Should early stage startups invest in their brand early on? Yes, they should. This was basically our key message to +500 brand managers, corporate branding agencies and students who attended this year’s CXI conference.
Discussing the concept of ‘Minimum Viable Branding’ with our partner think moto, we explained how working on our brand early on helped our young company refine our product vision, define our company culture and strengthen our relationships with airlines, investors and partners.
Our brand is our product-to-be
When flyiin emerged as a venture opportunity, all we had then was a promise, i.e. the promise of a digital product that will address the deficiencies of online travel agencies and travel meta-search engines, for the benefits of airlines and travelers.
As a marketplace, it was – and still is – essential to get airlines on-board. And that meant translating our promise into something tangible, something that could best convey the relevance of our planned product to airlines.We therefore asked think moto to design a number of product screens and based on those, develop a visual prototype of how our product could feel like.
And in order to make those screens and prototype credible, we needed a brand. think moto therefore took in the values to be associated to our product (transparency, simplicity and excitement), did some basic industry research and came up with our first corporate identity.
That was the first step in our Minimum Viable Brand journey: our brand was our product-to-be.
Our brand is our company-to-be
This first branding exercise helped us validate our product vision with airlines and bring some of them closer to flyiin. At that point, we were then ready to take on the next challenge: tell our story to the investment community.
That implied that we needed to be clearer on the type of company we wanted to be. Our co-founding team then got together and spent half a day defining our “brand persona” and “brand filters”, which interestingly enough ended up being closely aligned to our product values.
With those at hand, think moto was able to take a fresh look at our brand and come up with a corporate identity that best reflected who we were to be as a company: caring, clear and intriguing. The result are the logo and associated imagery you can now enjoy in our landing page, this blog page or twitter profile.
Our brand is our strength
The most interesting about this Minimum Viable Branding approach is that one will immediately feel whether or not her brand has reached the desired level of maturity. In our case, our new identity felt right from the day it was publicly released. Why? Simply because from that very day, we experienced a completely new and positive dynamic within our small company, which translated into a number of recent developments that will play an essential role in our future success.
Our key takeaway from this branding journey: as our brand expressed greater self-confidence and maturity, we as a company also became more assertive and established in the eyes of airlines, investors and partners.