Brand strategy articles for startups and technology companies. The economics of innovation is all about using social media and design to deliver on your brand promise. Your brand architecture and brand strategy set the direction for your marketing and sales activity.
Growth hacking is the application of the mindsets and tools of a computer hacker to the challenge of growing a company. Basically, growth hacking is what happens when software developers try to do marketing. The essence of the growth hacking mindset is the scientific method and an iterative rapid prototyping approach to marketing. This type of marketing can be faster, cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing so growth hacking is becoming popular in many industries.
New Zealand has normally been pretty slow to adopt global trends in sales, marketing and design. As far as I can tell, there are still only a small number of New Zealand companies such as Vend, TradeMe and 90 Seconds TV that are applying growth hacking techniques to rapidly expand their businesses. I’m hoping to find more people doing growth hacking in Auckland and the rest of New Zealand to swap stories and share lessons learned. Continue reading Growth Hacking in New Zealand
Creating a new category is the aspiration of every enthusiastic entrepreneur. Most business people would love to have a whole category all to themselves. The dream is that if you could be the “only” player in your category, then you could charge whatever you liked and sell an unlimited volume.
In practice, creating a new category is incredibly hard. In fact, it may be the hardest form of branding that any company can undertake. For most companies, it’s hard enough to explain what your product does (and how it’s different to your competitors’). The task of explaining the entire function of a new product category can be too much for many companies to bear.
Lots of business people secretly hate marketing. And technical people tend to see marketing as a necessary evil. Developers and engineers are particularly cynical about marketing and design. Personally, I come from a family of engineers who still aren’t quite sure what it is that I do for a living.
My background in venture capital and management consulting has made me cynical about marketing, but I’ve also learned the hard way just how important marketing can be. Without someone to buy your product, you don’t have a business.
Brand strategy is the foundation of all good marketing, advertising and PR. A good brand will help you win customers, raise capital and attract co-founders. You need a minimum viable level of clarity to move fast and adapt your brand as your startup evolves.
Recently I’ve been helping more startups and entrepreneurs with their initial brand creation. What I’ve found is that the challenges that you face starting your own brand are surprisingly similar to the work that I do rebranding multinational companies. A few years back, I put together a new framework for creating a brand strategy. It’s called the Brand Bowtie because it puts together an internal brand architecture pyramid with an external communications pyramid.
The elements of a successful brand are a vision, values, attributes, tagline, stories and key messages. The internal brand architecture is your little secret, but it will inform everything that you do. The external communications framework is an external tool that you can pick and mix from to build websites, social media and marketing collateral.
We are in the middle of one the biggest economic shifts since the Industrial Revolution. The Information Age is rapidly being replaced by the Relationship Age a new era grounded in technology but focused on people. And it’s happening too fast for anyone to see.
I call this new era the Relationship Age because we will see businesses that nurture their relationships thrive and those that don’t die off. What look like changes in technology today are actually changes in human behaviour.
It took me a while to figure out the difference between a planner, strategist and consultant. I asked some friends for advice about what a strategist is and what makes a good strategist.
What does a strategist actually do?
A couple of interesting comments and additions have filtered in that add to the conversation from the last post on what is a strategist. I’ve included them below:
A strategist cuts through the ‘noise’ to realise true value.
– Dorenda Britten, Managing Director
A strategists develops “strategies”. Which implies taking both broader scope and longer time than most functional or operational decision-making and analysis does. A strategists identifies the gaps from the current situation to the desired long-term outcomes, and defines the key levers of change. They then recommend appropriate ‘settings’ for these levers, prioritising them. A key component of strategy is what is excluded, what doesn’t fit with the recommended approach.
– George Arnold, Programme Manager
A strategist is akin to acting as an internal management consultant – but in the real world.
– Simon Leitch, Head of Sales
A strategist sets the trajectory of an idea and puts a blueprint for its delivery is motion.
– Louis Gordon-Latty, Project Manager
A strategist is like a doctor, we need to understand your symptoms, which we then use to build a picture of what you need to do to get where you want to go. And like Doctors, we learn about the typical illnesses and how to troubleshoot unknown causes through experience & research.
– Ben Young, Marketing Director
What makes a good strategist?
A good strategist, like a good doctor, can often reach a conclusion very quickly, even with very little information.
– Ben Young, Marketing Director
A good strategist is fluent in the craft of envisioning, architecting and executing future outcomes, while simultaneously being able to deliver tangible demonstrative methods, interventions and way-finding systems that achieve the shaped intentionality.
The word Strategist almost always applied as an adjective, as in Brand Strategist, Design Strategist, Social Media Strategist or Plumbing Strategist. I love strategy so I’ve enjoyed these types of jobs. Building great businesses may be a team sport. But someone has to go away after the brainstorm and turn the ideas into something real that can be communicated and executed. That person is a strategist.
Recently I’ve been thinking about what makes a Strategist different to an Account Manager, a Copywriter or a Planner. I wanted to focus in on the role of a person who is referred to as a Strategist, rather than the larger question of “What is strategy?”
Choosing a tagline looks easy, but choosing a tagline that works well for a technology startup is surprisingly hard. There are several common mistakes that startups make with their tagline. These are easily avoidable if you know what to look out for.
I’ve been helping a software startup recently with their search for a new tagline. Like many bootstrapped startups, they don’t have enough cash for a full brand strategy project. Even so, to create a tagline that works you still need more strategic thinking than just jumping straight to the whiteboard to pull a tagline out of your a__.
In brand strategy we are always looking for real human insights to drive the creation of a real point of difference. The most powerful place to find a point of difference is in the audience’s own behaviour and sense of identity.
When was the last time that you spent more on something than you should have? The chances are it indirectly had something to do with your self image. Or the self image that you want to create.