But when it comes to branding, they often need help with putting things together in a tangible manner.
So what are the considerations with engaging a usual brand consultancy, and how does lean branding help?
For a startup founder, the real questions for branding are:
1. “What do the brand 3Ps (Positioning, Purpose and Personality) mean for my website, app or product?”
A piece of brand framework just isn’t enough. Even with important branding aspects like target audience and the 3Ps hashed out, it’s still difficult for people to see what this means for the company’s product/service offerings.
2. “How does branding translate into the way I talk about and describe my company?”
Founders can’t just go to people and say, ‘Hi there, our startup Positioning is …, our Purpose is to …, and our Personality is kinda like Indiana Jones but modern and innovative, y’know…?’
What they really need are: well-written practical company descriptions in the correct tone of voice, for various types of uses — from formal to informal, long to short, social media to press releases.
3. “How does branding affect my Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in terms of product design/app or website flow, and marketing?”
Sometimes startups have already produced their MVP before thinking about branding. In this case, the branding process can help founders better crystallise their thoughts around the business, resulting in some changes in the next product/service version.
So what is lean branding, and how does it help?
Lean branding combines strategy with execution at the same time, and strips away processes that are unnecessary for startups and small companies.
1. Strategy and execution aren’t isolated
How many times have you seen people receive a 150-page pdf document of some high-level strategy or top-line research report and go, ‘Um, okay, so what should I do next?’
The point is, strategy and execution can’t be done in isolation.
Lean branding starts with the essentials of what’s needed to brand a startup or small company.
More often than not, it involves a bunch of website/app/product copywriting; peeking at crystal balls to try and etch out a vision; and checking out competitor sites to sieve out what they’re doing great and not-so-great.
2. It takes out the superfluous in the usual (expensive) branding processes.
In Lean branding, ‘Brand Essence’ refers to an all-natural extract of fine quality chicken hygienically processed under high temperatures. Nothing else.
Market research is not a 50-page Powerpoint detailing what you already know.
Client interviews and focus group discussions are nice-to-haves, but not always necessary when you’re a startup trying to get your product out in the market. Feedback is usually gathered in more informal but no-less useful methods.
3. The methodology much simpler than people expect.
I may be putting myself out of a job here, but branding methodology is never proprietary.
Just Google and you’ll see millions of identical posts detailing how to create your brand.
In the coming days, I’ll be posting resources on how to bootstrap branding, based on my personal experience in branding, writing and launching startups (my own and others).
So really, lean branding is about bringing value to the table with a different analytical perspective, conceptual creativity, kickass writing, and most of all, a genuine understanding of startup needs.