Tag Archives: Your Brand Launch


Just How Much Do They Love Your New Offering? Assume They Truly Loathe It.

Gaining early user feedback? Don’t assume they love it; assume they loathe it.

Like so many of us, I was looking for a better way to find mutually available times for meeting requests; an easier way to manage my calendar with third parties. I tested a plug in that promised to do just that, but as I was at the height of my frustration with the product (a few computer crashes later), I received a message from the startup checking in on me. I was delighted as I had tons of feedback to share. Here is how their message read:

CustomerMessageFail

My first reaction: How pretentious!

I do not like it, do not feel it has potential (at my current state of frustration at least), and surely won’t be thinking about added features if the core was not working to my expectations. Where was my fourth option?

d. I do not like my experience with your product. (Please advise us as to why)

FINIEN_BrandLove_VS_BrandLoathe

Don’t assume they love it. Assume they loathe it.

If you reach a frustrated user and you give them a chance to speak up about why they greatly dislike your product, you will:

a. learn and in consequence have a chance to better your offering

b. have a chance to keep the customer

c. potentially turn loathe into love

As for this plug in, I waved it good-bye upon receipt of that E-Mail. As for your next launch, I am just glad that you will share the love while inquiring about the hate.

 


The Secret Behind Big Brands And How Entrepreneurs Can Learn From It

This was one of many topics I was asked about by a croatian startup site prior to the speech I gave two nights ago at the University of Zagreb for the Founder Institute. The interview was published in croatian, which you can peruse here if you speak the language (and want to analyze and help me understand why the Backstreet Boys invaded my Brand Atmosphere), but for the rest of you, here it is:

Startups, especially the ones you will be talking to in Zagreb, are mainly in their early stages. Do they even need branding in that stage? If they do – what kind of branding do they need?

You can never start thinking about branding early enough. Branding is the DNA of your new venture. An idea is only an idea until it is generating revenue, so basically an idea without an audience is worthless and in order to connect with, and build an audience you need to brand your venture: Position your venture in a manner that connects with your audience, craft a name that reflects the positioning, then translate it into a powerful overall brand identity that sparks emotion.
Fabian Geyrhalter speaking at the University of Zagreb for the Founder Institute, October 22, 2014

Fabian Geyrhalter speaking at the University of Zagreb for the Founder Institute, October 22, 2014

How can you brand yourself online when you are still a small startup, with a very small team and a limited budget?

You brand yourself by walking the walk: by representing the positioning of your startup, by talking in the right way to the right audience. That can be done without monetary expenses, if the brand positioning has been done the right way. You can learn about the 5 ingredients to a strong brand foundation here.

When is the right time to hire someone (or a company) to help with branding?

Hire a consultant before you make decisions on the positioning and the name. After that you could bootstrap, if you truly need to, and conduct a complete re-branding/branding upon receiving funding or customer traction. Do be aware though that when you decide to go lean on branding it will be harder to find traction and funding, and that customers quickly get attached to your branding, especially as a new company, so once you decide to invest in proper branding you will have to re-educate your audience on the new ‘you,’ hence I advise to work with professionals from the get-go if at all possible.

Can you put together some sort of “emergency branding kit” for startups? What would that “kit” be made of?

Absolutely, and I provide more in-depth tips on each topic through these links:
Last but not least create only a few social media channels, only the ones that A) work for your audience and that B) you will update frequently (daily, or every other day).

It gets really difficult for a startup to choose their company name. It has to be unique, it has to be international, it needs to mean something. How do you achieve all of that and more with just one word?

It’s tough, but it’s do-able. All it takes is time and the right guidance. It’s one of the most important branding tasks, so don’t give up quickly and cheat by settling for the ‘wrong’ domain name (anything not .com as a rule of thumb – some guidance on that topic here), or a misspelled name (think ‘lyft’). You can, but it will weaken your brand’s strength, its searchability, spread by word of mouth and it often makes it more costly to purchase the .com domain later on as a recognized company.

How can a startup’s target audience help with forming a brand? What kind of feedback can that audience provide and how can a startup brand create an emotional connection with their potential customers?

Startups often have an idea, then search for an audience. That audience in turn tells the startup what they actually use that idea (product/app/service) for and the startup adjusts its offering to the new audience, and the new usage of its offering. Happens all the time. I preach to startups to be very clear about their audience from the get go. Only if you truly understand a few target ‘personas’ can you focus on them and connect with them emotionally, and emotion is what branding, and often selling, is all about. Once you connect, you tell the audience what they will love, not vice versa.

What is the secret behind those huge, well known and beloved brands and what can small startups learn from them?

Most huge brands got there because they filled a void (innovated at the right time) or had a better offering, but they all connected with their audience on a deep emotional level. So the ‘secret’ that I believe startups can adapt from the big guys is to invest in what’s most important: your audience. Most startups don’t invest in branding at all, instead they pour all their resources into product development.

Kill Your Brand In Order To Create It

It’s not quite as harsh as it sounds, but yes, I would like for you to imagine your new venture’s death. Here is why.

FINIEN_Blog_Brand_Memorial_Speech

Not a proprietary exercise to my consultancy, writing a memorial speech for your brand during the Brand Foundation stage is a cruel, yet crucial step in defining your brand’s lasting values, and has been a staple in early brand development for many brand strategists. Given that those speeches are short, to the point, and always focus on only the best one has to say about the deceased, it is a great opportunity to dig deeper (did not mean for this pun to happen) into the soul and its bigger, social purpose.  A brand can only leave a lasting positive impact if it cared to make a difference in people’s lives.

This is why a memorial speech is an extremely fruitful, imaginative, and most of the times rather entertaining exercise to be doing at the very onset of your brand development; and you can rarely say that about a memorial speech.

Over time we uncovered a secondary, but equally important finding during the exercise: The realization that you need to ponder about how your venture will die. And that uncovers the real long term vision for your brand: Will it be bought by Costco, improved upon and distributed to the masses? Will it become part of Marissa Mayer’s tech portfolio, giving you a nice financial push (and we don’t quite know what Yahoo! might do with it)? What is your dream, way past your 5 or 10 year business plan? If it has to end, how would you want it to end? That insight will help shape the overall business and brand strategy.

And here you thought I wanted to harm your newborn venture, while I want to do the exact opposite – watch it grow through planned retirement towards a happy ending.


Building Your Brand From The Ground Up (A Fireside Chat With Yours Truly)

A couple of weeks ago, Bob Garlick, host of Business Book Talk (poking through below), contacted me to schedule an interview about our book ‘How to Launch a Brand.’ With Bob sitting in Vancouver and myself in Los Angeles, I was immediately taken by surprise as there was no script that he shared with me, no canned answers to prep, no warmup chatter and no edits were made to our conversation.

FINIEN_FabianGeyrhalter_BusinessBookTalk

The result is an honest and stimulating conversation between two individuals with a keen interest in design, branding and entrepreneurship, which I’d like to share with you. Below audio not only gives you a peek into our book, but also covers topics such as misconceptions of branding, brand strategy, how brands need to be different than 15 years ago and how to connect with your customers through branding:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(Can’t see above audio player in your E-Mail? Please listen to the audio via our site)

Now that I crossed the bridge by posting audio (how adventurous), I might as well share a quick video in which I further define ‘brand’ specifically for startups, filmed at a mentoring session (how advantageous) at the Founder Institute in San Diego two weeks ago.


Maximize Your Tagline When Introducing a New Product or Service

Just Do It? Not so fast we say.

When introducing a disruptive, innovative or different type of product or service to the market, your tagline presents a huge opportunity to convey not how the new brand makes you feel, but instead what it actually does.

Using a descriptor in place of a traditional tagline can get you further, faster at the time of your launch. You can, and should, over time transition into a tagline that dives deeper into the emotions consumers should feel when using your product or service. For Nike, a descriptor may have been something along the lines of “Peak Performance Running Shoes Driven by Design,” and as the brand gained traction, it would have eventually changed to the famous three words “Just do it.” Tagline_VS_Descriptor_FINIEN

Our brand consultancy nearly launched with the tagline “We know brands before they exist” (which I felt was clever), but decided to hold off and use it only in company presentations instead. As our offering is highly specialized and unique, we now clearly spell out what we are in business for: “Naming, Identity, and Digital Design for Brand Launches.” It enables us to immediately set expectations with our target audience whereas a clever tagline would have been just another piece leading to the actual answer your target is seeking: What is this new brand doing exactly and is it what I am in the market for?

An additional startup benefit? If you choose the descriptor path, there is no need to get overly creative; just clearly spell out what your brand delivers to its user in the simplest, shortest way possible. It’s not sexy, but they will be grateful, and so will you when looking at your incoming leads.


3 Ways to Create a Strong Brand Atmosphere From The Get-Go

Once you have established a solid brand platform, name, and identity design, you are ready to breathe life into your brand by expanding it through tangible materials and experiences. At FINIEN, we call these your Brand Atmosphere® Touch Points. Each company has unique needs in terms of developing branded elements for print, display, digital, and environment.

Regardless of which ones your strategy calls for, remember that all brands should focus on how their Brand Platform is integrated into each touch point through consistency in visual cues and messaging. Seemingly small details in layout and design can have a huge impact on your brand’s cohesiveness and success.

BrandAtmosphere_FINIEN

Design choices like color, layout, and font, can compel the right audience to buy when they are used correctly—or repel your audience from buying when they are not,” states Maria Ross, author of Branding Basics (2010). Furthermore, these design choices will speak volumes about the values of your brand. “Visual expression often reveals the unspoken intentions behind corporate strategy” (2007) confirm both Uli Mayor-johanssen and Klaus-peter Johanssen in World Branding. How do your business cards, storefronts, and social media outlets harmonize to tell a larger story about your brand?

Here are 3 points to pin to your desk and to follow religiously when at this stage in your (next) brand launch process:

1. Be Consistent

Cohesive/Holistic/Systematic: Call it what you want. Your brand and all of the elements that make up your brand need to visually speak the same language and communicate the same message. It will make or break a Brand Atmosphere.

2. Be Selective

Don’t try to be on all social media platforms at the outset. Strategize where it is most relevant for your brand to exist and apply a cohesive look-and-feel and brand voice to those channels first. You can always expand to other channels as time allows and needs arise. Also focus on only a few select traditional marketing pieces to get your brand started. Ensure that these pieces communicate the essence of your brand and are well designed.

3. Do Sweat the Details

Each touch point associated with your brand has the power to diminish or enhance your Brand Atmosphere. Never rush through creating your touch points, and do sweat the small stuff.

Adapted from our bestselling book “How To Launch a Brand.”


If Your New Brand Lacks Soul, It Lacks Voice (Which Makes It Rather Difficult To Be Heard)

I have a ritual where I take a bath Wednesday nights (there may be a glass of wine involved, yes) to ponder what I will write about in the New Brand Post the following day. I have a flexible editorial calendar I work with, but it has holes and can be arranged to my liking or to encompass spontaneous thoughts. Last night I realized how insane and equally wonderful it is to write what hundreds of people expect in their mailboxes every Friday morning (sign up if you haven’t) just the day before. As daring as it may sound, strangely I never encounter “writer’s block.”

If you can not find the soul of your new brand, don’t launch it. [Tweet]

When a dear friend of mine first convinced me to start using Twitter, I told him that I was not sure I had enough brand-related content to share with the world. 3,654 tweets later (follow our new account) I realize I have a lot to share. If you create a brand that has soul, it will have a voice. If you are passionate about the subject, you will always have something to say. If you create a new brand and feel like you might not have enough content, analyze your Brand Platform and go soul searching again. If you can not find the soul of your new brand, don’t launch it. It’s that simple. Today’s consumer listens, absorbs, and responds. You will be part of an open conversation and as a new brand you need to be the one starting it.

FINIEN_BrandVoiceExamples

Arrogant Bastard Ale found its soul, reflected it in its name and hence has no problem voicing and monetizing on it. The highly controversial cover design of the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine is a timely example of the power of brand and consumer voice. You can sometimes push it and might at times abuse it (as I see it being the case in RS magazine). As a new brand you need to clearly establish what you will focus your conversation on and how you will speak not only to, but more importantly with your audience. Use your Brand Platform as your brand launch manifesto and brand voice guide. Share a synopsis of it with your extended team, and refer back to it religiously. Pin it to your wall and stare at it every time you (or your content manager) start writing content or engaging with your audience. As much as consumers will buy into your new product or service, they will just as much buy into your brand voice. If Arrogant Bastard suddenly writes a cute statement or Rolling Stone Magazine publishes a boring cover, the brand voice fails the brand’s soul and the brand as a whole will subsequently, over time, lose its power. Make sure your new brand’s voice is consistent. Consistent with your brand’s soul, and hopefully consistently engaging.