Why Branding Brings So Much Value To Early Stage Tech

Written by Daria Gonzalez, Co-Founder and CEO of Wonder Dog, a brand advisory firm focused on technology and innovation. The previous early stage of VC.

Great brands are no accident – they were built early and by design. However, storytelling and branding are two components that are often misunderstood for building a great company.

When we think of “brand,” most of us imagine the Coca-Colas of the world, spending millions of dollars to choose the right shade of red. This isn’t entirely wrong – it’s just one of the more obvious elements. The brand is much more subtle with a lot that can’t be seen right away. It is a broad category into which one can easily drown.

I have worked with startups for the past seven years. First, as an early stage venture capital in B2B technology. Now, I run a brand consulting firm for high growth companies. Most of the entrepreneurs I work with (especially non-consumer founders and engineering teams) find branding so confusing — that many think it’s worth putting off until Series B.

Why is branding important sooner rather than later?

Interestingly, branding for early-stage startups is very important outside of the consumer sector. A well-designed brand helps its founder across three main categories: hiring a great team, raising funds, and building partnerships. These audiences, like any audience, are made up of people who want to feel connected to your mission and brand when making a life-changing decision to work with you.

Early-stage branding not only provides you with tools to connect with others on a deeper level, but also provides a framework to help replicate those connections as you scale. The company grows in its early stages based on the strength of the product and the selling ability of the founders. But your business will survive if it always depends on you being in the room to lead the conversation with potential clients from start to finish. In a way, building a brand is like scaling your best self, the founder, so that you can actually be in many places at once.

When do you achieve the greatest value?

An easy way to get around building your brand early on is to think of a branding roadmap for your product roadmap. Think of the brand as the interface between your product, your business, and your market. It’s critical that the two – your brand and your business – be in sync.

You have a problem when you have a great “narration” that outweighs what you actually offer. The risk you take when your brand and business are out of sync is a dissonant user experience that sinks into understanding and excitement before it takes off. The greatest value of a good brand lies in managing expectations and delivering a clear experience while keeping people motivated.

What constitutes a successful early stage brand?

A common misconception is that a brand is essentially a collection of important artifacts – a mission, a vision, a slogan about making the world a better place and a slogan. There is hope that these individual artifacts will add to a larger unit.

But these are just means to achieve the goal, not the goal itself; They must be at work. In action, through interactions and feedback, playing offense and defense when competing for talent and funding, they become your credibility lifters. Otherwise, your best bet will be to become one of the lookalikes documented in Ben Schott’s article published by Bloomberg It’s called “Welcome to your nice new world.”

Having a mission, vision, and values ​​in writing is not a mistake. At the end of the day, well-defined brands own these things. More important than artifacts is substance, however, and you decide to make it clear to your audience.

So, when considering your first step in building a brand, consider your early adopters—your investors, your partners, your talent—and answer the following questions:

1. How do I see opportunity?

2. What gives me the advantage of seizing the opportunity?

3. What work must be done on behalf of my audience?

4. Why does it matter what I build?

Luxury artifacts—mission, vision, purpose, etc.—help explain these things, but they are not substitutes for them. As with product building, or anything related to entrepreneurship, building your early brand requires a huge dose of humility. But don’t hesitate. Focus on your material and let it guide the rest of your actions. Artifacts will come. The logo can be written in Helvetica Neue, and the presentation platform can use a template. Differentiate with your material and idea – and your brand will follow.

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