We hear the term “brand” thrown into conversation right the way from our daily commute through to senior board level, but what does “brand” really mean and what have we learned throughout our journey at SYZO?
Many of us (unless you’ve lived in a bubble) are familiar with the likes of Apple, McDonalds and Hilton whom are global experts in leveraging a perceived value of quality, taste and experience when encountered. To those in the startup scene though, brand is a hard fought and increasing earned badge of honour, one that doesn’t come easily and is lost with the slightest of failures.
When defining “brand” though, it’s hard to stay focused in the context of startup business. For most, brand is defined by the ability to slap an eye watering price tag on a product or service. As advocates of critical thinking, meaningful growth and the sharing economy, we found most resonance in the words of Seth Godin. Seth, to those who are unfamiliar (stop reading this and follow him across social media) underpins the modern paradigm of marketing. Cutting through the jargon his openly direct approach and plethora of well placed, fashionable content provides an industry leading Gold Standard to trained and untrained folk.
Speaking in his acclaimed bestseller Permission Marketing, Seth defines brand as;
“the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer or a voter) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
Taking this forward, our engagement with aspiring brand consultants, agencies, business psychologists and most importantly our “tribe” of potential members, has cemented our fabric and propelled us forward.
Here’s a selection of our key takeaways from humble beginnings up until today, as we look to push SYZO forward:
1. Build a vision that resonates through the entire business
· Consider what is driving the business, revisit the business plan and ensure your mission statement is up to date
· Research brands within your niche, undertake a SWOT analysis and log their movement (don’t be afraid to stalk your competitors)
· Develop a consistent message and visual identity to reinforce your mission
2. Define your companies personality
· When building your brand, think of it as a person
· Create this as a collective team in a social setting for expanded lateral thinking
· Create a Tone of Voice document to give examples of your current written language (Your voice is dependent on your company mission, audience, and industry)
· Define how you communicate with your customers and how they respond to you
· A business voice could be professional, friendly, informal or service orientated (to name a few)
· Form a consensus narrative. Sell yourself in one sentence and expand this pitch for captivating audiences
3. Define and document your visual presence
· Engage with an agency, rock star designer or marketing guru once you’ve learnt how to communicate with a creative and have some substance
· We advise you quickly learn that timescales are often broken in this world of out of the box thinking!
· Create Brand Guidelines to iron out differences in the team, focus your design and visual preferences
· Implement these rules from email banners up to billboards
· Ensure quarterly updates to these documents are maintained
4. Create a strategy to build long-term relationships
· There will always be brands with bigger budgets and more resources to command their industry. Delve down deep and figure out what you offer, that no one else does, define your USP and value added in your sector
· Strategise, visualise and repeat. Without continual iteration you cannot keep the brand interpretation on point and as a result risk losing your identity
A solid brand building process can transform your startup from a small player into a successful competitor. We’re not claiming to be the next brand agency but we’ve certainly learnt a lot the past 18 months through doing it first hand. With the right approach, building a brand doesn’t need a 6 figure budget, but it does need a core understanding and respect for the bigger picture.
For SYZO, brand shapes our personality and interaction outside the business. From the visual presence through to the tone of voice when dealing with conflict or criticism, the way a startup embraces brand is ultimately a key indicator to it’s future potential.
Want to know more about our brand development? Check out the recommend reading and listening below:
“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”
Thanks! SYZO 🙂