This post has not much to do with branding, but it is a topic that I know a lot of startup founders are secretly struggling with, regardless of age, and it puts a huge bump into their road to success. Let’s change that.
I run a brand consultancy that advises new ventures on a distinct and definite brand direction to take. We name new ventures – from any vertical – that don’t have a single customer yet. We create a fictitious target audience and we craft a name to work for them. A name that will soon be used by thousands of actual customers worldwide. We do not use focus groups, instead we base the direction on brand strategy and insights we craft and collect during the process. If the name works within our criteria we go for it and there is no turning back. Referencing Henry Ford’s famous quote – “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” – most focus groups will pick the safe option, the option that feels most familiar, an option that may not look into the future enough to have the biggest impact (For more on that, see my thoughts on TopGolf).
The minute I let go of questioning my decision, of needing proof of concept, bigger and more innovative ideas keep emerging and my clients get just as energized as myself by the opportunity to do big thinking that will immediately be implemented into their brand strategy and subsequent launch. It’s the magic moment where creativity gets delivered with confidence and is met by trust.
With experience sure comes confidence, but also with writing regularly. I learned that the more I write (for this blog, but also for Inc, Entrepreneur and others) on my subject expertise, the more it forces me to analyze my daily observations. I translate them into a firm opinion that I can send to an editorial team, knowing that thousands of people of all levels of expertise (like yourself) will soon read it and I can not have any regrets. There is no looking back. In the beginning I was literally refreshing the comments field every minute to wait for the big backlash to happen, but then I realized it does not work that way.
All it takes is trust in yourself and trust in your decisions. That trust is crucial to anyone, but for founders it is of higher importance as it directly affects the success not only of themselves, but of their startup.
As a startup founder you have to be the ultimate leader: You lead your co-founders to believe in your vision, the product, and in yourself. Then you lead investors to put money into an intangible idea, but really they too are investing in you.
Your startup, in the end, is built more on you trusting your own decisions, and conveying that to everyone around you, than it is on your idea or your product. Definitely not the added features that you spent weeks perfecting. Scrap that. Instead, perfect the most important asset of this startup: Yourself.
Start by doing this: Next time you contemplate, you take a lot of time to form an opinion, you ask everyone for their thoughts, you start to implement tests to gain big data…Stop! Step back, make a firm decision, deliver it with confidence and move on. Big things will happen.
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.