Did you know that 43% of startups fail because no one wants to buy their product? Let that sink in for a moment. Every year, almost half of the companies that failed do so by making stuff that no one wants. Why is this happening? Because, rather than first testing out desirability (ie. do your customers even want it?), startups test for feasibility (can we build it?). What young companies — and even big corporations — are forgetting, is that if the product doesn’t reach the right audience, no matter how unique its features, it simply won’t sell. What can be done about this? Think strong brand.
Brand strategy: what it is (and what it isn’t)
There are many misconceptions about what branding is, and one of the most common is that branding is just a nice logo and a catchy slogan slapped on your website. While these elements are undoubtedly important, they are just a drop in the ocean that is your brand.
Brand identity is the DNA of your business. It makes up every single element of your enterprise. A brand is the entire experience your customers have with your organization, product, or service. Your brand strategy defines the promise you make to your customers, what you stand for, and the personality that you convey.
A clearly defined, consistently communicated strong brand helps build the connection and trust needed to advance fundraising and sales efforts for your business.
It also makes your vision and promise clear. It adds value and meaning to your offering by increasing awareness and understanding around: what you do, what you stand for, and why people should care.
Every channel, whether it’s print, digital, or social, can be a chance to address these values.
Brand strategy is not just something that is ‘nice to have’. Brands are not optional – despite whether or not you choose to manage them well. But if brand strategy is well-executed, it can bring your business a number of serious benefits.
What are those real business benefits of brand strategy?
1. Get insights to achieve product-market fit
CB Insights report “Top 20 Reasons Why Startups Fail”, indicates ‘no market need’ as a main reason for startups to sink.
It’s easy for a startup or a young company to hold off on their branding and marketing strategy as they work hard on their product development and rush to get their new product to market.
According to Harvard Business Review, some people even mistake product strategy for brand strategy, without realizing that a compelling brand is comprised of so much more than a product idea. But without thinking early on about the unique positioning and messaging, that product might never get to reach potential customers.
For your company to be successful, the earlier you figure out and test your target market, and the earlier you start working on positioning your company within this market, the sooner you’ll find your best product-market fit.
2. Know who you are and who your audience is
Having a clear idea of who you are, who your audience is, and of the foundational value that you provide to the market, provides critical articulation to your target market of why you exist, what you stand for, and where you are going with your product or service.
Your brand strategy helps you define a set of company attributes and core values that can resonate with customers and drive adoption beyond just the technical features of the product. This is how brand ambassadors are made, through nurturing your audience alongside your product development.
3. Become a trusted partner
Whether you’re trying to present your business ideas to investors; to raise funds or acquire your first customers; your company needs both visual and verbal representation through various channels and assets.
Your brand message and image conveys not just your products or services, but the values of your organization to your potential investors, partners, and customers.
No matter how small you are, start communicating those values from the very beginning.
A clear value proposition, a unique tone of voice, and a relatable narrative with aligned visuals – all of these brand strategy elements will help you amplify those same values that will resonate with others.
4. Build a scalable framework for marketing efforts
A brand strategy gives you a framework for a strong brand. A conceptual structure that serves as a supporting tool for guiding all further marketing activities. Your brand strategy acts as a frame of reference for all brand communications, positioning messages, creative campaigns, or even sales scripts.
5. Turn your customers into ambassadors
The new generation of buyers is largely purpose and belief-driven. According to The Advertising Research Foundation, 83% of companies that over-perform on revenue growth link everything they do to brand purpose.
Establishing your purpose and highlighting your values with consistency builds a strong bond between your company and your consumers. And it doesn’t only drive your customer’s purchasing decisions; it converts them into active participants, and eventually into valued ambassadors for your brand.
Building a strong brand is a step-by-step process. Don’t overlook it or leave it till the last minute. Start investing in your brand early – and you’ll build a bulletproof strategic foundation for your company that may save you from becoming one of the 43%.