Don’t you just hate it when someone says “would you like the good or the bad news first?”. The answer is always bad news. Don’t you think?
Bad news: According to Reshma Sohoni, co-founder at Seedcamp, “Somewhere on your journey to 100 employees, everything around your brand breaks”.
Good news: this article covers everything you need to be thinking of and acting on to avoid your brand shattering into dust, Thanos style.
Tell your story
A brand needs to have an authentic story to last through a scaling journey. Something that embeds your company into a customers thoughts. Stories usually come in one of the three flavours, the origin story, customer impact, and the problem solver.
1) The origin story
What it is: An origin story that explains how the idea for the company was born.
Sohoni explained that with Transferwise, “while one founder was continually transferring money from his Estonian bank to his London account, the other – with a mortgage back in Estonia – was doing the reverse. With both hit by sky-high bank transfer fees, the pair realised they could save a truckload of money by paying each other’s expenses instead, thereby cutting out the ‘middle-man'”
Pro:Placing names and faces to your mission makes your brand feel personable.
Con:Can come across very cheesy, especially if your story is not an appealing one.
2) The customer impact
What it is: A success story of how a company made a big difference to its customer.
According to Sohoni, “The team got this incredible note the other day from somebody who had discovered they had thyroid cancer thanks to their test showing there were some inconsistencies in their results, which prompted them to go to the doctor. Through that there was an early diagnosis, when most cancers of that type are not diagnosed until it’s quite late.”
Pro:Demonstrates how customer focused you are.
Con:You need some great case studies for this to work.
3) The problem solver
What it is: A brand story created around customer expectations. It’s especially pertinent to B2B companies.
Example:Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform.
Salesforce may not be a brand customers feel emotional about, but it’s made its name as convenient, utilitarian software-as-a-service. So much so that other companies require Salesforce integrations with their new software.
Pro:Showcases the value-add and your main USP on offer.
Con:If done wrong can deter people for being a little too sales-y.
As an entrepreneur its normal to hate standardisation and routine, instinctively wanting to fight against it, unfortunately it becomes crucial.
These are three things that you can do to keep your house style in order.
1) Formalise brand guidelines
Why you need it: Your back story and brand should tie in with your visual identity and tone of voice. It should be consistent across different media like your website, app, social media accounts, business cards and ads, even product packaging and office interior.
What you can do: Create an official brand guidelines document that can be shared with employees, your company representatives and any designers, writers or outsourced social media managers that work with you.
2) Assign behaviours to brand values
Why you need it: The brand should shine in personal interactions with customers. For that to happen, all employees need to see that brand values matter and interpret them in the same way.
What you can do: Tie all brand values to specific behaviours and use cases, e.g. if a value is transparency, customer support employees should fully explain to customers the reasoning behind any decision.
3) Articulate behaviours to brand values
Why you need it: All employees should be clear and consistent about the brand message they’re supposed to communicate to customers across all media.
What you can do: Make brand proposition and company back story part of your new hire onboarding process. This will put all employees on the same page from the very beginning. Ground your brand in an authentic, emotional story and standardise how it should be conveyed visually and in all interactions with customers.
Bottom line: Ground your brand in an authentic, emotional story and standardise how it should be conveyed visually and in all interactions with customers.
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