After assessing the values that are shared between your software and your ideal user, you can outline a personality for the brand to adorn. I've seen a bunch of variants for making this happen, but the one that has seemed to work the best was stolen from Jacob Cass at Just Creative. A bit of a twist at the end.
Plot your brand on each spectrum:
Next, and this step is important, define any attributes that are 3s. Clearly these are core attributes you want associated with your brand, but they mean something different to everyone. What does it mean to you?
With companies like Uber, Medium, Squarespace, Dashlane, Zapier, Mailchimp, Postmates and the like bringing in millions of dollars a month, it's easy to get envious. They have it all, they have it now, why can't you?
We see these companies from their highlight reels. We don't see the hours put in to create their MVP, the number of times they were told "no" after a investor pitch, or how they too fell into the same boat of wanting it all right now. The truth is, you cannot let your brand fall victim to this. Comparing your software startup to ones that have been around for years is unfair. It's unfair to the work you're doing and it will set you up to be disappointed.
In building your brand, you'll want to do many things. You'll want multiple offerings, to touch multiple markets, and impact multiple user groups.
Help a specific group of people do something specific. Something that will help change their life, earn their trust, and get you past the first step in building a brand that can stand shoulder to shoulder with those you admire.
If you want to get there, take the steps one at a time. Otherwise you will fall. To put it into perspective, here are the founding years for all of the companies above:
There's a two-fold mission to this statement: one part applies to your startup's value proposition/unique selling proposition and the other pertains to the brand (how your startup makes people feel).
In short, you must know what is out there so you can create something that stands out. Let's break it down using the categories listed above.
Most startups will resort to "lowest price" on this point, but we can do better than that. Instead, ask yourself what are the alternatives to your product and what do they lack that your customers need? Sometimes it's as simple as a better interface or a different distribution method (i.e. Dollar Shave Club going subscription for razor blades). This should indicate what the big selling point of your product is or at least inform you of what is lacking within your competitors. From there, you can adjust your messaging to hit on the specific pain point your customers are looking to ease.
No two companies are alike in nature. Not even if they are in the same industry. Guaranteed, there are cultural nuances and quirks within every company that make them unique and special. Frankly, most of them hide it behind a professional demeanor and an unwillingness to be human. So, your goal is to assess your competitors personalities and find a void to fill. If the majority of them come off as stoic and cold, you have an opportunity to be friendly and vulnerable. Granted, you have to know yourself, since you can't put on a false identity in the hopes of attracting people.
These two bits of research can inform almost every decision your company should make in marketing itself. They give you the reason people should buy your product and why they won't forget you.