Brant Cooper's dark art of branding your startup

Brant Cooper's dark art of branding your startup

The dark arts of branding received an illumination when Brant Cooper spoke to a packed house at Wellington’s Lightning Lab.

The Lean Entrepreneur co-author from San Diego popped in on invitation on his way to Australia and talked about how startup businesses should also take a lean approach to branding – from day one.

This lean build, measure and learn approach to branding (also taken for the product creation and validation) – is defined as a two-way relationship that creates value for a customer.

“You’re in a relationship from the moment a customer is aware of you,” says Brant. “By putting off branding, you’re already branding, and affecting that relationship.”

Along with Jeremiah Gardner, Brant’s writing a new book, ‘The Lean Brand’. The pair crowd funded its publishing, with 441 pre-orders, obtaining $23,020 from a target of $12,500.

Brant says the Madison Avenue types of branding consultants and experts traditionally concentrate on the artifacts of a brand, such as a logo, tagline and mission statement. Where brand meets lean is working out what elements of your brand are needed to create value for your customer.

This is done through validated learning – moving unknowns to knowns as is carried out for product development. More so says Brant because initially, startups don’t know the value they’re creating, or for who they’re creating it.

With customers comes the opportunity to learn what aspects of brand you should be concentrating on. Ultimately, Brant says a business is after passionate customers.

The aspirations that a business shares with a customer are its brand. All this is encompassed in a story he says.

This startup story starts with questions such as: 

Who are you? Why do you exist? Why should I care? What is your rallying point? What is your shared aspiration?

A brand can grow out of answering these questions, as a startup build, measures and learns, and uncovers the elements that provide an emotional resonance with a customer. In other words, experiment to discovering the emotional value of a startup product – hypothesis testing to validate learning.

Brant says startups should own their own brand design and not send this side of the business out to an agency.

“Entrepreneurs can and should own their brand creation,” he says. “A brand development is not a black box to be owned by others.”

This self-effacing American, who got plenty of laughs during his presentation, will be doing no great favours for branding experts when The Lean Brand Book is published.

But, since under lean, brand is much more than its logo, such disruptive thinking will mean startups start branding right from the get go.

This post originally appeared on Sciblogs.