Posts Tagged ‘Straplines’

What the heck is startup brand identity?

September 17, 2009

We’ve been thinking about startup branding for a while. I recently touched on branding when I posted ‘Do startups really need branding straplines?’ and concluded that top level marketing straplines embody the vision of the startup. This brings clarity of purpose, consistency of understanding and direction. It seems to me that ‘brand identity‘ is a vague and fluffy term.  However branding is not just for the big boys. It’s also great for startups. Brand identity helps brings credibility to a startups customer, investor and partner relationships.

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It’s the Real Thing

Startup branding certainly isn’t anything like coca-cola with their big budget corporate brand personality. However  both big company and startup branding is about personality. Branding is very, very, very important for the big companies. It’s worth an awful lot to these giants. It is also really important for tiny little startups like our new web monitoring service. Branding sends out a consistent recurring and reliable message of what the company and product stands for. Customers love consistency. They want to know what they are going to get and they will be satisfied. This builds brand and product/service trust.

In a startup brand personality means the founder’s personalities. Like it or not its about  the founders character’s!  The startup is a reflection  the founders values, beliefs and the way they behave. Startups have the ability to be much more human and friendly than the big faceless corporations. This means startups can use their founders personalities to their advantage. They can be so much more human, personal and engaging.  This is particularly effective in the new world of social media. However startup founders need to have a clear message on what they stand for and who is their the target audience. The founders also have to live and breath the brand for it to be real.

Mindtouch Aaron tattooMy friend Aaron Fulkerson, the CEO of MindTouch, has taken branding
to the extreme by tattooing the company logo on his leg!!

Most business relationships, whether B2B or B2C, are based upon trust. Potential customers need to know that a supplier will deliver on their promises and they will be around in the future. The challenge for startups is  that branding and trust takes time to build up.  If the founder chops and changes  messages or brand personality too much this trust will not buildup. It takes patience and persistence on a single course to buildup branding identity. This is what makes it so valuable for both the big companies and startups alike.

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Do startups really need branding straplines?

August 19, 2009

Branding straplines (also known as taglines) aren’t just for big companies or films. There also great for startups. Like a startup pitch the written word needs to state very quickly what your startup does and will do for potential customers.  They’re not as easy to create as you might think. However they are extremely important to bring understanding and direction.

Alice_drink_meAlice in Wonderland
read the label (source)

Prospective customers and partners will only give your written words a few milliseconds  to make their mind up if  your service is a fit for their needs. A strong strapline brings a clear understanding, direction and clarity of purpose to customers and employees. We’ve found that straplines are not easy to create. They take time, effort and commitment. Which is why they are so powerful and effective.

This is a good article on creating straplines.  Once made you also have to deliver on your strapline promise. Otherwise your statement is meaningless and trust will be lost. Over the last few months we’ve found some company/startup straplines we’ve liked:-

  • Invent – Hewlett Packard still remains focused on innovating. This dates right back to the time the founders made things.
  • Experience Fanatical Support – Clearly Rackspace are committed to proving the best possible support. Rackspace’s branding artical.
  • Painless Billing – Again a very clear message. This time from FreshBrooks. Outsource your billing to remove the headache.
  • You Send. They Sign. Its DoneEchoSogn’s use of the classic three short statements. Very effective on what the product does and will do for you.

The top level strapline can build out with more detail into sub messages. Freshbooks is a great example:

  1. Painless Billing
  2. The Fastest Way To Track Time and Invoice Your ClientsThis second message brings more detail on the customers pain point and how Freshbooks will save their customers time.
  3. Send, track and collect payments quickly. Great for teams, freelancers and service providers. – Reinforcing speed and who the service is made made for.

We’ve worked hard on our straplines for our startup:

  1. Aware Monitoring – What we do is in the service name
  2. The easiest way to measure website performance – We make a complex thing much easier
  3. On-demand website monitoring with actionable alerts. Share reports in your business and with your customers. – We are a SaaS service (not software) and we bring useful results which can be shared.

So far we’ve used our strapline messaging for our service blog, launch page, company Twitter and on Crunchbase. Of, course we still need to deliver on the promise.. As Charlie Chaplin said “Words are cheap.”

Straplines embody the vision of an organization, no matter how small the company is. All product/company descriptions and messages  can be derived from the pitch and strapline. Its a like a pyramid of descriptions. This structure bring consistency of understanding and clarity of purpose to potential customers and employees.

Pitching 2.0+ : A clear, concise & complete message

July 8, 2009

It’s not as easy as you think getting your pitch/message down to a few very clear and concise words. I’m pitching our website monitoring startup again. This Pitch is part of a national Pitch competition. Click the links to see my last pitches: Understanding Pitching and Learning to Pitch. We’ve been short listed based on our application form. All the hard work we’ve been putting into our Website messaging is really starting to come through. Our message must be improving.

ChurchillChurchill. Good with words.

Like a marketing strapline a pitch needs to be boiled down to a very few key words. It says what your company does and what you stand for. This message is then developed into longer pitches to include more and more detail as required. 3 second, 30 second, 3 minute pitches, etc. Its a bit like a pyramid of descriptions with the shortest and simplest pitch at the top. This structure brings consistency and clarity. Ultimately the culture of a startup is formed around the principle messages and values formed by the founders. In this way employees, customers and investors understand what your company stands for.

How we get on today at The Pitch competition is important but its not critical. Its the journey that’s the useful part. Improving, testing and refining our message is the reason to pitch. Although the £50,000 worth of prizes would be nice. This practice is preparing us and our message for potential customers. After all The Pitch panel will not be buying our product, customers will. Keep pitching – practice makes perfect 😉