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The high cost of under investing in your startup brand.

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

Logos, taglines, packaging, slogans and media campaigns — which of these is the most important to a growing startup brand?

The answer is none of them.

Recently I attended a startup networking event in my community hosted a business incubator /private equity organization.  It was well attended with over 100 early stage entrepreneurs in diverse businesses–everything from teas to technology.

As I mingled about, I had several conversations with Founder/CEOs about how important they thought brand strategy is to their growing business. In every instance, the response to my questions revealed the same answer–essentially “we’re not far enough along to be able to invest in branding”. Their answer didn’t surprise me at all.

Like many of the Founders at the event, most are more concerned with securing seed capital rather than creating a strategic foundation and plan for how they will create and build brand value as they grow. Many still believe "branding" is a tactical pursuit tied specifically to the creation of logos, taglines, image, publicity and marketing communications–an expensive endeavor to be completed after they are more financially established.

Startup Founders under invest in the most important element of their future success.

Brand strategy is not an exercise in creating a name, a logo, or a tagline slogan—it’s a reason for being. Brand Strategy is an extension of business strategy. Having clarity and confidence on how this strategy will guide business decisions and behavior in the marketplace is far more important and essential to early success than logo-making and tagline-writing.

It’s critical for early stage CEOs at the very beginning of their enterprise, to define the purpose and architecture of their brand.

Founders/ CEOs must be absolutely clear about their overarching purpose/passion/cause (beyond money-making). It's of critical importance to define the set of core values that will drive the culture of their growing organization, develop a clear and concise definition about who the brand serves and why the brand matters to a specific customer target.  Establishing a relevant and distinguishing highly valued idea the brand will represent in the mind of the customer must be established long before brand names and logos are created!

Brand strategy insures the attraction of capital to your startup enterprise.

The foundation of brand strategy has important implications for successfully securing funding in the startup investment community as well. You can have the most innovative product or service idea ever conceived–but if you can’t articulate in elegantly simple terms why your startup will matter to targeted customers, it will be next to impossible to secure the level of funding required to scale and grow the business past the early struggle phase.  The competitive demands for capital investment will require you have a clear and compelling brand story investors will find convincing and worthy of their investment.

And finally, developing a strategic foundation for your startup brand will guide recruiting and retaining the most talented people who are the perfect fit for the culture of your organization.

Relative to the investment associated with product development, talent acquisition and marketing, investing in a concise and compelling brand strategy costs next to nothing in the grand scheme of growing your business and building equity in your startup brand.


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