Enter Leeds-based Branswer. A portmanteau of “brand” and “answer”, the startup calls its Brander software platform the “first digital branding tool for businesses and charities”. Devised by CEO Kayla Herbert (a Tech Nation Visa Scheme graduate), and Technology Director Tom Dean Knight, it aims to help companies find their voice when it comes to creating marketing and other material – from mission statements to press releases.
Herbert, who has a background in marketing and communications, has spent her career to date working with SMEs in a variety of industries. She believes that existing branding resources available to startups are too generic, static and fail to speak the language of entrepreneurs.
Branswer today launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, offering backers early access to its evolving platform as a reward. The startup is looking to raise £15,000 while building a community of enthusiastic early adopters. We spoke to Herbert to find out more.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Kayla Herbert: Many small businesses don’t understand marketing – they don’t know who their community, or tribe is. Or they may know who it is but don’t know how to speak to them. Information on how to do that is out there, but it lies with consultants or big branding agencies. That’s fine if you’re a Walmart-sized business, but not for SMEs, nonprofit charities or tech startups – they don’t have the time or budget for that.
“We are democratising consultancy and I really believe that we’re going to disrupt it.”
I think it’s a shame because technology is going to be the thing that solves most of our problems, and the whole idea behind a startup is that you want to do something different, and you want to disrupt things. Many big ideas aren’t being recognised and heard, and a lot of stories aren’t being told.
How are you going to help with that?
We’ve created a prototype of how to help businesses write their own mission statement in an automated way. It’s a simple algorithm that asks you questions about your product or business, takes those answers and rephrases or positions them in a way that asks another question – just like a consultant would. Obviously, companies need more than a mission statement, and there’s a lot more to come from our Brander software platform.
How is it different from static resources – templates, for example?
We don’t like the word template. There are a lot of templates out there and they’re all static, whereas Branswer is dynamic and provides guidance, giving you an understanding of the process while giving you something at the end of it. It feels conversational, but you’re not talking to anyone.
It saves you time, is easy to use and will take you on a journey, becoming more complex as you fill out questions. The mission statement generator is free, and we will also have a press release generator that will ask questions that will get to the root of your story. It will take information from previous sections and apply it there, in an order that makes sense.
“I think this could be really good for Yorkshire. I want to give Leeds its first unicorn!”
Importantly, Brander isn’t for brands and marketing professionals – it’s for people who want to do it themselves. That’s why we don’t use language that will alienate people – such as fancy buzzwords – it’s all in plain English. The questions are designed to give businesses the results they need, saving a huge amount of time in the process.
How much information will startups have to provide to begin?
It’s pretty basic. We’ll be asking things that aren’t very technical, making it easy to use. There won’t be anything that’s legally sensitive or anything like that – it would be things that you share on your website or social media. That’s simple things like what is your product; what will your product do; what’s the benefit in it; and what’s the value in that benefit.
Why are you raising investment on Kickstarter?
I want to build a community that involves early adopters, getting our own brand ambassadors onboard who are really interested in the product. I want to use lean startup principles, and get them to test things while paying for others. After that we are looking at about a six month timeline to build the platform, and then it will be a monthly subscription to use that.
How will Brander evolve?
We have two parts, with the first being everything a startup needs – the really foundational bits. That looks at what makes a business unique, what its personality is and how it can communicate with people – including on social media. That will help with things like mission statement, vision statement, competitor analysis, and finding a USP, as well as establishing values and a tone of voice.
I’m very keen on making Brander as lean and collaborative as possible, so I want to hear from different people. The next step for it is looking at the scale-up stage – that’s a whole other set of problems that focuses on internal communications. Say you’re a team of 10 and are going to be scaling to a team of 100, how do you deal with that? It’s about culture, building a tribe and identity, finding people who need more than a paycheck to come in and work for you.
Why do you think you will succeed?
We’re democratising consultancy and I really believe that we’re going to disrupt it, because we’re in the knowledge economy. This is a very interesting industry that’s been moving quite slowly – nobody’s really touched it – especially in marketing. I think this could be really good for Yorkshire – I want to give Leeds its first Unicorn!