Don't move forward in your business without a Vision Statement, Mission Statement, and Core Values!
And more advice from Melissa Wallace, Co-Founder and CEO of Fivefoottwo Marketing. Fivefoottwo Marketing has experience in building brands and developing performance strategies (and everything in between) for B2B and B2C startups in industries including martech, experiential, entertainment, retail, fintech, adtech, CPG, cybersecurity, venture capital, fashion, women’s health and wellness and more. Through their work with founders, they are able to vet skilled contractors from their community. They have worked with over 40 startups.
1.Never consider yourself the target audience.
We meet a lot of founders who build great products based on a challenge they've experienced, and that makes a lot of sense. But what happens in developing that product is that they become too close to it. You actually know more than your customer. In fact, the lack of awareness is a big piece of why focusing on branding is important. When you start to make decisions based on what you think the customer wants, they begin to break down because you're probably speaking to the audience in a way that assumes they have a certain understanding of your product which they may not. We always suggest taking the time to map out personas first and foremost and sticking to that. And again, the biggest tip is not to consider yourself the target audience, even though you might have been at some point. Both in my experience working at major brands and working with founders, it's very hard to separate what you think your customer wants because you're building something for them. And when it comes to messaging, the message can only resonate if you have considered the idea that they don't know anything about the product or service, especially if it's something totally new.
2.Don't Build your Product or Service without establishing your Personas first.
In the early stages, it's just doing basic research to understand the audience and building out personas. You can do research online to get demographic info. So if you're B2C, you want to know everything from what percentage of your audience is male or female to the average household income. These all give you a more specific idea of who your audience is from a demographic standpoint. But as you're identifying it deeper, you're mapping out the challenges and what your product or service does to solve for them. And when we develop personas, we create an idea around a handful of individuals that you'll be targeting. That becomes a good foundation for how you might message them so that you're speaking to each individual's challenges specifically.
The personas are like identifying your ideal customer, the challenges, and how you will solve them. Once you have that laid out, you can understand what messaging you need and how that will play out in advertising and beyond.
3.Don't move forward in your business without these Fundamentals: Vision Statement, Mission Statement, and Core Values.
The idea of not considering yourself the target audience also needs to follow through in branding. The first step is to create a really solid brand house. And when we build a brand house, it's a vision statement, a mission statement, and company core values. This is what we consider to be the foundation. It allows you to take every step after. So whether that's creating your brand personality or creating the design for your brand or packaging, everything should be rooted in who you are as a company. It starts there; the why comes out in anything you do afterward. Taking the time to establish what those three components are helps keep you on track.
So, if you're doing a brand personality exercise, you make sure that the brand personality aligns with your vision, mission, and values. If you're creating a positioning statement and transitioning that to messaging, does your messaging align with your brand house, vision, mission, and values? Everything should track back to that. That's why we always say that's the first thing you want to build before you do anything else. Because what will happen is you can go ahead and start creating your website, but there's no foundation for how you're developing what that looks like. And then let's say you hire a designer, and they want to design and create a logo. Then everything is disconnected at that point. Great brands have a concise message that they can communicate consistently. You can't do that without the fundamentals. Most of our clients have built brands and messaging which is completely disconnected. And we come in and take them back to square one. They could have saved so much time and resources if they had done this at the start.
4.Brand personality needs to resonate with your customers, not yourself.
A big mistake that we see founders sometimes make is creating a brand personality that represents who they are, and they forget to make sure that it resonates with their customers. So the brand personality should be representative of only you. When choosing an archetype and building out your brand voice, ensure you're also thinking about personas. You could have a lovely story and personality backing that story, but if it doesn't make sense to the target audience, then you'll fail.
Sometimes people pick brand personalities because they get a funny idea they want to create. They want to do clever ads and be the jester. And it makes a lot of sense. But then you think about who your customer is; you are not on the same page. When they think about the service they provide, they're thinking it is more serious and trustworthy. And so there's a huge disconnect. Can you be a fun company and build a service that customers need to trust? Maybe, but that has to be explored.
5.Don't launch your company without considering your branding!
Founders don't spend a lot of money early on branding. You can get a cheap logo and build a quick and easy site. Great. But if you're going to spend money, spend more on defining your audience and how you will position yourself, your product, or your service to that audience. Spend more time there and then save that mega branding exercise when you've got money. The same goes for PR. If you don't know how to talk about your product, spending money on PR is a huge waste. We partner with many PR agencies that will only take clients if they've done some basic work around positioning and messaging.