We started our journey to answer the problems many startups encounter in their process of product development. By working with startups and observing them, we came to two important conclusions. First, that many of startups manage to find their initial product-market fit, but then are not able to communicate their story to their target customers in order to hack their growth; and second, we felt that this was mainly because of their too narrow understanding of brands and the branding process, usually associated only with visual identity elements. This was the basic understanding of the context we needed to start our journey.
Customer validation should be a crucial part in each brand development. In our journey, we discovered that most of the successful startups validate their branding activities among their (potential) customers. The majority of those that don’t do it, soon run out of their seed money and never reach their first or second year of operations. Some of them even declared customer validation as a waste of time, especially founder’s time! Since we want to follow the path of the most successful startups, we decided to validate our book on our potential customers.
The approach we took in preparing our book is also a kind of startup. Our broader vision was to develop a widely applicable approach for startups, which would help them to develop their brands from scratch. An approach that would upgrade their product-market fit into the perfect brand-market fit to help them hack their growth, reflecting the main steps and building blocks of the branding process. Even if us authors have had previous entrepreneurial experience, some successfully books published locally and the knowledge of the overlapping areas of marketing and entrepreneurship, we ware most afraid to miss the core message that we want to deliver to our customers, since not having a personal experience as founders of a global successful startup. So, we decided to involve in the book co-creation different kind of stakeholders involved in the startup ecosystem: startup founders, venture capitalists, non-profit startups, professors, incubator’s and accelerator’s managers and students (the potential founders), to precisely understand different aspects of branding in startups and to validate all the steps of our proposed approach, we named THE STARTUP BRANDING FUNNEL, shortly SBFunnel. We did this by spending numerous hours speaking with them personally (or by skype, since they are spread around the globe), integrating in the startup community of Silicon Valley by living and spending time in incubators and accelerators, making presentations of the approach…We hope we got the point, but time and market will give us the real feedback!
For the amazing job you co-creators of our book did, by sharing your experience, up-to date approaches, information and knowledge with us, we would like to express big thanks to all of you! Even if not all of your examples ware directly included in the text of the book, they helped us to understand the branding process in startups and to validate our proposed model, while all co-creators are named at the beginning of the book. In this process we also discovered that startups across the world are facing very similar problems, challenges and needs. This was a confirmation we are on the right way in our process!
Maja & Mitja