Warning Signs: Five Signs That Your Start-Up Needs a Brand Strategy

Start-ups are exciting places to work. The culture is fast-paced and creative. Deadlines are tight, and the stakes are high. With so many moving parts, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and launch before you’ve done your due diligence to determine whether your product meets an actual market need.

If you haven’t taken the time to develop a unique value proposition — a positioning statement that details who your audience is, what benefit you provide, how you deliver that benefit, and why it is the best option on the market — you’re not alone. In the excitement of creating something new, many start-ups miss this critical step. Some don’t think of it. Others believe it isn’t that critical because they know their audience well.

So, How Do You Know if You Need a Brand Strategy?

Several warning signs indicate that your start-up needs to invest in a brand strategy. The more warning signs you see in your organization, the more critical the need is. Below are the five most significant warning signs that your start-up needs a brand strategy:

  • People outside of your organization don’t understand what you do. How hard do you make people work to understand what you do, who you help, and why they should care? If your messaging and graphics are constantly shifting, and every team member has a different way of describing what you do, you will confuse your audience. The same is true if your message consists of jargon and buzzwords. If your audience has to work too hard to understand what you do, they’ll move on to a company that is clear about the problem they solve and how they solve it — even if that solution is not as good as yours.
  • Investors and customers are not interested in your solution. If you are trying to gain the attention of prospective investors or customers and are met with silence time and time again, your message isn’t resonating with your audience. Perhaps the messaging is unclear? Or, if your message is clear and consistent, maybe you don’t fully understand what your audience needs to move forward? Either way, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
  • Previous investors are not participating in additional funding rounds. You made it through the first round of funding, but now the investors aren’t looking to invest further. Why? Did the initial investment not generate the results predicted? Have there been shifts in the product causing them to lose faith? Or is your message to your ideal customers just not hitting the mark?
  • You don’t know your competition. If you don’t know who your competition is or, worse, you don’t think you have any competition, that means you don’t fully understand the market or the marketplace. Working with a brand strategist will help you know your competition so you can effectively demonstrate how you are different.
  • You feel like you are constantly putting out fires instead of gaining momentum. If you are always in a rush and never sure what steps to take next, you need to step back, invest in brand strategy, and create a plan based on that strategy. A documented, realistic plan based on customer insights and a brand strategy will not only show investors that you’re serious, but it will help you communicate better with your prospective customers so you can close more deals.

To successfully launch your start-up, you must know why your idea is needed, who it will help, how it will help them, and what makes it a better solution than the alternatives. By working with a brand strategist, you will find all the answers to those questions. In addition, it enables you to clarify your voice and message, so you speak directly to the needs of your audience. A solid brand strategy is a foundation upon which you build your business.

Invest the time in developing a brand strategy before you launch your start-up. Then, as the company grows, you can refer back to the strategy and adjust it as necessary, so you always move forward. Your brand strategy will show you where you started and where you plan to end up. It will grow along with your company, adapting to the needs of your customers and updating after you achieve each milestone in your business.

If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs listed above, a brand strategy will help your company gain traction. I work with many start-ups, and the most successful ones have a solid brand strategy at their core. If you’d like to talk about how we can work together, schedule a 30-minute consultation.