Startup Branding: Plant Deep Roots

Aug 12, 2014 | Branding Strategies, Sticky Brands

Incredible brands are formed in their startup period.

Startups by their very nature are chaotic. They are creative hives of people experimenting, responding to customer feedback, and searching for scalable business models.

Startups have to continually adapt to grow into successful businesses. Eric Ries writes in The Lean Startup, “Every entrepreneur eventually faces an overriding challenge in developing a successful product: deciding when to pivot and when to persevere … Companies that cannot bring themselves to pivot to a new direction on the basis of feedback from the marketplace can get stuck in the land of the living dead.”

It’s hard to think about branding when a startup is pivoting, but this is a crucial stage in the development of the brand. The ethos of the brand is shaped at this early stage of the business.

Startups that clearly define their vision early on plant the roots to grow incredible brands.

A big vision plants deep roots

What the startup does is less important than what it believes. The founding vision is the roots of the brand.

Percy 3D Media, for example, believes in the power of personalized 3D video. Julie Steiner, Founder and President of Percy 3D says, “Movement in 3D spaces is so visually compelling. We’re looking for at least one blockbuster effect in everything we produce to create an immersive experience for the user.”

You may think Julie is talking about film production, but Percy 3D is producing interactive greeting cards. They license content like Caillou and Arthur, and provide an interactive platform for users to enhance the videos with their own pictures and content. Kids can create incredible birthday invitations with the characters they love.

The founding vision provides the structure to pivot and adapt. It’s the roots of the brand.

Each pivot evolves the brand

Many startups learn their initial approach is not sustainable, but the vision gives them structure and room to experiment.

Percy 3D has gone through several pivots in their four year history, but all of their pivots revolve around the idea of how to bring personalized 3D video content over the Web to consumers.

Beyond invitations, Percy 3D is developing markets in the healthcare sector. The platform can be used by dentists and doctors in the pediatrics space to send a reminder to their patients for their annual checkups.

Each pivot is an opportunity for the business to grow and evolve, but the vision creates consistency to develop the brand.

Give the seedling light

A startup’s brand may not be visible or well defined in the early years. All the work is happening under the surface. As the vision takes root it provides the structure for the business to sprout.

What we see above the surface, what grows out of the startup, becomes the brand. It becomes the thing we know and talk about. But without strong roots, the brand can never take hold.

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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