The burst of the .com bubble and Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup changed the way new products are built and launched. Incremental advances, staying lean and flexible and improving on the competition has been accepted—mistakenly as multi-billionaire investor and PayPal founder Peter Thiel notes in Zero to One—as dogma.
So, we cringe when occasionally we’ll hear startup founders say things about their branding and communication like: “What we’ve got is good enough” or, perhaps even worse, “we’re going to try and gain traction first and then we’ll work on addressing that”. SMH. Good luck with that.
The problem with that mindset is they’re disregarding their true differentiator and the most influential way to reach their target audience, generate word-of-mouth and create a loyal following. They’re disregarding their way to win.
Disagree? Just look at any industry to see the value of branding. Is Nike wildly successful because their product is superior? Or, is it because their brand evokes a feeling of aspiration? Is Coca-Cola the most valuable brand in the world (77.8B—45% of their market cap) because of their recipe for cola? The list goes on.
Key Insight: Obviously pre-seed startups and those with very little capital should limit their investments and focus first on validating their idea. But if you’re a startup looking to gain traction and grow, brand building should be a key part of your marketing efforts.