If had a pound for every time someone told me their brand is their logo, I’d be rich! Before I understood marketing, I would have been fine with this definition, taken the money and retired gracefully.
Now, it just annoys the hell out of me.
Why? Well, just as advertising is but one of many aspects of marketing, a logo is merely one of multiple facets of a brand.
So, what is a brand? Let’s take a look at a few definitions from some of those who really get it.
I would define it two ways: from the sender’s point of view and from the receiver’s point of view. I don’t want to make it overly complicated, but from the perspective of P&G or Dell or any other company, a brand might be a promise: a promise of what awaits the customer if they buy that particular product, service, or experience. From the receiver’s point of view, I think a brand is a promise … a promise of what you can expect if you use the product or service, or if you engage in the experience.” – Dan Pink
I believe that “brand” is a stand-in, a euphemism, a shortcut for a whole bunch of expectations, worldview connections, experiences, and promises that a product or service makes, and these allow us to work our way through a world that has thirty thousand brands that we have to make decisions about every day.” – Seth Godin
But in the end, I sympathise with this:
I have the same feeling toward the word “brand” as I do toward the word “Africa.” “Africa” is an incredibly problematic word for me. It’s a word used with great frequency to describe an intricately complex area made up of people, countries, and cultures that have no more in common than we do with Uzbekistan. But because it’s a convenient word, and a well-known word, and a geographically defined continent, we use that word to sum up and generalize everyone who lives within the continent. In a way, it really is unfair. But we’ve inherited that framework, and I think we’d be better off if we banned the word entirely. Getting back to “brand,” the word has similar implications. Yes, it’s of much smaller consequence — it’s a trivial example of the same problem, but it is a problem. The word gets thrown around so recklessly that I wonder whether we wouldn’t be better off setting it aside. Instead, if we could use more specific words that zero in on what we’re really interested in discussing, it would help the conversation.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Which is precisely why you won’t hear the word ‘brand’ from me very often.
Meanwhile, here’s a guest post by Neil Simpson (co-founder of The Corner, a London agency) talking about Starling Bank’s new logo. (Just bear in mind what a brand is as you read it.)
‘Jobs to Be Done’
Airbnb is currently raising money at a $30 billion valuation. But how did they get so strong? Karen Dillon explains how Airbnb apply the concept of Jobs to be Done and why that’s key to their success. As she says, “Too many companies focus on making their products better and better without ever understanding why customers make the choices they do. Customers don’t simply buy products or services. They “hire” them to do a job. That job is not just about function (having a nice bed to sleep in) but about creating the right set of experiences for customers. Those experiences have social and emotional components that may be even more powerful than the functional ones.” Spot on.
In the wake of last week’s feature Users You Don’t Want, I couldn’t resist including this follow-up piece by Lincoln Murphy. He zeroes in on several precise reasons why closing the wrong customers will inflict ‘acute pain’ on your business. Great job.
Facebook Page Changes
If you have a Facebook page for your business (and you need a damn good reason not to!) then you need to read this. Facebook are notorious for pulling the rug from under us so we need to pay attention. Generally, these changes are for the better IMO but you need to act.
Funded vs Bootstrapped
Clement Vouillon compared key metrics for a bunch of SaaS companies with $6-figure MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue): some VC funded, some bootstrapped. The results surprised him: 1) Fewer bootstrappers reached $500k MRR, 2) Funding doesn’t help lower churn or increase LTV (customer Life-time Value), 3) VC money scales growth faster, 4) He expects to see more bootstrappers exceed $500k MRR in future – and they’ll do it faster, 5) The majority of startups in his sample catered to SMEs but he expects bootstrappers to break into Enterprise markets more quickly and at greater scale. The advantages of VC money are dwindling by the day.
How Startup Options Work
Refining Your Pitch
Stefano Bernardi has attended many pitches and demos as a founder, investor and alumni/investor. He makes some nuanced points on how a founder needs to differentiate to rise above an ever higher bar. In sum: 1) Be aware that ticking all the boxes for a perfect pitch is no longer enough. Differentiate. 2) Do something no-one else will do. Be memorable. 3) Use realistic numbers or lose credibility. 4) Claiming to have done a lot in 2 months implies anyone could do it unless you have and make clear you have an unfair advantage. 5) Stories and vision trump a sterile recounting of numbers, however big they may be. 6) If it is, then explain why your tech, positioning, proposition is defensible. Otherwise. Yawn. 7) My favourite: the #1 easiest reason to dismiss a pitch is when it fails to explain how they will profitably acquire customers at scale! You have been warned!
Fintech Hubs Unite!
According to Reuters, “Financial technology groups from more than 20 cities across the world plan to form a federation of ‘fintech’ hubs this year in what would be the first attempt to coordinate and globalize web-based innovation transforming the financial industry.”
Fred Wilson checks in on Chatbots. And when he writes, I read. He talks about how, “developers should look at bots as a low friction way to get new users to try out and use their service instantly” and that “the hype phase is over and we are now into the figuring it out phase. That’s usually when interesting stuff starts to happen.”
The Platform Co-op
I’ve read several books and posts recently on how we’re rapidly entering a new phase of capitalism, and in some ways a post-capitalist world. One of the manifestations of this is the so-called platform co-op. Maira Sutton offers this definition: “A platform cop-op is a digital platform — a website or mobile app that is designed to provide a service or sell a product — that is collectively owned and governed by the people who depend on and participate in it.” A fascinating development.
Please consider forwarding the BeyondFintech newsletter to a friend or colleague … thank you!