Mid-Market isn't a User Persona | Software Branding

Why the desire to capture 50% of the market is a flawed mission that will ruin your product.

March 9, 2021

"Our target persona is the mid-market."

What this really means is that the founder is looking to acquire the most marketshare possible. Understandably. Mid-market means you've leaped the chasm between early adopters and innovators into the realm of the masses. More buyers, more cash, more power to do amazing things with your product.

Here's the problem: no one gets there as a first step.

The innovation curve starts with innovators and early adopters for a reason, because the mid-market is scared of anything new and exciting.

Even Jesus had early adopters (a small focus group of 12 disciples). It wasn't for centuries that His mission finally reached the masses.

The point? Start with a small group of innovators in a niche market, understand what problems they have, who they admire, and build things for them. They will give you grounds to prove yourself so that the mid-market will eventually trust you.

Mid-market is not a user persona.

More you say?

I'm Bleeding

Self-diagnosing your startup's branding problems.


It's easy to notice when you've cut yourself in the kitchen or by scratching against something you didn't intend to. You know it happened because blood starting to pour out from the place of the interaction. It's easy.

What happens when you start bleeding and you don't know why? Or when there is another form of pain in your body that isn't normal and unprecedented? You have a couple options: you could self-diagnose and hope your assumptions turn out ok, or you could go to the doctor and get a professional consultation. Surface-level problems are easy, deep problems are harder to spot and infinitely more costly.

Branding problems are rarely surface level, like a scratch or cut from a chef's knife. Branding problems are ethereal and hard to decipher, even harder to connect to the surface-level symptoms they produce. In the same way a doctor, who has run into medical problems for years and is trained to ask targeted questions, branding experts use experience and training to unearth the real problem.

Now I can hear you saying, "I know a good logo when I see one," congratulations. You still aren't sure why yours sucks and how to fix it. Shit, if asked, it's unlikely that you can even define branding in a succinct, easy-to-understand way. It takes courage to admit that. The same courage that admits you aren't a sushi chef, auto mechanic, or plumber, it's just not something you've taken the time to gain expertise in.

Back to our initial analogy, "I'm bleeding." Don't be surprised if the branding issue is deeper than what's on the surface. Cuts go deep, sometimes you can't even see them, thoughnthey are tearing your insides apart. Be it in the form of harsh rejections from investors, feeling like your company is without purpose, or doubting the integrity of this company that you have spent days, even years trying to grow. Bravely look inward and tend to your wounds, and if you're having trouble finding the cause, ask for help.

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Users are Heroes

Your software is only a tool for them.


Donald Miller's Building a Story Brand detailed the idea that all of life is like a story. There is a hero, there is a villain, there is a problem, and there is a guide who helps the hero defeat the villain and solve the problem. Can you guess which one your software product is?

That's right. The guide. You are a trusted advisor who has found a way to something better. Now you offer resources, knowledge, and tools to help your user (the hero) achieve the same.

Think Obi-Wan Kenobi, Gandalf, Alfred Pennyworth. These folks have abilities and offer support emotionally and with resources. People love them because they give and share the best parts of themselves with the world so that others can be better.

Your software must do the same. Guide your heroes to be better.

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