Vanity by Numbers

Actionable metrics vs vanity

June 22, 2020

I hate social media. Specifically, I hate Instagram and Facebook. Granted, they are well-designed apps and I steal from their UX principles all the time, but the impact they've had as far as startups are concerned is mind boggling. Why? Because the metrics they provide for most are rooted in vanity and nothing else.

For example, I know plenty of people with over 30k followers, yet none of them make a good amount of money from those numbers.

On the other hand, I know several people who aren't on social media that are millionaires.

The point? Unless there is a clear, actionable metric that you can use to influence business results, don't focus on it. Otherwise it is vanity by numbers, nothing more.

More you say?

Steal Your Brand's Soul

My favorite trick for creating brand personalities.

7.14.2020

Creating brand personalities is hard. In fact, I rarely create one from scratch because of it.

Why? Because it's easier and more effective to look at authentic personalities that already exist, win people over, and copy them.

You can do this by thinking of movie characters, authors, influential thinkers, musicians, etc. Point is, your brand's soul is out there, you just have to find it and steal it.

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Do you really need it?

Insights from a sales pitch I encountered on my run today.

12.18.2019

I go on a run in the morning every Monday-Friday. I frequently pass by a woman who always seems to be loading her kids in her car for school as I run by her house. As she got in the car, she rolled down her window and said, "you should do crossfit!"

My response, "I like to keep it minimal."

What she doesn't know is that I've been to crossfit gyms before. They are expensive and truth be told, the workouts are outrageously intense. Could I do them? Maybe. But that's beside the point. The point is that it is a step I'm not ready to take and taking it would do me more harm than good. Crossfit is designed for people who are looking to go to the extremes of human fitness. While it certainly won't take me there (yet), I've got a good routine that is affordable, keeps me in shape, and that is patiently scalable.

The same principle applies to startups and developing a brand. While your brand is always there, since it's the gut feeling someone has toward your startup, you do not need a fully-fleshed out brand from the get-go. You don't need to hire a full-time designer, you don't need a flawless identity system, and you don't even need a formalized brand strategy to get started. There are many reasons for this but here would be the top three:

  1. The definition of your brand will change with time,
    especially within the first few years of business
  2. You probably don't have the monetary resources needed
    to do it right
  3. You haven't even validated your idea

If you are getting your startup off the ground, you cannot expect that it will be perfect or that you will be successful overnight. It takes time. So when you hear people selling you services like design, SEO, digital marketing, business planning, and the like, ask yourself: "do I really need this to get started?" Chances are the answer is no. Those things are important and, if you can afford to do them, it would be worth it. But you do not need them to get started.

Caveat: this is not an excuse to release something you are morbidly embarrassed by. You should always do the best you can and be honest with yourself about the quality of what you put into the world. But do not bite off more than you can chew and have the fortitude to be patient.

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