Here at Corporate Edge we're fascinated by what's going on in the world, so it felt only natural to share some great finds. Enjoy!
I've been thinking about startups a lot lately, especially the disruptive, lean and mean ones in the tech space. Fast Company's 'Most Innovative Companies 2013 brings the most successful startups to our attention, but what about the large amount of other fledging startups that are struggling to get off the ground? For these startups that find themselves idling between crucial stages of their evolution, having a strategic approach to brand development will provide the breakthrough to launch into a successful funding campaign and a healthy future.
The problem is that as startups weigh up their priorities, the investment of time and money in branding is often an after thought. In our view, successful startups have a few things in common:
1. Their brand development begins with a clear definition of purpose. This is more than just 'making money'; it needs to go beyond the product or processes and land firmly on the 'Why!' Why your brand matters to the hearts and minds of your target audience, and how it's distanced from your competitors
2. They have the power of a good idea. This is what really excites me; contagious ideas that are simple, motivating and amazingly relevant to the target customers
3. Their CEOs or founders understand that brand is more than just a logo. These startups have brands that know who they are and where they're going. Whether it's a vision, mission or something else; the important thing is not the terminology, it's a reason for existing. Marcus (our Director of Strategy) further explains this point in his recent article.
With that in mind, here are some startups (at different stages of life cycles) that tick all these boxes and really inspire us here at Corporate Edge…take a look!
For any fans of Minority Report, this is a really exciting startup that brings 3D gesture control technology out of the lab, and into reality. Leap Motion started with a brand purpose to 'create a better, more natural way of interacting with computers'. After four years of defining and refining their idea they've raised over $42 Million in funding and the Leap Motion Controller is set to ship to their global pre-order customers in May 2013. Leap Motion hired ex Apple VP of product marketing, give 10,000 developers free units to develop a library of applications, and partners with ASUS to bundle Leap Motion Controller with selected computers. What they've done here is successfully created an ecosystem of developers, retailers and tech manufacturers aligned to deliver a compelling (and investable) brand and product experience for launch and beyond. Who knows, maybe Apple will come out with an iHand...watch this space!
Take a another bow Jack Dorsey. The Twitter inventor's other company, Square, is disrupting the mobile payments sector. Square has become the first mobile payments system to break into mainstream as the newest way to pay for your orange mocha frappuccino at over 7,000 Starbucks across U.S.A. Square distances its proposition from Starbucks' very own app by offering an open platform with a simpler way to pay and a directory of other nearby Square-enabled merchants, not just a mobile store card. Square have created a good ol' tipping point - think about it: take a bunch of early adopters using Square to pay for their caffeine fix and multiply that by 7,000 Starbucks stores, the network effect starts to ripple. If all goes well, they'll also use Square at a merchant nearby because they can see it in the directory. Merchants near any Starbucks start using Square to get into the directory, and a very investable cycle ensues. Very soon, thanks to Square, your phone becomes just another way you pay. How can you not love that?
I have a passion for travel and whenever I'm going to be exploring a foreign city for more than 2 nights, I look to Airbnb to feel right at home - just like a local. Airbnb has a great story: the three founders - Joe, Brian and Nathan - offered up their San Francisco loft to attendees of an upcoming design conference that couldn't find any available hotel rooms. As it turned out, the stay went well and they discovered that there were loads of people looking for places to stay that offered an authentic experience with a fresh, local insight into the city. Airbnb was born with a brand purpose to provide a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique accommodation around the world. And since 2008, (take a deep breath) they've raised more than $120 million, booked over 10 million nights with 300,000 listings worldwide in over 33,000 cities in 192 countries (exhale). That's pretty impressive from a small loft in San Fran.
We know that startups can pivot, re-shape ideas and go back to the drawing board, but you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Even if your startup is genius or clever in every way, it could have little impact without a defined brand purpose that makes its way into the hearts and minds of your target audience and well clear of your competitors (yes, you do have competitors).
What are some other startups that you think have a great purpose and a brand that brings it to life? We'd love to hear your thoughts.Tweet
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