The influx of social media has created a vortex of lies. Lies about how many followers you have, lies about how well your life is going, lies about the good a company does for the world, lies about how cool you are. But rebels are not like that. Rebels are honest.
What does that mean? Honesty is telling the truth regardless of how it makes you look.
This means putting aside vanity metrics in exchange for something deeper and more meaningful. It means being real when you mess up. It means giving accurate descriptions of what you could do for someone, instead of boosting your capabilities. It's having the courage to stand before the facts available and admit that things could improve. The beauty of that is that you can genuinely move forward rather than living a lie that everything is perfect.
Rebels are honest.
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.
It's quite simple. Marketing is a push, branding is a pull.
Marketing puts new products out into the world and helps people solve new problems. It gets the word out. It tells how this product will change a user's life. Marketing is the act of putting new things out there.
Branding makes people care about what is being marketed. It is the heart and soul, the personality that makes a marketing effort more likable than the next. Branding makes things that are marketed attractive.
If you don't do a good job marketing, no one will know.
If you don't do a good job branding, no one will give a shit. You need both and they must feed off one another. They are two sides to the same coin.