When it comes to investing in brand, startup businesses find themselves in a huge Catch-22 situation. Many startups understand that a powerful brand will be crucial to their long-term success. Especially when entering busy marketplaces, a clear brand proposition, well-executed, is essential to helping customers understand what the startup is bringing that is new, disruptive, and attractive, in a way that intuitively hits all the right notes.
But to get off the ground, and even get into that marketplace in the first place, startups need funding. And that often involves pitching to investors. Here lies the conundrum.
Startups are often not branding experts themselves. Bringing in experts feels like an expensive exercise prior to securing funding. So, the temptation for them is to invest minimally (or not at all) in brand, before seeking funding and put the branding budget into the list of items funding will cover…if secured.
But securing funding involves convincing investors of your vision and persuading them to buy into it – literally. This surely is a job for great branding.
Joseph Heller would be proud. If you want to secure investment for your brand, the best way is to already have a great brand.
When explaining to startups the necessity to invest as high as possible in brand before going into a full funding round, the following five pointers may help:
1. Visions are visual
Your business plan may be rock solid, but going out to pitch is an exercise in selling the dream. And, if potential investors can’t visualize it, they’re unlikely to buy into it.
A strong brand identity at a funding pitch is a powerful way to bring investors into your vision. You’ll allow them to see what you’re about and what your future success looks like, increasing the likelihood they’ll want to come along for the ride.
2. Professional design gives you confidence
Walking into a room of investors can be a daunting experience. Throwing yourself (maybe literally) into a den of dragons is confronting for anyone, so you want to do everything within your powers to set yourself up for success. Any insecurities you have over rushed logos or DIY graphics will reflect in your performance, increasing your chance of disappointment.
Projecting an established and ambitious image through professional branding and design is a guaranteed way to instill yourself with confidence in your business that will radiate through your pitch. And confidence is infectious, so this will give investors assurance in you and your vision and provide them with the confidence they need to part with their cash.
3. Branding is more than aesthetic
Branding is often underestimated or dismissed by non-branding people as purely visual, so you may find yourself wondering how urgent it is to invest in it prior to pitching, when cash flow is tight.
However, if you view branding as a purely aesthetic investment, you’re missing a trick and giving your competitors a chance to cut in line.
Your branding is how others perceive your business, and first-round investment is all about perception. By investing in branding before raising investment, you make an authoritative statement about what you stand for, how your vision aligns with your values, what you represent as a business, your corporate image, and what impression you intend to leave on investors.
Bringing this into focus sets you apart in a competitive marketplace and elevates your business to one that leaves its unmistakable mark.
4. You invest in growth, so why not funding?
Every savvy CEO understands the importance of investment to fuel growth, whether that’s in the form of creating a viable product, gaining visibility, or generating sales.
Therefore, why wouldn’t you take the same approach to raise investment?
After all, securing capital will support your first-year targets, so if you fail to get the investment you need to get off the ground, you won’t see the growth you want.
5. Align your brand with new products
Of course, raising investment isn’t just for startups.
Maybe you’re an established business seeking funding to support the development of a new product or service.
If that’s the case, is your branding strong enough to support your new pitch, or is there a disconnect between your existing business and your new vision?
If it’s the latter, investors will sniff this out immediately and lose faith in your vision.
Strong branding aligns all of your verticals and ensures your business is memorable and recognizable across all product lines, making your proposition more attractive to investors.
Ben Crabb, co-founder of tech startup Civitas Club, recently invested in branding through our agency, ahead of raising funds. Aimed at providing a way for fan communities to take ownership of sports clubs, Civitas Club is a project-funding, investment, and rewards platform built on the blockchain.
The branding project delivered by us was based on the central message of giving power back to the fans through the formation of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs). Ben Crabb said: “By creating the first fully fan-led ecosystem on the blockchain, Civitas Club harnesses the power of fans for change in sport. Leveraging Web 3.0 cryptocurrency solutions, NFTs, metaverse communities, and fan collaboration, Civitas Club empowers everyone to ensure that community ownership in professional team sports becomes the new normal. The branding created by Studio LWD really helps us demonstrate and humanize our offering and has already helped us raise significant funding.”
Cover image source: Monstera