(edited substantially June12) There are more startups than ever. There's a whole community of support for startups because there are so many of them; nonprofits, incubators, accelerators, VC firms, SaaS products made for startups because people believe in the promise of tomorrow's solutions. Yet there's one famous stat that lingers over everyone's heads as we listen pitches, watch good ideas turn uninspired by lousy execution or see founders try to sort good advice from bad. Nine out of 10 startups will fail; or one in ten will succeed, depending on how you look at it.
What happens to the good early-stage concepts that become uninspired-looking? The potential stars that seem to wither as they're repackaged into something familiar? The good ideas need to live in places that love exciting work and can supplement the process so that the good ideas get the lift they need to succeed. Strategic planning and creativity need to co-exist with a shared goal for excellence, bottom line impact and success so those good ideas are can inspire the people they're designed for. Startups need outside talent focused on producing things and getting them to market. Specifically, creative businesses, designers, developers and creative strategists focused on digital engagement.
That nine in ten startups will fail is a fairly dismal track record for anything. The track to startup success relies not only on the lean startup methodologies and the business planning and processes that have been developed for the community – but on building unique brands that founders can articulate simply, in a way that inspires and delights people, inviting them in to a larger brand experience.
The more of us who can help new companies with new technologies stand apart from the pack to demonstrate value to their potential customers, investors, partners and the people who will use them, the more options startups will have when they're looking to for fit as they're building their brands. When we help them stand apart from the pack, rather than trying to fit in, we help them live their value proposition as being exceptional.
Often I use design thinking for brand strategy. It's a methodology that cultivates innovative, new concepts. I've found it useful in developing creative strategies that inspire original executions against measurable goals that can be evaluated by business teams. The road taken should help brands be unique, stand out and above all, resonate with people.
The campaigns I've been a part of that moved the needle for mom brands, fancy hotels and mens' jeans was created through brand strategies that found insights to trigger advertising that stood out in a crowded media space – and to improve the business by elevating the brands. By extension, using similar approaches for startups (and SME) helps those brands leap forward faster to carve out their own identity, get noticed, be credible and get people liking them. Create success for budding brands, with a shared vision and the belief that failure is not an option.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every brand that is making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.