The Startup Guides: How to get them to choose you

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For a startup, often in the role of resource-poor challenger, the only way to eat the big fish is to create a compelling and differentiated brand that carves out a unique position in its customers’ hearts and minds. Before heading to the graphic design department and commissioning somebody to draw your brand, here’s a few tips to consider.

A brand is not a logo – it’s what they say it is 


A brand is a gut feeling about a product, business or organisation. When you’re working with human perceptions, you need to go much further than the logo, website or ad in order to create a brand.

People want more than products – they want meaning. They want a sense of belonging that comes from what they buy. Your job is to give them a brand that fulfils this need. 

Make something meaningful for them

I often stumble upon market research or segmentation models that suggest I should target ‘25-year-old men that like to run in the woods on a Sunday morning’. The problem is who knows why these men want to run in the woods and what their deeper motive is.  

Today’s customers aren't chunks of big data or large market segments. Today’s customers are individuals with needs, dreams and emotions who seek brands that can fulfil their needs. These customers express personal views and broadcast their life stories. Most importantly, they don't just want to consume more, they want to be more.

Think about brands, like Patagonia, that creates meaning for their customers by trying to solve the environmental crisis. This is something the customers of Patagonia want to be a part of and stand for. 

In order for you to find out what your future customers want, take out your notebook, grab your camera and get out into the world. Real insights are made on the field, not on the web.  



Use design to reach them

When you feel you can move beyond the drawing board towards launching your brand, you need to remember that you cannot decide a great brand experience; you need to design it. Design is the only way to create a dynamic set of brand touch points for the moving world.   

When working on your brand experience, use imagination, prototyping and visualisation techniques. Then go back to the field to test these prototypes among your customers and see how they interact with your brand in different environments. 

We live in an age where almost every idea, technology or business model can be copied. By developing a strong, unique and meaningful brand you can protect yourself and thrive. Start-ups with little awareness and small budgets need to remember that a brand is the only thing that drives margin and growth, and separates one business from an other. Your brand is the most valuable asset, it will either make or break your business.


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