When should you focus on branding?
Short answer - yesterday.
We all know the common saying: If you’re not even a little ashamed of your MVP, you’ve waited too long to launch. Same goes for branding.
Many early stage startups I meet are reluctant to part with any of their seed / round A money for branding and identity - especially companies focused on B2B products or services. They feel the time isn't right to invest in such superficial matters, they could not be more wrong... and here's why:
How important is a logo anyway?
Short answer - it isn't.
Well, branding isn't only about creating a nice logo, in fact, logos are only a very small part of branding and they don't even have to be nice, they have to relate the right message.
Branding is more about creating an identity system, a vision, a clear company mission with specific targets and goals that not only your clients can understand but your team and investors can too.
It's about defining your audience and knowing how to speak to them in the right tone of voice, creating emotional guidelines they can understand and finding them in the right arenas.
Branding is about mapping out the whole structure and future of your company.
Why should I decide on my identity so early on?
Short answer - it will make all future decisions easier.
Adding or removing certain product features, deciding on the right marketing strategy, attending or skipping a trade show, hiring the right candidate, launching in a specific market, etc...
All these questions become so much easier to answer once you have a clear vision and identity. They save you countless amounts of ca$h and time in endless repetitive meetings and discussions.
It's like a guiding light in your company's path to prosperity.
Can't I do it as soon as my next investment comes in?
You can wait... but you shouldn't.
All you're doing is giving up your competitive edge to fast reacting competitors who can learn from your progress.
Not all successful companies where the first ones on the block, far from it, many successful brands simply packaged existing products in a more compelling manner.
Slack, Spotify, Facebook, Chrome... are just some brands that created a better identity to dethrone or delete their competitors.
When's the last time you logged into your Friendster account on Netscape?
So, what can I do?
Start developing a compelling story, today!
Build a narrative, accent your benefits and reach out to your base, wether it be end customers, other businesses, potential investors or your own in-house team.