You start off with a grand vision, the big thought. You can imagine the person who will go crazy over your offering right in front of your eyes.
As you find yourself diving head-first into product development, in many cases your target audience starts to automatically widen and with that you run the risk of your startup turning into a factory of…meh.
A Meh Factory is pointing towards, and hitting the center of the bullseye perfectly. A good thing you’d assume, but the bullseye is smack in the middle of everything: not too this, not too that, it’s just right in the middle. A product that tries to appeal to everyone and do everything. It is not the cheapest, not the priciest, not the coolest, not the best – no, it’s just right there, sitting stagnant in the middle of it all and by hitting the target spot-on, it is missing its target audience, its initial reason for existence, entirely.
Becoming a Meh Factory is an even easier trap to fall into for an existing brand that is losing its soul, a great example being Gap (You can indulge in this story, exemplifying a brand’s quest to remain relevant).
As a startup you can protect yourself from falling into this gap (sorry!) early on. As you enter the development phase, remind yourself that as a new brand on the market it has to be your main goal to work towards reaching someone’s heart and not everyone’s mind. Only if you get one ‘tribe’ to not only like, but fully love your offering can you create a cult brand. And that is exactly what you should target. Shoot into any corner, just don’t point towards the center as you’d be missing your target – you know, the person you were thinking of when your idea first popped into your head. Make her love your brand, others will follow.
Don’t hire us to create your logo. Not us, nor anyone else therefor. Sure, we could create a great logo for you. It would look timeless, be very well designed (I believe we are one of the best, and many agree), it would work across platforms and for years to come, and everybody would be telling you how much they love it. So why shouldn’t you hire us to create this important piece of branding for you?
Chances are you don’t need a logo designed. Not yet.
Chances are you need a brand built, and your logo is just a part of it. By creating a logo in a vacuum, and out of sync, you will likely fail. I don’t want you to fail. Nor be part of failure. I think we share this belief as entrepreneurs.
It’s the cart before the horse idiom: Why put the horse in place if we don’t know the message by the messenger yet?
Below are 4 key elements you have to have in place prior to embarking on your logo design; they are the bare minimum requirements, the wheels of your cart so to speak:
1. You have a positioning statement in place that focuses on the ‘why’ and you stand tall behind it
2. You created 3 target audience personas that stand for who you are actually talking to/with
3. You know your brand personality and its associated keywords and are ready to act upon it
4. You have created a meaningful name that responds successfully to all of the above
If you don’t have these in place, creating a logo would be wasting your money, and (y)our time. It’s a lose-lose situation. How would any designer know what to design without these in place; how would the logo convey what it needed to convey; and finally, how could it connect with your audience? I don’t know, but I see it happen every day on the client’s expense.
Contact us if you need help getting there, as we love to assist and contribute, while speeding up that journey to your brand image.
Oh yes, the good old Positioning Statement; used for decades, it still is the single most powerful tool to define a new venture’s audience, category, benefits…and reason for believing. Powerful, because this is all part of one single sentence; a sentence that many Founders struggle with, as a recent poll of ours showed.
When I work with clients on defining, and refining their positioning statement as part of our Resonaid™ workshops, it takes between one and four hours to get this sentence right. Yes, power comes with responsibility, and questioning the reason for being, and for believing in any new venture is worth a few hours of pondering.
Search for the term Positioning Statement and you will be surprised by just how varied the approaches to a classic branding tool are. It is most astonishing that a majority of statements leave out the most essential part of it; the reason to believe.
Most statements focus on the differentiators, ours (pictured above) focuses on the ‘because’ – the part that takes time to ponder and to perfect. It is also the part that will truly differentiate your venture from others. It puts your venture to the test: Is it truly a big idea? Is it important? Can it be bigger? Should it become more important? Is this why I will work late nights and put a lot at stake?
The big question ‘Why’ has been making its rounds past the branding community for a while now, most noteworthy through Simon Sinek’s TED talk. Despite its popularity, just like is the case with the mundane idea of writing a positioning statement altogether, the ‘because’, the key part that will indeed generate you sales, is often neglected. If you found an excuse not to tackle this sentence for your venture, take these words as a gentle kick in your behind and make today the day for accomplishing it. It will change your venture for the better, guaranteed.
Ask yourself: Am I about to launch a product/service, or a brand?
How would you know?
You may not have a direct competitor yet, but you soon will. When the innovative, new and unique wears off, competitors will offer your product at a lower cost. How will you keep your customers from choosing their product instead? What will it be that will make your offering stick? Too many startups have to re-invent, re-brand and re-connect once they find traction – at a high cost.
If you have a unique offering combined with ‘the stick’ – the set of true differentiators, the emotional connectors that deliver from the inside out, consistently on message (visually and verbally) and on target – you know you have a brand. Having that foundational special ingredient is like a survival formula for your startup, it will make customers come sooner, faster and stay around even if they could save a few bucks elsewhere later on.
@i_mdoughboy tweeted the following last week about my consultancy’s process chart (see below): Guess where the value is? Here’s a hint – the graphic is eerily similar to a bullseye.
Imagine you are a gifted craftsman that has mastered a unique design that you developed over the course of years just to sell very few and at a high price as you don’t have the audience nor infrastructure. You created something truly unique that only you offer. After years of work, but only a few units sold, you see your design offered at a fraction of the cost at a large retail chain. It happens daily. Examples are too many to give, from apps to shoes to frozen yogurts, and all across B2B services. The only real life insurance you can have, besides a unique product/service to start out with, and its correlating trademarks, is to have that ‘stick’, those emotional brand differentiators that spread across product, service and your Brand Atmosphere. Those are hard to replicate.
If they like your product/service, they might come and purchase it.
If they love your brand, they will come and purchase it, return to it, and stay with it.
(Only read further if this hits home and you are an entrepreneur that is looking for their offering’s ‘stick’)
Avoiding the trap is hard to do for startups, being strapped thin on time and money, hence they often launch blindly, solely focusing on the uniqueness of their offering and not that of their brand. We saw this as a huge issue facing early stage entrepreneurs. Over the course of the last 6 months (based on our 12 years of experience running a branding and design agency, and with the help of writing a book on the subject) we were able to create an affordable ‘overnight’ remedy to avoid that trap. This is a huge reveal for us, which I am thrilled to share with you via this post: Meet our Resonaid™ Brand Foundation workshop, where I spend a full day with you, one-on-one working through a proven, proprietary process to find the path for your new brand to emotionally connect with your customers from the get-go and for the long term. I have one date left available this month and a few in April. Contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about this customized workshop to find the brand ‘stick’ for your startup.
PS: Yes, there is a great book entitled ‘Made To Stick.’ You should pick it up, it discusses why some ideas thrive while others die. Rather appropriate in this context.