Building a Startup Brand

Are you a brand person or an anti-brand person?

While I don’t think any of you are really anti-brand, I assume that some of you just don’t prioritize brand in the early days of company-building.  Some days I am in this camp, BTW.

Now, to be clear, when I speak about the “brand” in this post, I am not talking about the logo, or colors, or even the name of the company. Today, I am talking about the words you use to describe what the company is about. You can call this your UVP (Unique Value Proposition) or your elevator speech or your message.

Many of you try to pack too much into your message in the hope that someone listening will get it.  Cast a wide net, you think and somehow a fish will be caught. Wrong!

You can kill your new brand by trying to be all things to all people.

Resist the urge and focus on your small, niche target audience and build brand momentum that way.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

1 comments On Building a Startup Brand

  • One of the better definitions of “brand” I’ve heard is “it’s what people say about your product or your company when you’re not in the room.” That said, start-ups don’t have brands (at least not yet anyway). They have products. As a founder, don’t worry about your brand yet. Just worry about getting clarity about what makes your product superior to the alternatives. And, please talk about benefits to the customer, NOT product features. Then, communicate this story like crazy.

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