In a recent episode of the Startup Architects, we spoke with branding guru Clara Jungblut about the concept of starting with why, and how to build and communicate your brand. We took a deep dive into everything discussed in the post here today, you can find the full episode here:
Starting with why
Startup's are built on innovation. Some wonderful products have found their way into our lives that came from only a few bright sparks with little more than an idea, but a good idea doesn't make a successful company. If we want people to buy our product or use our platform we need them to understand why it exists, why they need it and why they should pay for it. To communicate this effectively we need first to understand ourselves, not only what we are building or how we are going to build it, but why we are doing so.
Having a real understanding of your "why" and communicating it effectively both internally and externally will take your start up from a great idea, to a great brand.
How, What and Why
You may be familiar with Simon Sinek's golden circle concept - that all products have a how, a what and a why, with the why being the central and starting point.
The problem far to often is the how and what are far too easy to prioritize. You may have a fantastic idea for an app that sells shoes for chickens, and know exactly how to build and deploy it inside a rainy weekend, but without thinking about why chickens would even want this app, you're only wasting time.
Identifying why you are building your product, the problem it is going to solve and who it is going to solve it for, will help you identify your target audience quicker, reduce development redundancies and establish your product in the minds of consumers as a worthy purchase.
This isn't just a marketing or product theory, there is biology behind it. Explaining the how and the what of a product will help people understand the functional information of what it does. In this process the neo cortex is engaged, the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and language. The why however, is what drives behaviour, explaining the why of a product evokes the Limbic system, the part of our brain in which our intuition and decision making abilities lie. Interesting this part of the brain is not connected to our speech, so often an audience member may not be able to articulate what it is they love about a product, but people do what feels right.
The How and the What are of course important, but it takes all three to create a complete package. On one hand an audience will understand the features and purpose of your product, but also that it feel right. Many companies tend to neglect communicating their why and suffer as a result. Great companies are great at communicating their why.
Not everyone will inherently understand the need for your product just because it exists. It may seem unnecessary to sit down and identify why you are building your app or platform, but this is the trap that many startups fall into. Assuming audiences will be on board is a dangerous road.
To put it into context, lets take a look at an industry that doesn't need to explain their whys to us- Gyms. A fitness studio is able to advertise "X amount of classes and facilities" without explaining to us the benefits of good health, because we as consumers already know the why of working out. We see the functional data of what they are offering and how we will interact with it and our brain fills in the rest. This is not true for startups!
Startups are built on innovation, your idea is very likely solving a problem no-one has solved yet. Or if it has been attempted, it obviously hasn't been done successfully or your company wouldn't get far. So it is especially important to be able to effectively communicate exactly what the product is and why people need it in their lives.
Communicating to your audience why they need to buy your product is one side of the coin. A strong brand and a loyal customer base generates the revenue you need to survive and grow, but internal understanding of your vision, your values, and your why is just as important to a successful startup.
It is difficult to make a group of people all pull in the same direction, but if every team member is made aware of the same clearly defined vision when they are onboarded, then the whole team will understand why they do what they do. People will love what they do if they understand and believe in why they are doing it. A team working towards the same goal is much stronger than a set of individuals moving on their own.
If your values and your directions change, make sure this is clearly communicated throughout your staff. Set clear channels of communication for questions and updates. Forming this emotional bond between your team and the product will create a healthy and productive environment.
Its the full package
No single point we have covered is more important than any other, it is about create a complete brand for your product. That starts with thinking about your why, building your mission statement, and setting company values from there and then moving onto the how and what you will do. Its about communicating all of this effectively to your target audience, helping consumers and users understand the value you bring to their lives and the need for your product. Finally its about making sure your team and staff are always on board with your vision, making sure everyone is moving in the same direction.
Communication is a hugely important part of the success of any company, but startups especially have to work hard to make sure their idea is accessible.
For more tips and advice on how to build your startup, from everything to team building to choosing the right tech stack, check out the podcast here: