Why brand a startup from the very beginning?

Reflections of Aliaksej Kulbicki, PRAS Art Director, on a topic relevant to new businesses

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It happened: an idea knocked into your head, and you decided to implement it in the form of a startup. And it seems to you that there is no need to show off: the idea is so cool that it needs no accompaniment, no wrapping, no clothes, no boas. The sketchy black and grey squares are enough. A potential investor will listen, see, understand and invest. The pilot project will confidently penetrate global markets. And then you can think about branding.

This is not a bad thing - if you do not believe that the idea will work, then why start your own venture. But the fact is that the concept of a brand is much broader and deeper than most beginner businessmen understand it. 

Startup-startup, why do you need such a pretty logo?

1. To be heard better

The problem is that if your idea is really new (and certainly worthy of investment), investors and users are unlikely to immediately get the gist of it, appreciate the inner strength and behold the prospect. No matter how astute they may be. And it is branding that will help you clarify exactly how you are going to make the world a kinder, stronger, cleaner place: the brand is the concentration of your idea and simultaneously works with the emotions of your target audience - people understand, empathize and accept.

After all, what is a brand - you don't think of it as a beautiful logo or corporate colors.

A brand is the line and the boundaries in which and by which everything you do is built. 

This “everything” starts with a presentation of a service application that has not yet been created or is just being created. You will have to show it many, many times, learn to beat your chest in sync with the appearance of each new slide, saying: "This is innovative!". 

So: the presentation should already be branded. Pages with charts and diagrams, designed in unison with your application:

  • First, they demonstrate the startup creator's actual analytical work, as opposed to copy-pasted, weird charts from the Internet.
  • Second, they emphasize your ability to convey your message in an expressive and concise manner.
  • Third, being designed like the product they describe, they are useful as spontaneous advertising material: if the presentation takes place during a forum like "Startup Week", the slide may get caught by a journalist and appear in a media resource.

In addition, as you think through the legend, codifying the promise to users in images, you'll be throwing out critical glances at your business goals and objectives from time to time, quite possibly reformulating some of them, maybe changing the name altogether, going over the sound associations it evokes in you and could theoretically evoke in others.

2. To be understood correctly

What works in Belarus may not work in Europe, Asia or America, and may not be accepted in Arab countries. The fonts differ which noticed by, say, Americans and highlighted by Danes; there are different levels of acceptability, entry thresholds, ethical experience.

Including the brand development stage in pre-launch preparation means you are engaged in research and choose the intonation with which you can talk about a startup with people of different cultures. You call friends in Navahrudak, San Marino, Aarhus, Vientiane, Kyoto, San José, Peru and Morocco. You learn the traditions and rules by which business is conducted in different regions. And sooner or later, you come to a balance between the specific and the multicultural.

An example is the failed Coca-Cola drink advertising campaign in Saudi Arabia. The creators did not take into account that they read there from right to left, and the idea "laid in the sands without strength - drank Coke - got up and ran" was inverted: "whipped the tops of the dunes - took a sip of Coke - went into the astral".

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