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Early Stage

How to Build Your Startup's Company Message

Morgan Lichtenstein
7 min read

Crafting a compelling marketing message for your startup is almost as important as creating an in-demand product or service. You can’t seriously expect to build your widgets or whatever it is you offer while you step back and call it a day.

Just because you build, it doesn't mean they're coming!

Brand communication is crucial for running a successful startup because it powerfully shifts attention away from your competitors and puts the spotlight on the benefits of your product or service.

If you want to attract customers in droves, you must create an irresistible marketing message to go along with that killer product. Once you do that, you need to put it out there for all the world to see.

This article will cover these three points:

  • Creating a compelling company narrative
  • The importance of brand messaging consistency
  • Three elements affecting brand positioning

Let’s get started!

Questions to ask before starting

Your objective is to understand how customers view your brand and if that's consistent with how you want your brand to be perceived. Ask your buyers, "What was it about our company that made it the perfect choice for you?”

Then sit back, listen, and take notes.

Here are some other questions you can pose to yourself:

  • Describe your ideal customer. What is the problem they're trying to solve? 
  • What solutions to the issue have they already tried? 
  • What are the conventional solutions?
  • How does your business solve this problem?

 Create an overarching narrative

Now that you’ve clarified why you’re in business and what you have to offer, it’s time to take that material and build a narrative around it.

Here are the essential elements of a great startup story:

  • EXPOSITION: Set the scene and describe the characters. 
  • RISING ACTION: This is the tension that emanates from the story's central conflict as the events of your drama unfold.
  • CLIMAX: The narrative's turning point, which all the preceding plot developments have been leading up to.
  • FALLING ACTION: This is the action leading up to the resolution of the central conflict.

Try to weave your story around these elements. Remember to incorporate the solution you offer customers into your narrative. This is usually placed in the middle of the rising action. This is where you explain how you came up with the idea for your product, why it started to gain traction, and how customers use it.

Here’s another example: your startup wasn’t doing as well as you had hoped. So, you pivoted and found a new solution, which allowed you to experience unprecedented success.

Make sure your narrative ends on a high note. A story that ends in the middle of the climax will only be depressing and won’t exactly inflame your buyers with desire for your product or service.

Once you’ve created your brand story, see if you can whittle your marketing message down to a five-to-seven-word sentence.

Find your hook

Every captivating startup narrative starts with a compelling hook.

For example, let’s look at Airbnb’s startup story. The company founders, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky were a mere month away from total financial insolvency. Their cash reserves were gone, having maxed out every single one of their credit cards and borrowed an ungodly sum from relatives.

Desperate for a way to stave off a humiliating bankruptcy during a Presidential election, they bought five hundred boxes of Cheerios. They replaced the old graphics with new ones, whimsically labeling half the boxes as “Obama-Os” and the other half as “Cap’n McCains.”

Incredibly, the founders were able to sell each box for $40. This generated enough cash to pull them away from the edge of bankruptcy and gave them enough runway to build a thriving company. The founders love to tell this story because embedded in the narrative is an intriguing hook, which is how they built Airbnb from the ground up.

When trying to create an exciting hook, ask yourself:

  • What out-of-the-box strategies did I use to start my company?
  • If I was trying to impress someone, what would I say to them about the startup?
  • What most excites others about our enterprise?

Run it by people

Do a first draft of your narrative and then refine it. Get feedback on its effectiveness from at least one individual from every segment in which you’ll be interacting. This includes:

  • Customers
  • Investors
  • Other founders
  • Prospective employees
  • Random people on the street

By asking people who'll likely encounter your brand story, you'll find out which versions resonate with which audiences. When asking for feedback, state your intentions and then tell your story. Ask these questions afterward:

  • Which parts of the narrative did you find most riveting?
  • Which sections of the narrative could you relate to the most?
  • Was the story too long, or was it too brief?
  • Did I use any words that didn’t sound right?
  • Did any parts feel less credible than the others?
  • Does anything require further explanation?
  •  Do you think individuals in your industry would find the story compelling?

This process is like the agile development method. This is where you create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), talk to lots of users to pick their brains, and then incorporate the feedback to make your product better.

In this case, your narrative is your MVP, your users are the population segments you’re targeting, and the product versions are your story tweaks.

Everyone needs to tell the same story

Remember to be consistent with your messaging across all communication channels. That’s because brands that maintain consistency are worth 20% more than those that don’t.

Branding should look and feel seamless. You can’t be all cute and cuddly on social media while being businesslike on your website. This will only leave your customers confused about what your company is all about.

Everyone on your team must tell the same brand story. However, there can be multiple versions depending on who the target audience is. For example, if you’re recruiting candidates, they’ll hear the “employee” version of your brand story.

During onboarding, you’ll use this narrative to help employees assimilate into your workplace culture. After onboarding, keep everyone on the same page by making your story a crucial part of your internal messaging. This will provide you with a cohesive narrative that’ll unify your team.

Creating a brand style guide

The best way to ensure consistency of messaging is by creating a brand style guide. When coming up with one, ensure that it covers every communication channel, from social media to print advertising.

If you have someone doing marketing for you, provide them with an excellent understanding of your brand guidelines. Without brand guidelines, you could stray from the core message your brand offers. This could hurt your business.

Creating a logo to match your message

 Your logo is one thing that tends to make an impression on people and is a way to powerfully talk about your business.

If you don’t have zillions of dollars to spend promoting your brand, let your logo do some of the heavy lifting. Whatever visuals you choose for your corporate symbol should communicate your brand clearly and effectively. If your logo contains an image, ensure that its visual elements are consistent with the rest of your brand.

Everyone responds differently to color, and different colors evoke different reactions. Red is powerful and dramatic, orange can be motivating and positive, while green portrays radiant health. Use a color scheme that aligns with the message you want your customers to hear.

Your recruitment brand message

When creating your company story, remember to craft your recruitment brand message so that you can entice top-tier candidates to work for you. One effective way to do this is with email. A well-orchestrated email campaign can get the word out that you’re a terrific company to work for with a vibrant workplace culture.

Another way is by using social media. 62% of job seekers use social channels to evaluate a prospective employer’s brand.

Social media is experiencing exponential growth. Presently, there are 3.5 billion people active on social channels. If you’re not communicating your brand in these places, you're missing out on a vast potential market.

Here are some ways you can harness the power of social media for that purpose:

  •  Offer an inside peek into your operations with a behind-the-scenes video
  • Ask your followers open-ended, thought-provoking questions
  • Share posts that align with your employer brand
  • Engage with industry influencers who can help disseminate your brand message

To use social media effectively, you must engage with your audience. This means responding to everyone who posts on your wall, comments on a piece of content, or sends you a message. Try to make brand communication a seamless part of every conversation. You need to do that to control your business and your reputation.

Three elements affecting brand positioning

Here are the three elements that drive the look, feel, and language of your company brand:

  • PERSONALITY: This is your marketing message's overall look and feel.  You usually notice it most in website design.
  • IMAGES: This includes your company’s logo and other visual representations of your brand.
  • WORDS AND MESSAGES: This is the language you use in written and verbal communications. It includes how you describe your business, products, and services. It also encompasses the style of writing you use when crafting articles and blog posts.

How branding affects pricing

When you communicate your brand message in the right way, you’ll never compete on price again. That’s because businesses with clearly communicated brands have incredibly loyal customers who aren’t overly price sensitive. Beyond the shadow of any doubt, customers will know that what you provide them is worth a thousand times more than comparable brands.

Let's say your customers are always complaining about the price of your service or product or ask you to give it to them for a much lower price. In that case, this is a warning sign that your business doesn’t have an irresistible brand. When you create high-end branding from the get-go, buyers know they can expect high-end products from you. Therefore, they’re willing to pay more.

Brand communication tools

Here are the tools you need to manage your brand communications:

  • CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM):  A CRM ensures that your contacts and leads are tagged and segmented based on their product and service interests. Each customer is different, and a good CRM allows you to manage all these relationships.
  • EMAIL MARKETING SYSTEM:  Use the information in your CRM to send targeted email offers to your customers or clients.
  • MARKETING AUTOMATION:  Marketing automation platforms guide prospects toward a customized solution.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULING AND ANALYTICS: Scheduling software allows you to pre-schedule your posts, which helps you be consistent with brand messaging. Social media analytics will enable you to spot product trends, understand conversations visitors are having, and gauge response to social media campaigns.

Great startup brands begin with great employees

A clearly communicated brand equals more profits. Brands with stellar reputations give shareholders a 31% higher return.

The most profitable companies know this. That’s why they don’t skimp on branding or marketing. They know that for every dollar invested in these two things, the return is potentially exponential.

You’ll do the same if you want similar results.

It’s the same when recruiting team members for your startup. If you want the kind of results that’ll help your company survive the seemingly endless challenges it’ll face on the road to success, outsource your hiring to an experienced network recruiter.

Hunt Club is a recruiting firm par excellence with the expertise to get you the talent you deserve.

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