efforts have nothing to aspire to.
What does this have to do with branding and being rebellious?
While competitive analysis and an understanding of the market is a good thing, comparing the shortcomings of your brand to others is a recipe for bitterness and resentment. If Cain had instead looked inward and been in competition with himself, he would have slain hi sown inadequacies instead of his brother.
Rebellious brands inherently take on a different mission from the rest of the world, and without a doubt there will be times when it seems like the competition will be doing it better.
Let them. Make friends with them and leave behind the scarcity mindset.
Focus on improving your brand, having a greater understanding of your faults, and figuring out how to be better than you were yesterday.