Rally the Neophiles | Software Branding

It doesn't make sense to build for anyone else.

January 15, 2021

How much marketshare do you want? All of it?

Wow. That's an ambitious goal.

You want it now? Dang. Sounds like you're a real go-getter.

You can't have it.

At least not now. You're not ready. But there is a clear starting point that every successful software out there has shown us: build for neophiles. The innovators and early-adopters. It simply doesn't make sense to build for anyone else. Here's why:

Whenever we create something truly novel, we engage in pattern interrupt (thanks Seth Godin). Pattern interrupt places a user in a state of decision making, since they have encountered something outside their normal pattern of behavior. Slack, before it was adopted by every single organization worth talking about, was a pattern interrupt. Most teams communicated via email, text, etc. Not very effective. Even so, the thought of switching from the normal, (albeit shitty) pattern requires energy that people don't want to spend... unless trying out new things is their normal.

The only folks who fit that pattern are neophiles. They are people who want to find something new, who want to be in-the-know, and who are joyous when they find something novel they can test. Furthermore, they are the first stepping stone in gaining mass marketshare. If you want the masses to engage with your product, you have to first rally the Neophiles.

More you say?

Dressed for the Occassion

How would your brand dress for day-to-day, for the gym, or a wedding?

3.27.2020

My favorite color to wear is black. Typically, I'm wearing a Buck Mason black T-shirt, Levi's blue jeans, and white sneakers. However, I would not wear that to the gym. In the gym I wear a black dri-fit, black shorts, and black training shoes. And while that's great attire for the gym, I would not wear that to a wedding. Instead you'd find me in an all black suit. Regardless of what I'm wearing though, I'm still the same person. I have patterns, yes, like wearing black, but it's important to fit the occasion.

You can run with the design of your branding the same way. What is the occasion we are designing for and how do we flex our visual identity to match? What matters most is whether or not the personality underneath stays the same and can be felt.

Dress for the occasion and be yourself.

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Your Startup's Purpose Can't be About You

Why aligning the core of your company to someone else leads to growth.

5.4.2020

Selfish ambitions don't really get you anywhere. They cause you to think narrowly about what's good for you and gives you a good pay out (one person), as opposed to thinking about what could give a good payout to others (multiple people). Not only that, but it makes for lame brands, since it's hard to make other feel something if you have not rooted your company in empathy.

There are blatant examples of this when startup founders go into a venture with the purpose of making a bunch of money so they don't have to work anymore. No one is going to hand their money to you so that YOU don't have to work anymore. It seems silly to reiterate that, but sometimes we all need a reminder. It's rare to find a company with a purpose like this that does anything innovative or builds something others find irreplaceable. However, it's not always as easy to spot such self-centered ambition.

Where selfish ambition gets tricky is when it's veiled in altruism. Here are some example: "I see all these big companies that are selfish with their money and do a bad job handling it, I think I could do a better job."

At first glance, it doesn't seem like that big a deal. There are indeed hundreds of big companies that get caught in scams and aren't very generous with their money. But take a look at the example again but with this question in mind: who is the beneficiary?

There's only two subjects in it, large companies and the founder of this startup, so it must be one of them. Sparing you the trouble, if either of these subjects are the beneficiary, then this purpose sucks. Despite the acknowledged problem of large companies' ill-spending, the solution of trusting one person (albeit, a stranger) to do a better job with it is not much better. It's certainly not something that you could rally a team behind, convince investors to buy-in to, and certainly not customers.

Why? Because it's all about the founder. No one is going to buy into that.

It's not all lost though, with a small tweak this could be improved. Let's try this: "I see all these big companies that are selfish with their money and do a bad job handling it, so I'm going to create a company where every employee gets to dedicate a portion of our profit to a charity of their choice."

Now who's the beneficiary? The employees and the charities they choose to support. Shoot, even the founder becomes a beneficiary because they now have recognition for giving others an opportunity to do good. Despite a purpose dedicated to the service of others, the company still grows because other people have bought in and get something in return.

Point being, if you want to grow your startup, make your purpose about other people, not you.

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