Your Brand Matters! How to Position Your Brand to Convert and Connect
What comes to people’s minds when you talk about your startup? Whether you know it or not, these recurring sentiments are the beginning of your venture’s brand. As founders, how can we start to shape a positive brand for our companies? Branding expert Doug Fox of Brand Fox told us that it is imperative to deliberately establish a brand early in your company’s existence to set the tone not only for customers, but for potential employees and investors as well. During last week’s How2Tuesday event, How 2 Position Your Brand So It Better Connects and Converts, Doug shared his best practices for branding based on his years of experience working with large companies such as Bose, Gillette, and Hasbro, as well as with exciting startups as a MassChallenge mentor. Here are some of Doug’s key insights!
“Brand exists – defined or not”
Doug made it clear that, even if your startup hasn’t dedicated resources to branding, a brand is already being formed in the minds of people familiar with what you do. For him, branding is “people’s gut feelings about your product, service, or company,” a definition which extends far beyond logos, copy, or advertising. The “people” in his definition encompasses more than customers and investors; you’re shaping your brand whenever you talk about your venture with family and friends! He also pointed out that, as consumers, we strongly associate brands with the problems they solve, and it is the brands whose messaging is consistent that stay in our heads.
Brand impacts multiple aspects of your business
Although we traditionally associate branding with our marketing towards customers, Doug provided examples of how branding can impact other aspects of your venture. Internally, branding can impact the direction and focus of your company culture. As your venture grows, branding also affects your ability to attract new talent that understands your company’s mission. And from a financial standpoint, Doug says that branding will help you streamline the growth of your business while also establishing your premium pricing.
What Not to Do: The Most Common Branding Mistakes
While Doug shared many positive examples of branding by startups, he also shared 5 common branding mistakes to avoid:
Avoid shiny objects: “Sharpen your focus and determine exactly what your company is and isn’t.” Doug suggests cutting down on complicated messaging towards a memorable, single brand.
Lack of audience understanding: “You should be finding a way to talk to your audience every day.” Doug cites Slack and SherpaDesk as companies who were able to position successfully based on listening carefully to their customers.
Emphasizing only what you do: “You can make a deep and meaningful connection with people based on why you’re doing what you do.” Doug emphasized that promoting the why of your venture is not only important to customers, but to potential employees.
Ignoring emotion: “We all make decisions emotionally and justify them rationally.” Although love can be a dangerous emotion, Doug showed how Hubspot was able to tap into this emotion successfully.
Overlooking internal brand: “Your brand has to be lived and breathed by employees.” Doug showed us Zappos’s “family values,” its written guidelines which helped it to establish a strong company culture.
We hope you enjoyed these branding insights from Doug’s talk, and that you check out the Blank Center’s How 2 Tuesday events throughout the semester! On Tuesday, October 22, we’ll be hosting How 2 Grow Your Services Business with Akhil Suresh Nair MBA ‘18, Founder of Parzenn Partners and Babson GEIR. Register for the event at https://h2services.eventbrite.com, and check out this semester’s entire How 2 Tuesdays schedule at http://bit.ly/2019h2tuesdays.