The concept of branding is both very wide and deep in the realm of marketing. Some people have made entire careers writing about the subject. Some people try to explain branding in a manner that borders on mysticism. I don’t want to make a career out of branding, and I advise you to flee those that approach branding in a way your mama would not understand. But I want to share some simple thoughts and concepts that will help your startup company develop a strong brand.
The key word in the last sentence is simple. I want to keep this discussion relatively simple. In the process of making this simple I am going to leave out a lot of details. Details that are well worth discussing for later stage companies with lots of money to spend. For startup and early expansion stage companies none of the depth or details matter. If you are in a startup I want to give you
something that you can act on to start building your brand. Today I want to discuss how to create a brand promise.
What got me thinking about branding was an article (paywalled) by Al Ries in Ad Age last week. Ries is another one of those folks that make a career writing about branding. Along with Jack
Trout he wrote Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Ries and Trout are so good they own the positioning of the term positioning. But I disagree with Ries basic premise in his article that you can’t build a brand and a business at the same time. I have done this myself and seen others do it as well. However, I agree 100% with his statement:
“Almost every successful brand in the world
started as a narrowly focused brand that stood for a single idea.”
Telling someone to focus is pretty easy to do. And though laser like focus is something that marketers and VCs both preach, in practice it seems to be very hard for entrepreneurs and managers to do.
How do you do it?
A while back I wrote an article on positioning. Use the positioning statement exercise I outlined at the end of that post to create a narrowly focused brand. To define the single idea that your company stands for in the mind of the market. This focus created by you and your company can also be considered a brand promise. A brand promise is just a fancy name for the value that you are delivering to the market. Your unique value proposition. Why someone is going to buy your stuff.
Creating a brand promise is step one. You have this and you have a great start to building a brand that stands for something.
Next week I intend to talk about step two. Creating a brand identity.