News and Updates

Branding Your Early-Stage Venture

by Dahlia Arado Lilleslatten

Brandingearlystagev2

avigating competitive business terrain and properly positioning your new organization comes with a degree of uncertainty. And we get it. We speak to many B2B startups in early funding stages, and we hear one question time and time again: “Is now the right time to make the investment in my brand?”

Truth be told, there is no prescriptive, one-size-fits-all answer. Branding is a highly personal exercise, and knowing when to brand your early-stage venture is just as much an art as it is a science. Here are some of the reasons why your early stage venture should consider a branding project.

Scalability

Once you've got a solid grasp on product-market fit, your priorities will naturally shift towards attracting new customers, winning more business, and differentiating your startup in the marketplace. Is your current brand scalable enough to meet your startup’s short- and long-term goals? If you’re unsure, it might be helpful to consider upcoming inflection points and the tangible ways a new brand will help you achieve your objectives.

Having a brand you can defend and rally around signals commitment to scalability, both to current investors and to future stakeholders. A strong brand identity also helps attract top talent and drives your team toward a shared mission and vision. The people who work at your organization will end up shaping its growth and becoming your greatest advocates.

Credibility

If there’s inconsistency within your current brand application, you are chipping away at your recognition and legitimacy in a time when it matters most. One of the largest challenges early stage ventures face is coming up against established incumbents that have long dominated industry conversation. While startups don’t have the benefit of time on their side, they offer a unique solution that disrupts the status quo and galvanizes the marketplace. Exhibiting a consistent brand can create a perception of trustworthiness, and trustworthiness is vital to gaining a foothold against top competitors.

Authenticity

Authenticity: It’s impossible to replicate, but it’s an indispensable attribute for young brands looking to connect with their audience in meaningful and resonant ways. According to Stackla, a staggering “eighty-eight percent of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support.” If you’ve developed a strong market offering and done your due diligence, congratulations are in order! You’ve created an enviable foundation for future growth. So why are you still holding yourself back with a brand that looks and feels like every other player in your industry?

Your current brand may be getting lost in an already saturated marketplace rife with nondescript attributes and corporate stereotypes. A quick audit of your top competitors’ brands is a great way to gauge your brand’s visual landscape and how successfully you communicate what you value.

Visibility

Lastly, your startup needs visibility! And branding will get you just that. Launching your new identity on social media and throughout your network will help rally support and traction around your startup. Pair that with consistent brand application across all of your digital marketing channels, and who knows? Your new brand might help attract your next investor, hire, or early adopter.

We recently partnered with human-engineered technology company, Bitwise, to roll out an entirely new and revitalized brand experience. It was a bold investment for a relatively nascent organization, and the risk ultimately produced a huge boost in visibility and engagement.

We're hearing from a lot of people that we'd lost touch with, and that's been another unexpected byproduct of the branding exercise. At the end of the day, having a brand that feels really good and being able to get feedback to actually push and grow this company has opened our eyes to so much.

Matt Powell, Bitwise President and CEO

The Path Forward

Being able to envision a future for your startup amounts to more than just telling a compelling story. Your vision needs to become a reality in the minds of the people who will drive your brand forward. Taking something abstract and making it real — making it exciting — boils down to the multidimensional brand you create in the critical early stages of your startup’s timeline. While there’s no foolproof formula for knowing when to take the leap of faith, branding is as much an investment in longevity as it is an investment in a powerful visual toolkit.

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

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